WoE Writing Challenge: The Bucking Bull

by Sara on January 15, 2014

The screen door slapped Katie’s butt as she carried groceries into the kitchen. She sighed. Her daddy sat in the same chair she’d left him in two hours ago. Dark shadows haunted his eyes. He’d been like this since the funeral.

“Daddy, help me put things away.” Fear made her voice sharp, but he didn’t notice.

After finishing, she sat down beside him and picked up one of his calloused hands. She held it tightly, needing the contact, but he jerked it away.

Tears burned her eyes. She refused them. Instead, she pleaded, “Let’s have dinner at the fire pit tonight. We’ll have hot dogs and tell stories, like we used to.”

He pushed himself away and gruffly said. “Child, I’m going to sleep.”

As he climbed the creaky wooden stairs, Katie’s tears fell sloppily down her cheeks.

Later, her mama’s brother, Gene joined her at the fire pit. He was helping with the farm. They roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

As stars popped out in the indigo sky, Uncle Gene told Katie funny stories about her mama when she was growing up. Their laughter echoed in the dark.

The porch light came on and the screen door banged open. Katie watched her daddy walk slowly to the fire pit. He sat by her. She smelled Ivory soap and felt a twinge of hope. He had bathed.

Gene stirred the fire and said, “Good to see you, John.”

“I heard the two of you talking about Louise. You forgot to tell her the bucking bull story.”

Raising his eyebrows, Gene chuckled, “That’s your story to tell, not mine.”

Katie encouraged him. “Yeah, tell me the story, Daddy.”

Her daddy began to talk. “It was my fault. We went to her boss’s Western party. Tom had one of those mechanical bull machines there. The guys bet on which of the ladies could stay on the longest.

“I guess I needed to impress Tom because I bet a hundred dollars on your mama, money we sorely needed for the farm. I figured if she rode horses, she’d stay on that bull machine.

“To be fair, your mama warned me. She called me a fool and said mechanical bulls were more like Tilt-A-Whirls, than horses. She reminded me why she didn’t like Tilt-A-Whirls.

“Well, Tom’s girlfriend, Caroline had the longest time of six seconds. Then, it was your mama’s turn. Without hesitating, she climbed on that bull. It started bucking and spinning. Your mama’s face turned green.” He looked at Katie and smiled.

Frustrated, Katie yelled, “What happened?”

“She got violently sick. Everyone was ducking and running, but she hung on and rode that bull for seven seconds. She wasn’t about to lose that money. Your mama was one stubborn lady.”

Katie watched as the memory made her daddy burst into thigh-slapping laughter. As she joined him, relief filled her heart.

Sometimes the past is the place you go for comfort.

*     *     *     *     *

WoENewButton-e1363040457539This story is for a Write on Edge Writing Prompt: Week Two. We had a choice between a picture and the following quote:

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. ~ L. P. Hartley: The Go-Between (1953)

My story is loosely based on the quote. I want to thank everyone at Write on Edge. I haven’t been able to write fiction lately and I’ve missed it. I feel a bit rusty. This challenge called to me and even though I took some liberties with the prompt, it felt so good to put down some words and tell a story again:~)


{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Fireblossom January 15, 2014 at 8:44 pm

That’s just a perfect short short, Sara.
Fireblossom´s last blog post ..For Young Poets


Sara January 17, 2014 at 3:57 pm

@ Fireblossom — Thanks for your read and the kind words. I’m still a bit rusty, but hey…it feels good to get something fiction up again.

BTW I thought you were on vacation!!! Loved the post about going on vacation. You can make me laugh so quickly.


Kelvin Kao January 16, 2014 at 3:03 am

I liked how you portrayed four vivid characters in such a short story. :)
Kelvin Kao´s last blog post ..Merry Christmas! Deck the Halls!


Sara January 17, 2014 at 3:57 pm

@ Kelvin — Thank you. I really appreciate you reading these stories:~)


Carrie January 16, 2014 at 10:39 am

never doubt yourself Sara – you got real talent! xxx
Carrie´s last blog post ..Signs of hope and happiness


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm

@ Carrie — Thank you, Carrie. I love the words, “never doubt yourself.”

BTW I send these same words back to you. They’ll cross an ocean, travel the distance to your ears and then whisper the words while you’re sleeping. They’ll remind you of just how very talented you are. I loved the recent photos with the “good” camera.


Atreyee January 16, 2014 at 10:48 am

A beautiful piece on grieving and letting go:-) The best homage to pay is to celebrate a departed soul’s memories,lovingly-well done!


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm

@ Atreyee — Thank you for your kind words. I’m just pleased the words decided to play with me this time. I’ve missed writing and participating in the WoE challenges.


lexy January 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm

great story, and really suits the quote. You really painted a vivid picture of a family going through the death of a loved one.
lexy´s last blog post ..Write On Edge: The Road Ahead


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:09 pm

@ lexy — thanks very much. It’s good to hear the story made sense and fit the quote. I was a bit nervous about that:~)


Cameron January 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm

A perfect little gem of a short, Sara. And with a Kate! It speaks to my own experience of grief – the need to share the best of someone like that, through laughter.
Cameron´s last blog post ..The Stone Garden


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm

@ Cameron — Thank you for reading this story. You are so right about grief and laughter — laughter allows you time to escape the pain.


