Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: The Well revised (Carol 37737)(Wings)

Expand Messages
  • Carol
    Dear Wings, Thank you for your kind words and insight. I ve been away from the computer over the last few days--Thanksgiving, kids and grandson, family,
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 30, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      Dear Wings,
      Thank you for your kind words and insight. I've been away from the
      computer over the last few days--Thanksgiving, kids and grandson,
      family, entirely too much good food, and all that. I will give the
      story another look-see before I turn it in tomorrow. I truly
      appreciate everyone's careful read.
      Sometimes we see the main character as the author. This woman is not
      me. Sarah had to leave her babies at home. Since Jesse lost his job,
      one of them had to work. She had no other choice.
      Always,
      Carol
      PS--Sorry about the "F" word, but they were right. Jesse, in fact,
      would use that foul language, and I'm merely the pen for his words.

      --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "wings081" <wings081@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      > Dear Carol
      >
      > Almost a faultless revision.
      > Don't like the use of the 'F' word but you can't please us all.
      > I note also you still use "his boys" but maybe that is the way you
      > speak over there.To me "his boys" would indicate my two sons and I
      > would use THE boys.
      > I must assume later on in the tale when Sarah worked at the
      > rsetaurant that Jesse was at home minding the babies, for her deep
      > sense of mother love would never consider leaving two younsters
      alone
      > at home.
      > Carol, as always you have come up trumps.
      >
      > As always
      >
      > Wings
      > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Carol" <carol_emt87@> wrote:
      > >
      > > The Well
      > >
      > > I recall the last time I sat at the end of this dusty road
      > > about six years ago. Over there to the west about a quarter of a
      > mile
      > > sits the old McKenna place, overgrown with foxtails and black
      > > raspberry bushes, the barn dented and leaning to the right, Doris
      > and
      > > Bill both gone onto greener pastures ten years before that day.
      My
      > > stomach just tumbles when I think about it, all those police cars
      > and
      > > reporters from Omaha and Lincoln buzzing around like toxic wasps,
      > > shoving microphones at anyone who happened by. My cousin Danny—
      > tough
      > > as an oak tree--was deputy sheriff back then. Decked out in his
      > brown
      > > khaki and shining badge, he took me by the arm and marched me
      back
      > to
      > > my silver Camry that night when I refused to leave. I told myself
      > to
      > > just mind my own business, but when you grow up with someone like
      > > Sarah Hollister, you just have to see for yourself.
      > > Sarah was a sparkler, a real honest to goodness Fourth of
      > > July firecracker my Pa used to say, with brown eyes so deep it
      was
      > > like staring down the deepest well and I thought for sure on more
      > > than one occasion I'd get plum lost trying to climb back out.
      See,
      > me
      > > and Sarah were best friends growing up, her just living right
      down
      > > the road at her grandparent's place. Many a summer night we spent
      > > catching fireflies in empty Miracle Whip jars, shimmying up the
      > apple
      > > tree at the McKenna place, and making wishes by dropping pebbles
      or
      > > pennies down the old stone well. One night, I leaned way over the
      > > edge to see if I could catch the moonlight in the dark water
      below.
      > > Sarah yanked me back when I started to fall, my right shin
      scraped
      > > bloody on the rough stone. I remember how badly her hands shook.
      > She
      > > called me a "dumb ass" and walked me home, kicking gravel and
      > > cracking awful knock-knock jokes. I wish I'd been here that day—
      for
      > > her.
      > > I guess it must have been in my first year at Iowa State when
      > > Ma called and told me that Jesse had gotten Sarah pregnant. Sarah
      > and
      > > I'd almost done it one time, under that apple tree, under the
      moon,
      > > tongues and fingers grappling, skin slick with sweat, bellies
      slick
      > > with fear. I made her stop.
      > > Ma told me that Jesse had killed her spark, squashed it, she
      > > said. I know Sarah used to believe in wishes. Sometimes she'd
      tell
      > me
      > > about those wishes; how she wished to be a princess or maybe a
      > witch,
      > > wished her parents had stayed married. Sometimes she wished that
      > she
      > > could take away the hurt in her mom's eyes when she talked about
      > how
      > > much fun she had with her dad or wished that her dad wouldn't
      punch
      > > his fist through the wall when he spoke to her mom on the phone.
      > > Sarah wished the shaky feeling behind her ribs would stop
      forever.
