The Ravine & Other Tales From Wyandotte County

The Ravine & Other Tales From Wyandotte County

Status: Finished

Genre: Action and Adventure

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Action and Adventure

Summary

After her mother dies, a shut-in must travel from her decaying rural dwelling through a ravine and into town with a suitcase full of inheritance while encountering the odd, rural inhabitants of Wyandotte County, Indiana.

Summary

After her mother dies, a shut-in must travel from her decaying rural dwelling through a ravine and into town with a suitcase full of inheritance while encountering the odd, rural inhabitants of Wyandotte County, Indiana.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Mother & Daughter

Author Chapter Note

After her mother dies, a shut-in must travel from her decaying rural dwelling through a ravine and into town with a suitcase full of inheritance while encountering the odd, rural inhabitants of Wyandotte County, Indiana.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: October 07, 2012

Reads: 1006

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: October 07, 2012

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The Ravine & Other Tales of Wyandotte County

By Rod Perkins

CHAPTER ONE

Mother & Daughter

It could be argued that parts of rural Indiana are probably some of the most peaceful places on Earth. For one reason or another there are no animals in rural Indiana that pose a major threat to humans. There are no bears, no lions, no giant cats, and no alligators. There is maybe an occasional snake. Mostly rural Indiana is full of numerous rodent species: squirrel, raccoon, opossum, beavers, mink, muskrats, etc. etc. etc., and deer, a lot of deer.

Somewhere in between the tiny farming towns that dot the rural Indiana landscape lived a frail mother and her daughter. They lived far from any major cities in an old two-story brick house that was in much need of repair.

The city led to the interstate which led to a highway which led to a county road which attached itself to a tiny dirt road along a creek, in between the trees and the cornfields. It was on this dirt road, after it splits from the creek and runs along the side of a ravine that the two-story brick house sat. There was an overgrown yard that surrounded the house about a quarter of a mile in diameter. Behind the overgrown back yard were mature woods for miles.

This particular day was cloudy and warm. And very quiet, with only the whispers of leaves rustling amongst the trees and birds gently singing and conversing, perched along the fences, or hiding in the tree branches.

But as the sun slowly sank behind the two-story brick house, a storm came in and dropped buckets of rain that night on rural Indiana.

Anna Fox was the daughter. She was a delicate and plain looking woman with auburn hair and fair skin. She was collapsing her telescope tripod in the backyard as the storm came rolling in. Being a shut-in afforded her many hobbies which included stargazing, storm watching, bug collecting, and reading.

The rain pounded her hair to a matted mess. She grabbed the telescope and walked inside as the thunder called out in anger and the lightning backed up those calls with energetic streaks of light.

Her Mother was frail and small with dark brunette hair, highlighted with silver split-end streaks. She had Osteoporosis, as well as an immune deficiency and cancer in her lungs.

She was dying.

The Mother was laying upstairs in her bedroom while Anna collected her telescope. Mother was almost always in bed. She got up to stretch her legs twice a day, wash, and do some minimal chores.

Nowadays she was attached to an oxygen tank which made going downstairs nearly impossible. She was once a vibrant, intelligent woman who now had only an open window and a television set. There was Anna of course. Anna would never leave her Mother. She was there until the end.

The television hummed and buzzed with a gentle static on every channel. Mother had assumed that the storm had knocked out the television antenna that sat atop the roof. Unfortunately for her, on this particular day the United States switched over their basic television signal from antenna to a digital signal, leaving Mother's antenna virtually worthless and absolutely useless. Although every few minutes a signal from somewhere in the dark night sky would become visible and flash for a few fleeting seconds the image of a politician or a news anchor or a commercial advertisement. This intermittent broadcast would be the last image Mother would see on a television set.

The static began to gently hypnotize her as if a sudden realization of her own mortality had crept its way into her body and mind and left her with a slightly euphoric brain freeze and a feeling of ecstasy. She pulled her oxygen mask under her chin. Blood slowly dripped out of a wrinkled crevice in the corner of her dry mouth. It was a cancerous drip.

"Daughter!" She spoke out in a shrieking yelp.

She looked back down at the roaring static on the television set. It moved in waves as if imitating the ocean. It was a crashing of waves that constantly crashed, but soothingly so. Woosh, woosh.

The kitchen was modest and old fashioned, with hard wood floors that were in need of repair. It was decorated with crucifixes all over the walls. What had started as a generic collection of interesting crosses, turned into an obsession for the mother as she would frequent garage sales during the autumn years of her life, before she shut her and her daughter Anna off completely. Before she became reliant on the oxygen tank for life, her daughter for care, and her television set for entertainment.

So the kitchen collected all of the random, garage sale crucifixes upon its walls. There were more crucifixes on the walls then there was wall space. There were a few big ones, detailed ones, small ones, and generic ones. There was even one that depicted an African American Jesus. That one was Anna's favorite.

"Anna!" Her ailing mother called out to her again.

At this point Anna was pouring water into a tea kettle. She ignited the burner and set the kettle down onto the stove.

"Anna!" Mother called again.

This time Anna could vaguely make out her Mother's raspy shrieks. She raised her head.

"Coming!" Anna responded.

When Anna arrived up in her Mother's room, her Mother was still fixated on the television static. The door crept open and Anna peered inside.

