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Golden Meadows

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Golden Meadows

Richelle Renae

Golden Meadows is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2017 by Richelle Renae

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer and leave feedback. Thank you for your support. For permission requests, email “Attention: Permissions Coordinator” at:

[email protected]

Cover design by Richelle Renae. Image credits: congerdesign (luggage), Cocoparisienne (fairie), Efraimstochter (blue morpho).

Golden Meadows

Read Write Ponder Series

Contents

Read

Write

Ponder

How to Use this Book

Are you a reader? Writer? Thinker? This book is designed for whichever you might be.

Read

A man who’s always seen the world through an artistic lens, where boat railings are covered in vermillion paint under cotton candy clouds, would like nothing more than to get validation from the son who’s always thought his father was crazy. What if he isn’t crazy at all? What if faeries are real? What if pixies did steal his shoes? Sometimes fathers and sons have lenses that will never be focused the same.

Write

Every story starts with a single idea. The story prompt used by the author to write this story is included in the Write section of this book. Writers can review the prompt and see where their creativity takes them. Prompts can be used to develop characters, plot, scenes, or write an entire novel. What can you create?

Ponder

Along with a handful of discussion questions, the author has written a note to readers and writers about her own process in writing this story. By sharing her process, the author believes she is opening a dialog that will help other writers explore the depths of their creativity. It is her sincerest hope that she inspires others because all people have stories to tell.

 

 

Golden Meadows

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

Oscar Wilde

I drifted up from sleep unsure what woke me but comfortable in that self-satisfied way when you wake after dozing off in the shade of a big tree on a gently swaying hammock. You come to, having forgotten who you are for a moment, floating in that brief respite from your lack of money, your loss of elasticity, your age, and every other thing that worried you before you lapsed into the ephemeral coma of a nap. Lifting my head enough to look over the edges that cradled me set the hammock to rocking. I found Cormac still curled into a ball beside my glass of lemonade. Beads of sweat had collected on the bottom half of the glass, while on its rim a leaf clung by its stem. Three of its five veiny golden tips skimmed the pale liquid. I squinted at it and noted the leaf as evidence.

My eyes drifted shut, and I listened to the wind in the trees. Leaves shivered on the branches while I searched for a clue to what woke me…maybe I’d find a repeat of some noise, or a vibration. Maybe it had been a heavy sigh from Cormac. Farther down the block, I could hear the hum of a leaf blower, and beyond that, the low monotone of metal wheels on train tracks. Maybe the train had whistled further out. It’s one of those sounds that become lost to daily life, filtered from consciousness like the buzz of bees and the twitter of birds until you let go of your worries and replant yourself in nature. But I didn’t hear anything unusual, and the train was just reaching the main crossing beside the post office where it blasted its whistle in three long calls.

The hammock swayed dangerously as I sat up with my arms held out to the sides for balance and swung my feet to the ground. My camera bumped into my knees, and I made a grab to catch it before it fell away. It was a silly reflex, one I had compensated for years ago by training myself to always keep the strap around my neck. Chasing one war after another in my early days as a war correspondent’s photographer, I had gotten used to sleeping sitting up, eating on the run, and waking with my camera ready to shoot. Even now, my finger rested lightly on the shutter release.

From the corner of my eye, I saw something flutter and swung the camera in its direction. I peeked over the lens to relocate the flittering swath of brilliance and then zoomed in on a dip and bob of something denser than a shifting shadow. It had settled near the eyebolt that connected the foot of the hammock to the soaring cottonwood that had conveniently planted itself in what a hundred years later became the middle of the deck. With the slightest twist on the focusing ring of the lens, I brought the item into sharp relief. Despite occasional tremors in my hands, everything was clear from behind the camera.

Just a butterfly.

