The Woman Who Screamed

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“Johnny, we have to get the tent set up before it rains. I can see lightning off in the distance,” Jill said to her boyfriend of two years, Johnny.

Jill and Johnny were students at a university deep in the Daniel Boone National Forest in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. After their Friday classes were over, they had decided to camp and hike for the weekend. The area is a popular hiking spot.

“How is the campfire coming along, Jill?” Johnny asked.

“Great,” Jill replied. “Almost ready to light it.”

“Now all we have left to do is hang the rope in the trees for the food and we’re finished setting up the campsite. Then we can go for a short hike before dark,” Johnny said. “Well, if it doesn’t rain. I see the lightning too but it is off in the distance. It just looks like heat lightning.

Jill and Johnny were hanging a rope for food in the trees because black bears lived in the area and that was one way to possibly keep them stealing their food. Other smaller animals would also make it a feast. Lots of other, smaller animals lived in the forest as well such as raccoons and opossum that would also steal food.

Jill and Johnny finished setting up their campsite. They each grabbed an apple for their hike. Johnny retrieved their fishing poles and bait as they left to hike, telling Jill they were going to catch their dinner in the little stream that ran near their camp. There was trout in that stream and Johnny could already taste it. It was delicious cooked over a campfire and they had brought all the fixins’ to go with the fish just in case they could catch a few.

All of a sudden they heard a scream. Johnny turned to Jill, who had stopped dead in her tracks with her mouth open. “That sounded like a woman,” he said. Jill started to run toward the sound of the scream and Johnny followed her. They looked around everywhere and saw nothing. No people. Not another scream. Nothing. There was a cliff on the right side of their trail. They tentatively looked over the side of the cliff but saw no signs that anyone had fallen.

Johnny and Jill walked slowly back to where they had dropped their tackle box and fishing poles. They decided to call 911 and let the police handle this because they didn’t know what to do next. They had no weapons on them, not even a bow and arrow.

The couple went on to the stream where they planned to catch their dinner. It had turned into a partly cloudy day, but night was approaching. They baited their fishing hooks and threw them in the water. Johnny and Jill sat there in companionable silence and suddenly, Johnny had a big bite. As he pulled the fish in, he saw it wasn’t a fish at all. It was a turtle! Neither were in the mood for a turtle for dinner.

As Johnny baited his hook to try again, Jill quietly said his name. Then she said it again. When he looked at her, she nodded her head to the side. Johnny looked up and there stood a woman, covered in mud and clutching herself around her middle, tears streaming down her face.

There was no fish for dinner that night, but Johnny and Jill were back at camp with the woman who had screamed and the police and paramedics. The police were out in the forest looking for the man who had pushed the woman off the cliff. The paramedics were tending to the woman. Her family, under the crescent moon, were profusely thanking the two college students for possibly saving her life. #blogpropellant #amwriting #amblogging #writing

Literary device – elephant

Cubing the Stories 15

 

 

 

I Can See for Miles

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The last three weeks have been some of the most miserable of my life. I’m sure it has shown in my writing and not always in a good way. However, one good thing about a writer going through both good and bad situations is that it gives them so much great material to write about.

The crazy thing is that I have gone through exactly the same situation under basically the same circumstances with the same people at least two other times in my life. This is the third time. It seems that I never learn, doesn’t it? That, my friends, has been true in the past. It will not be true in the future. This time, I learned a very hard, extremely painful lesson. Much more painful than the first two times.

The first two times were painful enough and it took me years to recover. Why? I’m a sensitive and emotional person. I think that came from my dad who wore his heart on his sleeve. That made him the best dad in the world, but I’m sure he was hurt many times. I don’t exactly wear my heart on my sleeve in most situations, but I do recognize that I can be emotionally fragile in the right (or wrong) situation. I was definitely in the wrong situation this time. Probably the first two times as well. I mistook flattery for something else. People should remember that words are important. Never say words that you don’t mean or that aren’t appropriate.

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This time, I’m older, more fragile, less able to come back from being shattered into a million tiny pieces. This time,  I was very emotionally invested and the rug was pulled out from under me in a brutal way. I never got an explanation. I’m not assigning blame. I was as much to blame as anyone else involved. That doesn’t make the hurt go away.

