12 comments

Submitted on 09/12/2020

Categories: Drama Creative Nonfiction

The mountains were weeping by the time we got to the cottage. The old man stood outside of the home with a broken smile and when he saw our car, he wriggled his hands and called out to us. He took a step forward but stopped and simply waited for us to join him. As we stepped out of the car, the wind took us dancing. The sun had long faded but it's orange stripes still stole the clouds. They were covering the moon with their cold hands when we stepped into the house.

"It's a lovely house, see." The old man said. He smiled diligently, wrapping his hands around the walls of the place.

Jimmy looked around, his lips bent. I could tell he was contemplating the old man's sad attempt to pull us in. The house was lonely in the way empty houses were and as we walked, we could hear the floorboards creaking. Jimmy either hated me or pitied the man for he said, "It's perfect."

I tried to relax in the library. All the books had the same cover photo which made me think about Saturdays in my grandparent's home. The library smelt oddly like snowflakes and as I picked the books from the shelf, I could almost taste it. 

I heard Jimmy saying, "Thank you, Mr. Carter. My wife and I love this place."

I hated this place. I still could not believe Jimmy was choosing this place after everything we'd discussed the night before. In my head, I thought I'd told him to skilfully tell the old man we couldn't stay here. Jimmy had agreed, of course, and we'd even laughed over everything. I should have known I was pushing my luck too hard. Jimmy wasn't the kind of person I could rely on, that was for sure.

I waited until the old man had shown us the kitchen. He lingered by the door while Jimmy checked the cupboards. Mr. Carter said, "You should have everything you need. I'm sure you are going to have a spectacular week here with us at Cottage Delight."

I could tell it was a rehearsed line, told to every person who had fingered the world for a chance to write their novels in peace. I couldn't complain once Jimmy said he wanted a week in the middle of nowhere to be able to gather inspiration for his second novel. And I really could not blame him. The first novel had been a total disaster because no one liked the book enough to want to read to the end. He said his second attempt would be too powerful.

The cottage looked like it would fall on us. All three of us checked the kitchen for what we would need. The old man took us to the living room and showed us the Tv. He said there was a large collection of 1980's music and movies and Jimmy laughed and shook the man's hands. I wondered if that was the way all men were: joined together by their love for annoying conversations. I hoped to ask Jimmy once the man left.

The bathroom was the last view. The walls were painted purple and pink and whilst that surprised me, I did not ask him anything. Mr. Carter said, "We just wanted to make the experience one worth coming back again which was why we chose these colors."

It was the weirdest house I'd ever seen. But I was never coming back again.

Jimmy said, "This place is exactly what I was hoping for."

The man smiled. They shook hands again.

I left them and walked to the window. The sky had turned red, the moon too dark to notice. I watched the stars appear and I saw Baby. She watched me too, dragged the lines from me. I paled through. I wanted to touch her face in the flimsy way mothers who lost their children do but she was too far up and I was too lost in the conversations behind me.

Mr. Carter left right after. Jimmy went back into the kitchen and began brewing coffee. He said, "I know you probably hate me but I honestly think it's a nice house."

I heard him but Baby was up in the sky and she was painting the world red. There has never been a moment I don't wish I could pluck the world and caress the moon with the tip of my tongue and I long for relief as I always do, hopeless and strong.

"Do you hear me, Selene?" Jimmy called. He had two cups of coffee ready and was walking towards me. I turned back to him and sighed.

"I hate it here," I said to him.

He handed me the cup and gave me a tired smile. It was the first smile he gave to me after Baby's disappearance, the last real smile.

"It's beautiful. Come on, you've got to love this." He said. He was almost laughing. I liked it when he laughed.

"I suppose it's just for a week," I muttered.

He shrugged and continued to laugh. Behind me, Baby tickled me and whispered into my ears. It was so soft I shivered. Jimmy leaned closer and planted a kiss on my forehead. He smelt like a hurricane.

"You need to shower, Jimmy." 

"I know. I smell like potatoes and salad and garlic."

"You smell weird." 

He gave a short laugh and walked into one of the rooms. I turned back to Baby but she had gone, along with the red sky. The moon shone so brightly that at first, I considered running away. I missed Baby.

Morning came quickly. Jimmy rolled unto his side and dug his nails into my hands. I slapped him and he chuckled. The sun came in and settled clumsily in the room. Jimmy's eyes watered with relief. He said, "I'm going to write today."