An Eastern Tiger swallowtail, to be exact. Not nearly as large as the butterfly I had shot on the Amazon River. With a wingspan wider than my hand, the blue morpho had fluttered right up to the cargo boat I had been traveling on and lightly set down beside me. Through the lens of my camera, I had watched its proboscis unfurl to taste a chip of the faded vermilion paint that speckled the battered railing. The captain of the vessel, speaking in stilted English, had said that seeing something so beautiful outside the cover of the forest was a good omen. Maybe he had been right.

I pressed the shutter release halfway, held my breath, and waited patiently for the swallowtail to unfold and display the iridescent sparkle of the sapphire scales on the topside of its wings.

One.

Two.

Three.

The wings lay flat, and the shutter snapped with a light click. As I pressed the film advance lever, the swallowtail lifted into the air to dip and bob out of sight around the corner of the house.

With the camera still to my eye, I panned around the yard. A million photos had been captured throughout the years in the backyard. The acre of greenery backing up to a wooded sanctuary was a self-inflicted punishment for giving up the thrill of dodging bullets and making mad dashes for cover. At one time, it had brimmed over with the simple monotonies of barbecues and campfires, stolen kisses under dark, star-studded skies, and every expression of children playing and laughing and crying. And dogs playing fetch. So many dogs.

I opened the empty film compartment and drew a deep breath of the tang of undeveloped memories; the tender skin of a pink-skinned newborn, the adoration of a blushing bride, the flash of a bare leg under a giant oak silhouetted against enormous cotton ball clouds. With a quiet click, I shut the silent picture show away and let the camera fall lightly back to my chest. The blades of grass in the yard fused into a soft celadon blanket.

“Can’t you just call it green, daddy?” My son held my hand as we walked together across the yard.

“Oh, no,” I replied. “That would be like calling the sky over the ocean blue.”

“The sky is blue.”

“Yes, but blue is such a plain word. It doesn’t tell me anything at all about the sky. Is the sky angry?”

“The sky can’t be angry, daddy,” he said. He kicked the ground with the toe of his shoe.

“Oh, but the sky can be all kinds of things. When it’s an angry shade of midnight, it fills with charcoal clouds that roil and grumble and bump together. But if I tell you the sky is baby blue, you know it’s happy and giggly and…wide open.” I threw my free hand into the air. “A perfect day to go to the park!”

“We’re going to the park?” The boy bounced on his toes and tugged my hand.

I frowned and wondered if my son would ever understand. If he would ever be like me. “Not today. I have to show you something out back here.”

Cormac’s tail thumped. Right. Let’s do this.

The hammock careened wildly when I leaned over to retrieve the leaf from my drink, and I took a covert looked at the properties that bumped against mine. No sense in giving the neighbors something to talk about by rolling the hammock over and landing face down on the deck. My son liked to tell me I was entering my twilight years and that the stars were fading. He thought he was being cute. He had no idea.

Though, my eyesight was definitely fading. The neighbor had planted apple trees last summer and without my camera, they held no fruit. Even the back corner of the yard near my shed had a–

A glittering sparkle of light. Like sunlight striking a wave in the middle of a lake. I lifted my camera for a closer look, but the sparkle had vanished. I needed to leave the tentative comfort of my seat to investigate. Or just let it go. And I did debate that rather heartily before looking down for my flip-flops.

They were gone. I looked at the dog. Cormac rolled his eyes at me, his furry brow raised with the effort, his tail thumping at the attention, but he looked as if he had no intention of moving from the spot where the golden sunshine warmed his fur.

“Where are my shoes? Did you take them?” I looked across the yard. They were blue and white, and they would have stood out against the green of the lawn. “I know I wore them out here. Took them off right here.”

Cormac lifted his head. Quite literally my best friend, he was the one I would choose to be with in the event of an apocalypse. It was he who greeted me when I came in the door, who padded slowly beside me on the walks designed to keep us from getting too fat, and who had comforted me year after year while I continued to mourn the loss of my wife. Nobody else seemed to understand that loss, though my son came close. They had been tight, like two threads woven together in a favorite blanket, and I think perhaps he was rather disappointed that she had gone first.