Until the last two days, for three weeks, I’ve hardly eaten or slept. That’s what happens to me when I’m upset about something that was as important to me as this situation was. I’ve sat at my kitchen table and drank a thousand cups of tea, trying to figure it all out. I’ve talked to my good friends endlessly and they have been saints on earth to put up with me. I feel like I would have lost my mind without them.

I’ve walked around in a daze because I’ve been so distracted. I would cry and not even realize I was crying. If I could catch a couple of hours of sleep at night, I would wake up sobbing. I’ve written – a lot – because nothing else much gave me any solace. I had no family to turn to – I’m an only child and except for a few cousins I seldom hear from, my family is gone. I didn’t want to burden the couple of cousins who might actually care enough to listen. I would find myself going about my days, living in the same pattern as I did when I was involved in this situation, except there was no need now. Then, I would just cry more.

Until today. Last night, for the first time in three weeks, I slept. I didn’t have nightmares. I woke up this morning and I knew it was over. The acute grief. I felt like myself again, for the first time in a long time. I knew that this time, the third time I’ve let this happen to me, would be the last time. Never again. Never again would I allow myself to be involved in this situation. I was finally able to put it in a little box and store it away in a corner of my brain, hopefully to someday forget it forever.

Now I don’t care what happens. I can deal with it. One of my friends told me today that I sound like the person she’d always know and, funny, I feel like that person again. So whatever this situation, or any situation, throws at me, I can handle it. Bring it on! I made a terrifically bad decision and mistake. But, I was not the only person involved who made a mistake and I hope the other people involved in this situation know that.

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So why do I have a picture of Marilyn Monroe here? It’s complicated. She reminds me of many things, but right now, looking at her picture reminds me not to make bad decisions. Put yourself first. Don’t let yourself be used. Don’t assume anyone will take care of you but you. I want to look at this picture of her a lot right now.

No sympathy please though I thank you! Now I’m ready to move on. At my age, there is no time to waste. I’m going to go to the ocean. Hearing the waves and seeing the water has always soothed me. But, mainly, I want to see the ocean because I can see the horizon. I can see for miles and miles. I need that. I need to be able to see for miles and imagine what a good future is waiting for me. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #shortfiction #romance #marilynmonroe #dailyprompt

The Silver and the Divorce

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Waiting on this divorce was so hard. Ana couldn’t wait until the property settlement was worked out and it was all finally in motion. That hadn’t happened yet. Now her soon-to-be ex-husband was outside mowing the yard. He was not really supposed to be on the property and now, on top of that, someone was knocking at the door. Ana went to the door. Her husband was standing there.

“Ana, I need to come in, cool off, and get a drink of water. It’s hot out here,” Walter said, her husband. Ana, being a kind soul, lets Walter inside. Instead of walking into the kitchen to get a glass of water, Walter walked straight to the living room and the silver chest. He reached in, took the small silver chest out, and started to walk outside.

“What in the hell are you doing?” Ana cried.

“What does it look like?” Walter said.

While he was distracted, Ana grabbed the silver chest out of his hands before he could get out the door. She thought he was going to hit her.

“Give that back to me,” Walter said.

Ana said, “Walter, I inherited that silver. That is not yours. Don’t you dare think you can remove that from this house.” Walter tried to grab it from her again.

Ana’s sister was temporarily living with her during her divorce as they didn’t feel, even before this incident, they could trust Walter. Marcia was standing in the living room, getting ready to dial 911 on the phone.

Marcia said, “Walter, I’m calling the police if you don’t get out of this house immediately.”

Walter didn’t leave. Instead, he started taunting the two women. Calling Ana names. Saying terrible things. Marcia immediately called the police and they didn’t take long to show up. There must have been a cruiser in the area.

A male and female police officer exited the cruiser and Ana went outside and told the officers what had happened, over Walter’s screams and insults. Ana felt her temper about to explode as she had been through a lot with Walter already, during the course of the separation. She was trying to keep her emotions in check and having a hard time doing it.

The male officer took Walter aside to talk to him as the female officer talked to Ana. There was a restraining order against Walter. He wasn’t even supposed to be there, let alone removing property from the house. The officer’s told Walter to leave and Ana to go inside the house. Before Walter left, he continued to scream insults at Ana. Ana was about to explode and the female officer could tell. She had her hand on Ana’s arm.

