Saturday 27 June 2015

'The Waiting' by Stacy Trautwein Burns

Peg saw dead people. They joked about it now, but it was true: she'd looked from the sink one night to find his face in the window, hovering over her shoulder.
"I could've kissed him," she said. "He was that close."

She was outside, now, with the others. She laughed, and the sound of it rose on a lavender sky. Joanie watched from the window, a platter of chocolate and marshmallows nearby.

It was their first reunion parentless, and all seven siblings returned. They were the parents, now, the grandparents. There were no great-grandparents, a term whose full weight the smallest wouldn't understand for years to come. They ran pell-mell through the farm, doors bouncing and chickens fluttering, feathers drifting on wind that nobody could feel. Cows lurked like shadows among the trees at the back of the yard, where smoke from the fire rose blacker than the night and Mitch's wireless crooned "King of the Road." The children—their children because they, themselves, were now nobody's children—drank beer and rocked babies. A few cried because they knew what was coming: they’d seen it face the parents, the grandparents, and were afraid. 

The siblings danced. First Peg, then Frankie, Paul, and Mae. Jan, the oldest, sat round-bellied apart complaining of smoke, how it followed her, and she was cold from sitting so far to avoid it. She'd told Joanie she'd like a bit of chocolate, but now Peg danced close and Jan laughed while Joanie watched from above.

It wasn't right, Joanie thought, that Peg was the one to have seen him. Peg, and not her, who actually lived in the old house. The one who'd been here all along, rolling their father to change him and wipe him and keep him from sores. She stayed at the sink, while Peg danced and Jan laughed, chocolate turning soft on the platter nearby, sky darkening until it matched the smoke and all that remained was the fire, blazing small in one corner of the window, and Joanie's face round as the moon above it, waiting.

1 comment:

  1. More! More! Is this an intro to a book? Where can I find it?!


The Water Levels Are Rising...

There's less than a week left before National Flash Fiction Day 2024 when we'll share another veritable flood of flash fiction here ...