In a small Southern community, inseparable lifelong friends prepare to follow their own paths, but one last summer together changes their lives forever.
Seven years after Cassidy Strumond set the fire that consumed her parents, the scent of ash still lingered in the newly sprouted corn and in the wide blades of grass that blanketed the rolling hills; only, nobody seemed to smell it but her.
Cassidy rolled her high school diploma over the worn floor planks of her grandmother’s back porch and watched Jared Walker’s horse, Delilah, clomp across the stone footbridge that spanned a stream separating her family farm from his.
The arms of a young man who worked outside and handled livestock for a living extended from the sleeves of a t-shirt that looked like he’d slept in it. His pointed boots stuck out from the frayed legs of his jeans, and the outline of his thighs pressed against the easy fitting denim. Details she had only recently begun to notice. He looped Delilah’s reins around the porch railing and lowered himself onto the steps.
“Is that what you wore under your graduation gown?” She knew the answer before his lopsided smile betrayed him.
“Figured if I was gonna wear a dress, I’d better look like a man underneath. What’d you wear under yours, a suitcase?”
“Nothing.” She eased the hem of her navy blue polyester gown up her bare calves and laughed as the implication registered on his features.
“You shameless liar.”
She took hold of the zipper at her throat. “Wanna find out?”
“There’s something bad wrong with you, you know that?”
“Yeah, I know.” Cassidy squinted at the branches of a massive oak in the middle of the pasture.
Beyond the oak, on the back acres of the property, were the ruins of her childhood home, reduced to a charred foundation and three concrete steps that led to an emptiness she could taste in her soul. From this rubble, the odor of her every nightmare emanated. As long as she stayed here, she would live with the smell of death.
One short summer and she could put this place and its constant reminders behind her.
About the Author
Wendi Christner is the author of Writer’s Digest Short-Short Story Competition winner “Throwing Stones,” a fairy self-help book, and several novels written under various pseudonyms. Her gritty, emotional stories tend to have a Southern voice born of her roots in the Florida panhandle. She currently lives in Tampa with her husband, son, and their fur family.
Buy at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Water-Bearer-Southern-Skies-Collection-ebook/dp/B01JIWVIUG/ref=sr_1_1
Wendi will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.