      > > The only wish she'd ever gotten was living at her grandparent's
      > farm.
      > > I know Sarah loved her grandparent's farm, the deep quiet of
      > > the well with the rusted crank, the sprawling branches of the
      apple
      > > tree, wild plum thicket, old barn, and the marsh. Song sparrows
      > > twittered and sang as soft mist rose from the marsh of a summer
      > > morning while Sarah and her grandparents drank sweet, milky
      coffee
      > > from chipped blue mugs on the front porch. Ruby throated
      > hummingbirds
      > > whirred around the red flowered feeders filled with sugar water
      > that
      > > her Grandma hung under the eaves. Grandma's hands used to quiver
      a
      > > little as she poured coffee from the plaid thermos. His blue eyes
      > > twinkling, Grandpa would reach across the table and steady
      > Grandma's
      > > hand. The memory of her and the wishes still ring in my head.
      > > You see, wishes, to me, are like promises. The promise of
      > > tomorrow, the promise of secrets kept, the promise of wishes that
      > > would come true if only you believed strongly enough, the promise
      > of
      > > love, to keep unto each other--until death. I think Sarah no
      longer
      > > made wishes or promises, not to herself anyway. I wonder if Jesse
      > > made her a promise that summer afternoon when he undressed her
      > > beneath the apple tree. Her dark eyes widened at the sight of his
      > > naked body. The soft rise of his belly glistened in the dappled
      > > moonlight as his eyes and mouth explored her. Heat rose behind
      her
      > > ears and Sarah's young body quivered with the thunder of him.
      With
      > > all that she was, she couldn't keep him still. Jesse was like
      > roaring
      > > water rolling down a steep hill and there wasn't any force in
      > nature
      > > or otherwise that would make it stop.
      > > I didn't know very much about Jesse other than he came to
      > > live at his uncle's farm just down the road from Sarah's
      > > grandparents. From what Danny could tell me, Jesse was from
      Chicago
      > > and when he was eleven, Jesse came home from school one day and
      > found
      > > his mother broken and dead on the bathroom floor, one glassy blue
      > eye
      > > open and staring in the purple pulp of her face. He found his
      > father
      > > hanging from the rafters in the garage. A policewoman discovered
      > > Jesse two days later in a park nearby with a scruffy, dead dog
      > > clenched in his raw hands. Pa said he heard that Jesse bounced
      > around
      > > several foster homes before he landed here.
      > > I met Jesse only once—the summer before I went away to
      > > college. Dark hair over slit eyes, muscular. We met at the VFW
      > Fourth
      > > of July picnic and when he shook my hand, I shivered. Jesse
      > reminded
      > > me of the possum that me and Pa trapped in the garden shed. Even
      > > after Pa shot that damn possum twice with the 22, it still
      snarled
      > > and snapped, all wild eyed, frothy blood and teeth and claws. I
      > guess
      > > some critters like that possum or Jesse just don't take kindly to
      > > cages or traps. I wonder what kind of promises he must have made
      to
      > > cage Sarah.
      > > She must have promised her babies, four-year-old year old Sam
      > > and one-year-old baby Angela. Parents, especially ones like
      Sarah,
      > > try to keep the promises they make to their children. To love
      them
      > > unconditionally and protect them from harm, to kiss their skinned
      > > knees, to read them bedtime stories, listen as they practice the
      > > saxophone, attend their soccer games, teach them how to tie their
      > > shoes and drive a car, how to treat a woman and how to take care
      of
      > > their own children.
      > > It wasn't until after the second baby was born and I took
      > > that job in Chicago with the publishing house when Ma told me
      that
      > > Jesse started smacking her around. Ma said that they'd moved into
      a
      > > blue double wide down at the StarLite trailer court in West
      Plains
      > > and Jesse had gotten a job at the Toyota plant working on the
      > > assembly line building new Tundra trucks. Ma said that Jesse was
      > > never much for steady employment being that he had more of a mind
      > to
      > > drink and party all night with his boys. Ma said after four
      months,
      > > Jesse got fired for showing up drunk one morning. Something
      happens
      > > to a man or a woman without hope, without dreams and wishes. I
      > wonder
      > > how many of Sarah's wishes fell down that well into the dark well
      > of
      > > the quiet water, trapped like unanswered promises whispered in
      the
      > > moonlight. I wonder when she stopped wishing.
