‘Writing Prompt’ Stories
Writing Prompt Stories
Below are the nine submissions to the Writing Prompt Stories Contest. All of them were very good – it wasn’t easy picking the two finalists (also included). The stories are in no particular order except for the winners.
Thanks to everyone who entered, and to everyone who voted for their favorite story – and to the winners!!
Grand Prize Winner!!
Forty-two Years by Michelle Frank
She appeared like an apparition out of the mist, but it’d been months since I believed this illusion. She was gone and no amount of wishful thinking was going to make her return.
She left the day Henry said, “Dad, its time to let her go. You will see that it is for the best. Dr. Mason has some papers you will need to sign.”
Forty-two years and they just want me to sign her away like an old appliance. Forty-two years of Sunday pot-roasts and the nightly news. Forty-two years of Florida vacations and stockings hanging from the bar in the bathroom. Forty-two years of tender moments and cherished memories. Who’s gonna make the roast now?
“Dad, thinking about it is only going to make it harder.”
My sweet Caroline, what have they done to you? Her vibrant green eyes – ever observant – taped shut. Her delicate mouth – quick to sing a beautiful song or strike with poignant rhetoric – now filled with translucent tubing. Her slender supple arms – notorious for soothing all my sorrows – stabbed like dime-store pin cushions. Her hair, her vibrant glow, her supple body all withered to just a ghost of what they’d once been.
Oh Caroline, is this what you want? You’ve done so much for this tired, unworthy man. I’m afraid you’re trapped inside yourself, waiting for me to so or say the right thing. You know I’m no good with decisions. What if I screw up, Caroline? What if I send you to see our Lord and you’re not ready? Because I know I’m not ready.
I didn’t mean to cry in front of the boy, but the tears betrayed me. Henry put his arm around my shoulder, “Dad, its time to let her go. She’s been on life-support for weeks. It‘s time.”
Is that what you want? Is it time to let you go? The flesh on my cheek, chilled from the drying tears, suddenly warmed with the tender memory of her kiss. Before I lost my nerve, I signed my name on the forms. A blur of activity happened around me as I sat, holding my sweet Caroline’s hand. The doctor busied himself, removing the artificial life that was now leaving my wife.
And then we were alone, me staring lovingly at my slumbering bride like I’d done ever Saturday morning since we married. In forty-two years, she never caught me, but I’m sure she knew. She knew everything about me and she yet loved me anyway. I rested her soft hand on the bed, kissed her goodbye and left the room.
Now, every Saturday morning, she appears to me, but my heart knows she isn’t there. Yet I’d stopped and allowed the fleeting glimmer of hope to seep in and I was left with the heavy heart of disappointment. After a moment, the delusion dissipated and I walked into to the mist of the morning, heading home alone.
First Runner Up!!
Laws of Motion by Frank Chambers
I had watched them quarrel through the window. Their duet articulated and clear, hands gesturing wildly, fervently stirring the air around them. Beads of sweat coalesced on the man’s forehead, patiently waiting for the inevitable pull of gravity to yank them shimmering downward.
My pause had happened in the center of the sidewalk, mid-stride, as they suddenly appeared in the dirty glass. Urban reclamation had not overwhelmed this part of Houston, and most businesses focused more on their bottom line than the outward appearance of their store front. Two blocks down, towards the freeway, where town homes stood rank upon rank, prepared for their invasion of the ghetto, Windex helped to expose business’s true capitalist intent. But not here.
Like fission, the woman behind me collided with my stopped body and bounced to the left, knocking a man who followed close behind into the street. The collective energy of our successive impacts echoed in screeching tires as a purple Impala swerved to avoid the man stumbling into the lane. A crunch quickly followed, as its front end completed our daisy chain by planting itself against a grimy tree on the opposite side of the street. Shiny spinners satisfied Newton’s first law of motion, reflecting the afternoon sun as they lazily rotated.
Everything beyond the bump to my back had gone unnoticed. Inside, the angry ballet continued, hands dashing and flying, lips moving; they appeared to be locked in pantomimed hand to hand combat.
The sounds around me lapped at the edges of my concentration. Unknown, angry words were directed at me, but my focus had not broken; I continued to stare, the center of my attention across the pane. Outside, however, I had become the center of the world.
While I had been paying close attention to the events on the other side of the glass scrim, drama behind me unfolded quickly. From the Impala sprang a large man, face as purple as his paint job, who stormed, unimpeded, in my direction.
