Before I answer that question I’d like to give the results of last week’s vote:
The majority has spoken and the third ending … poetic justice won. I am happy to report that I discovered we still have some romantics among us, and happily some twisted readers like me.
Thanks to all who participated.
I’d love at some point to send this off and see whether other bloggers would do the same, write a series of flash fiction that spans their genre.
This week’s prompt was the first I received that Wednesday morning.
Tell me if you would. When you hear a new word or an old word used a different way, do you take the time to look it up? I did that and I also did some quick research on rivers in Australia. The Darling River is in the outback of New South Whales and of late she is in terrible condition.
… a punt is what a member of a football team does when the team has to reliquish the ball
… or it’s a flat bottomed boat that is used primarily on narrow riverways to negotiation shallow waters.
It is also part of the writing prompt contributed by my dear friend, Debra Eve, at Late Bloomer.
Thank you, Debra. Here is your story:
“She was rumored to have traveled to Australia after the trial, with nothing more than a punt, a Pekinese, and two bottles of old bourbon.”
Sadie McCloud sat on the front steps of her family’s house in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Her mind was addled from three days of slogging half way around the globe to come to this location. A location she had run from over forty years before.
She was rumored to have traveled to Australia after the trial, with nothing more than a punt, a Pekinese, and two bottles of old bourbon.
Rumors could not be relied on for the whole truth. The whole truth was that the punt came to her by default in the outback. It came in damn handy when she needed to negotiate the Darling River after the spring rains. The Pekinese was a ratty pup who attached himself to her ankles. When she couldn’t kick him away, she decided to feed him. For a time, she thought the little runt would out live her. Now all that was left were his bones buried deep in the ground off the river’s edge.
She reached into an old leather sack and felt around for the cool of the bottle. Well, at least that part was spot on. Sadie never traveled anywhere without her bourbon.
She was born in 1942. A breach her mother told her. “Even then you did everything ass backwards.”
Her given name was Sarah Patricia O’Connor. In 2012, the year of Our Lord, Sadie had reached seven full decades on this good earth. She stomped her foot on the concrete and grinned. Not much earth under my old feet this day.
She was a tall woman, sturdy and muscular. Her skin was tanned to leather. Her hair was thick and wild and white, her clear blue eyes needed no lenses for reading or to judge distance, and her brain was sharper than someone half her age.
She warned the young ones who tapped messages on tiny screens. “Best watch your manners or you’ll be sorry.”
Her sudden appearance might have caused alarm if there was anyone left alive that she knew. But for the two hours she waited for her nephew to come, she didn’t see one familiar face. Across the avenue, Becker’s Grocery, the old Italian shoe maker, and the Sweed’s bakery were all gone. Replaced by a Starbucks, and a small restaurant called The Eatery.
She could have waited inside the house. The keys came in the post with all the paperwork. One of the young ones read through the papers, tapped on more keys and sent email. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”
At first she had refused to come in person. Modern technology made it possible to do everything with electronic gadgets and overnight mail; fast and furious like the world had become.
Sadie stood and stretched, and turned to the front door four steps above the sidewalk. It’s the same damn door that closed on my ass forty years ago.
Why had she come back to this place? She fingered the keys hearing her mother’s voice. “You lose another set of keys, I’ll lay into you with the strap.”
She let her eyes scroll up to the third floor, counting windows to find her old bedroom. Then scrolled down to the basement door, hidden under the front steps. It was fitting that this door should be hidden below the steps. The door that brought her to trial. The door that had ended her life as Sarah O’Connor and began her life of Sadie; hippie, wanderer. Sadie; murderer.
She had traveled from another world to stand by that door and by all that was right in the heavens, she would face it down at last.
She hoisted her bag, and fingering the keys, found the one that opened the basement door. The first time she tried to slip the key into the lock, her hands shook so violently, the keys clattered to the ground.
She finally opened it and was assaulted by the dank stench of filth and neglect. Without needing to look she reached out and flipped on the light at the entrance. She tried the other lights but only the one had a bulb, the others sat on the ceiling like skulls, their eyes gouged out.
It was dark that night, darker than death. But the darkness made her feel safe. She took the bottle from the brown paper bag and crouched down behind the old water heater. She heard him call from the steps. “Get out here or I’ll snap your neck like a chicken.”
She was dizzy from too much drink. Then she heard the sounds of gunshots, of sirens, women screaming, lights flashing.
“Aunt Sadie? Is that you in there?”
She turned to see her nephew, the one who send electronic mail and talked on cell phones. “You should at least see the place one more time before you sell it.”
The young ones told her. “Get out now, Sadie. The river is polluted. The town is dead. Leave now and start over.”
She told her nephew on the phone. “Who starts over at seventy?”
“You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to. But at least come back and see the place. There are four people who are bidding ridiculous amounts of money. The neighborhood has changed and the Vietnamese are buying up everything in sight.”
Three months later, Sadie McCord sat inside a screened patio near the beach in Southern California. The young ones met her there. “Did you get a lot of money for the house?”
“Don’t be putting your noses in places they don’t belong.”
She thought of John McCord and the life they had on the Darling River. “You should be glad we don’t have a basement, John.”
“Why’s that, Sadie?”
She took a pull from the bottle. ” ‘Cause last time I was in a basement, I got drunk and got away with murder.”
How do you do research for a new story?
Have you ever used writing promts to exercise your gray cells?
fOIS In The Ctiy
Next week the sentence contributed by Anne R. Allen.