Cormac’s tongue lolled out of his mouth. I would have sworn he was laughing at me, as he’s wont to do, but for his intent focus on the far corner of the yard where moments ago I had noticed the sparkle.

“What is it? Another sprite?”

At the mention of sprites, he sat up at attention. His ears twitched, honing in on sounds I had never perceived, not even at the peak of my auditory evolution, and he cocked his head without looking at me. He abruptly stopped panting and got that look dogs get when they’re about to bolt after a squirrel. Or a sprite. Despite what my son or any of the neighbors think, sprites most definitely do exist. Yes, they most definitely do.

I have a photo of one to prove it.

In 1968, I covered the bombings in Northern Ireland as the country fought for civil rights. My photos from the three months I spent in Derry and Belfast evinced the real tragedies of war, exposing unemployed men drinking in pubs to wash away depression, fearful faces of young girls with their arms enwrapping younger excited siblings, and weary mothers hanging laundry because, even in war, life goes on.

Though those images had made me a great deal of money and still hung in a museum in my hometown, none beheld the image I prized most. The one I value above all others remains in my bedroom yet today. It is the first thing I see upon waking each morning.

The size of a poster, and framed in antique mahogany, the photo is a close-up of a faerie circle. Brown Mottlegills ring around a posy, touching cap to cap in a near perfect orbit of the lavender leaves of a singular flower torn from some plant.

Wearied by the horror in Northern Ireland, I had traveled to Sligo to see if I could interview the poet William Yeats who was just recently gaining notoriety, and to also give my aching heart a break. I had spent the first day taking photos in and around Rosses Point under the gaze of Benbulben while an azure sky dabbed with cotton candy clouds marked a seam against the darker sapphire sea, and the redolence of salt and sea creatures sailed on the chill air. A heart heals fast when it becomes submerged in nature and history and the expanse of open waters. That day filled me up and made me smaller all at once.

At a pub that evening, I had sat enthralled by a first-rate storyteller with blood-shot eyes and beery breath who spoke of Ireland as the Devil’s playground. I scribbled notes of landmarks to visit as he murmured the ancient folklore of mermaids who frolicked on rocks the shape of beehives. Six six six, he murmured into the fumes of his empty mug before launching into woes passed from the generation previous of the potato blight of a hundred years earlier, and then on again to tortured tales entombed in Irish lore; were-things roaming just outside the gates of town, witches lurking in bogs, and, nearly falling off his stool as he pointed to his shoes, elvish creatures who tied the strings of his boots together as he sat at the bar.

And, so it was with great delight, that I discovered the faerie ring the next morning as I set off through a dank wood where, the far side of which, a heavy fog brooded in muffled silence over the peat. I shot the fungi from every angle, starting up high in a tree above and looking down, nearly losing my balance as I adjusted the zoom, then panning across the circle in such a way that my lens transmuted it to an oval. It was when I laid flat on the ground and brought the lens in close to the nearest mushroom that I quite by accident met the woodland pixie.

A blurring at the edge of the lens had me tweaking the focus with a minuscule twist, until to my surprise, a tiny face beneath a chip of bark appeared. I was so surprised; I dropped my camera with a light thump on the leafy forest floor. In the next moment, I had snatched up the camera and was pointing and zooming at all the mushroom caps, seeking the sprite, which had apparently gone into hiding, until…there! I found him. But he was a quick little being! I couldn’t keep the lens trained on him as he blurred from one place to the next and so, in the end, I finished the roll of film by pressing the shutter with wild abandon. And it was the best of these that now hangs on my bedroom wall.

Years later, I purchased a large, full-color book of hand-drawn faeries that I pored over for hours on end. I memorized the details of where they lived, what they looked like, and what their habits were. I learned that what I thought was a woodland pixie was actually a faerie. Faeries were more likely found in Ireland while sprites were more common here near my home. I prepared for the inevitable day when I would have another encounter because I knew, based on the very fine details of every drawing, that the artist, like me, had interacted with them.