      > >
      > > "Sarah, ya stupid bitch. Get your ass in here," Jesse bellowed
      from
      > > the living room of the trailer. Standing in front of the blaring
      > TV,
      > > nostrils flaring, Jesse unbuckled his belt.
      > > "Don't make me come after you. Come here, ya stupid whore!"
      > > Sarah's stringy brown hair fell over her exhausted eyes.
      > > "I'm trying to finish the dishes. Can't it wait?"
      > > "You don't quite seem to understand how this works. I'm the man
      and
      > > you do what I say, or I'll beat the crap outta ya. I thought we
      > > understood each other. You made a promise to love and obey. Now
      get
      > > your ass in here and obey."
      > > She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and walked into the living
      room.
      > > Jesse raked Sarah breasts and bottom with his fingers as she
      stood,
      > > eyes cast to the floor, in front of him. With his mouth wild and
      > hot
      > > on her neck and ear, he popped the buttons on her purple waitress
      > > smock.
      > > "Jesse. Don't."
      > > Jesse grabbed Sarah's hair in his fist, pulling her face close to
      > > him. She smelled beer, stale sweat, and strong cigarettes.
      > > "This is my god damn house. I'll do as I please here, you fucking
      > > bitch. If ya don't like it, that's just tough shit."
      > > He slapped Sarah's face with his open palm; blood trickled from
      the
      > > side of her mouth.
      > > He opened his pants and shoved her to her knees.
      > >
      > > The late October cold rattled her fingers as Sarah unlocked
      > > her red Hyundai Sonata. The restaurant closed early tonight
      because
      > > Antonio's and Jasmine's oldest daughter, Shenisse was getting
      > > married. Her chest felt heavy and she sighed. Buckling her
      > seatbelt,
      > > the wipers clunked over the feathered windshield frost. Pushing
      > > tattered bangs away from her eyes, she checked her bruised cheek
      in
      > > the rearview mirror, lit a cigarette, and turned right onto Main
      > > Street. The yellow streetlight softly danced between blue wisps
      of
      > > smoke.
      > > The hallway light cast a dark silhouette around Jesse's
      > > muscular frame as he stood above Angela's crib. With the blanket
      > and
      > > diaper pulled away, cruel white light fell across the baby's bare
      > > bottom. Sarah heard the rasping of a zipper and a trembling moan;
      > > Jesse's back arched as his jeans fell. The taste of dead leaves
      and
      > > copper rose in her mouth, and something ripped behind her soul.
      All
      > > those wishes and promises swirled down deep into the indigo well
      of
      > > her eyes.
      > >
      > > Nothing moves at the bottom of a well. It is a cold dark
      > > place, gravely quiet, where if you stand and look down over the
      > black
      > > water, a dank, musty odor rises from the bleak space below; where
      > the
      > > indigo water locks wishes and promises tight beneath a rippling
      > > breast. Heart pounding, Sarah gripped the rough stone edge of the
      > > cold well against her sweaty palm. Standing at the edge of the
      well
      > > on tiptoes, Sarah dropped a rock into the inky water. Glump—
      another—
      > > glump--one more. Glump. Her hands shook like cold baby birds as
      she
      > > wrapped the twist ties around the two black plastic bags and
      > dropped
      > > them into the well.
      > > Whoosh-glump.
      > > Whoosh-glump.
      > > Blades of brown foxtails rasped against her legs. Biting her
      > tongue,
      > > Sarah's throat clotted with the taste of old pennies as each bag
      > sank
      > > into the dark water. The corner of one bag stuck out above the
      > > surface of the water, wriggled for a moment, and whispered up
      from
      > > the darkness. The inky surface shuddered, wobbled for a moment,
      and
      > > returned to a deadly calm.
      > >
      >
    • goddessinbluejeans
      Dear Carol: The refreshed detail makes this story come alive. You have recreated a new story, concentrating on the dialogue. The suggestion of baby at the
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 7, 2008
      • 0 Attachment
        Dear Carol: The refreshed detail makes this story come alive. You
        have recreated a new story, concentrating on the dialogue. The
        suggestion of "baby" at the end gives a clue as the "glump" sound
        (hey that's not a sound rocks make). I forgot about the twist, and I
        think that the violent renderings were brilliantly executed (pardon
        the pun). Perhaps I would tighten it up by not using "I" as many
        times, and use more visual description and allegory. A play within a
        play and the twists are all very brilliant. gibj--- In
        ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, albiaicehouse <no_reply@...> wrote:
        >
        > Carol,
        >
        > Small detail: Sarah is introduced "with brown eyes so deep it was
        like
        > staring down the deepest well" near the beginning, but we are told
        of
        > the "indigo well of her eyes" at the conclusion of the attempted
        > infant rape scene later in the piece. Some have eyes with color
        that
        > changes in different light and with the person's mood, but there are
        > limits. To me this extreme shift will strain the observant reader's
        > credulity and distract from the story.