“Hey!” was the first sound I recognized before being yanked around fiercely, his gravelly voice thick with purple fury. I never saw his meaty hand, only heard the impact as his knuckle broke against my jaw, leaving it purple and bruised. In stark contrast to the original series of collisions of which I had been unaware, I participated wholly in these. My body thumped against the filthy window. I smudged the dirt, leaving an impression of a man sliding earthward as distinct as the imprint of a fist tattooed on my face. Gravity won the battle against my knees.
The couple behind the window had finally noticed the action. Seeing my slumped form, they dashed outside, crouching over me, their argument forgotten.
“What were you arguing about?” I whispered, still focused despite my throbbing head.
The man gestured to the woman rapidly, hands flying. She looked down at me before speaking. Her hands accompanied her words, her face confused.
“Nothing, we were just talking.”
Blackberry Jam – Jeanette Rose
She appeared like an apparition out of the mist. Her smile was Cheshire-ish and I knew there was mischievousness in the way that she looked at me. The night clung to our skin and the fog seeped silently through the trees. There was a low murmuring of crickets.
Three hundred years since we last saw each other. She knew how to find me so well, as I hopped from body to body. Never could I resist her. But the polarity of our souls disrupted time. Tearing fragments into thin air. Weaving other dimensions into ours. Invariably within a short time of our meetings new species were discovered by scientists.
She reached her hand out. Her slender fingers, pale and fragile. I laced my fingers through hers, my sister. She was as though a reflection of myself, floating through the fog.
“It’s a good night.” She grinned. Her voice flicked with traces of mystery and shadow and fun.
How could this fog, move serpentine around us, when the air was so still? Golden flecks pated her head and she looked more angelic than any demon could.
“What’d you have in mind?” I asked. I couldn’t help but have the inflections of the times and place I now lived. I spent twenty years in this body, in this culture not knowing of my sister. Until the very moment she appeared through the trees. Thousands of years of memories flooded me but you wouldn’t know it, I stood so still watching her grinning at me.
“I want to pick blackberries with you.” She said. She held baskets in her hands that weren’t there moments ago. Envy flashed through me like a hot wave. Why did I have to be bound by the physical? “You haven’t forgotten about me have you?” She asked, hurt in her voice.
“Good,” she said and handed me a basket.
The night enveloped us. The sticky hot air of the summer in the south abated into cool zephyrs. My hair felt light on my neck.
“I’ve missed you,” I told my sister.
We walked to the bushes, full and brimming with fat blackberries. I gently tugged at one on top, it snapped from the branch and I put it in my mouth. Biting into it the sweet juices cascaded over my tongue.
“I’m making blackberry jam at my home,” my sister told me. “It’s too bad you can’t taste any.”
The bottom of the baskets filled quickly with plump fruit.
“You could always leave me a jar.” I said. Though I knew once she left she wouldn’t be able to find me again. Not for a long time anyhow. She just smiled because she knew what I knew.
Our baskets were full and the hot sticky air was returning. I wanted to hug her good-bye but I knew that was impossible. The disruptions by our proximity would be trouble enough.
In the morning I ate fresh blackberries with my breakfast. I felt bad for those ‘new species’ bound to be discovered soon but I sure hoped they liked their new home.
—————————————————————————Cupid’s Assistant (partial) – Becca Legassie
(I don’t know if the formatting will hold on this story. If it doesn’t – sorry!)
EXT/INT. FRONT OF SHOP/INSIDE SHOP – AFTERNOON
From doorway of shop pan to left down sidewalk
Man and Woman standing in front of the shop window having a very heated argument
From inside shop focus thru window on Man and Woman standing on other side of window still arguing
Pull back until the whole shop is seen from Beth’s point view while standing behind the main counter
Beth turns to Eric on her right, focus on Eric who looking down organizing order forms
It’s sad to see people upset with each other.
Without looking up
Why do you say that?
Pull back more to include Beth in shot
Do you see that couple out in of the window. . .
Beth points toward window as Eric looks up and NODS his head
I have been watching them quarrel for a few minutes now and it just breaks my heart. It’s only three
more days till Valentines Day and they should be happy not upset. I wish I could do something for them.
TURNING to Beth Eric SHRUGS, PATS her arm then looks back down at order forms.
