Approaching Winter (for Trifecta)

It’s time for the Trifecta Weekly Challenge. I wrote this entry on my phone during several recent moments of downtime in my life. Truthfully, I think these challenges have become my go-to free time activity … replacing reading, TV, music, Facebook and all of my other mindless occupations. (Fine. Who am I kidding? I was never really busy reading.) Now, if only I could convince myself to write in lieu of snacking.

Oh … and anyway … the word this week is observe. I was actually the Trifecta member who submitted it, dumb ass that I am. You would think I would have proposed a word for which I had already written a story. But NO. I had to come up with something new and original to challenge myself, thereby offering me (my primary concern, really) no unfair advantage over my fellow participants. So, I was accidentally ethical. Stupid … and ethical.

Seriously, you don’t know the rules by now? All entries must be between 33 and 333 words and need to include the following word using its third definition (both listed below).

ob·serve verb \əb-ˈzərv\

* * * * * * * * * *

Approaching Winter

* * * * * * * * * *

“It’s snowing again,” Martha announced to an empty room. She stared out the dusty picture window for a few minutes, watching the endless flakes fall into her overgrown garden. Sliding the tattered quilt from her legs, she braced herself on the arms of her chair to stand and reach for her cane, an old shepherd’s crook that had once belonged to her grandfather.

She steadied herself with it before traversing the excessively cluttered room. With her compromised balance, the trips to the kitchen had become incrementally hazardous. The quantity of obstacles taunting her along the way had increased ten-fold over the years.

She doddered across the stained rug, oblivious of the mess that had accumulated since her beloved Henry had passed seventeen years earlier. They were unable to have children so she seldom had visitors and the small cottage had plummeted into disrepair. The only thing preventing a rodent invasion was the daunting number of cats roaming the property, coming and going at will through a small window left ajar in their honor.

“Toby?” Martha called. “Toby, are you ready?” She looked around and finally saw an old grey tabby peeking out from behind a tall pile of newspapers beside her. “Hello, my handsome boy. And happy birthday to you.”

Toby was her oldest, as she’d adopted him shortly after Henry died. He was the only one for whom she knew a real birthday, November 7. It was the busiest day of the year in her non-traditional household. And Martha intended to observe it throughout his life as though it were a high holiday. Over the years, the other days had all lost their significance to her anyway.

He was her family now, he and all the others. They needed her for survival, or so she thought. And they were willing to sit for hours and listen to stories of her childhood, her factory job during the war, her Henry and whatever else crossed her tired and addled mind.

* * * * * * * * * *


31 responses to “Approaching Winter (for Trifecta)

  1. Another beautiful story featuring Toby.
    And I love the amount of depth and emotion you worked into this!

  2. Awwww! I can feel the loneliness through the words in this story. Makes me sad for her. I’m glad Toby was there for her.

  3. Very truthful and completely real. There are people where I work that live like this.

  4. The imagery you write into your stories is incredible. The line “With her compromised balance, the trips to the kitchen had become incrementally hazardous.” really makes me feel worried for her. I just pictured my Nana the whole way through. Beautifully done…and I LOVE that Toby was her cat that was there for her.

  5. great use of the word.

    There’s so much depth to this. as Mel said, it was easy to relate to the old woman. I wanted to call her Gram or Grandma – my grandmothers names.

    • Thanks, Lance. The grandmother to whom I was close died over 25 years ago. If you have someone still in your life, call her (or him). I still dream of mine all the time and would kill for the chance to communicate with her again.

  6. Scriptor Obscura

    Beautiful story. Just lovely. So tender and touching and heartfelt and sad…Sigh…And the photo of the old woman just goes with it so perfectly…I love this story. Keep on writing, ODNT, I love the way you write.

    • Thanks so much. You are always welcome to comment here. 🙂 And where might I add is your winning entry?

      • Scriptor Obscura

        Thank you.

        I got nothin’ this time…*heavy sigh*… Sometimes its like that, eh? Hello writer’s block my old friend…it’s time we meet again… 😉

  7. I really like this. A lot.

  8. Extremely bittersweet. Wonderfully written, you took me back to snowy winters.

    I know people with November 6th, 8th and 9th, and now Toby on the 7th. I will be sure to observe his special day too 😉

  9. Very beautifully written. I don’t know why but it moved me to tears.

  10. The description of the old woman getting up and walking to the kitchen is delicious. I could feel her ache in my bones, suffer her same loss of proprioception. So I was completely aligned with her about the cats and Henry and everything she’s lost. Well done.

  11. I can picture myself becoming the old, cat lady in the neighborhood. Your imagery was so vivid. I could see her every step through the house.

  12. The pacing of this piece was excellent – you managed to show the slow deliberateness of her movements with the way you structured the sentences and paragraphs. Nicely done!

  13. Oh, how sad. I feel sorry for her I almost teared up. Great job, as always. 🙂

  14. Thanks, Imelda. I just commented on your story. They were remarkably similar, in a completely opposite kind of way. 🙂

  15. Beautiful story, ODNT. The descriptions of the house and of the old lady are fantastic and although the picture is lovely, I’d already pictured her in my head before I scrolled down to it. You have a knack of bringing things to life with your writing. Will you complete a Trifecta of ‘Toby’ stories in the next challenge? Thanks for linking up.

  16. Such an awesome story–it’s for me to blame being emotional in general right now, but my eyes welled up by the time I got to that last paragraph. Good job 🙂

  17. Congratulations! 🙂

  18. Lovely, poignant story. Your descriptions are amazing and the structure was perfect – the deliberate sentences matched her deliberate movements. Word pictures abound.Stories with animals always get to me emotionally. Nicely done.

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