Wednesday, February 15, 2023

WEP - Gone With The Wind


Yeah, its been about 2 years. Had a lot going on in my personal life. And, I'm using a Samsung Galaxy 10 tablet to pack with me on my trips, and I've discovered it doesn't like to do anything but play games. And pay bills. And I'm posting this -  late of course -from a motel room that doesn't like to have plug outlets next to the desk. So I hope I can get this post going.

Yeah, yeah. Excuses . . .

I've decided to post a segment for WEP (Write, Edit, Publish) bi-monthly blogfest. This first post of 2023 is titled GONE WITH THE WIND. Since its February, Valentines, I'm assuming it should be a romance. But, I'm just not there in my mind. So I've taken a different interpretation, and focused on the "Gone" concept. After all, the overall theme of the book/movie is about Loss. Loss of culture, loss of life, loss of dreams. Loss of family.

Anyway, here goes. Full critique acceptable. This is a one-and-done, not part of a larger work.



“I want to talk to Dad.”

“Why, you got something broken at the house?” My daughter never talks to her step dad without something broken at the house and needing fixed. And, Dad. Real trouble.

“Something like that.” And her voice sounded quaverly, hurt.

“What’s up Lori? What’s wrong, really.”

Desperation. “Just let me talk to Don.”

Usually he’d already be out on the tractor or sanding that dead jeep in the garage. But he was moving slow this morning so he was still in the house. He looked frustrated when I tried to hand him my phone.

“Why didn’t she call my phone?”

“You never carry it on you. She sounds stressed, just talk to her an tell me whats up.”

“Yeah.” Then silence. “Uhm, yeah.” More silence, with sidelong glances at me. Then he turned his back on me. “Ok.” Then he hung up and handed me back the phone.

“Ok. So what’s up.”

“Not sure yet. She’ll call again later.” Then he sat next to me on the couch, reached across and tenderly held my hand.

He’s a loving man, but not in an affectionate way. He won’t look at me. I squeeze his hand and stare at him until he looks at me. I’m not affectionate either. I can tell its bad. Really bad was nine months earlier when my middle son shot himself. Nothing else can be that bad. Can it?


“Not sure yet.”

The phone rings and I let his hand go. Its Robert’s best friend. I didn’t even know he had my phone number, but I’m not really surprised. That psychic mommy-vibe has been pinging all morning. Kinda woke me up early for a Sunday.

“Whats wrong Zack?”

“Hey Mom.” All my kids’ friends call me Mom. At least the ones that have been hanging out since grade school. Zack is new to the group, only been around five or six years, but he hangs with Roberts long term friends so just fell into the habit with the rest of them.

“Fu—ing whats up Zack.”

“Ha, probably nothing. Hey, I can’t find Robert. He’s not answering his phone. Jenna is freaking out because she lost contact during a phone chat this morning.”

Of course he was texting and driving. Its barely after 9a. “So, how early were they talking.”

“Well, not talking exactly. She was sleeping, but he sent her a bunch of songs. Love songs, haha. She didn’t get the messenger pings until about an hour ago and the last message cut off mid sentence. He’s not answering, so she called me.”

I don’t hear well on the phone, so I have it on speaker. Oddly, my husband isn’t staring at me with a look that says “get a hearing aid so I don’t have to listen.”

“Do you know where he is.” Stupid question, I know, but I’ve already hit the home button and clicked on Life 360 to see where my son is.

“Well, that’s why I called you. Lori doesn’t know either – sorry I woke her up. And the baby.”

“He’s somewhere in Yuba City. Weird. Not really sure where he is. Been there since about 5:32 am. Who lives in Yuba City?”

Silence. My hubby is looking at me now. Hope in his expression.

“Uhm. Nobody. I don’t think.” 

Zack would know everyone Robert knows. But, since his brother’s suicide, Robert has been drinking himself into a grave, and not all his friends have been willing to follow him down that self destructive hole. Zack is a recovering addict and won’t go everywhere with his best friend in an effort to keep visitation with his seven year old daughter. Zack hasn’t abandoned Robert, but some of his choices have left Zack behind.

“When was the last time you saw Robert?” I asked, trying to be delicate.

“Yesterday. Well, I talked to him on the phone after he left for Sac. He was going to a Rave with some buddies of ours. I couldn’t go, had plans with my daughter.”

“Sure,” I say, proud of Zack despite my growing concern for my son.

“Anyway, people are looking for him on Facebook, and I’m getting worried.”

“I haven’t heard anything,” I said, catching my husbands eyes. He didn’t look away. “I’ll call Lori and see if she knows anything.”

“I called her before I called you. Said her phone was blowing up.”

“Yes, I know.” I’m trying not to sound angry. Anger is better than fear. Isn’t it?

“Look, Mom –“

“I’ll call you when I find him Zack. You do the same, Ok?”

