Aspiring Writers is a LinkedIn group that holds a monthly short story competition. At the end of the year each monthly winning story, and some of the runners up, will be compiled into a book that will be sold on www.lebrary.com. A panel of judges will select the grand winner and the winner picks a charity for the proceeds to be donated to.
My story, The Last Storm, was selected as the winning story for the March competition. I received the email first thing this morning notifying me of my win. Needless to say, I've been stoked all day. This notification came during a period of self doubt and provides the affirmation I need to keep on keepin' on.
The topic was "snow", it could be any genre and had to be 715 words or less. Here's the story:
The Last Storm
By EJ Fechenda
A loud commercial on TV woke me up. I had been watching the local news for updates on the supposed “Storm of the Century” that was barreling its way north. I yawned and creaked out of the recliner. The weatherman always blew storms out of proportion and I knew this one wouldn’t be any different. So after switching off the TV, adding more wood to woodstove for the night, I shuffled down the hall to my bedroom.
Frank had died over five years ago, but I refused to take over the whole bed and stayed on my side as if he were still slumbering next to me. Despite the howling wind and branches scraping against the side of the house, I fell asleep.
A creaking noise coming from the attic woke me in the wee hours of the morning. I went to switch on the bedside lamp, but the power was out and the generator hadn’t started. I sighed and could see my breath in the dim light. I put on my glasses before retrieving the flashlight out of the table drawer.
The hem of my flannel nightgown brushed the tops of my slippers, trapping warmth against my bare legs. I made my way through the house, the creaking noise growing louder as I reached the kitchen. I pointed the flashlight up and noticed a crack had formed. Part of the ceiling was on the verge of collapse. Alarmed, I backed out of the room, unable to take my eyes off of the damage.
With the power out, the heat hadn’t kicked on after the fire in the woodstove had burnt out. I opened the back door to get more firewood off of the small porch and faced a wall of white. The entire doorframe was packed with snow. I had never seen so much. A small avalanche tumbled into the house, covering my slippers. Snow slipped down the sides, freezing my already cold feet.
Cursing under my breath I stomped and shook the icy powder loose before walking back to the bedroom. I changed into pants, a turtleneck and a thick Irish cable knit sweater that used to belong to Frank. With my feet encased in warm wool socks, I slipped on boots and prepared to walk onto the porch.
Initially, I thought the wall was caused by drifting and the accumulation wouldn’t be that deep beyond the door. I was partially right. Yes, drifting had caused the excess amount, but at least four feet of fresh snow had fallen overnight, which explained the roof caving in. The firewood was buried and wet and in order to get to the shed that housed the generator, I would have to make my way the length of half a football field through chest high snow. My old body balked at the challenge.
With the phones out, the house growing colder by the minute and the generator closer than any neighbor, I decided to give it a try. I spent a good ten minutes feeling around for the shovel usually propped against the side of the house, but couldn’t find it. Assuming the wind had blown it out of reach, I went without. After twenty feet I was winded, sweaty and…had to pee.
“Well, crap!” I muttered to myself and debated going back to the house. No one was around and the snow provided privacy, so I pulled up my parka, dropped my drawers and squatted.
I didn’t plan on falling. I landed hard and felt my hip shatter. Pain ripped through my body and I tried to get up, but the agony was too immense. I lay on the ground and tried to calm down. Never had I missed Frank more. He always handled the woodpile and the generator. I tried to crawl, but each movement made me quiver with pain. I yelled for help, but nobody came. It was well below freezing and with my pants stuck around my knees the cold sank in fast. I could feel my heart rate slow and imagined the blood in my veins getting sluggish. I struggled to stay awake and knew with hypothermia, once you succumbed to the sleep, you rarely woke up.
I thought of this as my eyelids closed.