Here’s my Wordle exercise for this week, words courtesy of The Sunday Whirl. Maybe this is the beginning of a short story . . .
Here are the words: bluffs, willow, corona, brush, trembled, mud, crawl, vessels, nail, stain, shadows, stones
All Fall Down
Shelly and Hank had planned the camping trip as an attempt at getting back together. It wasn’t working. He’d been late picking her up, the traffic had been terrible, and when they finally found a space to camp, they’d argued over where to set up the tent.
She’d walked off and left him. “All right, fine. You deal with it,” she’d said and headed for the bluffs.
The bluffs dropped steeply away to the river, maybe fifty feet. Willows clung to the banks and leaned out into the sky like filmy, green parachutes. Shelly walked as near the edge as she dared and considered climbing down. She had always wanted to do it; why not now? She looked for a place that wasn’t such a sheer drop, where there was brush or outcroppings of stones. She eased over the edge, grabbed a sapling, then another, until one snapped and she slipped and slid, clutching at mud and rocks and branches, and fell headlong to the bottom. She landed in the shallows and caught hold of a branch that kept her out of the rushing river. She lay there, stunned and trembling. She took stock: the knees of her jeans stained with blood and her nails torn and caked with mud where she’d clawed her way down.
Her ankle hurt. She didn’t think she could stand. “Hello?” she yelled. “Hank? Anybody?” But it was late in the day. The bluff cast deep shadows on her and on the river. She crawled toward a sandbar that extended out into the water. She’d be more visible from there. But there were no signs of life above or on the river. The picnickers would long since have packed up and gone home. No vessels—an old-fashioned word her father, a retired Navy man, would have used—this time of day, no kayaks or canoes. Everybody with any sense would be camping downriver by now, or docked and sunburned and on their way home. She looked up at the rising moon and its corona of light. That was supposed to mean something: a sign of rain? Bad luck?
This wouldn’t do. She had to get up and move. She stood, tried her weight on the throbbing ankle, and knew she couldn’t climb. She crawled back to the shelter at the base of the bluffs and leaned against the bank.
She fought panic. She’d be fine, she told herself, just a little banged up and wet, nothing a good bath wouldn’t fix, and hadn’t she gotten herself into this anyway?
Hank would come looking for her. All she had to do was wait. ###