Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Indian Summer (WoE week 38)

Write at the Merge gives a quote and a picture this week. First the quote:
August rain: the best of summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.  
Sylvia Plath

And next the picture:

Mason Jars by Rula Sibai via Unsplash

So, my thoughts went to the phrase Indian Summer, which always happened just as kids started up school in September. They'd have their new fall clothes born of east coast fashion and we'd be experiencing another Los Angeles heat wave. Sweat and tears and awkward school-year starts...Ah yes, the so-called Glory Days.

Not my glory days. 

I would like to bring you another installment of Patience's story. Jeb recently taught Patience how to shoot a firearm, a valuable lesson in the wild west, and they're on the move again.

I offer the following in response: Indian Summer 

 The dry wind carved a path through the canyon, casting wayward dust into Indian Territory. Patience missed the moisture long vacant from her eyes. She would cry for the sun scalding her cheeks, if she had any tears left to bargain with.

“Here.” Jeb held his canteen before her eyes. “But don’t git carried away. Few things’r worse than a flood after a drought.”

“Thank you, Mr. Grayson.” She tilted the canteen to her lips and sipped, mindful of his warning. “I thought moving to Brasher was difficult. This…wilderness…the miles of empty without passing a living soul. How can anyone live beyond the edge of civilization like this?”

Patience expected a retort as heated and dry as the weather. Instead, Jeb raised a hand and blocked the sun from his eyes. “This wilderness is far from empty, Boston. And since you missed it, we’ve been followed for the last three or four miles.”

He pointed to the canyon’s ridge and her heart froze as she caught a glimpse of an Indian melting into the trees. She reached for the rifle at her feet; her hand trembling of its own accord. “What do we do?”

“Do?” Jeb shrugged. “Nothing we can do, truth be told, so leave that rifle right where it is.”

“But…” She pulled back, confused. “I’m living life remember? I can’t save my sister if I get killed in an ambush by savages. So just tell me what to do.”

“Now, hold on. We ain’t exactly in the best of positions running this wagon through the canyon. They know it too.” Jeb clicked at the horses. “Since we ain’t already dead, I think we can assume they ain’t gonna kill us.”

“You think?” Patience watched the crest, looking for signs of an attack although unsure what those signs would be. Every movement of the shrub grass seemed to foretell her death. Her fear lodged in her throat.

She heard Jeb moan. “And damned am I for mentionin’ it.”

“Who are they?” Though she was a child, she remembered a tribe's removal march. “Cherokee?”

“The Cherokee are settled westways of here. Not much call for them stalking a solitary couple in a northbound wagon.” Seriousness overtook his features as his eyes shifted to the road before them. “But I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

She followed his gaze. Before them, three Indians on horseback blocked their path where the canyon narrowed. There would be no avoiding them now. Patience struggled to breathe as her mind failed her. Her thoughts and fears swirled together in a violent storm, driving the blood from her heart to her cheeks. Her body began to go numb and shut down, starting with her toes. And then the canyon went black.

Her hearing returned before her vision did. A stream bubbled nearby and a damp cloth dabbed at her brow. Her eyes snapped open and she looked beyond the few painted, foreign faces at Jeb.

She caught his elusive smile before he turned away. 


  1. I waited the whole piece for that elusive smile, and I have a feeling Patience has been... well, patiently... waiting for it as well.

    1. Thanks! I thought it was about time to show some character growth and relationship development. They've got a ways yet to go, but they'll get there someday.

      I hope you enjoyed your visit. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  2. I liked this story very much. It was a quick and easy read. I smiled at the ending where she comes out of her "faint" and everyone is looking at her.

    I also really liked this line: "Patience expected a retort as heated and dry as the weather." That's great!

    You did a good job with the interaction between Patience and Jeb. There's a teasing quality with Jeb I liked a lot.

    Also, the title was well done for the prompt. Thanks for sharing this story:~)

    1. Thanks! I have a soft spot for both Patience and Jeb, so I'm glad that shows in their relationship. And I'm equally happy that the title I chose tied the story to the prompt so well.

      I'm pleased you enjoyed your stay. Thank you for stopping by and sharing such wonderful feedback!

  3. I love that the conditions and the canyon are a character here, as alive as Patience, Jeb, and their trackers and ponies. Fantastic, Shel.

    1. Thanks! Since the prompt was about the awkward between, I thought, what could be more awkward than to give mother earth a hot-flash? I'm glad it worked.

      I'm happy you loved your visit. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  4. "if she had any tears left to bargain with"
    that is a gorgeous line. I felt her inner struggle and her fear coming all at once, her fainting was perfectly timed and executed with words.

    that elusive smile was reward enough, wasn't it?

    1. Thanks! I'm so very glad I was able to show she passed out without saying "She passed out." And a smile from Jeb, the man who is bitter about everything? Yes, a reward to be sure.

      I'm glad you enjoyed your stay. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!