I hung up and pulled up my Facebook account. I’m not friends with many of Roberts clan, but I might see something. “What did Lori want to talk to you about?”

“Well,” My hubby said. Thinking a minute. “She thinks Robert may have been in an accident. His phone hasn’t moved since about 5:32 this morning, and people are calling her because they are worried.”

Just then I clicked on a Newsbreak link Jenna posted with question marks after Robert’s name and asking for info. There was lots of comments telling how he left the Rave. I couldn’t read all the comments because I’m not friends with all his friends. But everything I saw had links to the Newsbreak with updates on the vehicle accident that took a 32 year old Oroville man’s life at 5:32am in Yuba City.

A car pulled up to the gate just as my youngest son crashed through the front door. He lives in a travel trailer on the property. He didn’t even have his shoes on. “Lori called?”

“Yes, and Zack,” my hubby said.

“Zack’s here. We’re going to Robert’s last Life 360 GPS.” He ran out the door, kicking the dog and his ball out of his way.

Four hours later a Sheriffs patrol car pulled through the open gate. It was open because I already knew. Face book told me my son was gone.

word count: 1000


Jemi Fraser said...

Oh no!!! My poor heart breaks for this family. So many waves of loss and heartache. Wishing I could hug them all.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Donna!

I'm beyond thrilled that you wrote for WEP again! I know you've been through a very tough couple of years, but I hope things have gotten better for you and yours.

This flash. So much here gone with the wind. Heart-wrenching. A feeling of impending doom. Such loss.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

That is heart wrenching. Mostly because that sort of thing happens every day.

Olga Godim said...

What a horrible tragedy. A powerful post.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Donna
It's good to see you writing again. I hope things are better. This iw well crafted. What terrible news, but what dedicated friends.

Nilanjana Bose said...

I'm beyond pleased to see your post here. THRILLED! to have you back at WEP.

The entry was sobering to read, absolutely heart wrenching. So much loss and grief piled on one family, life's unfairness carried to an extreme.

I know things have been tough, hope they work out much better for you this year.

dolorah said...

Jemi: thanks for your response and for stopping by.

Dx: I'm glad to be posting again too. I've missed You, and writing. Hopefully I can do more writing.

Elizabeth: Yes, it is amazing how many families are devasted by such unexpected circumstances. I honestly believe cell phones cause more car accidents than even driving drunk.

Olga: thanks.

Nancy: Hello (waves).Loyal friends make any situation less tragic.

Nila: Thanks for your awesome comments Nila. Like everyone else in the world, I'm really hoping 2023 is a much better year.

Pat Garcia said...

Your story is so sad, but it is beautifully written. You had my attention until the end. I expected that he would be found dead, but I like the way you set it up and how you dispense the tension.
Great job.
Shalom shalom

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - I share with the others ... it's good to see you again ... and oh yes - missing people - but gone ...

I feel for all who lose a life ... so sad ... an emotional telling - take care and see you again here soon - all the best Hilary

A Hundred Quills said...

Hi Donna. This was heartbreaking. I was hoping for a miracle. For something like a miscommunication. I liked your execution, the urgency towards the end.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was really tragic. Two sons gone.

dolorah said...

Pat: thanks for your awesome comments. Its hard to build tension in such an emotional setting. Glad you liked it.

Hilary: the world is full of sadness. Thanks for stopping by.

Sonia: yep, we all hope for a miracle when facing tragedy.

Alex: Yes, it was a tragic scene.

Yolanda Renée said...

That sense of terror when those words are spoken. My 6-month-old disappeared from his bed. At 2 AM my husband woke me to let me know he was gone. I've never forgotten that moment. Your story reminded me. Well done!

My son was found and safe, as we were on the phone with the police. A long story. One day shared.

Welcome back, I look forward to reading more of your fabulous stories!

dolorah said...

Yolanda: glad your son was found safe. What a scary time that must have been. Hope to hear the story someday.

Sally said...

Oh boy! Powerful - to find out through FB, difficult enough anyway but for everybody else to know before you do.... Well done.

Damyanti Biswas said...

This was so heartbreaking.

Won't lie, it's good to have you back. So glad to see you on WEP, and my blog.

Beth Camp said...

This story brought tears to my eyes. What a sense of loss and family you capture in such a short time. No one expects tragedy, yet it comes to all of us. Thank you for writing, being a part of WEP, and sharing this hard tale. I, too, took the darker side of GWTW.

Nick Wilford said...

Beautiful and heartbreaking. A sense of a close family, a close circle, rallying round and hoping for the best. Yet there is no way to prepare for the worst. Great to see you back taking part in WEP.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - congratulations on your Encouragement award ... it was a desperate tale to tell - so sad to lose a child. All the best - Hilary

cleemckenzie said...

Sad ending. Always wish for the best, but sometimes that's just the way things turn out.

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