I am very happy to announce that I was awarded 1st place and won a cash prize for the flash fiction story below submitted to the “Hot Flash” contest sponsored by Story Circle Network.
Thank you, SCN, for this honor.
Lost and Found
by Len Leatherwood of Beverly Hills, CA
Theresa was tired of feeling lost. She went out to the porch of her house on the lake and stared at the dark night. She couldn’t help but wonder why she had been put on this earth, particularly now that she was out of a job, out of a place to live in the city she loved, out of luck.
The air was chill. She pulled her coat tight across her thin shoulders and was glad that she had plenty of wood already chopped. At least she would not be cold tonight.
A single whistle, long and shrill, came from across the water and she knew it was John, her childhood friend. He had been the first to welcome her when she’d moved back six months ago as a full-time resident. He was a grizzly bear kind of man who was so self-sufficient that all the neighbors called him Iron John. Yes, seeing him would cheer her up. She whistled back, long and low, and returned inside to put the kettle on.
Fifteen minutes later, John stood at her door, though she was surprised to see that his blue eyes, usually cheerful, were dull. And his voice — usually booming with excitement — was barely loud enough for her to hear his hello.
He sat down heavily on the couch. “It’s Jenny. A drunk driver broadsided her out in Arizona and she died at the scene. Forty-three next week and a better driver than I am. I just can’t believe it.”
“Oh, dear Lord! I am so sorry.”
John put his head in his hands. “She was just about to get re-married. Her fiancé was in the car, too, but he made it out fine.”
Theresa had known John’s sister when they were all growing up together. Jenny had never pretended to be more than she was or seemed to need more than she had. Theresa sighed then went to the cupboard. “We’ll have a little supper and then you can sleep on the couch. This is not a night to be home alone.”
“It’s all right. Just let me stay for a little while. I’ll be fine. I have Marty in the truck. I know you don’t approve of dogs in the house, especially big ones like golden retrievers.”
“Suit yourself. But now, come to the table and have something to eat.”
The evening was quiet; the fire bright in the wood stove. Rather than talk, they played gin rummy and drank hot ginger tea. As the clock struck 10:30, John stood up and waved a goodbye from across the room. She watched from the window as the red tail lights of his truck bounced into the dark night.
Towards midnight, Theresa heard the whine of an engine on her road. She slipped her robe on over her gown and was standing on the porch by the time the vehicle pulled into her driveway.
John looked sheepish. “I’d like to take you up on that offer.” She nodded and they walked into the house. The hide-a-bed was already made up in the living room. John looked surprised. “How’d you know?”
“Go get Marty out of the truck. I’ve made a bed for him, too, right on the floor beside you.”
John wiped away tears with the sleeve of his jacket. “Bless you, woman.”
Theresa smiled as she watched him go outside. No longer did she wonder why she’d been put on this earth. For the first time in a very long time, she knew.
About the author:
Len Leatherwood is a transplanted Texan who has lived in Beverly Hills, CA for the past 24 years. She is an award-winning writing teacher as well as a published writer of flash memoir, flash fiction, and personal essay. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her short fiction in 2015.