Friday, June 25, 2010


So this week, I'm watching The Ellen Degeneres Show and she does a feature called "Really Real Real Estate" and one of the laughs involved a "walking" closet.  That stayed with me for the remainder of the week.  Thank you Ellen for my #fridayflash inspiration.


Rose giggled at the typo, then swiped at her sudden tears. "Walking closet" reminded her of Papa, his gruff voice reading C.S. Lewis then taking her on an explore; his rough hand grasping her small one, his other hand navigating with a debarked branch, pipe smoke mingling with autumn fresh on their long walks. She substituted "walk-in" in her head. Lung cancer took Papa long ago; benevolent lions did not live in closets; and thanks to an overworked trucker cranked up on amphetamines, Rose did not walk.

She reread the listing. One level living at its finest. That phrase alone sold her, but the four bedrooms, three and a half baths, seventeen acres, mountain views and great privacy for less than $300,000 clinched it. Almost. For that price they probably moved the headstones, not the bodies. Still, privacy and a fresh start tantalized. A walk-in closet meant a wheel-in closet, and that meant independence. She reached into a side pouch for her phone and dialed her real estate agent, wishing a "walking closet" could be.


"The sellers are extremely motivated, though I'm not supposed to divulge that tidbit." Liz Quincy winked at Rose as she held open the door to the master bedroom. Rose wheeled herself into the room.

Liz's gaze darted from Rose's face to the chair's wheels, her expression passive as she said, "I think you'll find every room a perfect fit. And you can't beat the views!" Rose glanced toward the slider, murmured it was a nice view of Mt. Kinsey and rolled straight to the closet doors. "Oh, let me get those!" Rose heard. She tried not to giggle as her agent's heel caught on the threshold.

Shelves filled with walking shoes flanked the doorway. Rose wheeled past the shoes, swept aside garment bags to touch the back wall. Solid, nothing more than a closet. Rose snorted, angry at herself for expecting a fairy tale. "Is everything okay?" Liz asked.

"'Walk-in' closet doesn't mean a 'wheel-in and spin around' closet," Rose said as she backed her chair out of the space. Flannel brushed her cheek. A plaid hunting jacket, similar to her Papa's hung askew. "How motivated are the sellers?" Rose asked.


The Carvers looked exhausted as they entered the lawyer's office. Rose endured both of their wide-eyed gazes.

"A wheelchair, of course!" Mr. Carver said as he limped to a chair.

"Yes, Ms. Taylor is perfect," Mrs. Carver said as she fell into her seat.

Rose smiled, noting both Carvers bloodshot eyes. "Ms. Taylor is too formal. Call me Rose." The Carvers murmured "Joan" and "Steven." Ms. Quincy offered her hand and said, "Call me Liz." The lawyer passed out pens, Attorney James Nadeau emblazoned in gold.

Mr. Nadeau addressed Liz as he presented documents for Rose. "And your client's initials go here... and here... sign this one, and now, the funds?" The sellers seemed to hold their breaths. Rose signed a personal check; Mr. Nadeau raised his eyebrows.

"My injury lawyer was a tiger," she said and touched an atrophied leg. He shrugged as he presented a receipt for the Carvers. "Just this... and this." Rose noticed Steven's hand trembled as he signed the final document.

Mr. Nadeau slid the deed across the table. "Congratulations Ms. Taylor, you are a homeowner." Both Carvers sighed, their shoulders relaxed.

"Now that it's a done deal, may I ask why you sold your home at such a 'motivated' price?" Rose asked. Their lawyer shook his head at his clients.

The Carvers exchanged a knowing look. Steven cleared his throat.  A red-faced Joan stammered, "We are tired of walking."


With the Carvers clothing gone, the master bedroom's closet appeared roomier. Rose unpacked her Papa's red-plaid hunting jacket, buried her face into the flannel, caught the fading whiff of pipe smoke and cherry cough drops. He would have loved living in the shadow of a mountain. As she hung the jacket, she noticed a slight jog to the closet. She snorted; secrets weren't always at the back of closets; she should have known. Her chair just fit.

The space opened into a slightly curved corridor. Rose's heart raced, thrilled to find a secret passageway. "Walking closet" was not a typo after all. Her chair rolled faster, momentum helping the descent. She almost smashed into a door.

The brass knob turned easily. The open door revealed a small workshop, sunlight spilling in between wide planks. Canes and staffs and walking sticks leaned against every rustic wall. Rose pushed herself across the room, touched a knotty staff, oiled and smoothed to natural beauty. Goosebumps prickled her skin. Not her papa's walking branch, but he would have approved. Rose grabbed the staff and tucked it between her knees. She wheeled around, wanting to bring the treasure back with her.