Finally, Walter said the wrong thing before the officer’s could get him off the property. He screamed insults about Ana’s family and the fact she had inherited a number of items from them. This was a sensitive subject between them as Ana’s family had always been good to Walter and loved him. It was enough to cause Ana’s temper to finally blow.

Suddenly, Ana did not care that two police officers were standing in the yard with she and Walter. She saw the metal gas can on the lawn right next to her and she picked it up and swung it at Walter’s head. Not once, but twice. Had Walter not ducked, she would have hit him with it. All the while, Ana was returning the screaming insults at Walter as he began to call her a crazy whore. He had pushed her too far.

The action was almost too fast for the police officers but as Walter came toward Ana, the male police officer grabbed Walter as the female police officer just kept her hand on Ana’s arm and quietly told her to shut up right now. Walter had clearly violated the restraining order but Ana had also tried to assault him, even though she did it to protect herself, her sister, and her property.

Walter was sent away with a warning not to come back on the property while he was under the restraining order. Ana was warned, by a giggling female police officer, not to assault her husband no matter how tempting it was. Everyone went to their respective corners.

As Ana and Marcia tried to relax that evening by reading and watching television, they could hear Walter’s motorcycle circling and circling the block. Ana thought of her silver and decided to sleep with it under her bed. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #romance #divorce #blogpropellant

Read Part 2, The Silver and the Divorce HERE

@Copyright Rosemary Carlson 2016

 

 

 

The Play: The Power of Magic, Part 2

To read Part 1 of The Play,  click here The Play: The Power of Magic

Josh and April, after reading the script for The Play: The Power of Magic, decided something was wrong. It didn’t seem complete. They decided to send it back to the theatre department’s scriptwriters, make some suggestions, and ask their opinions. Two days passed and it was getting close to time to try to find actors for the play. Josh and April were getting nervous. Then, the scriptwriter’s sent back the script and they were in agreement. They expanded the script with some changes.

Josh explains the revised script. He tells April that Rachael did, indeed help give Peter back his youth with her magic for a little while. But no man would be content with regaining his youth just for a little while. The scriptwriter’s realized that was the flaw in the script. Instead, it continued like this:

The reason the fantasy only last for a little while was because Peter was also involved with a woman named Prissy. One of the main reasons Peter felt old was because Prissy made him feel old with her judgmental attitude and her criticisms of him. Prissy was a woman old before her time and wanted to control every aspect of Peter’s life. Peter thought he needed Prissy.

Usually, there is a reason a man stays with such a woman. We all have flaws and, in Peter’s case, his flaw caused him to stay with Prissy – his need for the security that money brought. Prissy came from a wealthy family and she had the money, together with Peter’s money, to allow them to do whatever they wanted, including the travel that Peter loved. Peter had traded his freedom and basic happiness for money and the temporary pleasure it brought him. In turn, he had to bow to Prissy.

Peter had known Rachael and her magic fairy dust for many years. Somehow, they had never quite connected. This time, Rachael could help Peter regain his youth and vitality and they rediscovered the love they had once known and had even almost once acted on. That magic wand was powerful. Peter and Rachael reconnected in a way neither ever knew was possible through the magic wand and fairy dust. They fell deeply in love.

Despite the love between them, sometimes love is not enough. They had to come back down to earth and Peter realized that Rachael did not have the financial resources that Prissy did. Their combined money would not have taken them as far. When Prissy found out about the relationship between Peter and Rachael, she threatened to take it all away from Peter. He bowed to the pressure, thinking he valued money and travel more than he valued love. Even Rachael’s magic fairy dust, magic wand, magnet, smiling face, and other tools of the magic trade could not compete with the almighty dollar.

A tragedy did indeed occur. Peter went back to Prissy and cut off all contact with Rachael. Rachael’s heart was broken as were her magic powers. The fairy dust would never be used again. The magic wand and magnet were dumped in an old chest in the attic. Rachael went back to her life, alone, as she couldn’t love anyone but Peter. Peter had promised her, the last night they were together, that he would always be in her life. He was gone. Her love was gone. #blogpropellant #amwriting #amblogging #writing #fantasy #NecessaryFic #shortstorymag #shortfiction8

 

The Play: The Power of Magic, Part 1

The Play: The Power of Magic, Part 2

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“The committee has chosen the script for us,” Jose says to April, the other director in the theatre department of the university.

