Archive for August, 2011

31st August
2011
written by amber

Yucca

Who cut the yucca, I wondered as I entered my wife’s yard. Oh, don’t get the wrong impression. We’re not divorced or anything, but the yard is hers, the house is hers, the kids are mostly hers. And I have the great outdoors. Which is fine with me.

I was returning from a 2 week camping trip – fishing, hiking, kicking back, with some guys I’ve known since high school. I’ve been trying to convince them for years to come on a trip with me. But not a one of them was able to break away until now, when they’re in their early 50′s, their kids old enough to leave alone, their wives too involved with their careers to take much time off (except for Mexico in the winter). Finally these guys have the freedom I’ve always had. And they all agreed, I have the perfect wife and they all wish their wives had been as understanding as mine has been for all these years.

I work hard, and I need to play hard. Gardening just won’t do it for me, the way it seems to for her. She was entered in some kind of garden competition during my absence. I wondered if she’d won.

The yucca plants were laid out like white-wrapped bodies, the huge masses of flowers which had looked like wavering ghosts the early morning that I left now tinged with brown, their stout stalks cut neatly at an angle.

I know my wife just hired a new gardener, but she would never permit him to cut the yucca plants.  Or the roses, I thought, as I noticed a dotted line of roses leading toward the garage.

Inside the garage, I found more roses, and festoons of clematis, and spikes of gladioli, decorating my kayak in a most peculiar manner. Eventually, I realized that the kayak was full of holes, and the flowers were stuck in the holes. Except for the larger holes, which contained my skis and my ski poles. My scuba tanks and flippers peeked out from beneath the kayak, but I couldn’t see my spear gun.

Then I saw a white apparition in the far corner of the garage. It wasn’t a yucca. It was holding my spear gun. It was pointed at me.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This first line was suggested by my mother, Mary Bond.

30th August
2011
written by amber

Left Shoe

I wasn’t going to do this. It still feels stupid, but Michelle is insisting.

My name is Dan LeBlanc and my address and health care number are written on the back.

Michelle hasn’t lived through a hurricane before. I’m from Louisiana, so I’ve lived through plenty and one thing I know – the authorities always over-estimate the severity of what we are about to experience. Yes, there’s Katrina, but that wasn’t so much the hurricane as a failure of the infrastructure, wasn’t it? 99 times out of a hundred, all this panic is not warranted.

Oh, Michelle wanted to evacuate. I told her, you go ahead but no way am I going to leave our place to get looted and destroyed. The whole neighbourhood’s deserted. We’re such good citizens up here, we do what our mayor and president tell us to do. Michelle wouldn’t leave me. We’re both keeping an eye on the street. I’ve got my gun.

Haven’t seen any criminals, but no one in their right mind would want to be out in this storm. It’s something to behold. I’m not completely crazy, I did board up the windows, leaving just little cracks to see through. Looks like we’ll have a wild night. The trees are whipping back and forth like grass in the wind – I hope they’re flexible enough to take it without falling on my roof.

Nope – I guess they weren’t. Michelle’s gone to the basement to find a tarp, then we’ll go upstairs and see what the damage is. Things are really creaking up there.

Hope I didn’t make a mis-

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

I wrote this after hearing Obama tell New Yorkers who refused to evacuate before the hurricane to write down their vital statistics and put it in their left shoe for identification of their body.

28th August
2011
written by amber

A Love Story

When the bear attacked my husband in Harlequin Valley, we both knew he was in desperate need of medical attention. Even though we’re both doctors and even though we’d brought far more ‘good drugs’ than any common person would have, we didn’t have what he needed – a blood transfusion, strong antibiotics and an operating room.

After I bandaged him up as best I could, I told him, “I’ll climb up on top of that ridge and try the cell phone.” We were two days hike from Cadomin, the nearest town, but we hadn’t had good cell service since we left Hinton.

I left him with the bear bangers.

The ridge was a mountain shoulder, a good 300′ scramble up steep scree but it took me only 45 minutes. All for nothing; the cell phone didn’t work up there.

When I got back, he looked far worse. “I’m not leaving you again, ” I promised.

“You have to, otherwise I’ll die,” he said.

I didn’t want to say that I thought he was going to die anyway, and soon. I didn’t want to watch him die while I was unable to stop it, but I didn’t want to leave him to die alone or, worse, for the bear to return and finish him off.

He argued with me. He reasoned that he hadn’t gone into shock, he was still lucid, proving that the trauma and blood loss weren’t as serious as they seemed, that timely medical assistance could save him.

