Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Day

Today we have a special piece by a young adult author, Beth Kanell. She wrote The Darkness Under Water, which came out a couple of weeks ago. You can find out more about her and her book on her blog or website.

So here is the flash fiction piece Turkey Day by Beth Kanell:

Turkey Day

Stephanie pressed her hot forehead against the window pane, so the November chill might ease her headache. She closed her eyes and pictured Ben, tramping through the woods the way he used to with his father, a gun on his shoulder. Rifle? Shotgun? She couldn't remember, and she didn't much care. Hunting was Ben's sport, and she meant to be supportive of his enthusiasm. But she'd rather he was here in town, with or without the pheasant he hoped to shoot.

After a few minutes, she pulled back from the window. Three o'clock: Hunting would have to end at dusk. She'd better take some aspirin and go downstairs to cut the brownies into neat squares, to take to Ben's family's house tomorrow. Wrap them and put them out of sight, she reminded herself: Otherwise her college-age brothers, home for
Thanksgiving, would consume them in a heartbeat. Hey, let them stick to the pies.

With two aspirin and a decongestant floating in her uneasy stomach, Steph headed to the kitchen. Her mom was on the phone; the "men" were in the living room, glued to the football game. A three-way groan clued her in that the underdog team wasn't ahead any longer. Her brothers and her dad always picked the underdog team to cheer for. A smile twitched on Steph's lips, despite the headache. She was certain the same team had been the better one last fall, the one the guys all hated. It was all in your point of view, wasn't it?

As she came around the doorway into the kitchen, she heard her mother say "Hold on, Barb, I've got someone beeping in -- just a sec." Steph turned on the water gently, to wash her hands. Her mother's voice deepened and hushed. "I'll bring her over myself. Five minutes, we'll be right there." Steph whirled to ask what was going on, but her mother held up a hand for time, switched smoothly to the first phone call, and said, "Barb, sorry, gotta run. Catch you later."

Thumping the phone down on the table, Steph's mother reached out with both arms. "Ben needs you over at his house, grab your coat, come on!"

In the car, Steph tugged at her mother's arm. "What's happened? Is he hurt?" Visions of gunshot wounds, of broken ankles, of Ben being carried out of the woods on a stretcher made her voice rise. "Mom, tell me!"

Her mother shook off Steph's hand. "Let me drive. We'll be there in a minute. Don't worry so much, I'm sure he's okay. He's fine, Stephanie."

"Then why are we hurrying?"

"Because I've got to get back to the kitchen, or the gravy won't get done on its own." With a slide of gravel, the car wheeled into the Perkins's driveway. "Go on, run, I'll wait for you."

Steph raced toward the kitchen door, seeing blood on the ground outside and feeling crazed. "Ben? Ben?!"

He stood at the kitchen sink, both hands in the water, more blood on the floor near him. "Hey, Steph!" A grin split his face and he held up his hands, something dripping between them. "Look!"

She took in the wet feathers, the dangling head and neck, the red drips scattering on the kitchen surfaces. "Oh!" For a moment she staggered, caught herself on a chair, and repeated, "Oh! You shot a bird!"

"Not just any bird. It's a turkey! A wild one! See?"

His proud smile showed her he was totally clueless about what she'd thought. She gave him a quick grin, a loud "Congratulations!" and then, despite her best intentions, erupted, "But if you ever again say I've got to hurry to get here, when you've been doing something risky -- you are such a turkey yourself!"

Realization flooded his face. "Jeez, Steph, I didn't mean to scare you! It was awesome, getting a turkey, and I just wanted you to see it before it gets cooked. Hey, but Steph..." He slowed, hesitated, picked his words carefully, making sure nobody else could hear.

"You know the cabin up on the ridge, the one we always said was haunted? The one that's always locked up with the windows boarded and all?"

Recoil from her panic made her slow to catch what he was talking about, but Steph finally nodded. "Yeah?"

"I could swear it was still locked when I went past it on the way into the woods, and again when I came out, down the trail. But -- " he whispered to her, as she moved closer to hear him "but Steph, there's was a whiff of smoke up there. I think it might be where Penny and Elaine have been hiding."

Oh, no. They shared a long look. Steph thought: Now that we know where they might be, we have to do something, don't we?

She reached for the sponge from the back of the sink and wiped at the blood spatters. "Ben, are you sure?" He nodded, and she leaned against the
granite countertop, heedless of the water still on it. "Then," she voiced their joint conclusion, "we're going to have to go up there tonight, aren't we?"

Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks again to Beth Kanell for sending it to us to post!

-The YAthenaeum Team

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