Sunday, July 8, 2018

Island Storyteller (short story) by Leanne Dyck

'trading post--the oldest grocery store on Mayne Island' ldyck

The narrator of this short story doesn't drive and has a sore hip, so how does she get home?

I scanned the row of vehicles parked in front of the grocery store. Some of them looked promising. I ruled out the trucks. They would be too difficult to climb into with my sore hip. I peeked into a navy Sudan. A shaggy face looked back. The dog started to bark so I moved onto the next prospect. A four-door rust-covered Pontiac stood like a relic from a simpler time.  The door creaked open. I eased into the passenger seat. The springs were shot. It was like sitting on a gravel road. Next car, the driver came out before I could climb in. The passenger seat of a two-door sports car held a large box. I considered tossing it out but thought better of it. I'm too polite to take such liberates. Last car in the row; last chance for a ride. No dog. No box. I wiggled around in the overstuffed, leather seat. It was comfortable enough to sleep in. My eyelids felt heavy. I leaned back and breathed deeply. A sudden breeze caused me to open my eyes. "You don't mind giving me a--."

"What the?" You jumped away from the car--almost slammed the door closed.

I'd scared you. Me? I had to laugh.

When I caught my breath, I said, "I need a ride. I know you won't mind. We live on a rural island; we help each other. It's just what we do."

"I'm heading South." 

"North, towards the ferry, for me. I'll get out before you run out of road."

You sighed--happy to be behind the steering wheel again, I guess. You slipped a disc into a slot, the engine purred. A guitar, joined by a singer filled the car.

Music? We didn't need music. I coughed into my fist. "Do you mind?"

You got the hint and turned the music off.

"This island is woven together by an interlocking web," I began. 

"Webs? Oh, you mean roads. Yes, we do--."

"Everyone knows I'm a storyteller. That's what I do. I tell stories. And that's what I'll do for you--if there are no more interruptions." I breathed out slowly, determined to remain calm, and began again...

"the road home" ldyck

"This island is woven together by an interlocking web. Paved roads connect groceries stories to the school, the community centre and to the church. But not all roads are paved."

"Don't I know it. Sometimes you feel like you're not in a car at all." You looked at me. "You know like you're on a horse." 

I frowned. 

You said "Oh, sorry. Really, I am listening, Please, go on."

I continued the story. "On a gravel road." I nodded left, directing you to make the turn. "and down an overgrown forest path sits an ancient cabin. It hasn't changed since it was built some hundred years ago. Lovingly restored tenderly maintained but not changed." I took a short break, just long enough to say, "Yes, this is the road. Keep going."

You mumbled something. Maybe about the road being so bumpy, but I ignored you.

"Practical in design, the cabin blends into its surroundings. Over the years, the earth has embraced the house--cradling, concealing it in--"

"Which house is yours?"

"Just keep driving, I'll tell you when we get there. Now, where was I? Oh, yes, concealing it in its green bosom. A thick layer of dust covers the life and love that dwells in this house. This house. This is the house. This is where I live. Stop."

"What? Oh." You stop but not in time. "Oh, sorry."

"Turn around in my neighbour's driveway," I breathed out slowly and reminded myself to stay calm. "The house swaddles and keeps its inhabitant warm through the winter of her soul. Within its walls, she still feels his presence." 

You slowed the car in front of my house like you were expecting me to just get out. But I haven't finished the story yet. "You should park. You don't want to waste gas." And the story, "Here he lives, breaths. That's all I have so far. What do you think?" I expected a positive review or at least a thank you for sharing. But all you say is, "Are you terribly lonely?" Like that has anything to do with anything.

"Why would I be? My husband only commutes two days a week. The last ferry will bring him home." I crawled out of your car and up my steep driveway. Ah, the life of a storyteller.

"time to come in from the backyard" ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

This week, I solved the problem that I was having with a

story I was attempting to write. The problem was in past tense, third person the words just lay lifeless on the page. My challenge was to give voice to a male character--most of my characters are female. 

Before I started writing for children I was intimidated by having to give voice to a child. But I overcame that--and now receive many positive comments for my efforts. 

I rolled up my sleeves, clicked my pen and... Now the words sing. It's amazing what changing point of view and tense can do. So if you are facing story problems give it a try. Don't be scared.