Their department has been charged with putting on a play starring two characters and a committee has been sorting through scripts trying to choose the right one.

“It’s a fantasy come-to-life with a little magic,” Josh says. Let me tell you about the script. It’s a one-act play.

Peter is a middle-aged man who is feeling old. He’s happy in his life and has some fun but not always the fun he likes to have. He doesn’t smile much. Rachael is a middle-aged woman who has never felt old. She smiles all the time and has a secret. She believes in magic. Especially when it comes to Peter, who she has always loved. Peter is drawn to her as by a magnet because she helps him feel not so old anymore. He doesn’t know about her magic wand that sprinkles fairy dust along his path to help him.

Peter has had some health issues that have made him feel old to the point of using a cane and being a wise one. He feels the clock is ticking on his life.

Rachael examines Peter and his life with her magic magnifing glass. She sees a man who has lost some of his self-confidence, his quick smile, and the twinkle in his eyes. He’s become convinced he needs someone to lean on.as the clock ticks down on his life. Rachael doesn’t believe any of that.

With her smiling face, magic wand and fairy dust, and magnet, she gives Peter back his youth, but only for a little while.

A tragedy befalls Peter and Rachael. Rachael learns of the tragedy through a letter. Fantasies always come to an end even though Peter and Rachael planned for this one to last a lifetime. Rachael’s love for Peter will never come to an end. #blogpropellant #amwriting #amblogging #writing #fantasy #NecessaryFic #shortstorymag #shortfiction8

Cubing the Stories #13

 

 

The Sound of Silence

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The Story of Hannah, Introduction

Hannah hears the television blaring in her living room. It seems to reverberate in her head and the words don’t even register. She craves silence. Not all the time. But can’t she convince her husband that silence first thing in the morning is necessary for her mental health? Who wants to hear the talking heads on cable television at 6 a.m.? Fortunately for Hannah, her husband usually sleeps late and she gets up fairly early. It’s been this way since they retired. She can usually, but not always, grab a couple of hours of precious silence before he gets out of bed and she treasures that time. This morning is not one of those mornings and she feels like she is going to scream. To make it worse, her husband is becoming hard of hearing and the television volume seems to be increasing as the days pass.

When Hannah built her home, they were not married. She built it thinking she would be living in it alone. It isn’t built to give her a room where she can be shut off from the noise of the television in the living room. There is no escaping it. The only possible escape is the sunroom and it is not in shape to be used right now. It’s currently used for storage though Hannah wants to change that and use it for a retreat. It needs a better heating and cooling system. Other than that, it is a room that could be closed off from the rest of the house and she could have her quiet space. Working on the sunroom is Hannah’s goal. Actually, Hannah’s goal is to live with at least a modicum of silence.

Actually, Hannah objects to only the television. She loves her music. All kinds of music. IF she lived alone, her music would like play in her home most of the time. Classic rock and roll. Classical music. Jazz. She would love to install an intercom system to pipe it through the house. There is no use to do that now. Even though her husband does like some music, their musical tastes are different and when he is at home and indoors, he only wants to hear and see the television. Not music. Hannah wonders why his wishes seem to be the only thing that matters. She has been wondering this for awhile now.

The worst offenders on television are the cable news shows. Hannah’s opinion of their news coverage is low. Her husband watches one and then another all day on the days he stays inside the house. Hannah feels the news coverage is biased. She prefers to get her news coverage from other sources and read it when she is ready to do so. She doesn’t like to be bombarded with what the talking heads have to say the first thing in the morning all the way to the last thing in the evening. Hannah subscribes to and reads several newspapers a day. A state-wide paper. The Wall Street Journal to keep up on the financial world. The New York Times as she enjoys the columnists. She gets the paper copies of those newspapers. Hannah also likes to get different news perspectives and reads the BBC news and other international news sources like the Financial Times. She can form her own opinions without the assistance of newscasters who know no more than she does. It’s very difficult for Hannah to read her news and digest it with the television in the background.

