Short Story: ‘ Oct. 23rd

Michael Shoemaker, Guest Creative Writer

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of student photos, artwork, poems or short stories in this showcase. Michael Shoemaker is a UTPB online student from Sanderson.


It is six forty-three in the evening. The sun is kissing the mountains that surround the town in the west. The autumn leaves fall from the pecan trees to join the others on the browning grass; their curved tips cause them to spin in their descent. Mother Nature has created a beautiful background to compliment this public park. Stefanie and I have come back to our hometown.

We are walking hand in hand. Her hand is smooth like the skin of an apple. Mine is rough like 240 grit sand paper. I know my hands are rough, though she won’t admit it. All she says is that she loves the way they feel. We have come back before in the many years we graduated high school. So what makes this one fall evening any different from the many others?  It will be one year over a decade today since we became each other’s other half, which was October twenty-third of the year two thousand and ten. Still where is the significance in this beautiful day?  Today is the day I ask her for her hand in marriage. She always told me not to propose in a big way or in front of lots of people. I have been working for a couple of months now as a game warden. I have been saving up for years for this day and know I have finally saved enough to buy her a ring worthy of my love.

Stefanie always double knots her shoelaces, but I guess today destined to happen in a certain way.  As we are walking down to the playground area to the merry-go-round, a dead branch catches one of Stef’s rabbit ears on her lace and unties it. I offer to tie it for her. As I kneel down to tie her white low-cut Chuck Taylor All Star, I reach into my right back pocket and pull out the ring. As I present the ring, I tell her, that know believed that we would make it this far, so let’s continue to prove them wrong. She begins to become overcome with emotions. Some sly tears escape from her beautiful brown eyes. She replies with a weak, but at the same time joyful yes. In that moment the Catholic Church bell chimes. This is odd, because they chime at six o’ clock. They must be off an hour because they are automatic.  Doves begin to coo in the trees above. As I wrap her up in my arms and pick her from her feet, I plant a passionate kiss upon her soft lips, tasting the saltiness of her tears.

After we ride the merry-go-round for a couple of spins, we decide to head back to San Antonio, because Stef has class in the morning and I have to be at work. As we head back to San Antonio, we are discussing our plans for the future and plans about the wedding.  Stef plants a kiss on my right cheek and then sits back in her seat and admires he ring.  I’ve driven this road as many times as I’ve signed my name. Needless to say, I know this road like the back of my hand. I know ever scar (turn), vein (twist), and wrinkle (hill). The moon is in the waning gibbous phase and stars dot the sky around it. About thirty minutes outside of Sanderson, the night sky disappears behind dark clouds. It is like the truck was getting hit by a barrage of rain in a matter of seconds. It was as the rain was waterfall coming down the windshield. Even with the bright lightning flashes that lights up and outlines the clouds in the sky, I can hardly see the reflectors on the yellow lines.  I have been in situation like this before with my dad, but it was during the day. Also it was during the day and we could see where the rain stopped after a turn. Since it is the night, the best thing to do is to pull over and wait it out. As I am pulling over headlights along with loud horn appear from the screen of rain, causing me to swerve. I make the wrong the decision of swerving to much of the road. The truck hits a hump of dirt on the side of the road causing it to flip onto the driver’s side. After it has flipped on its side slides, taking out a fence that and into a nearby pasture startling some resting cattle.

I wake up, but why am not inside the truck? I check myself and oddly I don’t have any injures. I see the truck on its side, so I take off running. I can her Stef at the top of her lungs letting out blood-curdling screams. I’m using all the air in my lungs to scream back at her. The thunder is like a loose tin roof in a wild wind, I thought that’s why she couldn’t her me. As am running to the truck a grim feeling comes over me as I slowly come upon the wreckage. My heart sinks past my stomach and I feel as if I am in a dither. As I stand before the front of the truck, I do not know what to think. Next to a hysterical buckled in Stefanie, is me. My lifeless body is buckled in the driver’s seat. How? I’m outside. How is this possible?

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Short Story: ‘ Oct. 23rd