He swore he would stay alive until I got back.

So I set out, 24 kilometres to travel unless I ran into another backcountry party. I ran that trail, tripping over roots and rocks and getting up with barely a pause, storming through the many creek crossings.

Four hours later, only 12 kilometres down the trail, I arrived at the Whitehorse river and saw smoke from the outfitter’s camp on the other side. Slipping on wet stones and being pushed downstream by the thigh deep water, I eventually made it across.

The men there had a satellite phone and they called 911 for me. An interminable two hours later, the helicopter ambulance arrived and picked me up so I could show them where to go.

I’d been away for six hours. As we flew up that narrow beautiful valley, I wondered what we’d find at the tent and if I’d made the right decision.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story came about from a conversation with fellow hiker, Jan Chant, about whether or not a dying loved one should be left alone in an attempt to get help. The story is about the decision, not about the outcome – however, when I read it at the campfire, everyone wanted an ending.

So – here it is, by popular demand. – As the helicopter descended, I saw my husband waving weakly at us.

 

 

 

 

27th August
2011
written by amber

Bleached Bones

July 1879

The Englishman was trouble from the start. I knew he would be, even before we left, but some bigwig at the Northwest Trading Company had forced me to take him along on my surveying expedition. The Englishman wanted to take photographs of flowers.

Naturally, he didn’t take to the rough conditions of the trail. He complained that there was no milk for his tea; he complained about the repetitive meals of bannock and rice. When we shot squirrels, he complained about the stew Marie made from them.

The horse boss was especially annoyed with his demands that all his heavy photographic equipment be kept in one pack box even if that made it difficult to balance the load on the horse. The Englishman was brutally critical of the horse boss when six of his photographic plates were broken during a run-away caused by a hornets’ nest.

My two surveying assistants, being young, were impressed with the Englishman at first, his fancy ways and talk of his manor house and all, but they soon saw through him and ridiculed him when we were off surveying.

Marie didn’t see through him. She was my woman, I thought, but when I returned after three days away from camp, I found her with him, her head turned by false promises and silly gifts.

George, the horse boss, was beside himself with anger. He told me that Marie was, in fact, his wife, but she had started a love affair with me strictly for the purpose of convincing me to hire them both for the trip.

We were both betrayed; we had both had enough of the Englishman, as had my surveying helpers who discovered he had consumed all their liquor while we’d been away.

We all agreed to kill him and report that he’d died by falling off a cliff. We wrapped his body in canvas and took it to a lonely meadow in a high valley which we’d seen on our surveying trip. A pleasant spot but so remote that no one will ever go there.

July 1979

Joe and me were rebuilding the trail up over Moose Meadow Pass and we dug up these bones. At first we were thinking some kind of animal, but then we saw the skull. It was, like, from a person, and it had two holes in it. Like bullet holes.

Cool, hey?

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story was inspired by the sight of my fellow hiker, Jean-Christoff, carrying a heavy duffel bag to the pack horse – it sure looked like there was a body in there!

26th August
2011
written by amber

Camping on Mars

We walked out from the domed city, wearing our environmental suits and carrying all our gear, enjoying the low gravity. Compared to hiking on Earth, this was easy, even though we carried 85 kg each, not counting the weight of the environmental suits. But they’re full of servo-mechs to help support their own weight, so it would be cheating for us to brag about carrying their 40 kg.

We travelled 35 km to our destination, literally bounding along, but taking time to enjoy the beauty of the desolate yet colourful landscape. If you like rocks, Mars is the place for you. If you prefer trees, stay on Earth.

We set up our base camp at a spot where the subterranean water isn’t too far from the surface and we used our lasers to melt enough for our needs. We inflated our inso-tents into the cave made when the ice melted, attached our hatch and ducked inside just as night and -60 degrees C arrived.

We had to keep our environmental suits on until we used the air maker to fill the tent, then we struggled out of the constricting suits, putting cream on our rub marks and washing off the day’s sweat.

We set up our cots and sleeping bags, then Doris unpacked the cooker and put our dinners in. She’d chosen chick peas and protein and rice for our first meal. It was delicious.

We folded the cots to make lounging chairs and we watched the news and a drama, then Rick set the display to campfire and we told stories while we drank hot chocolate.

We all agreed that it’s great to get away from civilization!

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This is another story that I read around the campfire on my backpacking trip, using the names of some of the people along on our earthly camping expedition.

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