Abrupt Endings: Flash Fiction a Feeble Attempt to Billybuc's Photo Challenge/Prompt: Installment #2
A Note from Me, A Name I Call Myself
This is my feeble attempt to try and write a story(ish) around a set of pictures and a challenge from a real writer. I write this in about two hours with no goal other than tying the pics together. This story was also partially inspired by the snow falling just outside as I typed. I just hope it’s not too annoying.
Sandra pulled back the drapes on a winter wonderland. All the reports were right, the road was under at least three feet of snow with no signs of anyone working to clear. When she and her wife Kneesa came to the cabin, they were told the only road up the hill wasn't maintained during the winter. If they went up, it could be months before they could come back down. The cabin has its own generator and solar system as well as enough propane to last until May. Altogether they spent nearly two-hundred-thousand dollars renovating the old barn into a cabin while keeping the charm of the original structure intact. Sandra stood in front of the window naked, feeling the warmth of the sun. They were alone away from the world and all the hate it brought.
Kneesa was an award-winning Science Fiction author with twenty books to her pen name. The Hugo awards they kept up in the cabin as well as the Nebulas, and Saturn awards back in their Greenwich Village flat all had the name Stephen Henderson. Kneesa wanted to write Sci-Fi without having her race, sexuality, or any of the intersectionality label her as just another black, lesbian New Yorker. Kneesa's alter ego occasionally gets angry letters saying how a man can't understand how a woman thinks and feels. She laughs every time and reads them from a scrapbook she keeps near her as she writes. The cabin was a vacation retreat and a writer's haven, but now it was their escape from the harsh world.
Fifteen years of working eighteen-hour days six days a week help Sandra finally make partner, but just three days and an accusation took it all away. From an early age, Sandra wanted to be a lawyer. She watched as a lawyer used the law to steal everything her parents had in a bogus lawsuit. Sandra worked hard and earned everything she ever had from her scholarships to her degree. Her first case when she passed the bar was to help her parents get back almost everything they lost. As a reward, her parents abandoned her when she came out. With Sandra's accolades and a significant victory against a well-known law firm, she was able to take a position with a firm in Manhattan. Fifteen years later, she was a partner. Then two months ago, it all ended.
When they first bought the cabin, it was as far from their lives in New York as it could be. A nearby mountain was Kneesa's muse for three books invoking an alien world devoid of any life with a lake hiding mysteries. Sandra wrote a closing argument to a case that helped her earn her partnership. The cabin became a place where they could shed all their fears and worries to focus on what was important. In all the time since they rebuilt the cabin, they never came up in the winter. Never, until two months ago. Sandra came to work at her usual six am to find an emergency board meeting. An intern wrote a report saying how Sandra was using her new status as a partner to abuse her and the other interns both mentally and sexually. The paper served as a notice of intent to sue. Three days later, Sandra was handed documents for a buyout while being told she would most likely never work in law again. Kneesa came up to write while Sandra came up to the cabin to rediscover who she was.
The Hills are alive with the sound of...
The cabin has a million-dollar view of a valley and river. In the spring and summer, they had open access or a part of the river most people had to use kayaks to see. If either of them fished, they could go down the hill to some of the best fishing around. In the fall, the hills are alive with the sounds of gunfire and hunting season. Every year they post "No Hunting" signs, and every year someone takes them down. Three weeks ago, hunting season was over with the winter snow coming any day. The locals warned them about the snowfall and how they would be unable to get to them if there was a problem. Most of the locals thought they were sisters.
Taking a Stand
The one bit of nature both women enjoyed was a stream too shallow for most boats with little to no fishing possibilities. They sunbathed and skinny-dipped in the water away from the world and prying eyes. They were naked in the stream when Sandra asked Kneesa to marry her. She fashioned a makeshift ring out of a branch. She would later use the makeshift ring as a template for a set of matching gold rings. The original ring was preserved in epoxy and sits next to the desk where Kneesa writes.
Sandra closed the drapes and left the room. She found Kneesa at her desk, typing away in her favorite Mint We R Typecast Typewriter. The machine is a close approximation to the only thing she owned as a child. The original sits in her office back in their flat. She likes saying flat rather than apartment. Kneesa was dressed only in a pair of men's boxers she wore when writing on her long-running book series. At first, it was a joke with her pen name being a man, but eventually, she found a voice she didn't have without the boxers. Sandra came up behind Kneesa, putting her arms around her and cupping her breasts. She looked to the typewriter and the blank page. Kneesa always had trouble with her endings. The body of the book was done in a month, but she was now three weeks with not a single word.
Sandra whispered, "I love you."
She knew not to try and help. Kneesa had a process, and she needed to do her process no matter how long it took. Sandra walked into the laundry room and found her yoga pants and a tank top. Using her laptop and a satellite connection to the internet, Sandra worked on a lawsuit. She worked for far too long to let a group of overprivileged men take what she earned. She and Kneesa talked about the suit knowing it would out them to the public. Kneesa liked her alter ego-building a backstory, both rich and complex. Her outing would, in a sense, kill him, but she loved Sandra, and watching her partners strip all her accomplishments away for fear of a nuisance suit was more than she could take. Soon Sandra heard the tap, tap, tap that could only mean Kneesa found her end.
At the end of the day, the two sat wrapped in a fur blanket in front of a roaring fire sipping on blackberry wine. Sandra read Kneesa's work. She knew this ending would end the long-running series. She also knew Kneesa was writing this end because of the lawsuit she was working on. As if she could read her mind, Kneesa told her she was done pretending to be someone she's not. She would keep writing what she loves, no matter what people think, and just let her loyal readers make up their own minds. She wouldn't let others tell her who she was and what she was allowed to do even if it ended her writing career.
Sandra read, "Jasper made his way down the dock to a sailboat. He wouldn't make it out of the harbor, but for the little time he had left, he would be happy doing what he loved. His watch counted down and down, soon zero would come and the bomb would end most of the life in Seattle. His long life of fighting aliens, terrorists and monsters was about to end in a millisecond. A flash of light and nothing."
Sandra took a marker and crossed out the last two paragraphs.
She whispered, "I don't like abrupt endings."