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kid lit and culinary musings of brenda winter hansen

Story Chairs: Sit and Listen to a Good Yarn

March 23rd, 2013

I’m not the only one who’s been busy around here! Besides helping plan an SCBWI writing conference and launching my Indigogo campaign, my brilliant pal Tina Hoggat has been spending a awful lot of time getting her aptly dubbed, Story Chairs, audio installation ready to roll. It opens this Wednesday, March 27th at the Jack Straw Productions here in Seattle at 4621 Roosevelt Way NE, 98105 from 5:30-8:00pm. I am giddy with excitement to be a part of it and can’t wait to hear what other notable artists and writers have contributed. Check out the link above for details about the contributors, and come join the fun.

To get you primed, I’ve included the short story I recorded for the installation. Enjoy!

 

Five Stones

by Brenda Winter Hansen

I plowed through deep snow to take the short cut through the park. It was nothing more than an empty hill and a creek running to a culvert large enough to stand in. The backs of houses surrounded me, indifferent to whatever happened in that lonely place.

Halfway across, I dared to look uphill. Ron and Jack stood in the evening glow of the park’s solitary lamp. Hooded and hunting.

Ron flicked his cigarette. “Look Jackie. It’s Little Kay.”

Only my big brother called me that.

They loped across the snow and blocked my way anywhere. Ron’s dirty blond hair was a tattered curtain to his chapped mouth full of rotty teeth. He stood in my tracks as if he’d found me by smell.

“All alone after dark?” Ron’s voice was low and dangerous, like a German Shepard when its owners aren’t around.

Words braver than I felt came out. “Piss off Ron, there are bigger fish.”

Ron grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked my head closer to his face. “We could be friends again.”

I was used to roughhousing. Giving up was not an option. “No.”

He swung. Stars and lightning shook my skull. Blood dribbled into my mouth. They both seemed surprised, so I elbowed Ron in the gut and scrambled out of reach, running to the creek. I inhaled the sharp scent of wet earth and rushing melt. Without thinking, my bare fingers dug into freezing mud, searching.

“We’ll show her.” Laughing hyenas on a kill.

Five stones.

I turned and fired. Ron ducked, though it barely missed him. Number two hit Jack right between the eyes and leveled him. A fearful look crossed Ron’s face, but then he charged. I nearly fell backward throwing the third stone. It flew wild, but the fourth, smaller and sharper, hit his cheek and drew blood. He didn’t even slow down. I couldn’t stop the scream. He pushed me onto the ground and clamped my mouth. My nose spattered snotty blood on his hand.

“Nobody cares. Nobody’s comin’.”

He was right and I was terrified to the core. I looked past him into the night. Snowflakes fell on my hot face.

“Ever been alone, L’il Kay?” His cough was followed by a hacking spit. “Get a taste of it. No big brother now, huh?”

White frosted the willow branches against the night. I refused to cry. Something moved in the culvert behind us. Someone. Ron hadn’t noticed yet. I wriggled and got his full attention. His hand slid off my slick face, ready to hit again.

Shadow fell over us and a whip-like whooshing noise ended with a dull thud. Ron disappeared from view. I was too scared to look around.

“Someone asking for Kay’s big brother?”

It was Sam. He held a stick as round as my wrist and as long as a bat. I stood and ran uphill.

Ron rolled in the snow, clutching himself. “You broke my ribs!”

“Touch her again and it’ll be more than sore ribs.” Sam gave Ron and Jack a wide berth and walked up the hill to me.

Only when we’d gotten to the street-lamped sidewalk did he stop to look at me.

“Holy crap.”

I sniffed. “Like you’ve never given me a bloody nose.”

He cuffed me on the shoulder. “So, no big deal then…”

I fell against him, crying quietly. He hugged me tight.

“How come Jack was laid out?”

“Got lucky with rocks.”

I held the last stone in my pocket. It was cool, smooth, and secret.

“You gonna be alright, Little Kay?”

I nodded. “But Sam?”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t ever call me Little Kay again.”

2 Responses to “Story Chairs: Sit and Listen to a Good Yarn”

  1. Tina says:

    Thanks for the nod! So proud to have you and your work as a part of the project.

  2. bwh says:

    My pleasure, Tina!See you Wednesday!

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