Jean Sampson January 16, 2014 at 2:23 pm

You are so good at giving a whole story in just a little space, Sara. I love the details you use, like Katie smelling the ivory soap and knowing that her Dad had bathed and that was a hopeful sign. Good job!


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm

@ Jean — Thank you very. Like I said, it’s good to puts together into a story. It’s been way too long.


angela January 16, 2014 at 2:39 pm

The piece does a really great job starting with tension and relaxing into a smile at the end. I imagine that’s exactly how Katie felt.
angela´s last blog post ..Straws


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm

@ angela — You are right. I wanted Katie to find her smile:~)


Ginny January 16, 2014 at 8:06 pm

You are a wonderful storyteller Sara. I always get involved with your characters so quickly. I can see them and feel their sorrow or happiness. You have a wonderful way of saying a lot with just a few words. I am so glad that you are starting to write fiction again. I’ve missed your stories.
Ginny´s last blog post ..Reflection


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:14 pm

@ Ginny — thank you. I hope they’ll be more:~)


Roxanne January 16, 2014 at 10:05 pm

What a wonderful little story. I find focusing on joy to help through dark times. I think those that leave us would prefer it that way – to remember the laughter.
Roxanne´s last blog post ..On writing and blogging.


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm

@ Roxanne — Thanks for your comment about this story. I agree. In the moment you are laughing, you can’t be anything else. It’s takes away the sting, at least for a little while. Certainly, those who leave us would wish for that.


Lyssa Medana January 17, 2014 at 3:27 am

What a good way of describing the healing power of stories. LM x


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm

@ Lyssa — That’s an interesting take, given I was writing a story, but you are right. Remembering stories about our loved ones can be one of most healing ways to deal with grief.

Thanks for your read of this story and for your comment:~)


Patricia of Patricias Wisdom January 17, 2014 at 2:25 pm

What a great story to read and I loved the Ivory Soap detail; cleaning up the grief and coming to laugh AHHHH

Having some oral surgery in a minute or two – this was a good waiting room read. My elbow is out of joint and I have a fractured tooth – One sleep 2 procedures…hope I will come out laughing :) and relieved.
Patricia of Patricias Wisdom´s last blog post ..PLAYING ST. BARBARA: A novel ~Marian Szczepanski


Sara January 17, 2014 at 4:20 pm

@ Patricia — I didn’t of the idea of “cleaning up the grief.”

I hope your oral surgery went well. My husband recently had dental surgery.

Loved your review of Playing St. Barbara:~)


Talon January 17, 2014 at 11:10 pm

I love what you did with the prompt. This was a great read. I believe in the powerful healing of laughter.
Talon´s last blog post ..Hostilities


Sara January 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm

@ Talon — We definitely the belief in “the powerful healing of laughter” in common. I so pleased you picked up on this.

Thank you for reading this story and your kind words:~)


Lynn January 19, 2014 at 8:42 am

That’s nice Sara – and I can just see the whole thing.
Lynn´s last blog post ..Fun distraction, celebration of life and hello living room


Sara January 22, 2014 at 4:04 pm

@ Lynn — Thank you very much:~)


Hilary January 22, 2014 at 6:11 am

Hi Sara .. that’s lovely that their laughter brought her father down to join in – life can be so challenging .. and here you bring it to life … especially how he was remembering happy stories.

Those bucking broncos .. are awful – I think I’d last one second .. so don’t ever bet on me!

Well done for writing your short story – it’s great .. cheers Hilary
Hilary´s last blog post ..Love has Wings …. by Madelaine Clay


Sara January 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm

@ Hilary — I’ve never even tried the mechanical bulls — they’re sort of scary. On the other hand, I have ridden bucking horses and if they want you off…well, to be honest they are a bit like a “tilt-a-whirl.”

Thank you for reading this story and I’m glad you liked it.


desk49 January 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

round and around
we must sometimes go
hitting the ground hard
with a thump you know

To get on our feet
stand on the old two
hold our heads up high
before life can be renewed


Sara January 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm

@ desk49 — What a special visit from a friend. I love it when you share your comment as well as your poetry. WRITE MORE. I miss your poetry!!!


Valerie January 23, 2014 at 11:13 am

I loved this little gem, Sara! A sweet tale of losing lunch, but not money;) And finding a way through grief with laughter. (And incidentally, through rust with great comeback writing!)

By the way, my mom dated a rodeo bull rider when she was in college. She said he was a sweet guy but not quite “all there.”

Hugs, my friend! xx
Valerie´s last blog post ..Perfect Penmanship


Sara January 24, 2014 at 3:04 pm

@ Valerie — LOL about the rodeo bull rider. I imagine a lot of these riders are not all there given the injuries they have. It’s not exactly a very safe sport.

Thanks for the read of this story. I appreciate your comment very much:~)


Linda January 23, 2014 at 11:15 am

Nice story, Sara. So glad the father came around. Talking and telling stories really can help and it keeps the person close to us. Welcome back to fiction!
Linda´s last blog post ..Quote of the Week


Sara January 24, 2014 at 3:05 pm

@ Linda — Family stories can be lifesavers sometimes, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading the story:~)


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