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

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty chairs an opioid crisis working group pushing for policies to stop the flow of illicit drugs in Canada. (Victoria Police Department photo)
‘The opioid crisis impacts all of us’: Cariboo Prince Geroge MP Todd Doherty

Todd Doherty is co-chair of Conservative Party caucus opioid crisis working group

SIMPSON: The role of local government is changing

Mayor Bob Simpson outlines what mandate creep means for Quesnel

Researchers in B.C. say earlier than usual return of bats or dead bats can indicate trouble, such as signs of white-nose syndrome. (Cathy Koot photo)
Public help is essential for monitoring for bat disease

Anyone finding a dead bat is asked to report it to the BC Community Bat Program

In this Nov. 21, 2019 file photo, Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, Calif. The much-hyped unveil of Tesla’s electric pickup truck went off script Thursday night when supposedly unbreakable window glass shattered twice when hit with a large metal ball. The failed stunt, which ranks high on the list of embarrassing auto industry rollouts, came just after Musk bragged about the strength of “Tesla Armor Glass” on the wedge-shaped “Cybertruck.” (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)
FOREST INK: Electric vehicles the future, not present of industry

Jim Hilton looks at where electric vehicles need to go

Cassidy Dankochik joined the Observer’s staff in Aug. of 2020 by way of Gimli, Altona, and Flin Flon, Manitoba. (Photo by Tracey Roberts)
EDITOR’S COLUMN: Optimism at council

Cassidy Dankochik enjoyed the news from the City of Quesnel’s most recent meeting

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 vaccination set to start for B.C. seniors aged 80-plus

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent must come first and last for B.C. industrial projects

UN declaration seen as end to a history of horror stories

FILE  - In this Friday, Jan 1, 2021 file photo, a lorry driver's documents are scanned on a phone as he passes a checkpoint for the train through the Eurotunnel link with Europe in Folkestone, England. One month after Britain made a New Year split from the European Union's economic embrace, businesses that once traded freely are getting used to frustrating checks, delays and red tape. Meat exporters say shipments have rotted in trucks awaiting European health checks. Scottish fishermen have protested at Parliament over the catch they can no longer sell to the continent because of byzantine new paperwork. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
FINLAYSON: Government should focus on strengthening B.C.’s leading export industries

To revive the economy, this piece in the strategy is integral, writes Jock Finlayson

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

Most Read