Her story takes place in an abandoned home. (File Photo)

Her story takes place in an abandoned home. (File Photo)

Short Story Contest adult second place: ‘The Last Days of Summer’

Sarah Champagne won second place in the Quesnel Short Story Competition.

“And even though they had lost their old home, they knew now that as long as they still had the plants and the animals, and the sun and the sea, they could live happily ever after in their new world.” Grandmother leans forward in her chair and taps the worn porch railing to emphasize the end of her story.

Grace sits opposite grandmother, an equal, even though her feet don’t reach the floor and she isn’t really helping clean and sort the raspberries that they picked earlier that day. Her attention flits from grandmother to the spark of sunlight that marks the family’s lifeless sedan glinting on the road some distance away. It reminds Grace of the flames powering the rocket ship in grandmother’s story, and she imagines the car ablaze and disappearing into the sky.

Grandmother interrupts Grace’s daydream. “I’ve kept you long enough; go and see if your mother needs help.”

Grace obediently slides off her chair and into the farmhouse. The kitchen is cavernous and crowded all at once. The cupboards are open, their contents spilling onto counters and tables. Grace eyeballs the towers of canned soup and tinned tuna, the bags of rice and macaroni, and the carefully-labeled mason jars with otherwise unidentifiable contents. She measures the intensity of her mother’s frazzled energy by the amount of inventorying done, and considers turning around. Then she pauses, unseen, at the sound of her father’s voice coming from the hallway.

“…Further north. It would be safer if we could just make it a little further …”

“Winter will find us here quickly enough. Others might find us too, we might not be alone in this,” her mother replies quickly, also from out of view.

“At this point anyone who finds us is as likely to be dangerous as not.”

“Either way, there’s no guarantee the cold will slow it down. And if the car breaks down again, I doubt it’ll be somewhere so safe and well-stocked.”

“It won’t break down again, once I figure out what the problem—”

“It’s been three days and you haven’t yet. We’re stuck here whether you accept it or not!”

Grace slips away before her father has a chance to retaliate. She pads back out to the porch where the voices can’t reach her, back to her seat across from Grandmother.

“Gramma …” Grace’s voice is quiet like the hush that settles over the garden at dusk, barely audible over her parents’ escalating debate. “Do you think the world is going to end?”

“Do you?”

Grace is startled by the question. No one ever asks her big questions, only little ones about how she feels or what would she like to eat or does she like this colour. She considers the question carefully before answering. Surely the world couldn’t just stop. Her mother and father wouldn’t allow it.

“No,” she says, louder now.

“Hmm. Well then, let me tell you a different story while we wait.”

READ MORE: Quesnel writers rewarded for short stories

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