Without looking back up he says
So why don’t you. . . you usually have no problem patching up
Focus on Beth in thought for a few breaths Her face brightens, she looks around the shop a minute two,
zeros in on a set of stuffed monkeys that are connected by their hands, they are a boy and girl that
play the song “You Lift Me Up”
I have an idea. I’ll be right back
She walks over to the monkeys on the shelf, picks them up and heads toward the door
Eric looks up smiles, shakes his head, laughs a little then says
I knew you couldn’t resist it.
As Beth grabs the door handle she looks back over her left shoulder at Eric
You better be careful or your boss just might fire you.
Back to Eric at counter still looking down
OH! I’m so scared.
On Beth at door
FADE TO BRIGHT SUNLIGHT
While laughing, she turns the door handle and heads out the door
EXT. FRONT OF SHOP – MOMENTS LATER
On door as it opens and Beth steps out of the shop with stuffed monkeys in her hands
Beth turns left and walks over to couple, stops facing window with man on left and woman on right
Looks and smiles to each of them as if they had not just been fighting then says
I think these monkeys are just the cutest stuffed monkeys I have ever seen. . .
Holds them out between couple causing them to look down at them.
. . . and if you push this button . . .
On Beth’s finger at monkey’s foot, she pushes the button as she says
. . . on the boys foot it will play . . .
On monkeys as the music plays
YOU LIFT ME UP . . . AND I’M TOUCHING THE BLUE SKY . . . YOU LIFT ME UP . . . I’M ON TOP OF
THE WORLD . . . I’M GETTING CLOSER TO HEAVEN . . . IN EVERY LITTLE THING I LOVE . . . YOU
LIFT ME UP . . .
Pull back as the music stop to see Beth, Man and Woman in frame, everyone stands still for about two breaths
and them all three start laughing
They sure break the tension in a situation now don’t they? (chuckling)
Looks to Woman, takes her hand, and smiles hesitantly at her. She takes a deep breath,
holds it for over a minute, lets it out, relaxes shoulders, shakes her head, starts to smile and says
It’s just too hard to stay mad after hearing those cute monkeys.
She looks at man, squeezes his hand, allows smile to reach her eyes and looks back down at monkeys
I think it would only be right if we take them home with us. I don’t think any one else would get as
much out of them as we just did.
While turning toward Beth she continues speaking
I would imagine you came out of this shop. (waves free hand at shop) I would like to thank you for
being brave enough to come between us.
Man pulls Woman next to him in a side hug, Woman lowers eyes then head as she leans again Man
I’m sorry my Love, I shouldn’t have started this argument. It wasn’t fair to you. Thank you . . .
He looks at Beth and reaches out his free hand to shake her hand
Beth holds monkeys in one hand and shakes the Mans hand
It’s good to see someone with the true Valentines Day spirit.
He motions toward the monkeys
I would love to buy the monkeys and maybe some flowers to go with them.
Beth, with a huge smile on her face, hands the Man the monkeys and starts toward the
shop door, turns slightly to motion to couple to follow
All three walk thru the door to shop
As the door closes you see Ryan standing a hundred feet or so down on the sidewalk smiling
CUT TO NEXT SCENE (end)
Gift of the Mist – JoLynne Valerie
The afternoon was foggy after the rain. I didn’t mind. Fog held mystery and an unknowable potential. As though anything could be lurking in the fog… As though magic or supernatural things could happen when there was fog.
I walked along the path my feet had worn by treading the same grassy way to my spot in the woods. I was going to my secret, my sanctuary. I could go to that spot in the woods and at once feel calm. I needed that, then. And with good reason.
As I walked, the heavy-ness of my belly created a dull ache, low in my back. Twice or maybe three times, a tiny foot or elbow pressed itself out, stretching the already taut skin of my swollen stomach. Soon, the doctor had told me. This baby will be coming soon, Maddie.
Then, ‘soon’ had then been refined to a calculated projection: by week’s end. The word was, Dr. Moore seldom guessed wrong. Midwifery ran in her family; truth be told, though she was a board licensed OB, Dr. Julie Moore relied on what she called ‘silent communications’ from the womb, to make her best guess at when mothers could expect their bundles of joy.
This baby will be coming soon. By week’s end.
My pregnancy had been the greatest miracle, and the greatest challenge. To discover I was pregnant at the height of my career, just when I’d hit my stride… well, surprise, surprise.
