Monday, April 16, 2012

Fiction Fun: Devil's Lake, Part 2

Last week, I shared the first part of a short story I wrote ten years ago. Here's the next installment. Enjoy!


A car pulled into the driveway across the street—Mrs. Nelson’s house. She patted her gray curls in the rear view mirror, then got out of her car and came to our front door.
“Hello, Alex!” Her face crinkled into a smile. “I’m so sorry I’m late. A friend of mine’s father had a stroke, and I was at the hospital. Where is your father?”
“He left for the airport. He said he’d call when he got to the hotel.”
“Very good, dear. I’ll just have a seat while you get your things.”
“Okay. Uh, do you want anything to drink?”
“Perhaps some water. It’s very important to stay hydrated, you know. My grandson got severely dehydrated once while they was abroad, and it worried my daughter to death. You just never know what medical care will be like in another country.” She sat down on the couch, still going on about her grandson and daughter and lots of other people I don’t know. I don’t understand why she tells me so much about people I’ve never met.

I handed her the glass of water, then edged toward the hallway. Maybe I could escape to my room under the guise of getting my stuff.
“Did you hear me? I said you really are lucky that you two have each other.”
“Oh.” I had no idea what she was talking about.
“You and your father, I mean. Have you heard anything I’ve said?”
Oops. “Um…I’m sorry, I guess I’m a little tired.”
“Well, I was telling you about my friend’s father in the hospital. The doctor’s don’t think he’ll make a full recovery, and he’ll need lots of help...” She went on to describe hospital smells and food and the incompetence of doctors, but my mind was stuck on one thing: lucky to have each other.

Yes, I suppose we are. My mother died just after I was born, and I never knew my grandparents. It was just Dad and me.

The phone rang. It was Dad.
“Hey, Dad,” I said. “Mrs. Nelson just got here.”
“Good. Listen to her, and I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said.
I took a deep breath for one final plea. “Can’t I stay home tonight? Please?”
“You know you can’t.”
“That’s not fair! Jesse gets to stay home by himself, and we’re the same age.”

Dad sighed. “Alex, life isn’t fair, and I’m responsible for keeping you safe.”
“But I am safe.”
“Yes, because I work very hard at keeping it that way.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Look,” said Dad. “People’s lives are different, and some need to make more sacrifices than others.”
Was he serious? “My whole life is a sacrifice!” I slammed the phone down.
“Alex, dear,” said Mrs. Nelson. “That was not nice.”
“I don’t care! He never lets me do anything.”

The phone rang again, but it was Dad so I didn’t pick it up. Mrs. Nelson did, though, and she began apologizing for my behavior. I don’t know why she would apologize since I’m the one who hung up on him, but whatever. 
When she finished talking to Dad, she placed her delicate, wrinkled fingers on my arm. “Come on. Let’s go and have some supper.”
“Fine. I’ll get my stuff.”

I went up to my room and grabbed my duffle. Once Dad got home, I was surely going to be in for it for hanging up on him, so a little bit more couldn’t hurt. I tossed in a jacket and the spare house keys, then went with Mrs. Nelson to her house.

...conclusion to come next week...


LM Preston said...

Okay you are totally hooking me here!

Tabitha said...

Hope you like the conclusion!

Kelly Hashway said...

Great tension!

Unknown said...

OMG, poor Alex! Mrs. Nelson seems like a nightmare to me. I know people like that who talk and talk about people I have no interest in. Ugh, good depiction. I laughed at this, "I don’t understand why she tells me so much about people I’ve never met."


Tabitha said...

Kelly - thanks! :)

Diane - yeah, I had some older family members who were like that when I was a teenager and it drove me bananas. But they would talk about who was sick, dying, or dead. It was so depressing...the last thing a teenager wants to hear. :)