Thursday, December 3, 2009

Friday Fiction: Winter to Summer

Four men stand outside on a mild winter day. All have big, solid bellies and the broad callused palms of those who have spent their lives working with tools and rope and dirt. Their hard-hats in their hands, they shift back and forth as they feel the strain in their necks, heads bowed toward the ground. No one speaks. A few ice crystals glisten in the mound of newly turned earth.

“I’ll sure miss her,” says one. The others all nod and grunt their agreement. One sniffs slightly, pretending it’s the wind.

After awhile they turn and go back to work. The morning light catches on a foil-wrapped soda bottle graveside, sprouting plastic flowers. Later, one man, not the one who spoke nor the one who sniffed, returns and sets a ring of stones around the mound. By the next morning a yellow wooden cross is planted by the grave, inscribed with the words, “Nance. A good cat. 2001-2008.” No one mentions the cross. No one asks.

Winter flows into spring. The grave settles into the earth. The mice seem to have left out of respect for the dead. Work in the yard continues as it always does and the men make no mention of the cross by the fence. Nor does anyone comment on the occasional new flowers that appear by her resting place, or the saucer of milk placed by the ring of stones once a week, or the reluctance everyone shares in finding a new garage cat. Spring is a busy season, full of muddy axles and tire changes; there is little time to think of such things.

By summer the grave is almost flat. The stones that mark its border are so dark with mud and time, they could have been there forever. The cross is faded to the color of butter, the black lettering to grey. The plastic flowers still shine red and vibrant, no one looks closely enough to see the spatter of dirt. The milk that appears once a week is sipped away by squirrels and a stray cat that has taken to loitering by the fence.

By mid-August the stray has enough courage to sit in the sun outside of the garage while the men eat lunch. “Willya lookit that,” says one of them. “Bold as brass that tom is. Whaddya think, should I give him a little of my lunch? It’s been a long time since we had a cat around here.”

(c)2009 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. was wonderfully led through this, great descriptions and a great pace

    Good stuff

  2. Your story brought a smile to my face. Perfect imagery -- it unreeled like a movie... Peace, Linda

  3. Yeah, crusty ol' guys have feelings too! A beautifully told story with a good feeling about it.


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