Life does that to you, sometimes. Throws unexpected things into the mix, just to get your attention. Or arranges for things to suddenly shift without warning, just to keep you on your toes. Sometimes, I learned, the unexpected thing, the sudden shift, can be… a baby.
Justin had been great about it. We’d been… fine. We were employed, and we had the space. Justin and I were lucky, and we knew it. Babies were gifts; who were we to complain?
When I told Justin that first night, I knew all over again why I’d married him. Justin came home from work as he often did, tired but ready to unwind with a glass of wine. I’d been standing in the living room, having moved away from the window where I’d been pacing.
I think he knew right away, when he saw me. Well, he knew something. The look in my eyes, the startled expression I still wore on my face – the man who’d loved me for more than a decade knew that something was… happening. When I told him what that something was, Justin crossed the room to where I stood and took my face in his hands. He uttered just one word.
“Maddie…” In his voice, there was wonder and there was love.
He’d sipped red wine; I’d sipped club soda with a wedge of lime.
We spoke in soft murmurs, agreeing that so many childless couples would be grateful for our unexpected development.
“A baby…” Justin said softly to me that night. “Our baby…”
I had a supportive marriage, we were ready and able. So where was the challenge? What I didn’t have was my mother. I’d always expected she would be there for my first pregnancy. I imagined going to doctor’s appointments and to buy cribs and booties, with my mother.
That would never happen. She had been gone for nearly two years. Waves of grief took me when mom passed. I hadn’t been prepared for the void I would feel, and I’d been unable to anticipate the kind of raw emotion that would descend, any given day at any given moment.
Now, as I tread the path to my place in the woods, the pain was fresh once again. This baby will be coming soon. There, just ahead, I could see my spot.
I reached it and sat down on the fallen log immediately. I was grateful for the support. The air was misty and thick. Scent of the good, rich earth filled my nostrils. Around me there was bird-song, even in this fog. My heart-beat slowed and my mind began to relax.
Then, one tear. It fell unchecked onto my hands, loose and limp in my lap. And then another tear… and another.
The crying was good. I cried for my mother dying too soon, and I cried because I still missed her desperately. I cried for my baby, who would never know her grandmother. I was drifting on a sea of emotional release.
But I was not so unaware as to miss the… shift in the woods.
Suddenly, there was a fullness around me. And a kind of electricity in the air. I realized the birds had stopped singing. Something old and wise within me knew enough to stop, and pay attention.
I blinked the last tears from my eyes and looked left to right, straining to see I didn’t know what. Air, heavy with mist, was moist on my skin.
And then I saw. I saw her.
She appeared like an apparition out of the mist. Wearing blue jeans and a pull-over top I’d seen her wear so many times. She was smiling in that ever so slight way she’d had, with just one corner of her mouth pulled up into a small tuck.
She came close, but not too close. She regarded me and allowed me to regard her.
I wondered if I’d lost my mind. Had perhaps fallen victim to hallucination or some kind of willed vision, in my grief. But the moment I had that thought, she opened her mouth to speak.
“I never left, not really. I’ve been here all along, Maddie. And I’ll be with you when you need me most.”
I wanted to ask how. How would that be possible? Where had she gone? When would I be able to understand it all? But as abruptly as she had appeared, my mother faded from my sight.
Had I imagined her into appearing to me, from my own deep place of need? Was I like every other undone human being who has ever created a figment to ease themselves out of a dark void?
I remembered every claim I’d ever heard, every television show I’d ever watched. And I believed. Yes, I believed.
Then a warmth bathed my thighs, and it slowly trickled down both legs.
The contractions wouldn’t necessarily begin right away, Dr. Moore had explained to me. But when my water broke, she’d said, it was time to come to the hospital. I glanced at my watch, holding it close to my face so I could see it in the fog. Justin would be home. The walk was short back to the house; I’d be with him in just five minutes.
Dr. Moore had been right, and she’d been wrong. My baby was coming soon, but we would not wait a week. Kari Rose would be born that day. And my mother would be with me… in spirit, for the birth of her first grand-baby girl.
The Quarrel – Urel Sawyers
“You must be a special kind of wimp!” I told myself. Running to … only God knows where, my heart beating like heavy raindrops on a zinc roof. The pounding seemed to reverberate in my head making it feel like it was about to explode.
The park was in sight and it was empty. That was a good thing. I reached the bench, out of breath and just collapsed there. The tiredness subsided gradually but the pain inside didn’t. Slowly, the pictures kept flashing before my eyes.
