Miles Across the Water - a fiction short story


This short story is in response to annart's writing challenge, THE RICHNESS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. What does it mean to you as a writer? Learn it well; Use it to good effect.

Ann has given us a beautiful photo of a painting and she has inspired and encouraged us to write a short story or poetry response. Here is my short story response to her photo/painting.


Miles Across the Water

Andie Miller's eyes searched across the water. The lapping waves and the gentle, western sun casting shadows on the water all soothed her in these anxious moments.

Where was the sailboat carrying her grandfather back home? He had left early morning before she had awakened. He usually never took off sailing without asking Andie to go along. He was teaching her how to sail and her lessons were unfinished.

Her mother had mentioned at breakfast that her grandfather had taken the sailboat and left when Andie inquired where he was. Andie was glad it was Saturday so she had no school today. But, it gave her time on end to worry about her grandfather.

"Andie," her mother called from the front porch of the house. "It's getting late; it's getting dark - come on inside."

Andie took another slow 180 degree gaze across the lake. No sight of a sailboat. No sight of her grandfather.

"Andie," her mother's urgent and insistent voice called, "Come in, now."

"Coming," Andie yelled back. She slowly walked back to the house, frequently looking back at the lake for any sign of her grandfather.

Andie, her mom, and her grandfather, her mother's father, had lived together for several years now since the divorce of her parents. Andie's father just woke up one day and announced he didn't want to be married anymore, packed his bags and left Andie and her mom that morning. Andie hadn't seen him since.

Andie's mother had cried for two days and then her Maine back-bone and foretitude took over and she busied herself finding a job and getting the house ready for her grandfather, who was widowed, to move in.

Andie, on the other hand, hadn't shed a tear, let alone cry, when her father left. She knew something her mother hadn't known at the time.

Andie had inadvertently seen her father with another woman - that blonde haired cutesie at the local bar and tavern who tended the bar. Her father hadn't seen her standing in the doorway, when Pete, one of the local fisherman walked out the door.

The door stood wide open as Andie watched as the blonde came around the counter and sauntered up to her father. Andie watched as her father's hand went down her pants and his other hand went up her shirt.

Andie had turned away in disgust and walked the long way home, determined to keep this a secret from her mother.

Exactly a month to the day Andie had seen her father in the bar, her father announced he was leaving. Within six months her parents were divorced and Andie's life had changed forever.

The only silver lining in all of this was her grandfather had come to live with them. Andie adored her grandfather and he was the sun and moon and all that to her. She was 'the apple of his eye.' He had been more of a father to her than her own father who was absent now from her life.

But, what to think now? Andie wondered as she walked into the house. "Mom, there must be something wrong," said Andie, "Grandpa should be here by now. It's getting dark. He never stays out this late on the boat."


A Surprise

Andie's mother hugged her and said, "I know, but don't worry, he'll be here soon," she said, "and I think he will be bringing a surprise."

"A surprise?" asked Andie, "why its not anyone's birthday." Andie's mom just smiled at her and turned back to preparing dinner.

Why was her mother not concerned, wondered Andie. How could she be so nonchalant and just continue fixing dinner? Andie stared out of the big picture window in the front of the house, but still saw no sign of her grandfather or the sailboat.

The book on sail boating her grandfather had given her for Christmas caught her eye, so to get her mind off of her grandfather, Andie curled up in the big soft living room chair that enveloped her, and picked up the book and began to read.

Less than five minutes later, Andie heard, "Well, hello there! Anyone home? Anyone making dinner?"

Andie jumped out of the chair, "Grandpa," she shouted as she ran into the kitchen. Her mother was just coming up the stairs from the basement.

There stood her grandfather with his arm around - a woman - and hers around his.

Andie watched in surprise (her mother certainly had been right about that) as her mother embraced the woman and said, "Welcome."

Then, Andie watched in horror as the woman hugged her mother back. Her grandfather, holding the woman's hand, turned to Andie and said, "Andie, I'd like you to meet Lorraine, my fiancé. Lorraine, this is my lovely granddaughter, Andie."

Andie's mother elbowed her and Andie automatically put out her hand. Suddenly there was a loud roar starting in her head and ears and she automatically shook the woman's hand.

"I'm so happy to meet you, Andie," Lorraine said, "and your grandfather has told me what a wonderful granddaughter you are."

Hot tears filled Andie's eyes as she let her limp hand fall to her side. Fiancé? When did this all happen? Her mother was laughing and talking to Lorraine so her mother apparently knew all about this. Why hadn't anyone talked to her about this?

"Well, I'm certainly hungry," said Andie's grandfather, "Let's sit down to dinner."

Andie sat down looking across the table at her grandfather and Lorraine, fighting back hot tears trying to get over the huge lump in her throat. The roar in her head and ears kept her from hearing anything of the conversation. Lorraine nuzzled into her grandfather and Andie thought she would lose it. Her stomach turned queasy. She just pushed her food around on her plate.

". . . . isn't that right, Andie," her grandfather said. Again her mom elbowed her and brought Andie's attention back to the dinner table. Andie silently nodded her head as she looked sideways at Lorraine. Smiling Lorraine. Happy Lorraine.

