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November 2006
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Sarah [userpic]

So, finally, AGES after joining talechasing, I have finally answered a challenge!

I'm not particularly happy with it, but it's gotten me writing again, which seems to be the whole point. Yay for writing!

"I think God hates us," Bethany announced, coming in from the fields with mud staining her skirt past her knees. Small rivers branched from the landscape of her hair and face, disappearing into her clothing before resurfacing as waterfalls into a swiftly-growing lake on the floor.

Lydia turned and looked at her daughter, and then out the door behind her. The rain wove a steady, weary curtain through the air, erasing the view of hills, trees, and roads. Lately, Lydia thought that the rain was trying to wipe the land clean, scour it down to bare rock. The floodstream past their door carried leaves and crops and soil down to the river bottoms in evidence.

"Don't tell me," Lydia said at last with a weary sigh. "I don't want to start worrying about the winter already."

"We'll make it," said Bethany, confident and unconcerned as only a teenager could be.

"I'm sure we will." Lydia felt too damp and tired to try to shake Bethany's confidence. She stepped past her daughter to look at the door, squinting to see through the rain. "Is your father still...?"

"Yes, he's still trying to build a levee."

"Do you think it will help?"

"A little." Bethany shrugged.

Lydia frowned out the doorway. "Is Jericho with him?"


"How that boy always manages to avoid work is beyond me," said Lydia, shaking her head. "I'm going to go help your father, then, if he won't. Dinner's on the stove, mind it doesn't burn."

"Yes, Ma," said Bethany, obediently.

Lydia stepped through the door and shut it behind her. She was soaked through in seconds, chilled by the rain's enthusiastic embrace. For a moment, she tilted her face to the sky and wished it would send her downstream as well. Erase the dirt, the pain, the heartaches of facing each day coming mercilessly after the next, each meal cooked and consumed, each long winter following each meager harvest. Erase her life hovering over her too-gifted children who never really needed her at all.

She laughed wryly at her own despairing thoughts. "The rain will stop eventually," she reminded herself under her breath. She squared her shoulders and picked up her skirts, but she didn't go straight to the fields. She wanted to see her rosebushes first.

She'd dragged them as seedlings from New York. She'd covered them with blankets against the frost, watered them through droughts and exulted at last in their blushing glory that seemed to last all summer long. They were one of the few things she did only for herself, not out of duty or custom but just because she wanted to. She knew they wouldn't recover from this deluge any more than the wheat would, and she wanted to say goodbye.

She waded more than walked around to the back of their little log home, where she'd planted the bushes so they'd get just the right amount of sunlight. She plucked a petal from the stream and tucked it into her skirt pocket.

When Lydia turned the corner, she stopped dead in surprise. Jericho, covered nearly head to toe in muddy water and dirt, was putting the last touches on a makeshift shelter he'd built over the roses to protect them from the driving rain. He'd also made a sort of ditch downstream of the bushes, to help drain the waterlogged soil.

"Jericho, you should be out helping protect the crops," Lydia said, but her heart wasn't in the lecture. She covered her chin with a hand to try and keep it from trembling, fighting back tears. She wasn't going to cry now. Not over some silly flowers. She turned to go back to the fields.

Jericho's arms enfolded her from behind in a hug. When had he gotten so tall?

"You're welcome, Ma," he said, squeezing once and then letting her hurry off to tend to the wheat and corn.

It was only after the sun went down and she and Ben couldn't work on the levee any more that she realized that he'd never followed to come help. She couldn't find it in her heart to be angry with him, though.


Aw, that's gorgeous. The notion of saying 'goodbye' to the flowers was sad, and what a lovely surprise that really was for her (though you can't half see Jericho knows exactly how to play it). *hugs him*

Most excellent! You should do more of these! If you don't have time for long challenges, you can do the occasional 100-word zippy ones in about five seconds, too! I'm ever so slightly addicted ;D