LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Day 6 (Sept. ’08 Southeast Review Writers Regimen)

#1 What’s on your tombstone?

She loved Frank Westmark.

#2  Write the moment when one character realizes that he or she must kill another person. What is motivating the killing, and can you justify it to your reader?

Joining the ranks of widows was the membership Robyn had most dreaded. But here she was, sleeping alone in their big soft bed for the last nine months. At least, she had begun to sleep again.

The house that had been such a playground for Harry and her was always huge, but when he was alive, they played together in every room. Now it was cavernous, silent and dark.

Robyn’s thoughts kept interrupting her as she tried to read. “Maybe it’s time to get a puppy. . .”

“No, if I do that, I’m tied here, and I think I’m about to enter a travel phase. I have got to find a way through this, instead of sitting here every day, crying and going to seed. Harry would be pissed to find me like this. ”

She took one last sip of the scotch that had become too much a part of her bedtime routine, looked at it, then closed her book. “That’s it,” she declared. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.” Robyn threw her legs over the side of the bed, reached for the half-empty glass of whiskey and headed down the long dark hallway to toward the kitchen.

There was enough light from the refrigerator’s icemaker night light, so Robyn didn’t turn on the overhead. She poured the rest of the drink down the sink and turned to go back to bed.

Halfway down the hall, Robyn heard the unmistakable sound of shattering glass. She froze for an instant, until Harry’s voice in her head commanded her to run to the bedroom and lock it.

“Damn it! I forgot to turn on the alarm!” she thought, racing across the room for her cell phone to call 911.

“911. What is your emergency?” The low-pitched matronly voice was reassuring.

“Hello,” Robyn whispered.” Oh, my God. Someone’s in my house! Send the police! Please hurry!” She could hear them running through the house, breaking things, cursing, getting closer.

“Ma’m! How many are there?”

“I don’t know! Hurry, please!”

“It’s on the way. Try to stay calm. Do they see you?”

“No! I’m behind a locked bedroom door. I’m getting my husband’s gun.”

“Ma’m. Is your husband there?”

“No!”, Robyn stifled a wail. “He died nine months ago. I’m alone!” She had found the loaded shotgun Harry always kept on his side of the bed. “I’ve got to go. Tell the officers I’m in the back bedroom. If these guys try to break down the door, I’m shooting. Make sure the officers yell out who they are.”

She could hear the men running upstairs, then back down. “Where is she?” one said. “Where is the bitch?” From their obscene banter, it sounded like there were two of them.

“Oh, God,” she thought. “Help me, Jesus, they’re coming for me. Help me do this terrible thing.”

Suddenly, the house got quiet. Robyn didn’t hear the men anymore. Somehow, that was even more terrifying, and she took a stance across the room from the bedroom door, the way Harry had taught her, took a deep breath, eased the safety off the shotgun and leveled it at the door. She wondered if her heart was still beating as she listened for any sound.

“There.” Robyn heard the sound of someone moving in the foyer hall just outside the bedroom.

“Stop!!” she screamed at the door. “Police are on the way. Don’t touch that doorknob or I’ll shoot. Get out of here right now!”

“That sweet thing is bluffing. Let’s go!” The door knob rattled and she heard a shoulder push against it. “Come on, baby. Let’s party!”

“Okay,” Robyn thought as she began pulling the trigger at the door. “Let’s party.”

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