        >
        > I am impressed by how this story is contemporary, socially didactic,
        > and poetic while being a riveting read that leaves some details open
        > to interpretation.
        >
        > Well done.
        >
        > Rod
        > aka albi
        >
        > www.geocities.com/neocoda
        >
        > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Carol" <carol_emt87@> wrote:
        > >
        > > The Well
        > >
        > > I recall the last time I sat at the end of this dusty road
        > > about six years ago. Over there to the west about a quarter of a
        mile
        > > sits the old McKenna place, overgrown with foxtails and black
        > > raspberry bushes, the barn dented and leaning to the right, Doris
        and
        > > Bill both gone onto greener pastures ten years before that day.
        My
        > > stomach just tumbles when I think about it, all those police cars
        and
        > > reporters from Omaha and Lincoln buzzing around like toxic wasps,
        > > shoving microphones at anyone who happened by. My cousin Danny—
        tough
        > > as an oak tree--was deputy sheriff back then. Decked out in his
        brown
        > > khaki and shining badge, he took me by the arm and marched me
        back to
        > > my silver Camry that night when I refused to leave. I told myself
        to
        > > just mind my own business, but when you grow up with someone like
        > > Sarah Hollister, you just have to see for yourself.
        > > Sarah was a sparkler, a real honest to goodness Fourth of
        > > July firecracker my Pa used to say, with brown eyes so deep it
        was
        > > like staring down the deepest well and I thought for sure on more
        > > than one occasion I'd get plum lost trying to climb back out.
        See, me
        > > and Sarah were best friends growing up, her just living right
        down
        > > the road at her grandparent's place. Many a summer night we spent
        > > catching fireflies in empty Miracle Whip jars, shimmying up the
        apple
        > > tree at the McKenna place, and making wishes by dropping pebbles
        or
        > > pennies down the old stone well. One night, I leaned way over the
        > > edge to see if I could catch the moonlight in the dark water
        below.
        > > Sarah yanked me back when I started to fall, my right shin
        scraped
        > > bloody on the rough stone. I remember how badly her hands shook.
        She
        > > called me a "dumb ass" and walked me home, kicking gravel and
        > > cracking awful knock-knock jokes. I wish I'd been here that day—
        for
        > > her.
        > > I guess it must have been in my first year at Iowa State when
        > > Ma called and told me that Jesse had gotten Sarah pregnant. Sarah
        and
        > > I'd almost done it one time, under that apple tree, under the
        moon,
        > > tongues and fingers grappling, skin slick with sweat, bellies
        slick
        > > with fear. I made her stop.
        > > Ma told me that Jesse had killed her spark, squashed it, she
        > > said. I know Sarah used to believe in wishes. Sometimes she'd
        tell me
        > > about those wishes; how she wished to be a princess or maybe a
        witch,
        > > wished her parents had stayed married. Sometimes she wished that
        she
        > > could take away the hurt in her mom's eyes when she talked about
        how
        > > much fun she had with her dad or wished that her dad wouldn't
        punch
        > > his fist through the wall when he spoke to her mom on the phone.
        > > Sarah wished the shaky feeling behind her ribs would stop
        forever.
        > > The only wish she'd ever gotten was living at her grandparent's
        farm.
        > > I know Sarah loved her grandparent's farm, the deep quiet of
        > > the well with the rusted crank, the sprawling branches of the
        apple
        > > tree, wild plum thicket, old barn, and the marsh. Song sparrows
        > > twittered and sang as soft mist rose from the marsh of a summer
        > > morning while Sarah and her grandparents drank sweet, milky
        coffee
        > > from chipped blue mugs on the front porch. Ruby throated
        hummingbirds
        > > whirred around the red flowered feeders filled with sugar water
        that
        > > her Grandma hung under the eaves. Grandma's hands used to quiver
        a
        > > little as she poured coffee from the plaid thermos. His blue eyes
        > > twinkling, Grandpa would reach across the table and steady
        Grandma's
        > > hand. The memory of her and the wishes still ring in my head.
