Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Continuation of Sorts

Photo Credit Eve Hannah

I'm taking an online writing class this summer with teachers Robin Rice and Emily McDowell at The writing prompts are pictures and we are free to write whatever we'd like to as inspired by the photo.

Olivia Hart Jenkins watched the pie filling as it ran off the back of the teaspoon. The vinegar maple needed a few more minutes of stirring before it would be thick enough to pour into the pie shell and put outside to set in the cold. Every Christmas, she made a pie for Del Padilla, the hired man, and has wife Juanita.

The Padillas had worked alongside Olivia on the rough northern New Mexico land since she inherited it from Gert. The year since her passing had felt heavy for Olivia. Her days were full with the animals and her garden, but in quiet times, the loneliness she felt for her love, Gert, enveloped her like a dust storm on the prairie.

Olivia’s dog, Sancho, lay snoring at her feet under the kitchen table. She slowly pushed back her chair, not wanting to disturb the sleeping hound. He’d been up half the night pacing, and howling. Del said he had seen tracks in the snow near the house that morning, explaining Sancho’s vigilance.

She opened the wood stove and peered in. The roast chicken, and fried potatoes and onions would be done just in time for the little holiday dinner she shared with the Padilla family.

“Come in, out of the cold,” said Olivia welcoming Juanita and Del into the house. Sancho greeted them at the door and was rewarded with pats on the head.  Olivia took their coats and hung them on hooks near the wood stove to dry.

“I think you can guess what’s in the basket,” said Juanita. Olivia inhaled deeply. She could smell the fried dough pockets hidden under the napkin.

“Del left some sopapillas for us?”

“I wouldn’t let him into the kitchen, pobrecito.”

“I would only trade them for some of your famous pie,” said Del.

“Ah yes, pie. It’s about time, I brought that in,” said Olivia.

She opened the door to get the pie from the cold box outside. She raised her eyes and looked into the face of a mountain lion walking from the outbuilding with one of the chickens in his mouth. Sancho bolted from the house and jumped onto the back of the lion. It growled and swung a heavy paw at Sancho who refused to let go. A rooster crowed from the coop.  Olivia grabbed the shotgun she kept hanging just inside the front door. She stepped back out and held a steady aim as the animals rolled in a blur in the driving snow. She took a deep breath, held it, and pulled the trigger. The mountain lion fell dead. Sancho ran back to Olivia.

Del and Juanita stood behind her in the doorway.

“Miss Olivia. Where’d you learn to shoot like that?” asked Del.

“Gert,” she whispered.

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