A tool-filled shelf commanded the space where the door had stood. Rose spun her chair, looking for an exit. Claustrophobia threatened. She swept aside canes and staffs, the clatter deafening in the small space. One wide plank leaned outward, a hook and eye-latch keeping it in place. Rose yanked the hook, pushed herself forward into a meadow, gasping for air. A gradual slope led to a distant house, Mt. Kinsey filling the skyline. The looming presence reassured her.

Rose could understand the Carvers tiring of the ascent; the mere thought of rolling uphill almost daunted her. Once her breathing slowed to normal, she seated the walking stick firmly against her shoulder and aimed the wheels to her dream home. The prickly sensation washed over her again; from her scalp to her waist, from her waist to her thighs, from her thighs to her toes.

Tingling was a start. Rose dared to believe in magic.


Jen Brubacher said...

This is absolutely compelling. Your first paragraph just grabbed me and I was fascinated by Rose. Then you offer a great story, and a hopeful ending! I love it.

miker-lazlo said...

I'm knocked out Peg. Stunning little story, feels remarkably complete for a flash (no simple trick) and very human characters.

Laurita said...

A stunning piece of fiction. I felt that tingle too...

Valerie said...

I hope she doesn't get tired of walking, but then again, if she does, I guess she can do what the Carvers did. Nice little slice of... magical realism, I suppose? Suspense sliding into sweet hope.

Michael Solender said...

wow, great pace and voice in this one peggy, really liked the final scene.

quin browne said...

Oh, Peg!

This proves what I said to you about your work... there it was again, that sense, that knowledge of places and thoughts and feelings.

You are truly a gifted writer.

Eric J. Krause said...

Very cool story! It tingled with magic the whole way through.

Laura Eno said...

Great story! Perhaps it will work magic for her.

Alan W. Davidson said...

A mystical little turn to the story. Excellently written, Peggy, and a nice hint of optimism for her future.

Bukowski's Basement said...

What a fantasical piece of flash, peg ... Gorgeously-told with a pitch-perfect pace.

David G Shrock said...

Great story and brilliant execution. The right amount of magic with a touch of wonder.

Rebecca said...

I absolutely love this story! Well done you, and keep them coming.

austere said...

loved the way you've given her a door out. star dust.

Cathy Olliffe said...

Bravo! Excellent rabbit out of the hat! So well written,Peg; Rose and her grandfather were superb characters. That first paragraph, the succinct but stunning description of the trucker and the accident, everything, was bang on.
For the Carvers the closet was too much, wasn't meant for them.
For Rose, it was the miracle she was waiting for.
Breathtaking ideas.
By the way, I always get a giggle out of your labels.

Cathy Olliffe said...

One other thing: James Nadeau... why is that name familiar? I googled it but didn't come up with anything that rang a bell? Spill!

Anneke said...

Great story. A wheel-in closet, I love it.

J. M. Strother said...

Terrific story here, Peg. I love the way you feed out uncertainty to the reader, who knows there is something about the house, but unsure what it is. Shades of horror niggled at the back of my mind as I read this, but instead it ends up on a note of hope. Just lovely. One of the best ones I've read this week.

Gracie said...

Really beautiful story, Peg. Sounds like this house really is her dream home.

Simply excellent.

Tomara Armstrong said...

I snorted at the potergeist reference, too fun; and way to plant that anxious bug. I really enjoyed it.

Great story

melissalwebb said...

Great story. I love the way you pulled me in to it. Well done.

ganymeder said...

This has a wonderful, fairy tale feel to it. Loved it!

Karen from Mentor said...

Hope, where would we be without it? Loved this Peggy. The voice, the pace, the story concluding with the house finding the perfect owner. *happy sigh*

The coat, pipe and cherry cough drops smell portion of the story nearly did me in. It was if you rummaged about and found a bit of a loved one from my past and gave him a new place to be. I think he would have liked living in the shadow of the mountain too.

Thank you for this.
Karen :0)

Mark Kerstetter said...

This is so full and complete for such a short story. The world feels real and compelling, with a poignant hint of magic playing at the edges. Beautiful. And it's cool to hear about how one simple phrase can spark an imagination like yours.

shannon said...

We lived in the country in Pa. when I was little, in the winter my uncles did smell like cherry cough drops and pipe smoke. Took me way back! This is a wonderful story and makes me believe in magic.

John Wiswell said...

Love that last line, Peggy. That's how we survivors do it.

Danielle La Paglia said...

What a beautiful story. I love the language, it kept me engaged throughout. And I love that you leave us with hope.

Matt Merritt said...

You really built the expectation of a frightening finish, but the actual conclusion was perfect! Nice story.

PJ said...

Love it, Peggy - I definitely need to watch Ellen more often ;-) I was with your MC every "step" of the way - well done :-)

L'Aussie said...

I love the way you use the senses. I love the nostalgic references to Pa. I love the house and what you made of it. Hope, we have to have it..:)

Thanks for dropping by and commenting on my debut story.