Permafrost, a literary magazine run by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, has just published “The Log.” It’s a story I drafted all the way back in 2015, a fact demonstrating that the creative process often requires a great deal of patience. The fictional small town setting is the same as my first published story, “Second Intention,” although the characters are different.
What’s that aphorism – the first time’s an accident, the second is a coincidence, but the third constitutes a trend? I’m one more published story away from making my patience pay off.
Three weeks. He didn’t want to scrape ice off his windshield before his morning commute.
They’d made innovative use of their slatwall panels (he was particularly pleased by her idea of drying garlic on suspended bicycle wheels), but those weren’t sufficient for the crates of tchotchke they’d collected that summer. The loss of floor space in the garage forced them to park in the driveway.
I want to go through everything, she’d pleaded. We might be able to use some of it.
He admired her thrift but feared her procrastinate nature. To avoid scraping, he needed to act soon.
“Goodness,” she said, stopping on the worn grass and breathing deeply.
“What are you doing?” her boyfriend asked.
“These flowers,” she said, pointing below. He saw a plant with about a half-dozen red bulbs, each the size of a ping-pong ball. Hundreds of thin filaments, white and inch-long, protruded from each bulb. “I want to know if they smell as pretty as they look.”
She closed her eyes. The soft tropical air was its typical pleasance. “No. They blend it with everything else.”
“In other words, they smell boring.”
She frowned. “I’d like to enjoy this last day, please.”
She had no use for the pontoon boat after her husband died.
Ever since buying it twenty years ago, they’d entertained guests on sunset cruises from their lakeside cabin. Even after his cancer diagnosis.
She hadn’t thought about the craft until three months after the funeral. Mounted on its trailer, it had remained parked in the woods at the back of their property, out of sight until her son had asked about it.
Her children didn’t want the boat, or her the reminder of her loss.
Their pastor allowed her to place the boat outside his church to attract buyers.
He left his pickup’s headlights on. It didn’t matter if anyone saw him.
The truck’s beams illuminated the lower half of the red and white shed, located in the rear of the yard. Standing in front of the truck, his legs cast two long shadows down the manicured lawn. All he heard were the gentle rhythms of crickets and tree frogs. The humid summer air smelled like desperation.
Take the key, get in, grab the satchel from the rafters (if it was there), get out. He stepped forward, the twin shadows of his legs reaching the shed like approach ramps.