A Little Fiction: All Fall Down

Shelly and Hank had planned this camping trip as an attempt at getting back together. It wasn’t working. He was late picking her up, the drive took five hours instead of their usual three, and when they finally found a space to camp, they argued over where to set up the tent.

She dropped the side of the tent she was holding and walked away. “All right, fine. You deal with it.” She headed for the river bluff. She thought Hank would come after her, but he didn’t.

riverview
the Mississippi / Gerry Wilson

The bluff dropped steeply away to the river, maybe thirty, forty 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 a sheer drop, where there was brush, or outcroppings of stone. She eased over the edge and grabbed a sapling, then another, her breath coming hard, thought I can do this, until a branch bent and snapped, rocks skittered and fell, and she slipped, clutching at mud and stone and brush. She slid all the way down, landed on the narrow bank, rolled towards the rushing water, clawed at the mud to drag herself back. She lay still and assessed what hurt: her head, her right shoulder, her right ankle.

She sat up. The knees of her jeans were torn and stained with blood, her hands scraped and bloody, too, and caked with mud. She unlaced her hiking shoe and took off her sock. The throbbing ankle was already swelling and turning blue. Jesus. She pulled the sock back on and forced her foot back into the shoe. Pain jolted from her ankle to her thigh.

“Hello?” she yelled. “Hank? Anybody?”

Nearly five o’clock. The bluff cast deep shadows on her and on the river. Maybe  twenty yards away, a sandbar extended out into the water. She’d be more visible from there. She tried to stand, but she couldn’t bear weight on the ankle. She crawled far enough out onto the sandbar to see the top of the bluff. She called out again, “Hello? Hello! Down here! Help me!” But the day picnickers and hikers would have gone home by now. The overnight campers, like Hank, would be settling in. On the river, no vessels—an old-fashioned word her father, a retired Navy man, would have used—this time of day, no kayaks or canoes, no pleasure boats.

The sky was a clear, deepening blue. The wind out on the sandbar went suddenly chilly. The rising moon had a corona of light. That was supposed to mean something: a sign of rain? Bad luck?

Shelly washed her stinging hands and splashed her face with the cold river water. She struggled to her feet and tried her weight again on the throbbing ankle. She had to get off the sandbar. She hobbled the length of it before she dropped to her knees and crawled back to the shelter of the bluff.

No way she could climb. She’d be fine right there, a little banged up and wet. Hank would come looking for her. All she had to do was wait.

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This piece of flash fiction is headed over to Yeah Write, where writing events abound. Writer friends, be sure to check them out!

Wordle 63: July 1

Today’s Wordle 63 at The Sunday Whirl:

skin, lips, thin, snapshots, touch, other, act, hanging, gesture, stand, sent, utter

The result? A bit of flash fiction:  

light on snow — photo by Clay Jones

He stands silhouetted in the doorway, the light behind him, his hand on the frame as though it bears him up. His lips are drawn in a thin line, the words he’s just uttered hanging heavy now in the space between him and the woman.

He tells himself what he’s done is an act of mercy. He’s cut her loose, sent her away. She cried, but she’ll get over it. Some other guy will spot her in a bar or an elevator or on the subway and know she’s what he wants, and in a week or two or maybe a month, she won’t be so angry. But she won’t forget.

She crosses the parking lot and doesn’t look back, and in that light, her skin is the color of pale in faded snapshots. He has to admit she’s a class act, better than he deserved.

What will he remember? Her last gesture, how she touched his cheek, just barely, like a whisper. He imagines her still standing there, her breath suspended in the air like frost.

All right. I couldn’t stand it.

I had to go in and make just a few edits to “All Fall Down,” a little story based on today’s Wordle at The Sunday Whirl. Nothing substantial. Got rid of some repetition, some wordiness. If it’s going to flash, it needs to be slick. It needs to move right along.

Wordle 60, June 10

So read it again, if you like, and see if you can spot the edits. Or not.

If it turns into a story, I’ll let you know.

While you’re at it, before you end your surfing for today, you might check out some other Wordle responses by my poet-friends: Veronica Roth, Margo Roby, De Jackson, and  Jo Ann Jordan. There are many others over at The Sunday Whirl, of course. Go to “Mr. Linky.”

Thanks to everyone who stopped by today!