"Well isn't that the whole point of us spending time in this place. You know how much I hate staying here."

"What should I write about?"

I climbed out of bed. I walked into the bathroom and peeled off my clothes. I stepped into the shower and let the cold water wash Baby's breath from my skin. Jimmy stood in the doorway as I cleaned my body. In his hands was cocoa butter and in his eyes, he had the laughter of Baby.

"I mean, I have the story idea planned out but now I'm confused."

He handed me the cream and I smiled at him. He followed me back into the room and sat back on the bed to watch me dress.

"You could write about suicide," I said.

The smile had gone. He was thinking about Baby now. 

"Or you could write about a haunted house. It's practically easy."

The light was back in his eyes, thought of Baby gone. He said, "If I'm ever going to write a story to the world, I want it to be something memorable. A haunted house or a suicide story is far too common."

He was right. Once I was done dressing up, I kissed him and said, "Then you should write about the world."

He was thinking about it when I left him there. I walked to the kitchen and made for myself a cup of coffee, all too aware I was taking too much already. Jimmy had taken his bath, dressed up in shorts and a sweatshirt when he came down. He drank the orange juice from the fridge and tucked a strand of hair behind my ears.

"I should write about something as vast as the world?" He asked with a lazy smile.

"I don't know. I'm not a writer."

He laughed again. He was laughing too much.

He took his notebook and a pen from the kitchen, said, "I left it here last night."

"Where are you headed?" I asked him as he made for the door.

"To the field." He called.

"And leave me here alone in this house?"

"Then come along."

We ran into the open fields, hands intertwined. The wind whipped our hair until it was more like a burden to us. We settled under a tree and he brought out his book. He said, "I want to write about the world."

"Then write," I whispered.

The mountains were weeping when he began to write. I sat there silently, watching him and knowing Baby did too.

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12 comments

Scout Tahoe
17:33 Sep 12, 2020

Another great one from you, Abigail. I love the references to her dead child. Your stories radiate emotion. The way you twisted the prompt was amazing. You totally deserve your spot on the leaderboard.

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20:39 Sep 12, 2020

You are one consistent reader and Scout, I really appreciate that. Thank you

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Leilani Lane
15:09 Sep 19, 2020

Hi, Abigail! This was beautifully written. I appreciate your smooth and natural dialogue, too. Thank you for sharing!

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Juliet Martin
08:25 Sep 14, 2020

Great story! I love the way you convey so much emotion without describing it directly - it is really effective. You really get the sense of the characters experiencing lots of different feelings at the same time without them being listed but rather a cumulative effect of the whole atmosphere of the story, which is hard to do. I noticed a couple of apostrophes which might have been misplaced - "its orange stripes" and "my grandparents' house" - but it didn't detract from the story at all. Nice job!

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09:00 Sep 14, 2020

Thank you

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Batool Hussain
14:11 Sep 13, 2020

Love this. I know I've said this for a few times now, but I'm going to say it again: I wish I could write this well, Abigail!

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09:01 Sep 14, 2020

Thanks

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Kristin Neubauer
11:44 Sep 13, 2020

Oh my gosh, Abigail....I'm trying to think of a more original way to say that I loved this story and that it is amazing, but I can't come up with one. I love all the things you bring together here - irritation and compromise and longing and sadness and nature and acceptance and mysticism. So much in such a short story. I kind of hate Jimmy and hate the cabin....it sounds like some kind of 70's nightmare. Selene is remarkably tolerant and kindhearted...more so than I. You clearly have created characters that inspired some strong reactions...

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12:21 Sep 13, 2020

Thank you, Kristin. This is the first story I've rushed, twenty minutes in all. I can't say I like this as I wasn't planning on writing any this week. Your comment...well, it's worth it. Thank you so much for always having the time to read my stories. And who knows...maybe one day, I'll buy you coffee. I'm holding that thought. Hope you do like coffee.

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Kristin Neubauer
12:29 Sep 13, 2020

I am drinking coffee right now - It's 8:26 on a Sunday morning and I've been at work since 6 am....coffee is a must! It's amazing you wrote that in 20 minutes - it sounded so polished....you've got some serious talent. I'm glad you gave us and Abigail Airuedomwinya original even when you hadn't been planning on doing so. There was so much in this story!

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A.g. Scott
18:38 Sep 12, 2020

As always your imagery is the good kind of frickin' ridiculous. Any time you post, it's a can't-miss moment.

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20:38 Sep 12, 2020

Awwn, I'm flattered

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