“Why do things like these always happen to me,” I blurted. Tears began welling up in my eyes. Then as I pictured them, the dam burst.
I know I was the one who introduced them. At the time I never thought much of it. She was just the neighbor. I had seen her walk by several times. Mostly, we would nod to each other but scarcely a word until the nods went to hello and then to small talk.
When William came to visit he saw her and was determined to make his mark. “Hey, that chick got possibilities, he leered.
“Huh ……. If you like boring, I guess.”
“It’s your neighbor man, link me up,” he cajoled.
I thought about it for awhile. She seemed more the quiet homely type. The type you would think about taking home to mother. She wasn’t the ‘hot girl’ type but just ok. He, on the other hand, was the jock on a mission. Girls were his niche and he had a pretty good record so far. As they would say in the South, Bill was fixing to put another notch on his belt.
It was interesting listening in on the pitch not so much that it was original but more if it would work on such a specimen. That was how Bill approached all his prospective conquests. “Oh, you’re hot,” he started. She blushed. I was shaking my head inside my head. “I like your style. Is your boyfriend treating you well?”
“I don’t have a boyfriend,” she confided. Now, I would say Bingo, but it really didn’t make a difference to Bill. And so the conversation went until another date was made. The reward for his game was imminent.
In the interim, I was beginning to have second thoughts. The more I saw her, the more my loins ached but it wasn’t just sexual; it was deeper than that. We talked and became quite close. I didn’t want to rush things because I was interested in building a solid relationship. I really though I had made my mark.
Weeks later, Bill returned. The conversation between them got heated and I watched them quarrelling through the window. I smiled. Victory was mine. He wouldn’t get his hooks in this one I though. But just as sudden, they embraced. I tried hard to comprehend what I was seeing. Then I couldn’t see them anymore. They had disappeared below the window. That was when I started running.
Midnight Ghost – Madison Woods
Every month at full moon, she showed up to be fed. If I wasn’t waiting for her when she arrived, chaos erupted. She’d pull things from the porch, strewing contents of containers everywhere. In the back of the pickup truck there was usually something to take out and trample. Her midnight feeding was important to her, and it always seemed as if she was starving, so I tended to take it seriously.
The first time she came, I was outside listening to coyotes sing on the next ridge over. The winds were calm, but the creeks were active and the fog crept toward the grassy knoll where I stood. Water tumbled over the rocks, rushing toward the river. The springs came alive during late winter, suddenly productive after a long rest. It was the first sign of thaw, before the peepers’ chorus and bloodroot flowers.
Then she appeared, like an apparition out of the mist. Black on white, blending with the moon shadows, she approached and stopped just shy of my outstretched hand. She snorted, blowing steam and pawed the ground in front. She just kept doing that, like I was supposed to know what it meant. Finally I asked, “What do you want?”
When she answered, I doubted I’d heard what I thought I heard. I mean, animals generally don’t speak in language humans can hear, do they? But she said it again, this time louder, enunciating each word carefully as if she thought I couldn’t understand.
“I’m hungry.” There. Plain as day, out loud for anyone to hear, she said it. I looked around, but there was no one else around. I felt silly, but answered her.
“What do you eat? I don’t have any hay.”
“More than grass and hay, I need your memories,” she said.
“My memories?” I took a step backward. She took a step forward and snorted.
“Don’t run away,” she said and pawed the ground after another snort. The cold air froze her breath, making icicles on her nostrils.
My heart beat faster but I didn’t try to move away. I was afraid she’d run me down if I tried to escape.
“What do you want with my memories?” I asked her. My teeth chattered and the cold penetrated beneath my coat. “I’m not sure I know what you mean.”
She approached and I stood in place. My heart was in my throat and I could barely breathe. Her warm, moist breath warmed my face.
“It’s okay. I won’t hurt you and you won’t forget. I just need to feed on your memories and if they’re stimulating enough, I’ll come back each month during the full moon to get more.”
“How do I give them to you?”
“Just get on; your skin contacting mine will make the transfer. Maybe you can even enjoy,” she said.
When she was done taking what she needed, she brought me back to the house. That night my dreams were wild. What did she need with my memories?