In the event you don’t know the difference between faeries and sprites and pixies, I can explain. Faeries and sprites are creatures typically found in the woods, bedecked in flowers and acorn caps, and having iridescent wings and pointed ears. Think Mr. Spock, but much, much tinier, with the long hair of Legolas or Arwen, and wings like a dragonfly. Actually, they are the wings of a dragonfly, or sometimes those of a butterfly, though faeries worldwide share a great affection for butterflies and tend to only use their wings after the butterfly has died a natural death. Children’s books always get this wrong. Faeries and sprites aren’t born with wings, they steal them. And where Faeries are rather kind about slaying their dragons, sprites take no pity, even tearing their legs away before the poor creatures have perished under their mica chip swords.

I stepped upon a mica chip sword once. I thought it was a sliver until I looked at the bottom of my foot and found the tiny piece of glass. I still don’t know what it was doing inside the house, but perhaps a pixie went along for an adventure under Cormac’s ear. He sets to shaking his head something fierce when he gets one in there.

J.M. Barrie got it pretty close in Peter Pan. Tink was a pixie and pixies do have wings. However, pixies do not have magic wands or pixie dust. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think faeries, pixies, or sprites would be above using dust as an evasion tactic–Cormac had quite a sneezing attack the other day–but it doesn’t have any magical qualities that I’m aware of (he didn’t start flying around), so it seems a pretty fair assessment that neither J.M. nor Walt ever actually saw a pixie.

“I don’t see anything, Dad.” Irritation filled my son’s voice.

“You have to be patient.” My camera was pointed at a haphazard pile of wood covered in blackberry briars and sheltered by a soaring old oak at the back of the yard.

“It’s time to go. Mom’s waiting in the car.”

“Just a moment more. She doesn’t mind.”

“Well, she’s always believed you, though who knows why.” He was disgusted. I felt it ooze in my direction. “The plane won’t wait.”

I straightened up. I hated the wheedling tone that erupted from my lips. “It’s not too late. You could go to University here. They have accounting programs as good as anywhere else.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He stomped away. “I’ll be in the car. It would be really nice if I made the flight on time.”

My vision watered and blurred the mottled brown sticks. I crouched in defiance if only to make a point that we would have plenty of time to get to the airport. A tiny chartreuse worm inched along a branch of the blackberry briars, unhurried and getting to wherever it wanted to be in its perfect speed. With the stem of a leaf, I obstructed its path. It stood up on hind legs and tentatively reached out for purchase on the stem. That was when an acorn hit me on the head.

Surprised, I reached out to pick it up off the ground and discovered what I thought was an acorn was only the cupule. Under the cap, and curled tightly into a ball, was a sprite the color of bark and clothed in the shiny skin of…well, it could only have been the skin of a leopard frog from the looks of the iridescent green and brownish-blackish spots. While I stared in surprise, the creature slowly unclasped its knees and crouched in my hand. Then, in a wink, it pulled a mica sword and stabbed my palm. I jumped with a yelp and the acorn-capped sprite twisted into the air to drop and disappear into the pile of sticks at my feet.

I stared at the tiny drop of ruby blood beading up.

A horn honked twice from the drive.

I rushed for the car to show my son the tiny red welt.

And, now, here I sit, my flip-flops nowhere to be found.

I looked at my neighbor’s homes to see if anyone was watching and, with the coast still clear, slowly hefted myself from the hammock. It wobbled and weebled, but I was able to stand without collapsing into a puddle in the spot Cormac had just vacated. It wasn’t that he was afraid I would fall on him, he had taken off like a shot to the back corner of the yard and stood back there now barking at the corner just out of sight.

“I’m coming, Cormac!”

