TAG | short stories
A few days ago we posted the first Wading Through Water story by Ashtyn Rapp. Today we offer another one written in response to that prompt, by WATL member Shelby Pontius. Shelby has had the distinction of being the youngest member of our group, since she joined while still in high school. Now she can be found walking the campus of Michigan State University where she studies fisheries and wildlife.
Wading Through Water
By Shelby Pontius
“Tyler!” I shouted as the beach ball sailed right over my head, landing with a wet smack in the lake far behind me. I glared at him as I turned to see where the ball had landed and of course the waves were large and crashing onto the beach as well as carrying the ball out further. They were probably cold waves too as lake Huron was apt to be. I turned back and surveyed my circle of cousins hoping for a friendly volunteer, but being family there was of course not one.
“Fine!” I said, stomping out into the water and trying not to flinch when the cool water hit my knees, then my waist. I had almost waded out far enough to grab it when a rogue gust of wind blew it out a little further.
“Of course.” I muttered, I could just picture all of my cousins laughing behind me.
I stared down the ball determined that this time I would grab it. I bent my knees, waited for a wave to pass and leapt straight for the ball, landing face first into the water. I should’ve known. I sat at the bottom with my face in the sand for a minute, cursing my ill luck before popping my head back up and smacking it right into the ball. I stared at it shocked it was right there before reaching and grabbing ahold, but instead of grabbing onto the rough plastic, I grabbed onto a hand. I let go immediately to look up at who was stealing my ball after I had tried so hard to catch it.
“Hey,” came a deep voice.
I looked up into the face of an angel, okay, maybe that was exaggerating, but he was cute.
“H-h-hi.” I managed to squeak out.
He smiled and I melted a little inside, “Can I play?”
“Uh, yea, sure.” I smiled to myself, yup, sure was a good thing I went to get that ball.
At the last Writing at the Ledges meeting, attendees were challenged to write in response to pictures provided by Rosalie Petrouske, WATL founder. The prompt was Wading Through Water, given to accompany the pictures. This short, short story by member Ashtyn Rapp is the first of several brief pieces written in response to the prompt that we will feature here.
by Ashtyn Rapp
Noah dragged his feet through the muddy river bank, trying his best to mask his footprints. He hesitated at the water’s edge. It was late fall, almost winter really and the water was sure to be freezing. That morning when he had slipped from bed just before the sun began to rise there had been whorls of frost on the window pane and the tip of each blade of grass was silver with frozen moisture. “Noah!” His mother’s frantic voice broke the still and a flock of mourning doves rose from the trees not far behind him. Taking a deep breath, Noah began wading through the water. At its deepest the frigid water was thigh-high and the current was stronger than he remembered from the times he had swum in the river’s wide arms in the lazy heat of summer. He struggled against the pulling water, trying to hurry. Reaching the other side, he scrambled up the embankment and began running to where he had seen the soldiers camping the day before. His feet sunk into the wet soil and there was a constant crackle of leaves crunching underfoot, punctuated by an occasional stick cracking like a gunshot. It didn’t matter anymore. He was almost there. “Noah,” his mother cried again, but less desperately, as if she already knew it was too late.
The following story is by WATL founder Rosalie Sanara Petrouske. She wrote it in response to a Fiction 440 challenge. If you’re not familiar with Fiction 440, it’s a Lansing-area group that challenges folks to write a short story of no more than 440 words using a set of prescribed words. They then invite the authors to read their stories aloud at a local pub or restaurant. For this story, the prompt was anniversary, toys, and composing. Enjoy!
I open the door to Sierra’s room, and sit on the bed. Running my hand over the smooth yellow spread, I notice how the throw pillows are stacked perfectly against the headboard. I can remember yelling at her countless mornings about making her bed. Books we read together are slid neatly into their places on the shelves, along with the journals she kept filled with tales about girls her age, who traveled on adventures around the world. “Mommy, Mommy,” I hear her call, “come listen to my new story!”
Stuffed toys she slept with when she was afraid of the dark sit forlornly, some on her bed, others tucked upon shelves or perched on top of the dresser. Wrapping my hands around the little brown otter, Seaweed, I give him a kiss. Clicking open my pen, I begin composing another letter to her.
Your dad is upstairs, already asleep, and Tucker is napping in his dog bed. Whenever Tucker hears the school bus stopping at the end of our block, he still runs to the door, tail wagging wildly. When you don’t come home, he plops down, dropping his head in his paws. I think dogs tell time by sound; certainly not by years. Tonight, the stars are out, scattered all over the sky like glitter confetti. If you were here, we’d put on our coats and go find the Big Dipper. Once I used to long for all this quiet, for hours with no interruptions. I don’t anymore because I miss you too much. If I didn’t know better, I could almost believe you were at your best friend’s house for a sleepover, and when you come home, I’d be whipping up a batter of pancakes with chocolate chips. Today is the first anniversary. . .
I stop writing and smile at my foolishness. My daughter has only left for college. It’s not like she has gone away forever, not like the daughter I read about in today’s newspaper who died in a car accident because she was texting and driving. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that mother must be feeling. The phone starts ringing in the other room. Setting down my pen, I hurry to answer it. “Hi,” Sierra says. “I was just thinking about you.”
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Walking back to my dorm. There are so many stars out tonight. The sky is amazing.”
Yes,” I tell her. “I know.”
I go to the window and look up.
© 2012 Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
The following story was written by Lori Hudson, a long-time member of Writing at the Ledges, at our May meeting where we were given the prompt: “She never should have gotten that tattoo.” It was such a great story, we decided to post it here for your reading pleasure. We hope it will inspire you to write your own story in response to the prompt.
by Loraine J. Hudson
Marika is my best friend. She will always be my best friend, and I will support her no matter what— no matter what she says, where she goes, or what she does.
She is the kindest person. She loves puppies, recycles her neighbor’s newspapers, carries spiders outside rather than kill them, marches against war. She even makes delicious brownies.
That is why when I walked down West Street with her yesterday, I glared at the mail delivery man when he burst out laughing.
And even though I think I’m a pretty kind person myself, I said, “Mind your own business!” to Mrs. Brogan when she said pityingly to Marika, “Oh honey…”
And I yelled, “Shut up!” at the college kids whistling and calling, “Hey, baby!”
Marika’s face was flaming red when that happened.
Marika has just one fault, and that is that she can’t spell. She is such a terrible speller that I guess she didn’t realize “peace” is not spelled P-I-E-C-E.
Yes, Marika is my best friend, and I will support her no matter what she does, but she never should have gotten that tattoo.
To learn more about the author, click here.
Ray Walsh wrote a wonderful, extremely thorough review for the Lansing State Journal today. Not only did he give Small Towns a glowing endorsement, but it appears he mentioned all of us by name.
Click here for a link to the LSJ article