        > > You see, wishes, to me, are like promises. The promise of
        > > tomorrow, the promise of secrets kept, the promise of wishes that
        > > would come true if only you believed strongly enough, the promise
        of
        > > love, to keep unto each other--until death. I think Sarah no
        longer
        > > made wishes or promises, not to herself anyway. I wonder if Jesse
        > > made her a promise that summer afternoon when he undressed her
        > > beneath the apple tree. Her dark eyes widened at the sight of his
        > > naked body. The soft rise of his belly glistened in the dappled
        > > moonlight as his eyes and mouth explored her. Heat rose behind
        her
        > > ears and Sarah's young body quivered with the thunder of him.
        With
        > > all that she was, she couldn't keep him still. Jesse was like
        roaring
        > > water rolling down a steep hill and there wasn't any force in
        nature
        > > or otherwise that would make it stop.
        > > I didn't know very much about Jesse other than he came to
        > > live at his uncle's farm just down the road from Sarah's
        > > grandparents. From what Danny could tell me, Jesse was from
        Chicago
        > > and when he was eleven, Jesse came home from school one day and
        found
        > > his mother broken and dead on the bathroom floor, one glassy blue
        eye
        > > open and staring in the purple pulp of her face. He found his
        father
        > > hanging from the rafters in the garage. A policewoman discovered
        > > Jesse two days later in a park nearby with a scruffy, dead dog
        > > clenched in his raw hands. Pa said he heard that Jesse bounced
        around
        > > several foster homes before he landed here.
        > > I met Jesse only once—the summer before I went away to
        > > college. Dark hair over slit eyes, muscular. We met at the VFW
        Fourth
        > > of July picnic and when he shook my hand, I shivered. Jesse
        reminded
        > > me of the possum that me and Pa trapped in the garden shed. Even
        > > after Pa shot that damn possum twice with the 22, it still
        snarled
        > > and snapped, all wild eyed, frothy blood and teeth and claws. I
        guess
        > > some critters like that possum or Jesse just don't take kindly to
        > > cages or traps. I wonder what kind of promises he must have made
        to
        > > cage Sarah.
        > > She must have promised her babies, four-year-old year old Sam
        > > and one-year-old baby Angela. Parents, especially ones like
        Sarah,
        > > try to keep the promises they make to their children. To love
        them
        > > unconditionally and protect them from harm, to kiss their skinned
        > > knees, to read them bedtime stories, listen as they practice the
        > > saxophone, attend their soccer games, teach them how to tie their
        > > shoes and drive a car, how to treat a woman and how to take care
        of
        > > their own children.
        > > It wasn't until after the second baby was born and I took
        > > that job in Chicago with the publishing house when Ma told me
        that
        > > Jesse started smacking her around. Ma said that they'd moved into
        a
        > > blue double wide down at the StarLite trailer court in West
        Plains
        > > and Jesse had gotten a job at the Toyota plant working on the
        > > assembly line building new Tundra trucks. Ma said that Jesse was
        > > never much for steady employment being that he had more of a mind
        to
        > > drink and party all night with his boys. Ma said after four
        months,
        > > Jesse got fired for showing up drunk one morning. Something
        happens
        > > to a man or a woman without hope, without dreams and wishes. I
        wonder
        > > how many of Sarah's wishes fell down that well into the dark well
        of
        > > the quiet water, trapped like unanswered promises whispered in
        the
        > > moonlight. I wonder when she stopped wishing.
        > >
        > > "Sarah, ya stupid bitch. Get your ass in here," Jesse bellowed
        from
        > > the living room of the trailer. Standing in front of the blaring
        TV,
        > > nostrils flaring, Jesse unbuckled his belt.
        > > "Don't make me come after you. Come here, ya stupid whore!"
        > > Sarah's stringy brown hair fell over her exhausted eyes.
        > > "I'm trying to finish the dishes. Can't it wait?"
        > > "You don't quite seem to understand how this works. I'm the man
        and
        > > you do what I say, or I'll beat the crap outta ya. I thought we
        > > understood each other. You made a promise to love and obey. Now
        get
        > > your ass in here and obey."
        > > She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and walked into the living
        room.
        > > Jesse raked Sarah breasts and bottom with his fingers as she
        stood,
        > > eyes cast to the floor, in front of him. With his mouth wild and
        hot
        > > on her neck and ear, he popped the buttons on her purple waitress
        > > smock.