I tottered to the back of the yard, pausing to rest now and again. I should have been using my cane. Of course, I should have. I was creeping along just fine when I heard the sliding glass door open behind me.

“Dad! Where’s your cane?” Of course, he would notice. My son doesn’t miss a number. He’s a sharp one. I ignored him and kept moving toward the back of the yard where Cormac was sniffing and scratching at the corner of the shed. “Where are you going, Dad?”

“I’m going to get my shoes. That darn pixie took them again.”

“They’re on the roof.” He pointed as he walked to the shed. I didn’t see any pixies. “You can’t fool me anymore today than you could when I was ten.”

He stretched up on his tiptoes and then handed me the shoes.

“I’ve never tried to fool you,” I admonished. I didn’t bother putting the shoes back on.

“You know you can’t wear those today, right?”

I was confused. I couldn’t wear my flip-flops? I thought hard, then, about why he was there, but I couldn’t remember forgetting anything of any importance. Well. You know what I mean.

My son took my arm and led me back to the house. As I came through the door into the dining room, I found my pixie photo lying on the table. I didn’t remember moving it and bent my knees just enough to see the seats of all the empty chairs. My camera swung away from my chest and my son caught its strap. He lifted it over my head.

“You won’t need this,” he said, and set it on the table.

Wouldn’t I? My camera had gone everywhere with me.

Cormac’s nails clicked on the deck behind me and I turned in time to see my son slide the door shut.

“Stay. I’ll be back for you in a bit, boy.”

I stood there, staring through the glass that separated my best friend and me. He wagged his tail and lifted his ears. I remembered now what today was. It was my Big Day. Capital B. Capital D. Day one at Golden Meadows Retirement Center. They didn’t allow dogs.

Cormac stood up, put his paws on the door, and barked a muffled bark. He never put his paws on the glass.

“Down, Cormac!” My son hollered through the glass at him, but I slid the door back and bent before him for a hug. I wasn’t very stable bent over that way, but he leaned into me and tendered the same stability he had provided the last ten years. A lone tear coursed down my cheek and over the etchings of wrinkles to fall upon his head, and he smiled at me. His nose found my hand and flipped it over to scratch him under the chin, just as he had done a million other times, but when I moved to do his bidding, he coughed into my fingers. And there on my palm sat a pixie.

 

Story Prompts

Golden Meadows

As a writer, I have found many of my characters have originated from the people around me. Golden Meadows sprung from the memories of watching my grandparents grow old together. In my mind’s eye, they will be forever young and spry, carting eleven of my cousins and me to Opryland, Cedar Pointe, and on other exciting vacations. Yet, I watched them age, grow more cautious with stairs, and eventually use a cane and then a walker. I think the reason they are forever young in my mind is that they didn’t change on the inside. My grandmother always greeted me with a smile and my grandfather always had a romp of a story to share. This story grew from a concentration on the place in my memories where I watched their bodies age, even as their minds did not.

Think about someone you know well: a family member, a close friend, or someone in your community. What memories do you have about what that person was like as a member of your family or community? What are some of the characteristics about that person that you haven’t paid much attention to or noticed before? Begin writing a list of characteristics, and then make up a situation that person has never been in and write a scene with your “character” demonstrating those characteristics.

Bonus Prompt – Symbols

In Golden Meadows, one of the major symbols was the man’s camera. At different points in the story, the camera was a representation of time. The camera elicited memories from the man’s younger years, was a direct representation of outdated technology, and demonstrated how the man’s eyesight had deteriorated over the years.

Roll the Dice

Roll a six-sided dice and incorporate a symbol from the corresponding number below into your story or scene:

Time – clock, watch, hourglass, tree changing through seasons

Distance – long road, train, staticky phone call, sound from far away

Love – bracelet, teddy bear, a heart-shaped item, roses

Security – locks, keys, home, heavy jacket

Freedom – flag, open door, car, eagle

Wealth (or lack of) – amount of money, type of home, language, item most valued (eg: a boat vs a book)

 

Discussion Questions

What do we learn about the main character in the way the author weaves the past and present together? What do we know about the main character as a younger man? What do we know about him as an older man? What has changed or not changed?

