Monday, October 17, 2011

FREE Halloween Short Story: Proverbs 31 Woman

I entered the NPR three-minute fiction contest last year, and didn't win, but I wanted to share my entry because it was really fun to write.

The parameters were:
1--story had to be three minutes when read aloud.
2-- the first sentence had to be "everyone thought the house was haunted"
3-- the last sentence had to be "and nothing was the same after that."

I hope you enjoy it....and check back in for the Spooktacular promo on Oct. 24 for FREE stuf---plus a countdown of the top ten things that scare the crap out of me.

Here is the story. Copyright, all rights reserved, all of that.

Proverbs 31 Woman

By: Dawn DeAnna Wilson

Some people swore that the house was haunted. But in our town, people swore the moon shot was faked. Our “historic” home had creaky floors, rattling windows, and it didn’t help that our hallways echoed with the bloodcurdling grind of electric sanders and the heart-sickening thunder of the sledgehammer. Kids would ring the doorbell and run, as if trying to get Boo Radley to come outside. Ted ignored them. He was imagining our Queen Anne fixer-upper as a bed and breakfast.

But then Ted got an abnormal PSA. He announced it to my in-laws during Thanksgiving dinner.

“My prostate’s shot,” he declared between spoonfuls of cranberry sauce. “I might even have the cancer.”

“Oh sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” my mother-in-law, Judith, said while awkwardly crossing herself, lest we mistake her prayer for taking the Lord’s name in vain.

“In the meantime, I’m starting my bucket list.” Ted was surprisingly upbeat.

I supported him like a true Proverbs 31 woman—the heart of her husband safely trusts her--- I helped him research skydiving prices, the best time to hike the Grand Canyon, and European travel bargains.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph came through for us; additional tests showed no cancer, but Ted’s bucket list was starting to metastasize. Next morning, I found him at the kitchen table, dark circles under his once-animated green eyes, surrounded by a hurricane of crumpled roadmaps, AAA guidebooks and legal pads covered with his awkward cursive.

“You know it only costs 30 grand to climb Mount Everest?” he said.


“If I take the accelerated course, I can get my pilot’s license in two months.”

“What’s all this?”

“My bucket list,” he said.

“But you don’t have the cancer.”

The doorbell rang. I answered it. No one was there. Kids.

Who can find a virtuous wife? Her worth is far above rubies.

I guess everyone just needed someone to inspire them—the economy sucked, the textile plant closed, and businesses were leaving town. Every other day someone from the church gave me another casserole. Ted wasn’t inspirational. He was convenient.

When Ted was supposed to get estimates on rewiring the house, he got estimates on scuba trips, the kind where they put you in shark cages.

“I understand bucket lists, honey.” I gently massaged his shoulders. “But some of this stuff…it’s just ridiculous.”

“That’s not what Earl said.”


“Editor at the weekly paper. He wants to do a feature story on me.”

“For not having cancer?”

“On my trip to Angor Watt Temple. In Cambodia.”

“Who’s going to pay for rewiring the house while you’re in Cambodia?”

She willingly works with her hands…she rises while it is yet night.

Judith tells me to support Ted’s dreams-- he’s still her little mama’s boy. She says maybe the bed and breakfast was a bad idea.

“It was his idea.”

“He’s been through a lot.”

“How is he different from millions of people who don’t have cancer? How is he different from those who pay taxes and are living in houses worth less than they owe?”

She handed me a casserole and left me standing in the middle of sawdust and splinters.

She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.
That’s when I finally realized the house was haunted. Every time Ted added an item, I hammered another hole in the wall. The kids don’t ring the doorbell anymore. Some dreams should just die. Some hopes shouldn’t be on life support. Some walls should be torn down.

Nothing was ever the same again after that.

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