        > > "Jesse. Don't."
        > > Jesse grabbed Sarah's hair in his fist, pulling her face close to
        > > him. She smelled beer, stale sweat, and strong cigarettes.
        > > "This is my god damn house. I'll do as I please here, you fucking
        > > bitch. If ya don't like it, that's just tough shit."
        > > He slapped Sarah's face with his open palm; blood trickled from
        the
        > > side of her mouth.
        > > He opened his pants and shoved her to her knees.
        > >
        > > The late October cold rattled her fingers as Sarah unlocked
        > > her red Hyundai Sonata. The restaurant closed early tonight
        because
        > > Antonio's and Jasmine's oldest daughter, Shenisse was getting
        > > married. Her chest felt heavy and she sighed. Buckling her
        seatbelt,
        > > the wipers clunked over the feathered windshield frost. Pushing
        > > tattered bangs away from her eyes, she checked her bruised cheek
        in
        > > the rearview mirror, lit a cigarette, and turned right onto Main
        > > Street. The yellow streetlight softly danced between blue wisps
        of
        > > smoke.
        > > The hallway light cast a dark silhouette around Jesse's
        > > muscular frame as he stood above Angela's crib. With the blanket
        and
        > > diaper pulled away, cruel white light fell across the baby's bare
        > > bottom. Sarah heard the rasping of a zipper and a trembling moan;
        > > Jesse's back arched as his jeans fell. The taste of dead leaves
        and
        > > copper rose in her mouth, and something ripped behind her soul.
        All
        > > those wishes and promises swirled down deep into the indigo well
        of
        > > her eyes.
        > >
        > > Nothing moves at the bottom of a well. It is a cold dark
        > > place, gravely quiet, where if you stand and look down over the
        black
        > > water, a dank, musty odor rises from the bleak space below; where
        the
        > > indigo water locks wishes and promises tight beneath a rippling
        > > breast. Heart pounding, Sarah gripped the rough stone edge of the
        > > cold well against her sweaty palm. Standing at the edge of the
        well
        > > on tiptoes, Sarah dropped a rock into the inky water. Glump—
        another—
        > > glump--one more. Glump. Her hands shook like cold baby birds as
        she
        > > wrapped the twist ties around the two black plastic bags and
        dropped
        > > them into the well.
        > > Whoosh-glump.
        > > Whoosh-glump.
        > > Blades of brown foxtails rasped against her legs. Biting her
        tongue,
        > > Sarah's throat clotted with the taste of old pennies as each bag
        sank
        > > into the dark water. The corner of one bag stuck out above the
        > > surface of the water, wriggled for a moment, and whispered up
        from
        > > the darkness. The inky surface shuddered, wobbled for a moment,
        and
        > > returned to a deadly calm.
        > >
        >
      • the_only_data_diva
        Dear Carol, I ve enjoyed reading this developing work. Those classes serve you well. Your muse is getting muscles. :) Marge
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 14, 2008
        • 0 Attachment
          Dear Carol,

          I've enjoyed reading this developing work. Those classes serve you
          well. Your muse is getting muscles. :)


          Marge

          --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Carol" <carol_emt87@...> wrote:
          >
          > The Well
          >
          > I recall the last time I sat at the end of this dusty road
          > about six years ago. Over there to the west about a quarter of a mile
          > sits the old McKenna place, overgrown with foxtails and black
          > raspberry bushes, the barn dented and leaning to the right, Doris and
          > Bill both gone onto greener pastures ten years before that day. My
          > stomach just tumbles when I think about it, all those police cars and
          > reporters from Omaha and Lincoln buzzing around like toxic wasps,
          > shoving microphones at anyone who happened by. My cousin Danny—tough
          > as an oak tree--was deputy sheriff back then. Decked out in his brown
          > khaki and shining badge, he took me by the arm and marched me back to
          > my silver Camry that night when I refused to leave. I told myself to
          > just mind my own business, but when you grow up with someone like
          > Sarah Hollister, you just have to see for yourself.
          > Sarah was a sparkler, a real honest to goodness Fourth of
          > July firecracker my Pa used to say, with brown eyes so deep it was
          > like staring down the deepest well and I thought for sure on more
          > than one occasion I'd get plum lost trying to climb back out. See, me
          > and Sarah were best friends growing up, her just living right down
          > the road at her grandparent's place. Many a summer night we spent
          > catching fireflies in empty Miracle Whip jars, shimmying up the apple
          > tree at the McKenna place, and making wishes by dropping pebbles or
          > pennies down the old stone well. One night, I leaned way over the
          > edge to see if I could catch the moonlight in the dark water below.
