Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Yeah Write #124: Across the Lake (#amwriting #flashfiction )

The lake, glass calm, reflected trees.  I don’t know how long I stared out the fuselage window where an oregano plant spilled over the small sill.  The old DC-3 Douglas had crashed decades ago. It’d been converted to a house complete with chimney and wood stove.  Bunker, a man of few words but busy hands, had done the work himself.  He’d even built a preliminary shelter for me from the remnants of a wing. “Everyone needs a place to be,” he’d said.

I tended the stove. Bunker once told me four things were essential for survival: an iron will, a strong knife, fire, and a cast iron pan.

“A handy weapon and makes the slimiest grubs taste gourmet. Damn near indestructible, too. Like you.”

The stew bubbled. I burned my hand when the rag slipped when I set the pan to cool.  I stuffed the fabric in my mouth to stifle sobbing.  It wasn’t the sting, that hardly hurt. Outbursts happened. I’d burned my hand I was fifteen. Sharp memories overwhelmed. Vivid was the smell of the skillet steak, the bright flower wallpaper, the red vinyl chairs, and the fateful knock before I was taken.

Curved walls shrunk around me. Inside became both safe haven and coffin. I stumbled through the long house body to the heavy, oval door. High grass cushioned my back. My head rang from the impact. Air crushed my chest. Breathes drew in but not out.  I thought of Bunker, and how I missed his ugly face. He’d’ve dropped shoulder-to-shoulder with me to wait for the wave to pass.

“Are your dreams like this?” I’d asked. No gray had graced my hair then, and his had grown sparser.

“Yes, only angrier.”

When I moved into the house in my twenties, he’d leave after I fell asleep to protect me from his night terrors.

I walked around the lake to the bank where I had first emerged. The air was crisp and the water cool as my toes sank into the mud.  I shed my clothes save for my bra, tank and undershorts.  I let the water have me. Could I still do it? How many hours had it taken to swim the length that night? I’d surprised Bunker, that’s for certain.

Broken, bleeding, and half-naked outside the plane’s door I’d cried, “Better to drown than to let them have me.”

He’d stared, pressed his bearded lips together and nodded. He’d told me his name, encouraged me to go but let me stay. With the war, I had no home to go back to.

Now, I manged the ten thousand meters in four hours. My body shook but wasn’t cold. I’d come to the exact spot where the same rusty barrels entwined with sandy grass. Overgrown paths meandered past empty, makeshift dwellings. One glowed with light. The rust stains on the siding, tin roof, and filthy windows hadn’t changed.

I vomited.

I’m not certain what compelled me to climb the cinder block steps. They, older but still stinking of beer, cigarettes, and old piss, were passed out on the couch and chair. The closet where they’d kept me was open, a dirty plate upon a blanket. My iron soul grew hot. The same gun lay amid bullets on a table. It felt comfortable in my grip. Bunker had taught me.

I pressed the barrel to the squirrely one’s head. He opened his eyes and swallowed.

“You have someone. Where?” He shook his head and I shot the creep drooling in the chair; the shirtless man awakened. “Don’t fucking test me.”

“We got nobody, crazy b–”

I closed squirrel mouth permanently. Shirtless confessed and tossed the key. “In the box out back.”

He begged. I took his life more kindly than he’d taken mine. It’s said if you take lives, their faces stick with you. I already saw these bastards every night, so what the hell.

I unlocked the box but didn’t open it. That was a face I didn’t want to know. “I was never here, understand?” A soft knock answered.

I crawled my way back home faster than I’d left it. I gave the waters the gun. If fate drowned me, I’d understand.

The sunset glowed pink. Dinner wafted downwind.  My fifteen-year-old son had returned from his town trek. His serious scowl was so like Bunker’s. He hugged me, soaking wet and all.


I kissed his cheek. “Don’t worry, I’m like this house–built to last.”




7 comments on “Yeah Write #124: Across the Lake (#amwriting #flashfiction )

  1. Kim Witbeck
    May 8, 2019

    So dark and chilling! You told so much in the word count. I had to read twice to understand the MC’s connections with Bunker, the pkane and the house but probably just me! Think it was referring to the plane as a house at one point that confused me. Great job and thanks for sharing!


    • Laissez Faire
      May 9, 2019

      It does need a clarifying word or two here and there. Interesting to not that that particular model of plane did crash in a jungle and was converted to house (the picture shown). The planes are so tough and versatile (they can land on dirt or grass) that there is saying that you can only replace the DC3 with another DC3. 😮 A specific civilian model was a sleeper plane with bunks on the overheads…they called it a skytrain. The internet is a deep well, I tell you!


  2. writejosephinewrite
    May 9, 2019

    The language flowed so beautifully and really set the scene. You managed to tell so much about the characters and the story in so few words, well done! I thought at first that Bunker was the kidnapper, but didn’t take long to get what was happening.


    • Laissez Faire
      May 9, 2019

      I made the part of Bunker vague at first for that uneasiness and also to imply that his appearance and his lack of certain social graces would make people assume he was a horrible person. Glad that you found it a deep, full story I had a hard time starting it. Funny enough, Bunker, was the character that came to mind first and he’s no technically there. I mean…what kind of name is Bunker!? But it wouldn’t leave my head.LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      • writejosephinewrite
        May 9, 2019

        I thought he left an impression even though he was not in the story much. Lol, characters sometimes that to me too!


  3. optimisticauthor10
    May 9, 2019

    You created an incredibly detailed story in just a few words. I was a little confused in different parts, for example, she missed Bunker so I assumed he was dead, but at the end, she speaks to him. Also, I thought she might have been kidnapped or abused by bunker when she burned her hand and stuffed the rag in her mouth. But, overall, this is a story that begs to be much longer. I hope you pursue a lengthier version. Nice work!


    • Laissez Faire
      May 9, 2019

      You were right Bunker is dead, though ever present. It is her son she speaks to at the end (Bunker was his father). The burn part needs another word or two…it was meant to be a little ambiguous to make the reader uneasy but just it is a hair too much. The minor burn triggered a flashback and panic attack. She was trying to hold it back. Not sure I would make this much longer. I think I creeped myself out.

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on May 8, 2019 by in fiction, writing, Yeah Write and tagged , , , , , , .

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