Friday Fictioneers: Settling

Another intriguing photo from Madison Woods, to inspire us to more ministories. I’m not sure where this picture was taken, but the people who lived there once had to be able to endure hardships –

Settling

When the road’s so bad the wheel falls off the wagon, it’s time to settle. Good dirt, peppered with lots of rock, too much to plow until you dig those rocks out and pile them up. Shape it right, and a rock pile’s a house. We could of been happy there, rich as you need to be.

She tried. Wouldn’t let me throw out that old wagon wheel. “Waste not,” she’d say. “I’m gonna make a garden out of it. Flowers between the spokes. You wait.” But there was so much hard work to do first, and it broke her. That last spring, I planted flowers where she could see them out the window, but I don’t know how to grow them. Died with nothing to look at but weeds.

Road runs two ways. Might be I’ll go back where there’s people. Might find me a strong lonely woman.

* * *

I keep forgetting to say this – criticisms, pro and con, are welcome.

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28 responses to “Friday Fictioneers: Settling

  1. Love this. Don’t know why … just do.
    (Not great with criticism I’m afraid)

  2. A gentle sad story. The voice was very, very strong. (I’m going to assume you were speaking ‘in character’ when you said ‘we could of been happy there’. 😉 Personally, that’s not a risk I’d take, but then I nurse a particular horror of ‘would of’ and ‘bored of’ and live in fear that one day I’ll use them by mistake. 🙂 ) Well done, I felt for the poor man.

    • Yay – I’m a successful ventriloquist! 😉 Yes, “could of” was the character’s choice of words. It’s not something I would say myself, but the speaker is a late nineteenth century poor farmer, and I think he would talk like that. (He might write “could have”, on the rare times he wrote anything, but when he talked it would sound like “could of”.)

      Aside from that, I’m really glad he won your sympathy. Thank you!

  3. I could definitely hear the voice and thought the story worked great. I can also hear his loneliness and regret at not knowing how to make life more bearable for his wife. I like the practicality of knowing he needs a stronger one next time.

    • Thank you, Madison! Yes, he’s grieving for his lost wife – but he also accepts that life has to go on, and part of mourning for her is realizing he can’t put another woman through the same thing.

  4. I agree with the other comments – the voice is very strong here, I can picture him, and his tough life. The regret at his inability to grow her some flowers is almost painful to read, but he sounds like the sort to get on with things, it won’t break him.

    • Yes – he’ll never forget her, but he’ll go on as best he can manage. I’m pleased that he came across so clearly to you! (I have to admit that those failed flowers bring tears to my eyes, and I made them up!)

  5. What a character! well written because it tugs at the heart. I love it Sharon.
    p.s. I keep missing Madisons challenge now – since it changed form wordpress 😦

    • I have to remember to check Madison’s blog for the challenge every week now. 😦

      So glad you like the story! I don’t exactly want to cause my readers to suffer, but isn’t it satisfying when you make the kind of emotional impact you tried for?

  6. The journey of life often has alternate plans. A sad but sweet little story.

  7. Very poignant story, Sharon. I had question at first with “could of” until I continued to read. You most definitely captured the man’s voice. I won’t say character because he’s achingly real. In so few words you captured his loneliness. Great job. i think this is among my favorites this week.
    Thanks for your intuitive comments on mine. As for the weekly challenge from Madison, it has become one of my favorite obsessions.

    • Rochelle, thank you, thank you! Actually, I thought your story was one of the best – such a complicated situation that sends out ripples before and after the moment you show us. And yes, I love tackling the story prompts – great exercise!

  8. I like this. Seems to have a stoicism behind the sadness

  9. Lovely, Sharon. Better to suffer through a character and learn from that experience than to suffer through the experience yourself. I think that’s one of the great services of writing…showing us the feelings, thoughts and experiences of life as others find it and (hopefully) learning from them and remembering them both in our lives and while dealing with others.

  10. Forgot to ask. What and were is the weekly challenge?

    • Oops – sorry! Every week, there’s a prompt picture at http://madison-woods.com/blog/.

      As for the “what” part, I’ll quote Madison on that: “Every Friday authors from around the world gather here to share their 100-words and offer constructive crit and encouragement to each other. This creates a wonderful opportunity for free reading of very fresh fiction! Readers are encouraged to comment as well, even if to just offer impressions or express confusion (ha. Mine have been known to elicit that response from time to time).”

      You didn’t ask “who”, but I’ll add an answer anyway – the Fictioneers is / are open to anyone who wants to add a story. (Also, while 100 words is the goal, there’s no punishment for going over; this story is closer to 150 words. My first drafts tend to come to around 200 words, and then I see how much can be cut without destroying the story.)

  11. Sharon, it’s just me–janet. I thought maybe the challenge was another thing Madison put out and I wasn’t sure I could handle another one, much as I love this one. I wouldn’t have enough time to read another set of stories!! 🙂

    (I would have responded to your reply above but because of a weird WordPress thing, I didn’t have enough room to have the “Reply” button show up. Drives me nuts.)

  12. I was drawn into this story I felt for the woman and it was nice he tried to grow her flowers.
    I am number 55 on the list this week.

  13. A well told story of dreams not matching reality.

  14. Others have pretty much said it all…except to add, I loved it. The wife was probably too fragile for that rugged life. Let’s hope he finds a new “strong” woman and gets a 2nd chance. Maybe they could use the hut as a weekend getaway. Nice work.

    • Thank you! (I don’t mind being complimented multiple times 😉 ) I suspect he will find a second wife, and I hope he’ll love her as well as he did the first. For the time being, though, that hut is going to be what they have to live in – they won’t be living a life that allows for weekend getaways! More likely as the farm prospers and the family grows, they’ll either add more rooms to the hut, or build a bigger house nearby.

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