I'm seeing a lot of overwriting in the submissions. I love Shinytrombone11's story for its many plain sentences. It's much harder to write simply than it is to throw in thousands of adjectives, adverbs, and slightly misused SAT words.
The door to the refrigerator slammed as I put away the last of the cold cuts and left over soda. The wake was over, and my younger siblings and shed their mourning clothes in exchange for their usual jeans and boots to go play outside. My dad had been long gone, out in the stable working with his horses. Ever since Mom died, he hadn’t been able to function around us. I mainly blamed myself. Even at the wake, people told me “Oh Carolynn, you look like just her”. Before she died, I loved how her long blonde hair bleached out in the summer, and her skin became tan. I never tanned, I burned; I took after my red-headed Dad for complexion. My hair bleached out, but it was unevenly splotched all over my head. I shook the memories out of my head, as I looked out of the kitchen window. I saw my dad riding his horse Cairo in the round pen. My two younger brothers stood on the rails of the pin, shouting words of praise to my dad and his perfect horse. My baby sister sat in mom’s garden, pulling the petals out of a daisy. The sun was setting over our ranch, Lost Ravine Ranch. I sat outside on the porch, tears brimming in my eyes. It had been only four days since the crash. Today was the wake, tomorrow was the funeral, and the day after that was the court case. I knew I had to put on the brave face for my family, Dad couldn’t do it alone. As darkness fell, I helped wrangle up the kids and get them in bed. My brothers were able to do it on their own, but my sister, Carla, was still reliant on Mom. She called me into her room later.
“Caro, I need help!” She cried out. I quietly walked into her room to see her trying to braid her own hair, something Mom always did to us girls every night while we were young. I sat her down on the bed and I gently pulled at her curly, red hair.
“Caro, can I ask you a question?” She asked. I smiled.
“Silly Carla, you just did.” I said, giving her a tap on the head. She pouted briefly.
“No! A real question!” she said. I sighed and nodded.
“Why doesn’t Daddy cry?” she asked. My breath caught in my throat. I exhaled as I finished her braid.
“Carla, Daddy doesn’t cry, because he never thought he’d have to cry.” I said. Carla seemed to understand. I tucked her into bed, said our goodnights, and clicked the lights off. When I left her room, the light in the boys’ room was already off. The TV was on, but it had been muted; only the iridescent blue light flooded up the stairs. Dad couldn’t sleep the room he shared with Mom. He had been sleeping in the living room since the night of the accident. I slipped into my room and crawled straight into bed. Only there, in the safety of my own room, did I feel comfortable crying. I cried for Dad, he was left suddenly without his rock and his love. I cried for Carla, she didn’t have a mother to advise her and to help her in upcoming years. I cried for the boys, they would never really understand that connection between mother and son. And I cried for myself, because I was the one left to fill her shoes. Tears poured out my eyes for what seemed like hours.
Once the tears stopped flowing, I laid around in bed for hours, trying to sleep. Nothing that I did helped, and I found myself lying on my back, staring at the spinning fan above my head. I looked over at the clock.
It was eleven at night. I thought about how much I missed her.
It was midnight. I thought about everything I could have done to have prevented her from going to the store that night. I was the one who demanded a new movie. If she had stayed home, she’d be sleeping soundly with my father.
It was one in the morning. I thought about all of the responsibilities she left me.
It was two in the morning. By then, thoughts were filling my heads like sharks after a baby seal. I needed to escape. I felt my chest tightening. I needed a wide open space, somewhere far away. I threw off my covers, I slipped on my old, dirty boots, and I sneaked down to the barn. Even in July, the night was cold against my skin. I quietly unlocked the door and turned on the lights. Every horse head faced towards me, as I walked to my favorite horse, Sky. As I stroked her nose, I felt the desire just to fly away. I grabbed her bridle, slipped it over her expressive head, and grabbed the reins. I was able to jump onto her strong, Palomino back. I gave her a click, and we walked out of the building. We strolled around the garden, we walked around the property. I wasn’t done thinking. Sky took me down to the edge of the driveway, where we were faced with a large, green field, leading up to the mountains that my mother loved. I couldn’t hold my pain in any more.
I kicked her as hard as I could. I felt her rear up beneath me and gallop off. Her powerful muscles moved beneath me, as we powered across the field. The cool air whipped at my face and hair, causing my eyes to tear up from the sting. We galloped and galloped across the field. As the fear and pain began to leave me, I brought Sky down from the gallop. We walked more, basking in the openness surrounding us. When I looked around, I realized Sky had brought me to my favorite trail, Foothill Ridge. Sky and I followed the trail for what ended up being hours. The sun began to break through the darkness over the ridges of the mountains. Even the smallest beams of light erupting from the sun warmed up the earth. I caught myself gazing into the sunrise. I broke away and surveyed over the land. I could see my house, tucked away in the meadows and fields of the mountains. Birds chirped, dew was visible on the tips of the grass, and a warm breeze all added to the serenity. I knew then that I would be okay. I knew it would all be okay. Even without her advice, her love, and her presence, my life would eventually return to almost normality. I was now the dependable force in the family, and I had to keep us together. With a sigh, I patted Sky and turned her nose back home, back to where I would always belong.
Based on "Wild Horses," by Natasha Bedingfield
Sparklers, if there's one thing we must all resist, it's the temptation to tie up our stories with a shiny, happy bow. You don't need to solve everything or make it all okay in the last paragraph.
Does this ending work for you? What about the prose style? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
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Topics: musical fiction contest