The Window – Jeannette MacDonald
I had watched them quarrel through the window. I had watched them more times than I could count. I couldn’t help it; the window over my sink looked into their kitchen. It seemed to be their favorite place to fight. Perhaps it was because there were plenty of dishes for them both to break in their anger. Perhaps it was so he could rub her nose in whatever it was he felt she wasn’t doing right. I don’t know; I never could hear exactly what they were arguing about, or maybe I managed to tune them out.
Whether it was the dead of winter or the middle of a blistering summer, that window stayed closed, trying to muffle the noises. It didn’t help. Every time I heard a plate smash, I flinched and then continued drying my dish.
Every once in a while we spoke, she and I, if we happened to leave our houses at the same time. She would keep it brief, her eyes down-cast. An awkward pause and she would glance up at me, for the briefest of moments, with a look in her eye … a plea. Nevertheless, she said nothing. Perhaps she couldn’t. I said nothing. Perhaps I was scared. The look of pity that I’ve no doubt was unconsciously on my face could be, I’m sure, no consolation. Then she turned and I would watch her walk away for a moment before I carried on with whatever mundane errand I had been on my way to do. The conversation and her reaction were out of my mind by the time I got in my car and left the driveway. I didn’t want to think too much about what was happening in that kitchen. I didn’t want to pry. Every awkward meeting in our shared driveway was the same. When she began to appear with more make up than I’d ever seen her wear before, the conversations, though shorter, were still the same.
Him, I never spoke to. When he left the house, it was with a slam of the screen door and a squeal of tires. It was the same when he returned. I made no effort to talk to him, though he was the kind of man I would have ached to speak to under normal circumstances – tall, dark and handsome and everything else a woman could want … or so it seemed.
I tried changing the times I stood at the window; tried washing my dishes earlier or later. I seemed unable to escape the scene across that small alley; my eyes fixed on some invisible piece of food dried on the plates that just wouldn’t come out. The louder they yelled, the more items that were smashed, the harder I scrubbed. Did they wait for me to appear before they started? Did they want an audience? Did they fight all night? I didn’t allow myself to think about it.
I had watched them quarrel through the window, and then one day, I didn’t.
The Apparition – Eileen Funke
She appeared like an apparition out of the mist. She was middle-aged. Her motherhood middle emphasized by the stark line of her white polo tucked into dark, pleated pants. She gestured up and down at the approaching car. Her harmlessness belayed by the night, the thick fog, her unexpectedness.
Mrs. Fischer panicked inside the white minivan. “Do you see that? Who is that?” Her daughter Anna dropped her feet from the dashboard. Mrs. Fischer, fine-featured, platinum blond, and plagued by insecurities she blithely passed on to her daughters, abruptly stopped the car.
“She’s coming toward us.” Mrs. Fischer quavered nervously and preteen Anna fed off the rocketing nerves. Her eyes widened and her still undeveloped chest caught. At a higher pitch Mrs. Fischer begged of her daughter, “Why is she doing that?”
In the headlights the woman moved heavily towards them, slow motion in the vapor. The tires ground into the gravel as Mrs. Fischer put the car in reverse. “What should we do?”
Hesitation was the familial refrain. Something as mundane as picking a place for dinner, a time for dinner, a dish for dinner, a drink with dinner, was close to impossible. Choices were made through a competition in politeness that left the Fischer’s mired in indecision. “It’s up to you,” was the most reliable reply to the question, “What should we do?” Masquerading as diplomacy was a passive-aggressive web of undisclosed desires.
“She’s coming!” Anna locked the doors. She remembered a ghost story about a woman in white on the narrow bridge a few miles back.
The fights and frustrations that were still ahead for Anna and her mother were rooted in the fact that both were unable to express a need, so their needs went perpetually unmet. Another pair might have screamed, “Just tell me what you want! You must have wants? Have needs?” But their relationship would remain in a state of “it’s up to you.”
Mrs. Fischer’s hands slid off the wheel. To make a decision implied that she was willing to take responsibility for the consequences, and that responsibility slid right off her narrow shoulders.
They were nearly home on a road they drove every day in their predictable Virginia suburb. Amid the regular, stable, upper-middle class neighborhoods, the land remained the mythical swamp that bogged down the construction of L’Enfant’s Washington. Theu sat in the dense fog that regularly rose up after sunset off the warm wet grass and deep black roads that wound down into flooded gullies and up blind curves.
The mist closed back in and the glaring light from the headlamps reflected back off the vapors. Anna could no longer see the woman in black and white, but sensed her gesturing, demanding something of them across the night.