Gossip In A Small Town Spreads Faster Than Wild Fires

Submitted into Contest #200 in response to: Write a story about a piece of gossip that becomes more and more distorted as it passes from person to person.... view prompt


Funny Contemporary Fiction

Jackie Willows had a love for horses that had no end. She could ride all day long and never get tired. Growing up on a horse ranch was her dream come true. Her mother managed the ranch and booked events for the horses. They lived in a small town and that came with its own set of challenges. The plus side was that everyone knew everyone, so it was like one big family. The downside was that everyone knew everyone, and they were always in your business. If the townspeople were not talking to you then they were talking about you. When they were talking about you, you could almost put money on it that most of what they were saying was not the full truth.

Jackie got up that Saturday in the best mood ever. She had planned to spend the day with her Black Mare, Butter Cup. She could spend all day talking to her horse, brushing her, and of course riding her.

Jackie wanted to spoil Butter Cup that day, so she filled a basket full of red apples and sugar cubes. She knew Butter Cup was going to love it. Jackie struggled to carry the basket as she walked, she thought that she might have filled the basket a little too full. She was walking faster than she should have because she was excited to see Butter Cup. As she walked down the path, she didn’t see the stump hidden by some dirt and hit it with her foot. She screamed. “Son of a biscuit eater. That hurts and great look at the apples everywhere.” Just as she was picking them up, she heard a voice.

“Are you okay?” Mike the ranch hand asked. “I heard the loud noise and then you yelling. I didn’t know what happened.”

Jackie set the basket of apples down and looked at Mike. “I’m fine. I just stubbed my toe on that stump and dropped my basket of apples. No big deal. I’ll get over it.” She gave a grim.

Mike nodded. “Okay. That’s good to hear. I’m glad you are okay. I’m going to get back to work now.” He turned and walked away.

Jackie waved and continued on her path. Unbeknownst to her Mike was telling a little more embellished version of what happened. It was a bad habit that several people in that small town had. They didn’t intend to lie. The story always just kind of took a mind of its own as they told their tales. They didn’t mean any harm.

Mike walked over to one of the other ranch hands. “Hey Tom. You are never going to believe what happened to Jackie.”

Tom was intrigued and walked closer. “What happened?”

Mike said. “Well, she had some apples in a basket, and she was riding Butter Cup when she got thrown. The apples went everywhere. I helped her pick them up.”

Tom looked around to see if he could see Jackie anywhere. “Is she okay?”

Mike nodded but with a serious tone said. “Yeah, she’s okay but she might have broken her leg in a couple of places when she hit the ground that hard. Her back could be hurt too. I don’t know. I hope she gets through it all okay.”

Tom shook his head in awe. “I hope she takes it easy the rest of the day. She is lucky. She could have been killed.” Tom started walking towards the ranch house. “I’ll see you later. I’m going to grab a sandwich. The cook let me know earlier that they would be ready about now.”

They said their goodbyes and Tom walked on over to the ranch house. When he walked in, he saw Mary, the cook standing over at the counter making ham and cheese sandwiches for everyone.

“Hi Mary.” Tom said.

Mary looked up and smiled. “How is your day, Tom?”

Tom smiled. “My day is going great, but you should hear what happened to Jackie today.”

Mary looked over at him worried. “What happened to her?”

Tom was all ready to start telling the tale. “Well Mike came and told me all about it just before I came here. She was riding Butter Cup, and something spooked the horse, and she threw Jackie several feet across the yard. She might have broken her leg in a few places and when she hit the ground it knocked her out for a few seconds. She woke up fine, but she might have a concussion and her back could have a lot of damage hitting the ground like that.”

Mary ran over to the door and looked out to see if there were any ambulances or anything but didn’t see anything. “Where is she now?” Mary asked.

Tom shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know but she probably needs an ambulance to take her to the hospital. I hope she pulls through.”

 Mary had worked on the ranch with those guys for many years. She knew that they sometimes added to what really happened. She wanted to find Jackie and see for herself how bad it was. She took her apron off and tossed it on the counter. “Tom. You help yourself. I’m going to go check on Jackie.”

