Friday, December 3, 2010

Fiction Friday - For Sadie by Nichole M. Forbes

Since many of you have been asking I thought I would give you a little sample of the fiction I write. This short story was written for a contest with my writers group. Although I didn't win I did get some very good feedback so after brushing it up a little I'm offering it to you. Enjoy!

The house was still except for the soft creaking of Violet Dane’s chair as she rocked back and forth, back and forth. She had spent many years in the same rocking chair at the same window. She watched as the world wandered in and out of her view from the front room of her colonial style home.

Her grandfather had built this house, his dream house, when he was a young man. Three stories, five bedrooms, two formal sitting rooms, a den and a library; it was a thing of beauty. New to North America and naive to the harsh winters that the prairies could bring, his neighbors mocked the young Irishman and his ‘monstrosity,’ and wondered how he would ever heat it. But Colum Dane had a creative mind and perseverance. It took him nearly ten years to complete but the ten inch stone walls, six fireplaces and large wood stove in the kitchen kept the family warm in the winter for nearly a hundred years.

Violet loved to walk through the spacious rooms of her family home and remember happier, busier times. First, when she was a young girl and later when the house was filled with her own children. The sounds of laughter and chaos would echo through the halls. Now the only sounds in the house were the slow shuffle of her footsteps on the pristine hardwood floors and the conversations she had with Sadie, her younger sister.

Violet reached for her china cup and saucer that sat on the side table to her left. The grandfather clock in the dining room chimed, and right on cue the sound of children’s voices floated into the sitting room through the open window.

“Sadie, it’s the children. They are walking to school; hurry or you’ll miss them!” Violet called into the kitchen and she leaned forward in her chair so she could see the all the way down the street. She loved this time of the day, the children all freshly washed and excited for a day of play and learning. As always every child who passed her house smiled and waved as they balanced on the short stone wall that marked Violet’s front garden.

Often mothers would admonish their children for walking so near to Ms. Danes’ flowers but Violet never minded. She always said it kept her young to have children around her.

“It keeps me young,” Violet said aloud. She looked over her shoulder to see if Sadie was coming. “You’re going to miss the children.”

Sadie emerged from the kitchen and ambled over to the window. Just then two little girls came skipping down the street holding hands. Sadie watched them intently for a moment.

“Remind you of anyone?” Violet laughed. Sadie smiled back at Violet then returned to the kitchen. Violet sat back in her chair and closed her eyes. She could see two other little girls very clearly in her mind’s eye. The older one walked straight and tall, carrying her books close to her chest. Everything from the crisply pressed skirt to the simple braid that hung down her back said responsibility and order. The attention to detail that was so visible in the older girl was in stark contrast to the younger girl’s free spirit.

The younger girl had wild blonde curls that framed her face like a lion’s mane. Her clothes hung from her willowy body haphazardly and she bounced rather than walked down the sidewalk. It was almost as though the younger girl moved through time to music that only she could hear. She was as impulsive and daring as her sister was responsible. A more unlikely pair you wouldn’t find but they were inseparable.

“And still are,” Violet said to no one in particular as she eased from her rocking chair. She stood for a moment, allowing all of her aching joints to adjust to the new position and watched the last of the children cross the street into the schoolyard. She turned away from the window and scanned the room with a critical eye.

“Something is amiss-” Violet whispered as she looked from table to mantle to sofa. “Ha! There it is! I know you thought you’d get me this time, Sadie!” Violet picked up her cane and limped over to the sofa where she plucked one silver hair from the pillow and put it in her pocket. She then picked up the sateen pillow, shook it exactly four times, set it down and with the side of her hand pushed a dimple into the middle of the pillow.

“Humph, you’re not funny, Missy,” Violet made her way into the kitchen where Sadie was standing next to an open recipe book. “So what kind shall it be today?”

Sadie stepped away from the counter allowing Violet to have a closer look.

“Ah, I should have known. Oatmeal Raisin, all right then. Have a seat and I’ll get to work.”

The sisters spent the next twenty minutes in comfortable silence as Violet measured, mixed and stirred. As she spooned the lumpy mixture onto the baking sheet she was reminded, as always, of another day years ago.

The sisters returned from school to find a note from their mother waiting for them beside a plate of cookies. The note said mother was out running errands but she would return before supper and that Violet was to pour the milk for their snack.

“But I don’t like ginger snaps, Vi. I’d rather have oatmeal raisin cookies,” Sadie whined.

“Sadie Rose, you’ll eat what’s in front of you,” Violet used her best imitation of their mother. “I have a test tomorrow so I am going upstairs to study. Do not bother me!” Violet took a ginger snap off the plate, turned on her heel and stalked importantly from the room.

The beeping of the timer brought Violet back to the present. She opened the oven and the room was instantly filled with the smells of warm oatmeal and sweet cinnamon. Violet carefully lifted the warm cookies off the baking sheet and laid them on the cooling rack.

“Let them cool for a couple of minutes before you take one, I’m feeling tired, I am going to rest for a bit.” Violet said and smiled at Sadie before leaving the room.

She shuffled over to the sofa and slowly lowered herself onto the worn velvet surface. She lifted one leg then the other onto the sofa and then reclined, allowing the warmth of the morning sunshine to wash over her. She exhaled deeply and closed her eyes.

Violet was sitting in the middles of her bedroom floor, books strewn around her as she took notes from one and cross referenced another.

“Vi? Vi, are you in there?” Sadie whispered. Violet could see her sister’s clear blue eye peering through the keyhole.

“Sadie! Go away, I’m studying!” Violet shouted and threw her shoe at the door.

“Ouch! Vi, you don’t have to get so angry! I was just going to ask you to help me make oatmeal raisin cookies!” Sadie said. Violet could hear the hurt in her sister’s voice, and it made her feel a little bad, but she had an important test the next day.

“Sadie, I’ll help you later. Promise,” Violet sighed.

“Fine,” Sadie said and Violet could hear her stomping all the way back down the stairs.

“You should have waited, I would have come,” Violet mumbled. “But I made you cookies today, do you forgive me?” Violet exhaled slowly and then she was gone.
Thursday morning the police arrived at Violet’s house to check on her. Neighbors had become concerned when they didn’t see her in her front window waving at the children as they passed so they called the local precinct. The police found her laid out peacefully on her ornate sofa in her pristine living room. When they entered the kitchen, looking for a the name or phone number of a family member they were stunned to see thousands upon thousands of cookies in sealed plastic bags covering ever possible surface. When they opened cupboards more cookies fell out.

The younger of the two officers picked up one of the bags and turned it over in his hand. There was a label that read ‘For Sadie’ on it. He glanced around the room, noticing that each bag bore a similar label. When he turned to ask his partner what her take was he notice a single newspaper clipping taped to the ancient refrigerator. It read;

On Tuesday last, the Dane family of 543 Elm Row, suffered a tragedy when their youngest daughter, Sadie Rose, age 10, perished in a house fire that was believed to be a result of overstocking the wood stove. She leaves her parents Edward and Clarisse Dane and older sister Violet, age 14, who was home alone with her at the time of the incident.

The newspaper bore a date from 75 years earlier.

1 comment:

mns said...

This story gave me shivers! nicely done.