In this series, I will take the Word of the Day from Dictionary.com and craft a short piece of creative writing around it. My goal is to embrace the meaning of the word in some unique way, all the while trying out different styles, rhythms and characterizations. It is as much an exercise in creativity as it is an exploration of grammar. Enjoy!
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By Alex Seise
A dragonfly landed on the white-washed banister of the porch, flittering its wings for a moment with an irritating buzzing noise. Rosie leaned her rocker forward and gently shooed it away, watching as the shimmering green thorax with crystal-clear saran wings hovered next to the scraggly old lilac shrub a short moment before darting out across the waves of fallow.
“She always was a lambent little thing, that mother of yours. Sharp-witted and fresh as a glass of buttermilk straight from the cow’s own udders.” The wizened old woman dipped a gnarled finger into her tall glass of sweet tea, stirring it nonchalantly. Once the syrupy sugar solids re-dissolved, she plucked the digit from the glass and poked it into her mouth, sucking as hard as her dentures allowed. The top rack came loose. “Damned cream,” she muttered. “Those advertisements lie, sugar. Don’t get old. There’s no joy in a toothless life.” Big drops of sweat ran down the sides of the icy glass, dripping to the floor with heavy plodding thuds.
The young girl listened to the woman in the rocker and the drops of condensation falling from her glass, her legs curled up in a comfortable crossed fashion. A lethargic calico, more fur than meat in its old age, rolled into a ball between her thighs, purring softly in the sweet summer air.
Rosie looked down her bifocals at the girl. “You’ll miss her, child. Words rolled off her tongue like tumbleweeds through a field of dust, nice and easy like.” She sighed. “But she’s in a better place now, I reckon.”
Instinctively, the young girl looked toward the old red barn across the yard. The doors were barred shut with a heavy white beam that had served as a fence post just days before. The dreadful noises from the decaying wooden structure had stopped two days ago, but when the wind died down at dusk, and just before the critters of the night started chirping, she could still hear faint scratching from her open bedroom window.
“She can’t hurt you from there, child,” murmured Rosie, joining the girl’s gaze in the direction of the barn.
“But when will the scratching stop?” The girl turned to face the old woman, staring at her wrinkled cheeks in search of an answer. Perhaps it was hidden in one of the deep canyons etched in her thin, spotted skin?
“Don’t worry yourself with those kinds of questions, sweet baby girl,” Rosie said, emotionless. “Just worry about the dragonflies and the lilacs, and that calico curled up in between your knees. That’s all you ever need to concern yourself with these days.” She flashed a hollow smile toward the girl and her snoozing cat.
Rosie didn’t say it aloud, but she thought to herself: I’ll worry about the scratching, and I’ll wait out here watching and waiting on my porch until the good Lord deems me ready to stand down. By then, child, you’ll be ready to become a Sentinel just like me.
But not yet, not today. Not tomorrow, and not next week either. Rosie picked up her glass and slurped a cool sip. One day… One day.