The constant presence of television in Hannah’s household is a bone of contention between she and her husband. Although Hannah does not like to push her opinion on her husband, she feels strongly that having the presence of these talking heads on news programs in our lives is one thing that is wrong with our country and our society. If a person is susceptible, it is almost brainwashing. Then there is her need for silence.

In the short run, Hannah supposes she can have her sunroom renovated to her liking and retreat to it to escape the assault on her ears. The long run is another question entirely. The television is not the only source of incompatibility between she and her husband. Hannah has a lot of thinking to do and decisions to make.

 

 

Looking Back, Part 3

Looking Back, Part 1

Looking Back, Part 2

Now, Looking Back, Part 3

Serena gets up, wearily, from her table and dries her tears. She rinses out her cup and looks out on the landscape she has held so dear for these past years. She came here to find peace and she did but only for awhile. She knows it’s time to leave her home. She doesn’t have much of importance to leave behind. In some ways, she has always traveled light. She has one child, Kenneth, but he and his family live away and she can contact him later. She has some cousins left. She doesn’t think any but a few will miss her and she will let them know. She has some good friends who she will call. They will keep her confidence. Serena has made her decision. Now to act on it before the man comes back.

What do you take with you when you are never coming back? Serena will, of course, take Maggie, her small dog. She goes about making room in her car for Maggie, first and foremost. What she takes now depends on the room she has left. She will need some of her clothes so she quickly sorts some summer and some winter clothes into two small suitcases. Her good jewelry is precious to her and she might have to sell it so it also goes into her car. She pulls several of her grandmother’s old quilts out of the closet along with one set of good sheets. Either she or Maggie or both can use those. That’s it for the bedrooms.

Her computers go with her. She will have to depend on establishments with free WiFi. A few canvases and her paints and there is only one more thing to take out of her storage. Her family pictures. She struggles with the boxes and dumps them all into one box. Out of her bathroom, she stuffs the bare necessities into one of her suitcases. Her makeup, some hair products, and all of her medicines.

In the living room, she stops in front of the fireplace and looks around her as she tries to calm her dog. Maggie is sensing change and is getting agitated. Almost everything in Serena’s house has meaning to her. Her legs start to shake and for a brief moment, she doesn’t think she can do this. Doesn’t think she can leave it all behind. What is the alternative? In order to continue on in this life, she would have to sell her soul. That would be the price of peace. She knows that price is too high. She knows that superficial “things” cannot buy her happiness. She knows she cannot live with herself if she makes that bargain with the devil.

Serena walks into her kitchen, grabs Maggie’s dog food, bowl, and medicine, and a few bottles of water for herself. She carries everything, except Maggie, to the car and begins to pack it.

Within a few minutes, the car is packed and Serena picks up Maggie and settles her in the car. She lays her cell phone on the seat beside her so she will have use of the GPS.

Serena has been thinking of this plan of action for days now. She went to the bank earlier in the day and cleaned out the accounts. She is leaving the man the house and everything else. At least the money will help keep gas in her car for awhile and food in Maggie’s belly. She will arrange for the income she gets to make its way to her when she decides where to stop. She hurriedly gets in her car, tears streaming down her face, and pulls out of the drive. She stops briefly, looking back, remembering the peace she once found here.

As Serena drives away, amid the devastation she feels is a tiny glimmer of hope. She doesn’t know if she is going north, south, east, or west. But, she thinks maybe something good awaits her at the end of her long road away from what was once home.

 

 

 

Looking Back, Part 2

Here is a recap of Looking Back, Part 1

Now, Looking Back, Part 2

As Serena sat at her table and cried, she realized she had been through this before. This man had been her husband for 20 years and they had divorced. Then, she had remarried him after 16 years without him and this had caused her to jeopardize everything she had and would have. Once she had looked up marriage statistics and found that with individuals who marry the same partner twice, only two percent have successful marriages. Serena suddenly feels like a statistic after she remembers reading that. She had spent 20 years learning how incompatible they were.