          > Sarah yanked me back when I started to fall, my right shin scraped
          > bloody on the rough stone. I remember how badly her hands shook. She
          > called me a "dumb ass" and walked me home, kicking gravel and
          > cracking awful knock-knock jokes. I wish I'd been here that day—for
          > her.
          > I guess it must have been in my first year at Iowa State when
          > Ma called and told me that Jesse had gotten Sarah pregnant. Sarah and
          > I'd almost done it one time, under that apple tree, under the moon,
          > tongues and fingers grappling, skin slick with sweat, bellies slick
          > with fear. I made her stop.
          > Ma told me that Jesse had killed her spark, squashed it, she
          > said. I know Sarah used to believe in wishes. Sometimes she'd tell me
          > about those wishes; how she wished to be a princess or maybe a witch,
          > wished her parents had stayed married. Sometimes she wished that she
          > could take away the hurt in her mom's eyes when she talked about how
          > much fun she had with her dad or wished that her dad wouldn't punch
          > his fist through the wall when he spoke to her mom on the phone.
          > Sarah wished the shaky feeling behind her ribs would stop forever.
          > The only wish she'd ever gotten was living at her grandparent's farm.
          > I know Sarah loved her grandparent's farm, the deep quiet of
          > the well with the rusted crank, the sprawling branches of the apple
          > tree, wild plum thicket, old barn, and the marsh. Song sparrows
          > twittered and sang as soft mist rose from the marsh of a summer
          > morning while Sarah and her grandparents drank sweet, milky coffee
          > from chipped blue mugs on the front porch. Ruby throated hummingbirds
          > whirred around the red flowered feeders filled with sugar water that
          > her Grandma hung under the eaves. Grandma's hands used to quiver a
          > little as she poured coffee from the plaid thermos. His blue eyes
          > twinkling, Grandpa would reach across the table and steady Grandma's
          > hand. The memory of her and the wishes still ring in my head.
          > You see, wishes, to me, are like promises. The promise of
          > tomorrow, the promise of secrets kept, the promise of wishes that
          > would come true if only you believed strongly enough, the promise of
          > love, to keep unto each other--until death. I think Sarah no longer
          > made wishes or promises, not to herself anyway. I wonder if Jesse
          > made her a promise that summer afternoon when he undressed her
          > beneath the apple tree. Her dark eyes widened at the sight of his
          > naked body. The soft rise of his belly glistened in the dappled
          > moonlight as his eyes and mouth explored her. Heat rose behind her
          > ears and Sarah's young body quivered with the thunder of him. With
          > all that she was, she couldn't keep him still. Jesse was like roaring
          > water rolling down a steep hill and there wasn't any force in nature
          > or otherwise that would make it stop.
          > I didn't know very much about Jesse other than he came to
          > live at his uncle's farm just down the road from Sarah's
          > grandparents. From what Danny could tell me, Jesse was from Chicago
          > and when he was eleven, Jesse came home from school one day and found
          > his mother broken and dead on the bathroom floor, one glassy blue eye
          > open and staring in the purple pulp of her face. He found his father
          > hanging from the rafters in the garage. A policewoman discovered
          > Jesse two days later in a park nearby with a scruffy, dead dog
          > clenched in his raw hands. Pa said he heard that Jesse bounced around
          > several foster homes before he landed here.
          > I met Jesse only once—the summer before I went away to
          > college. Dark hair over slit eyes, muscular. We met at the VFW Fourth
          > of July picnic and when he shook my hand, I shivered. Jesse reminded
          > me of the possum that me and Pa trapped in the garden shed. Even
          > after Pa shot that damn possum twice with the 22, it still snarled
          > and snapped, all wild eyed, frothy blood and teeth and claws. I guess
          > some critters like that possum or Jesse just don't take kindly to
          > cages or traps. I wonder what kind of promises he must have made to
          > cage Sarah.
          > She must have promised her babies, four-year-old year old Sam
          > and one-year-old baby Angela. Parents, especially ones like Sarah,
          > try to keep the promises they make to their children. To love them
          > unconditionally and protect them from harm, to kiss their skinned
          > knees, to read them bedtime stories, listen as they practice the
          > saxophone, attend their soccer games, teach them how to tie their
          > shoes and drive a car, how to treat a woman and how to take care of
          > their own children.