"Yes?" Anna asked.

"Come in dear," her Mother replied in a hushed whisper.

"Is Mr. Jenkins coming this week? The pantry is running low and we need him to fix the television antenna," Anna said.

"Can you turn the T.V. off please? I dropped the remote." Her tone was urgent but her volume was just above a soft whisper and her words were hard to make out.

Anna flipped the dial on the television set and it blinked off, save for a tiny dot in the center of the television screen that housed the static for a few unwinding moments. A lightning strike hit nearby. The thunder followed.

"You can sit up and listen to the storm. Watch the lightning," Anna suggested as she moved the curtains open to view the furious storm taking place.

"Actually, dear, I need to tell you something," her Mother said with a seriousness.

"Okay."

"Sit down here."

"There's blood on your lips, Mother. Let me get it."

Anna stood up, avoiding the conversation that she felt her Mother beginning to have. She grabbed a tissue from a television tray that sat beside the bed. She dampened the tissue with her dry tongue and rubbed the rosy blood off of her Mother's cracked and peeling lips. Then she disposed of the tissue into the trash can. Her mother motioned for her to sit down.

"It's okay dear. It's my time, you know?" Her mother quietly said.

"Oh stop," Anna demanded.

"It is. I feel it. I want you to know something. Since I raised you out here, away from society, you're going to need money when I'm gone. There's about two hundred thousand dollars in my suitcase. Take it and follow the ravine straight to town and to the first bank you see. Open up an account for yourself and either renovate this house or find one of your own. Get a job, something that you like to do and have your own life dear. Maybe meet a nice boy."

"Mother!" Anna interjected with embarrassment.

"Yes, well, anyway, there's a bank right in the middle of town," her Mother continued. "You can't miss it."

"But Mom, we can take you to a doctor," pleaded Anna.

"We have no car or telephone, dear. I would not survive the trip. Besides, I'm beyond saving."

"I love you," Anna said.

"I love you too, dear," her Mother replied.

A question was burning inside of Anna. A question she had wanted to ask before about a subject that had only been discussed vaguely between the two of them since her Father died.

"Why did you isolate us from other people?" She asked.

"Well dear, after what I began witnessing from humans as a nurse in the emergency room, I started to despise most people, horrible people,” the mother said with disgust. “Always hurting each other and killing each other usually over something petty like money. But now it will soon be your choice whether or not you want to rejoin society."

"Do you still despise people?"

"No. I pity them now."

Anna and the Mother paused for some time.

"So where is the suitcase?" Anna asked as if mustering up the courage to be brave and accept her Mother's departure.

"In the closet," her Mother answered.

Anna became deflated and her courage left her. She turned white.

"The closet where Dad…?" She asked between breathless moments.

"Yes," her Mother answered.

Just then the tea kettle in the kitchen whined with reckless abandon, unaware of the deeply intense conversation taking place in the room above. It had no idea. It was only a tea kettle.

Anna sat at the kitchen table, steeping the tea bag and pondering the evening's conversation with her Mother. The Jesus Christ’s all over the walls seemed to be lamenting more than normal on this particular evening. Even the African American Jesus which used to seem so jovial hung there depressed as if showing empathy for Anna.

The thunder, rain and lightning continued well into the night. The wind tugged and pushed at the trees. As soon as Anna finished her tea, she locked the front door and ascended the creaky steps up to her room with only the twilight and lightning flashes coming through the windows to light her way upstairs.

While Anna drank her tea and made her ascension, Mother was pondering the darkness that lay ahead. Eternal sleep in the truest sense awaited her. She was always the type of woman to choose her path when she could, to decide her own destiny and fate, even though fate and destiny gave her such terrible afflictions. Her lifestyle was proof of her commitment to choose her own existence, to limit the variables and wild cards, but biology had other plans for her.

Even at this moment, frail and tired, the Mother was going to decide her final fate, to have control of her passing.

"Good night Mother," Anna whispered as she peeked in on her Mother. "I love you."

She turned to the hallway and closed the door behind her.

"I love you too darling. Good bye," her Mother replied in a lamenting whisper.

Anna made her way to her bedroom. Something inside Anna knew that her mother would not be alive tomorrow. There was a strange comfort in that feeling. Almost like a quiet anticipation of the mortal unknown coupled with a fear and sadness over the drastic change of events and loss of life. At any rate, her mother would be dead before the sun rose and somehow Anna knew that.

Her mother turned to her side and observed the oxygen tank with its puffing and wheezing, gentle whirring, and soft orange glowing power light. She extended a frail arm toward the power button on the oxygen tank. With a simple flick from an arthritic finger, the machine's gentle whirring ceased and the soft orange light slowly faded to black.

Mother took a long gasp, removed her oxygen mask and tossed it on the ground. She laid there feeling indifferent at first, until the difficulty of non-assisted breathing began to take hold. She gasped and wheezed, as if trying to catch more air into her lungs with every failing, tortured breath.

She gave a last ditch effort to reach for her mask which was lying on the ground and well out of reach. Her arm dangled from the bed and she suffocated. The same night the United States chose to switch to a digital cable signal.


© Copyright 2021 Rod Perkins. All rights reserved.

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