Fiction Friday: A Cry in the Dark


Photo by Wonderlane, via Flickr

Those damn yellow shoes.

Zin massaged her ankle as she watched Ned disappear into the gloom of overhanging oak with the rest of the party. Flashlight beams danced on the thick canopy as their voices chattered. Soon even that was gone, and she was left on the porch with nothing but an ice pack, the peep frogs and crickets for company.

Click-click-creak. Click-click-creak.

Oh yes. And Dee’s Grammy, knitting in the corner.

Click-click, creak. “I toldja not to wear them shoes out in the yard.”

Presumably, Grammy had perfected the art of “I told you so’s” long before the Flood. “It’s all I brought.”

“Whad’ja trip on? Rabbit hole?” Click-click-creak.

Zin jammed her fist into her hand. “A stump.”

“Well, leastways you kin keep an old lady company. I got a shiver in my bones tells me this here blanket’s gonna be needed soon.”

Zin stifled a groan. She’d spent two hours assembling exactly the right look to impress Ned, and in the end all she’d gotten was a solicitous arm, helping her up to the porch. Somehow, when Dee had talked about her great-grandmother’s house in the country, she’d neglected to mention it was more Deliverance than divine. Now Dee was out spelunking with Ned, probably finding some secluded avenue to explore two by two. Maybe Dee’d planned it that way.

Her ankle throbbed; she bent, adjusted the ice pack and slapped a mosquito.

“You’re goin’ about it the wrong way, y’know,” Grammy said.

“About what?” she snapped.

“Catchin’ the boy.”

Zin looked up over her knees and was surprised by the sympathetic smile. “What do you know about it?”

Grammy uttered a short bark of laughter. “You think I was never young? There’s boys you catch with stilettos, girl, but that boy ain’t one of ’em. Take my word for it. It’ll take somethin’ real to get his attention.” Click-click-creak. “Now, in my day there was a boy I liked, name of John. I like to never catch his eye.”

“Sounds familiar,” Zin mumbled.

“Tried everything–clothes, perfume, makeup. Wasn’t ’til I–”

“What was that?”

Click-click-creak. “What was what?”

“That sound. There it is again.”

Grammy paused, cocked an ear. “Coyote pup, maybe.”

Zin stood. “That’s no coyote.” Gingerly, she limped down the stairs and started into the trees.

“You be careful, girly!” called Grammy. “I cain’t come git you if you sprain your other ankle!”

The mewling cry came again, weaker this time. Zin stumbled into a fold in the ground, black against charcoal earth. Her skirt snagged on a thorn; she clung to saplings to keep her balance as she struggled downward toward the patch of white at the base of a tree. She moved the threadbare fabric and caught her breath.

It was a baby.


The theme du jour is choice and its consequences. I can’t explore either the choice or the consequence properly in 400 words (this is pretty far over, in fact), but I hope I’ve at least intrigued you. 🙂

11 thoughts on “Fiction Friday: A Cry in the Dark

  1. inmandyland2

    I liked the descriptions and dialogues you used. I was actually hoping to hear more from Granny about how she caught John. The whole “each generation believes it invented sex”.

  2. Definitely intrigued! Please tell me you’re writing more, because I want to know what happened!

    The dialogue with the grandmother on the porch was fantastic. Love that whole feeling that, “Oh, great, I got stuck with Granny,” and she turns out to be a source of advice and a great conversationalist.

    You do a good job writing the grandmother’s dialect, too. Sometimes it can come off corny, but you made it sound organic. Maybe the setting helped, I don’t know, but I want to study it because it’s something I have a hard time getting right.

    And yes, I want to hear how the grandmother caught John! You should do a reader contest for funniest ending to that sentence: “Tried everything–clothes, perfume, makeup. Wasn’t ’til I–”

    Bet you’d get some doozies!

    • What a good idea! I may have to try that next time. And I am thinking about trying to work this one through a little more. The concept I had just ended up being too big for this short a prompt. 🙂

  3. This was great. I can see where you couldn’t cut anything out to make the word limit without losing integral pieces of the story. Keep it going. There is more to explore with this one!

  4. I like the repetition of Granny’s rocker, but I would have liked to “hear” the baby a little more, since you use the sound of the rocker throughout the piece. If that makes sense 🙂

    I’m definitely interested to see what the baby is all about!

  5. Very intriguing! I, too, want to hear more about how Granny caught her man. Good stuff!

    The baby was an interesting twist. I think if you threw the word count out the window, it would be cool to see what happened.

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