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Miles Across the Water - a fiction short story

Updated on October 30, 2014

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


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