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.
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. 🙂