Sunrise on the Sonoran

Submitted into Contest #106 in response to: Write a story about a character who takes nothing for granted.... view prompt


Fiction Happy

Isabel woke with a start just before sunrise, her head snapping off her pillow. "Ow!" She gasped as a sudden rush of pain radiated from her left arm and ribs. She closed her eyes, took a few steadying breaths, and let the pains subside.

Isabel listened to the many sounds of her bedroom. The buzzing of fan blades, the singing of the birds outside, all occasionally overpowered by her husband's snores. Then, with another steadying breath, she rose from her bed and gingerly put her left arm into its sling. A small 'Oof' escaped her lips as she did so.

She turned back to David, still sleeping soundly. A smile graced her scarred face while she watched the steady rise and fall of his breathing. Then, with her good hand, Isabel reached back and ran her hand through his hair. Never in a million years would she have guessed she'd enjoy the sounds of his snoring. But then again, nearly dying was great for putting things into perspective.

With a pronounced limp, she made her way from the bedroom and towards the kitchen. Walking was still painful and tiring, but Isabel was grateful for the mobility she had.

The sound of early morning infomercials greeted her as she limped past her three sleeping forms on the pullout mattress. Her middle daughter, Cammie, and her two grandchildren. The older woman's brown eyes settled on them for a moment while she rested against the wall. Cammie's husband was curled up nearby on a comically undersized couch. "I'll bug David about getting a blow-up mattress when he wakes up," Scotty would never complain about the sleeping arrangement, but Isabel knew it must have been uncomfortable.

Once in the kitchen, Isabel started the task of making her morning coffee. Which these days involved the push of a button on the preset coffee maker. David made sure the coffee maker was set and ready for her every night before bed. It was sweet, but realistically it was just more practical than Isabel spilling coffee grounds all over the kitchen every morning till she healed. Or figured out how to live her life as a righty.

Isabel didn't sit at the table while the coffee brewed, as she usually would have. It would have been painful and noisy getting back up. So instead, she leaned against the counter, taking the weight off her left leg, and watched the first sun rays peek over the mountains to the east.

The coffee maker beeped softly, and Isabel poured her first cup and headed for the backdoor. She wanted to watch the sunrise over the Sonoran desert that she called home. Another simple pleasure she'd forgotten to enjoy for far too many years.

Outside sat a porch swing facing east. "Perfect," Isabel thought with a smile as she lowered herself carefully into the seat.

It creaked and rocked back and forth gently. It was still cool outside, and she shivered just a little when a breeze blew across the desert. The sun rose higher and turned the sky a beautiful mix of purple and orange.

Something she rarely thought about was the wildlife the surrounded her home on the edge of Phoenix. She counted a dozen or so rabbits as sat beneath scrub brushes, hiding from the hawk circling high above them. Then, her eyes spied a giant desert centipede marched across the concrete. Its dozens of legs carrying it speedily over the cement in search of prey. Something she usually found creepy as much as terrifying suddenly seemed so beautiful.

A soft 'click' grabbed her attention as David came out onto the patio, closing the door quietly behind him. His green eyes looked tired, and he walked with a slight limp of his own. It wasn't severe, and he rarely complained about it, but still, she always noticed it. "When did we get so old, honey?" She thought with a small smile.

"Morning," Isabel greeted warmly as he took the seat beside her. "I didn't wake you up, did I?" She had been as quiet as she could possibly be.

"Nah," David waved it off. "Figured I'd get up before the little ones, maybe cook us all some breakfast." Isabel hid her grin behind her coffee mug. Having all three of her daughters and both her grandchildren in the house was a Godsend.

"You change your mind on going to the trial?"

It took a lot not to roll her eyes. "No," She said and tried to focus back on the rising sun. Its rays casting shadows behind the Seguaro cacti that covered much of the desert.

"Me and the girls are going-"

"Babe," She raised her left arm slightly, sending a shot of pain through her nervous system. "If I go, it'll be to tell him I forgive him and nothing else." David was taken aback, and Isabel could feel his eyes burning into the side of her skull. "You should do the same."

"Forgive the man that nearly killed my wife and the Mother of my children..?" David's hands gripped his own coffee mug tightly, turning his knuckles white.

Isabel nearly scoffed but thought better of it. "I'd hardly call him a man; he's three years younger than Lily,"

David couldn't wrap his head around the idea of forgiving him so easily. A mile an hour more, or a half an inch in any direction, and she would have been dead. His wife, gone forever. And even though she hadn't been killed, he'd seen his soulmate laid up in a hospital bed for almost 2 months. 6 broken bones in her left arm, a fractured left ankle, 4 broken ribs, and a punctured lung. How could he be expected to forgive him after that? "He almost killed you!"

"But he didn't!" She only raised her voice slightly. "David, listen to me," With great effort, she sat up and turned to face him, her good hand intertwining with his. "I'm ALIVE," Tears pricked at the corner of her eyes. "I'm alive, and that's all that matters. There's no sense in us wasting our time being mad about something we can't change." A deep sigh came out when she finished. "Can we just watch the sunrise? Can't that be enough?"

David nodded and wrapped his arm around her when she leaned into him. He still wasn't sure if he was ready to forgive the man. Or if he'd ever be ready to forgive him, for that matter.

But Isabel was right, she was alive, and that's all that mattered. And he was more than happy to just watch the sunrise with her.

August 13, 2021 10:33

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13:31 Aug 20, 2021

I agree with Alex's comment below about your story being well-paced for 1000 words; you gave lots of detail about her injuries and almost made me feel like I could see her desert home from the description you wrote. The only thing it left me wondering was why were all her children and their families sleeping at Isabel and David's home; was it because of her injury, the trial that she was attending or fear from safety? I would love to know more about your story and the characters. Very well written :)


A. Neptune
10:42 Aug 21, 2021

The way I imagined it while I was writing was that they were there after she'd been released from the hospital. But I was worried about bogging the story down with too much detail about it. In hindsight, I probably should have been clearer on it. Thank you for taking the time to review! :)


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Alex Sultan
19:32 Aug 17, 2021

I enjoyed reading this story - I like the question you sow at the beginning with leaving us wondering how Isabel got injured, and I read through it quickly looking for the answer. A very well-paced story for 1000 words.


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