What kind of person is the son? What did you use to draw the basis of your conclusion? Do you trust the main character’s version of his son?

Most people would agree that seeing fairies is not enough of a “condition” to move a loved one from their home, so when is it time for a child to make the call that a parent should be in an assisted living environment or to remove the parent from their own home?

Green is not green, it is celadon. Can you give examples from the story in which the main characters sees things through an artistic lens? Can you think of examples in your experience when two people saw the same thing, but described it very differently?

What kind of lens do you look through? What experiences in your life have shaped your lens?

A Note From the Author

An interesting conundrum occurs as we grow older. Our bodies age in a way that seems to pick up speed as we get older and older, just like Willy Wonka’s boat in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Yet, our minds seem to retain a semblance of youth as if it hardened two moments after puberty ended. In that moment, we no longer think like children, but, from that point on, we also don’t feel like we’ve aged. It isn’t until we’re confronted with the realities of having less energy to play with our children, or the growing sense of caution as we take a seat on the merry-go-round, or the frustration of removing a sliver that we can’t quite see that the discrepancy becomes glaringly obvious. With “Golden Meadows,” I wanted to capture that idea of aging and demonstrate how we feel inside, with our eyes closed, separated however briefly from the infirmaries of our age-worn bodies.

I started my story with a memory of gently swaying in a hammock, lost in the sounds of chirping crickets, singing birds, and the swishing of the wind as it rushed in and around the branches of the trees above. I love that Zen-like peace that comes from floating above the ground as if I am free from the entrapment of gravity.

As I wrote, my thoughts inexplicably turned to my grandparents. Some of the best memories that I’ve retained from my youth are centered around the time spent with my extended family. My cousins, siblings, and I spent most weekends with my grandparents, having numerous sleep-overs, baking cookies, attending church, and even going on vacations together. Those memories form the basis of how I remember my grandparents. They were proud of the family they had created, delighted to spend scads of time with us, and limber enough to walk all over amusement parks. My grandmother gave us crafting and baking, while my grandfather gave us barbecuing and storytelling. I have to think harder to remember that they got old, that they used canes and then walkers, and that they complained about backs and hips and bruises, and suddenly the main character was had started out as me, had turned into a man more like my elderly grandparents.

I got as far as the man sitting up in the hammock, afraid that, if he fell, someone might notice (I don’t suppose we ever grow out of that fear of embarrassment), and paused to think about what might happen next. What does a man in his later years think about? What does he do to fill his days? Does he get lonely or does he have a companion? A wife? A dog? I returned to typing. A dog entered the story, and then came the pixies, straight from a colorful coffee table book filled with incredible sketches of the world of fairies. It was a book my mother owned and one I poured over endlessly because of the beautiful, fine, hand-drawn details. And the moment the first fairie arrived on the pages of my story, I knew how my tale would end.

My original version of “Golden Meadows” seemed lacking in detail when I reread it a year later, and when I took an on-line class covering character development, I realized I hadn’t done my main character justice. I hadn’t drawn a very good comparison between the man’s younger years and his current late age so I revised and added new information. He became a war photographer who gave up the excitement of chasing the next big story to settling down with a family, something he seems to accept and regret at the same time. I combed through the news from the years I thought he would have been a young man to find a suitable war and stumbled onto an article about the Irish War of Independence.