"May I be excused?" Andie asked her mother. "I'm not hungry for dessert." Andie's mom looked at her and then at the food on Andie's plate, and then looked up at Andie's grandfather and turned to her and said, "Yes, Andie, you may be excused."

Andie fled the table and ran up the stairs to her bedroom. As she left, she could hear the remnants of a conversation at the table.

Andie quietly closed her bedroom door and flung herself across her bed. Now the hot tears came out in gasping sobs. She had never shed a tear for her father, but her beloved grandfather was an entirely different matter.

Through her gasping sobs, Andie realized her life had changed forever, miles across the water.


© 2014 Suzette Walker suzettetaos

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Comments 26 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

I'm happy to see so many writers answer Ann's challenge, and to do so with such exceptional quality.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Bill: Thank you so much. Now, I am off to try your challenge and see what I come up with. LOL! I love that pic of Bev. What a wonderful moment in time you captured in that photo.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Hi Suzzette,

Wow, what a compelling story you have written here! Such a great read. I am so glad you joined in with Ann's challenge. So many different takes on Ann's beautiful painting.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Beautifully written and so much of thought here.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Faith: Thank you so much for reading my story. I was touched by Ann's photo/painting and thought her challenge was a good one. I have enjoyed reading all the different takes and stories. I love being given an image and challenged to write a story about it. Everyone's imagination sure came out on this one. Again, Faith, thanks so much for reading this and I am pleased you enjoyed it.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

DDE: Thank you for reading my story and for your kind comments. This challenge has brought out the imagination of so many people. All of the stories are so good and interesting. It is interesting to see how many different takes there can be on one image, one moment in time. Thanks again for your visit and I appreciate the comments.

tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

Life can have twists that are unpleasant surprises. This is a beautiful story.

Will have to look up Ann's challenge. It's time to get back to work.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

tirelesstraveler: Yes, Life does have its twists and turns and disappointments. I guess that is what I was trying to show here. Thank you for your comments and I am glad you enjoyed reading this. Yes, I look forward to see your take on this challenge. Ann's painting, which I think she painted herself, is beautiful and I found so inspiring. Thanks so much for your visit and comments.

annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England

A poignant story and one many of us can identify with.

You've penned this expertly. The feelings and emotions of this young girl are palpable. She feels betrayed. I bet she comes round when the grandfather talks to her though.....?

Brilliant! Another totally different interpretation of my image.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this; it was well worth the read. Off to add your link to my hub.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thank you, Ann. I am glad you enjoyed this story. Yes, Andie is upset to learn her beloved grandfather has a fiancé and she will have to share him. I have been thinking or writing another chapter in which she comes around to the idea that grandfather is getting married. Your lovely painting has definitely inspired so many writers here on HP. Great idea and challenge.

annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England

It would be great to read another chapter of your story; go for it!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thanks for you encouragement, Ann. I may go for it!

ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina


The truth is out! You ARE a creative writer and an exceptional one at that. V+/H+ My Friend!

Big Smiles,


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

A wonderful read, you write so well, but I already knew that. :) Excellent story telling, I agree, it needs to be continued.

The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

That was beautiful and very interesting Suzette, I was really enthralled with it. I was waiting for the mother or grandfather to give away who the woman was. You should have made that longer. I voted it up+++ and shared it.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Thanks so much, Kim. I am so pleased you enjoyed reading this. I do write short stories and I should share more with the hub community. I have written a good number of them and I have written them here. It was not hard to write this from Ann's beautiful painting. It proved to be quite inspirational to me. This challenge was good for me, as I hadn't written a short story in quite awhile. I needed to get back in the groove when it comes to creative writing. Thanks so much for reading this and your comments are so kind. Hope all is well with you! Hugs, Suzette

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Jo, Thank you so much for reading my story and I am glad you enjoyed reading this. It was not hard to write with Ann's beautiful painting as an inspiration to us. I enjoyed your story so much that you wrote in response to Bill's challenge. These are fun to do as so many people come up with such great ideas in response and everyone's are great. Thanks again, Jo.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Kevin, thank you so much for your response to this hub. I am so glad you enjoyed my short story. The reason I didn't make it longer is because I believe short stories are about a moment in time. It is a snapshot into the characters' life. I might write a second part to this story, but I like to leave the reader wanting more rather than bored with the story. Thank you so much for your suggestion - most appreciated.

The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

When you write part two of this, I will read it!


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Okay, Kevin. I'll see what I can do!

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

suzettenaples you certainly did a nice job with this challenge. Looking at a photo and spinning a tale for it cannot be an easy task. You set about it with ease and sailed your story into the heart's of your readers.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM Author

Hi Mike: Thank you so much for your comments. I so appreciate hearing from you when I write fiction or poetry because your comments always mean so much to me. I have not been able to come up with a short story in a while, so sometimes these photos/paintings are what I need to jump start my story writing. It is fun to see what comes out naturally. Thanks again for your visit and for reading my story.

Vellur profile image

Vellur 23 months ago from Dubai

Great story, mesmerized from beginning to end, voted up.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 23 months ago from Taos, NM Author

Vellur: Thanks so much for reading this story and I am glad you enjoyed it.

renee21 profile image

renee21 19 months ago

Great story!

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 19 months ago from Taos, NM Author

renee: Thank you so much for reading my story and I am glad you enjoyed it.

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