“Sounds good. Let me know what you find out.”

“Of course.” Mary said as she walked out the door.  She let the door slam behind her on accident in her hurry to find Jackie.

Mary planned to go to the main building where Jackie’s mom would be in her office and get right to the bottom of this. She couldn’t help but think that something or a lot of things weren’t adding up right based on the story that the guys are telling.

On her way down the walkway to the building she saw the housekeeper, Macy. She walked up to her but before she could say anything Macy started talking.

“Mary, have you heard anything about Jackie and an accident?”

Mary nodded. “I just had a talk with Tom who said she had a really bad accident with a lot of injuries. What have you heard?”

Macy hurried closer to Mary. “I just finished talking with Mike. He said that Jackie was knocked unconscious, had a leg with several breaks and possibly a back problem. What did you hear?”

Mary started walking toward the building while waving for Macy to follow. “Well, I talked to Tom and he said she was thrown off Butter Cup several feet. His account of what Mike told him is different than your account of what Mike said.” She shook her head and looked around but everything looked calm. “I want to find Mrs. Willows and get the facts. If Jackie was injured the way they say then you would think there would be an ambulance here or something.”

Macy agreed and they both walked to her office.

When they walked in Jackie’s mom looked up. “Hi ladies. What brings you my way.”

Mary walked on in and up to her desk. “Well Mrs. Willows, honestly it is probably nothing, but I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t check it out.”

Mrs. Willows nodded. “I understand. What is it?”

Mary nervously started telling her what the guys had told them and were continuing to tell others.

Mrs. Willows picked up her walkie talkie and glanced over at Mary and Macy. “I will find out right now.”

The ladies all gathered around.

Mrs. Willows pushed the button down. “Jackie what’s your location? Over”

Jackie put her walkie talkie up to her mouth and pushed the button. “Hi mom. I’m up here with Butter Cup brushing her. Over.”

Mrs. Willows said while standing up and walking towards the door. “Stay there. I’m on my way. Over.”

Jackie had no idea why her mom was coming to her but it sounded important. She put her brush down, dusted off her hands and walked around to greet her mom.

Mrs. Willows walked over to her daughter within a few minutes. “Thank God you are okay.”

Jackie was confused. “What do you mean?”

Mrs. Willows shook her head and thought she should have known better. “Well Mike and Tom have told everyone that you were riding Butter Cup and got thrown. You got broken bones, knocked out, and badly hurt.”

Jackie started laughing. “Oh mom. I’m sorry they worried you. You know how they are. They are worse than school kids at recess.  I haven’t even been on Butter Cup yet today. The only thing that happened to me was when I was walking up here, I stubbed my toe on a stump and dropped my basket of apples. Now I will say that I screamed some not very nice things.” She laughed.

Mrs. Willows laughed. “I bet you did. I don’t know what possesses those men to tell such tall tales.”

Jackie couldn’t help but laugh uncontrollably for a minute. “Oh mom. You know how gossip is in a small town.”

The End.

May 29, 2023 00:05

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Helen A Smith
14:22 Jun 04, 2023

I work in a town like this (though not with horses I hasten to add) which makes it all the more funny. Things get exaggerated here with humorous results and that comes across well. Goodness knows what would have happened had an ambulance actually turned up?


Lizzy Stevens
18:01 Jun 04, 2023

Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. I grew up in a small town. Maybe not as bad as this one lol but yes gossip does travel fast in small towns lol


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Jon Blackstock
22:17 Jun 02, 2023

I like the progression as the rumor builds. Very nice! And this was really cool for me. I think I used to live in this town. I had a wreck one time, and my co-workers had heard that I was dead. In the future, consider bringing the end back around. For example, could she come riding up at the end as the rumor swells? Regardless, you should be proud of this. Great story!


Lizzy Stevens
13:37 Jun 03, 2023

Thanks! Also. I think I lived in this town too LOL If not this one then one just as bad lol


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