          > It wasn't until after the second baby was born and I took
          > that job in Chicago with the publishing house when Ma told me that
          > Jesse started smacking her around. Ma said that they'd moved into a
          > blue double wide down at the StarLite trailer court in West Plains
          > and Jesse had gotten a job at the Toyota plant working on the
          > assembly line building new Tundra trucks. Ma said that Jesse was
          > never much for steady employment being that he had more of a mind to
          > drink and party all night with his boys. Ma said after four months,
          > Jesse got fired for showing up drunk one morning. Something happens
          > to a man or a woman without hope, without dreams and wishes. I wonder
          > how many of Sarah's wishes fell down that well into the dark well of
          > the quiet water, trapped like unanswered promises whispered in the
          > moonlight. I wonder when she stopped wishing.
          >
          > "Sarah, ya stupid bitch. Get your ass in here," Jesse bellowed from
          > the living room of the trailer. Standing in front of the blaring TV,
          > nostrils flaring, Jesse unbuckled his belt.
          > "Don't make me come after you. Come here, ya stupid whore!"
          > Sarah's stringy brown hair fell over her exhausted eyes.
          > "I'm trying to finish the dishes. Can't it wait?"
          > "You don't quite seem to understand how this works. I'm the man and
          > you do what I say, or I'll beat the crap outta ya. I thought we
          > understood each other. You made a promise to love and obey. Now get
          > your ass in here and obey."
          > She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and walked into the living room.
          > Jesse raked Sarah breasts and bottom with his fingers as she stood,
          > eyes cast to the floor, in front of him. With his mouth wild and hot
          > on her neck and ear, he popped the buttons on her purple waitress
          > smock.
          > "Jesse. Don't."
          > Jesse grabbed Sarah's hair in his fist, pulling her face close to
          > him. She smelled beer, stale sweat, and strong cigarettes.
          > "This is my god damn house. I'll do as I please here, you fucking
          > bitch. If ya don't like it, that's just tough shit."
          > He slapped Sarah's face with his open palm; blood trickled from the
          > side of her mouth.
          > He opened his pants and shoved her to her knees.
          >
          > The late October cold rattled her fingers as Sarah unlocked
          > her red Hyundai Sonata. The restaurant closed early tonight because
          > Antonio's and Jasmine's oldest daughter, Shenisse was getting
          > married. Her chest felt heavy and she sighed. Buckling her seatbelt,
          > the wipers clunked over the feathered windshield frost. Pushing
          > tattered bangs away from her eyes, she checked her bruised cheek in
          > the rearview mirror, lit a cigarette, and turned right onto Main
          > Street. The yellow streetlight softly danced between blue wisps of
          > smoke.
          > The hallway light cast a dark silhouette around Jesse's
          > muscular frame as he stood above Angela's crib. With the blanket and
          > diaper pulled away, cruel white light fell across the baby's bare
          > bottom. Sarah heard the rasping of a zipper and a trembling moan;
          > Jesse's back arched as his jeans fell. The taste of dead leaves and
          > copper rose in her mouth, and something ripped behind her soul. All
          > those wishes and promises swirled down deep into the indigo well of
          > her eyes.
          >
          > Nothing moves at the bottom of a well. It is a cold dark
          > place, gravely quiet, where if you stand and look down over the black
          > water, a dank, musty odor rises from the bleak space below; where the
          > indigo water locks wishes and promises tight beneath a rippling
          > breast. Heart pounding, Sarah gripped the rough stone edge of the
          > cold well against her sweaty palm. Standing at the edge of the well
          > on tiptoes, Sarah dropped a rock into the inky water. Glump—another—
          > glump--one more. Glump. Her hands shook like cold baby birds as she
          > wrapped the twist ties around the two black plastic bags and dropped
          > them into the well.
          > Whoosh-glump.
          > Whoosh-glump.
          > Blades of brown foxtails rasped against her legs. Biting her tongue,
          > Sarah's throat clotted with the taste of old pennies as each bag sank
          > into the dark water. The corner of one bag stuck out above the
          > surface of the water, wriggled for a moment, and whispered up from
          > the darkness. The inky surface shuddered, wobbled for a moment, and
          > returned to a deadly calm.
          >
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.