This is where the beauty of social media comes in. Through social media apps like Twitter and Instagram, I have met people worldwide and have gained a new perspective of the world, the United States, and myself. One of the people I leaned on for information for this story was a man from Sligo, Ireland. I had written some lines about the main character traveling away from the pain of the war in Northern Ireland to rest and recuperate in a small town on the coast of Ireland. Not familiar with the region since I’ve never been outside of North America, I asked Terry for his opinion. An art and history buff, he was quick to set me straight that the town I had selected was too small, too out of the way, and not a likely destination. Instead, he pointed me to Sligo and the home of William Butler Yeats, who, around my main character’s early years, would have been gaining international notoriety for being the man who won the Nobel Prize in Literature and who had been giving fiery speeches in support of divorce to the government and clergy working to disallow it. I encourage all writers, even the most introverted, to use social media in this way. The world abounds with people who like to share their stories and their knowledge.

Sheltered Hope (an excerpt)

My father was a hard man who didn’t stand for nonsense. He wasn’t cruel, but he believed every man had a responsibility for the space his family lived in, even more so than their comfort in that space, and he took that job to heart. Any man who didn’t do that, or who wasn’t even willing to try, was an out and out failure. Happiness was always a little more than one step away from him, except when it came to my mother. She was his radiance and it was only when he was around her that I ever saw him smile.

“It’s a mutt.”

“I know.” I had found a pup earlier in the day. She was a speckled thing, probably dropped off and not a run-away. When I brought her home, mom just sighed and shook her head. We had been through this routine too many times to count, but she found a tiny collar and helped me hold the pup still to put it on.

Animals were dropped off with some regularity out here in the country. I don’t know what people thought, but animals that get dropped off in the country either get shot right away, or grow up feral and then get shot. Since I found the pup before my dad did, it wasn’t shot. Yet.

“Give it to me.”

“No. I want to keep it.”

My dad’s eyes grew hard and got small. I had only told him no a handful of times and I had paid for it. I was ready to pay for it again for the wriggling bundle in my arms.

“You won’t take care of it.”

“I will. I promise.”

He stood staring at us and I could feel him wavering for the first time. It had been a long, hard fight for me to earn a pet. Years of watching kittens, puppies, and even a couple raccoon kits drowned, clubbed, strangled, and shot before my eyes. I hadn’t even named this one yet.

“How’re you going to feed it?”

“I’ll do chores and work.” My heart beat with hope.

Hope-hope. Hope-hope. Hope-hope.

I squeezed the pup and it squirmed in my hands. Finding it couldn’t escape, it started licking my face. It’s tail swept back and forth a mile a minute batting me on the side.

“We don’t pay you to do chores around here. That’s just part of being a family.”

“I’ll help the neighbors.”

“One chance. No mistakes. You feed it. You water it. You lock it up when you’re working ‘cause if it gets one of the chickens, it’s gone.”

I waited. He wasn’t much of a joker, but it still seemed too good to be true and when he walked away, I just sat there still squeezing Hope. That’s what I named her, right there, right then, right in that moment.

Richelle Renae’s Sheltered Hope is coming in July.

 

Other titles by Richelle Renae

A White Crow

Alms of Freedom

Thank you for reading Golden Meadows. Watch for more short stories in this series coming soon. Share your experience with the author.

 

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@Richelle_Renae

 

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Golden Meadows

A man who's always seen the world through an artistic lens, where boat railings are covered in vermilion paint under cotton candy clouds, would like nothing more than to get validation from the son who's always thought his father was crazy. What if he isn't crazy at all? What if faeries are real? What if pixies did steal his shoes? Sometimes fathers and sons have lenses that will never be focused the same.   Golden Meadows explores the notion of defining reality. Who establishes the rules, and when is it okay to live outside the parameters of normality? It is the third book in the Read Write Ponder series, a collection of short stories constructed to engage readers, writers, and educators. Each novelette-sized book is comprised of a single short story, writing prompts to encourage creative writing, discussion questions for thoughtful analysis of characters and theme, and a letter from the author about her inspiration for the story and the techniques she used to write it.

  • ISBN: 9781370146338
  • Author: Richelle Renae
  • Published: 2017-06-25 19:50:15
  • Words: 5976
Golden Meadows Golden Meadows