Serena and her husband have now been married five years, second time around. The first year was nice. The man kept the promises he had made to her before they married. Beginning in the second year, all those promises fell to the wayside and the marriage had gotten increasing bad. Now they weren’t even sleeping together and the house was quiet. They didn’t talk. They didn’t communicate at all, which was one of the promises.

She finds herself thinking back five years ago when she talked to the man again after being apart from him for 16 years. He was down on his luck. He was working a fairly blue color job but only part time. He told her that he didn’t want to work full-time ever again. He didn’t make any money to save any money, but that wasn’t the biggest problem he had. He was a heavy drinker and a gambler. He had gambled away most of his retirement portfolio, second-mortgaged the house several times to get cash, and a variety of other issues. He started coming to Serena’s house and she could not turn him away. He was trying to quit drinking and gambling.

Oh, she feels so angry when she thinks of all this! Promising her that he would quit his bad behavior, playing on her sympathies, is what got her into this mess. She remarried him to help him and, to be truthful, because she was lonely and didn’t trust anyone. It was the worst mistake she had ever made. He promised her things would be different than in their first marriage. Things aren’t different at all. In fact, they are worse.

Serena is a gifted painter. She has found her muse again and wants to capture her thoughts and feelings on canvas. The constant uproar in her household and in her head and heart is killing her creativity. She goes to her studio to paint and even though the knows exactly what she wants to do, it isn’t happening at the end of her brush. Anything she painted would be angry. As angry at herself for making such a stupid mistake as angry at him.

He doesn’t want her to paint again. He doesn’t want her to do anything but tend to him. He’s jealous. Jealous of even her painting. Certainly jealous of her friends and family. How can someone be jealous of even inanimate objects like a canvas that stands before her? Maybe she should just let those angry feelings pour our onto that canvas, but she hates for her cherished painting to be dark and angry.

Serena calls the man her soon-to-be ex-husband because that is what he should be. In reality, no divorce action has yet been filed. He was so vicious when they divorced the first time. It frightens her that the same thing will happen this time. The first divorce almost destroyed her. She isn’t as strong now. What will a second divorce do to her? How can she have let herself get to this place? Where does she go from here?

She knows she has to go somewhere from here. Somewhere different. She has to take some action to save herself. But what? That’s what she has to figure out. She doesn’t feel she has much time left. #amwriting #blogging #writing #shortfiction #fiction #dailyprompt

Looking Back

Serena was shaking all over. She had just had another encounter with her soon-to-be ex-husband and it wasn’t pleasant. Of course, it never was. She sat at her kitchen table, trying to calm herself. It wasn’t working very well. He had burst into her home, his intent to take her jewelry. Serena had inherited the jewelry from a family member. It was not his. But, in a divorce, everything was up for grabs. She managed to keep him from taking it.

She made herself a cup of tea and went back to the table, hoping the effects of the calming tea would help her. As she sipped her tea, her thoughts slipped back to her youth. They married when they were both 19 years old. She had thought she was so wise and he was just what she wanted. He was kind and she was not used to kind. She had a steady boyfriend in high school and a couple of other brief relationships but those men did not fit the description of “kind.” When he was kind to her, she fell hard for him, even though there were so many other factors she should have considered. She considered none. She was too young and too inexperienced. No one had ever taught her what to look for in a potential husband.

Much too late, Serena’s parents tried to talk her out of the marriage but all she could think of was that he was kind. Things were peaceful between them and Serena was not used to a peaceful environment. She had grown up in a chaotic home. Kind and peaceful drew her in like a moth to a flame.

Of course, Serena could not know that he would become less than kind as they grew older because of other characteristics he had. Nor could she know that their environment would become as chaotic as the one she grew up in because of those same characteristics. We tend to seek youth all of our lives. But when we are young, we don’t have enough wisdom to always make good decisions.

Perhaps Serena could have seen the future if she had listened to her parents. They tried to tell her that their backgrounds were too different, their education differences too wide, their attitudes toward work too diverse. But, Serena, being a young, romantic girl, thought of nothing but what she defined as love. So they married.

As Serena sits at her kitchen table, musing about the state of her relationship with this man, it is 41 years later. Her parents are, of course, gone now. If they were still here, she can hear them saying, “I told you so.” As soft tears run down her face, she wonders what to do next. #fiction #shortfiction #dailyprompt