Hello, friends! Let’s continue with Chloe in this first chapter and get her family to the Crow’s Nest. (There’s a two-part prologue in case you missed it.)
Writing Music: Mychael Danna, Capote (which can’t be found on YouTube, sadly)
When the Nina Simone cassette began a fourth time, Chloe’s father slapped the console to turn it off. A bead of sweat trickled down the backside of his right ear and soaked into his coat collar. “If I knew we’d be in the woods this long, I’d of filled up by that bastard out in Eagle River,” he said. His eyes stayed fixed on the truck ahead of them, so he didn’t see Chloe glaring at him from the back seat. Thomas Watchman never swore, not even when his tools sliced his skin open on a job. This was bad.
So Chloe put her other hand on her father’s shoulder. “We’re okay, Dad.” For as much good as those words could do in a car low on gas in the middle of nowhere.
A large snowy owl comes to a sliding perch upon the truck’s tailgate and looks into the Watchman station wagon with yellow eyes.
Chloe risks a smile. “Didn’t think owls liked free rides.” For it clearly did, preening its feathers as the snow blew around him and the truck bumped on beneath him.
“I know I wouldn’t mind one in this snow,” Thomas added with a relaxing glance Chloe’s way.
Trees stopped reaching for the car. The snow no longer swirled in ribbons, but straight down, gently, like a snowglobe left to play its song. The truck was turning away to park upon an open space; Thomas pulled the station wagon up alongside him and shut off the engine. “Finally. Tomorrow I’ll ride with the plowman to a station for more gas to get out of here tomorrow.”
“No!” Chloe’s mother nearly lunged out of her seat, her fingernails digging into Thomas’ arm. “Don’t leave me here alone with her!”
“Mom, Mom, I’ll be with you, it’ll be okay, I’m here.” Chloe tried to hold her mother’s face like she’d hold Chloe’s after a bad dream. Her skin was so cold Chloe almost recoiled from the touch, but she didn’t. She had to be strong. If her momma could walk by protestors demanding segregation of schools without wincing once, then Chloe could be strong with this…this grandmother, whomever she was. Not a good mom, if her own daughter’s too scared to be around her.
Chloe’s father finally released the steering wheel. He slid a gloved thumb beneath her clawing fingernails, and gently pried her off. “All right. I’ll pay him to bring us gas. That better?”
Angela Perdido Watchman breathed his words in deep, exhaled, breathed in a little easier exhaled a little easier. She closed her eyes, nodded, and said, “Don’t say anything about the owl.”
“Why?” Chloe asked. She turned to look out the passenger window–the owl was already gone. The plowman stood back there now, rubbing down the tailgate with a cloth. He noticed Chloe watching, and tipped his cowboy hat to her. “It’s already gone.”
“Good.” Angela took a few more breaths, then eased back into her seat. “She asked for one night, and that’s all we’re giving. The others agreed. We hear her out, and we leave in the morning.”
Thomas, too, watched the plowman wipe down the truckbed. Two other snowy hulks became visible in its headlights. “Those cars?”
“Sal and Reg must be here already.” Angela slid her hands into chunky green mittens a student had made her for Christmas. She was about to put on her hat when there was a knock knock on the windshield: the plowman again.
“You’re not going to sleep in there, are you?” He had a nice grin, the plowman.
Word Count: 593 Total Count: 2,627
I like stopping mid-scene sometimes–it’s a lot easier to pick up the writing momentum. Blondie’s been back at her Alley Heroes story, too. Here’s hoping I can share some of it with you later this week!
Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!