Chapter 3

Written by: GreggMattson

 

     Gretchen found Matt in the kitchen. “I just looked in the garage. The cradle’s gone,” she cried.
     To appease her, Matt searched the house and found it in the nursery. Confused and troubled, they were discussing the incident over breakfast in the kitchen when Albert, the handyman, arrived to find the musty smell’s cause.
     “Thank you for coming. The smell’s intolerable,” said Matt.
     Flashing a confident smile, Albert left to investigate and returned soon after to tell them that a leak in the roof had let rain run down the wall and into the basement.
     “We’ll be back to fix it tomorrow,” he said.
     Over coffee, he asked if they liked their home. 
     Matt said, “We do…except for the relocated cradle.”
     Laughing, Albert confessed to cleaning and moving it as a house-warming gift. 
     The next day, Albert’s crew began repairs.
 
     Gretchen woke to the sound of hammering and her first gripping labor pains. Between the banging of hammers Matt heard her scream and begged someone to call for a doctor.
     Albert called a neighbor. When the Doctor arrived, he decided it was too late to move Gretchen and after some time he delivered their son, Brent amid cheers from the crew. 
 
     Several days later, Matt went to work, with photos of his new son to show his work mates. Contented, Gretchen nursed Brent and rocked him in the cradle. When he had gone to sleep, she began preparing dinner. As she chopped the vegetables, a raging storm moved through. The wind rattled the shutters and rain obscured the Elm tree. A gut-wrenching crack made Gretchen cling to Brent.
     “This’ll test our repairs,” Albert observed drily.
     When the storm cleared, a huge Elm branch lay in the yard. Uneasy, Gretchen watched Albert pick his way around the gnarled and bent form.
     The sunset radiated. Gretchen worried because Matt was late.
     That evening, she was feeding Brent when there was a knock on the door. Gretchen opened it to the Texas State Troopers, one held his hat in his hand. Sympathy filled his blue eyes.
     “We’re sorry to tell you your husband was blinded by the storm and crashed into another car on the freeway….” The words faded as she realized the horror of what they were saying. “….You’ll need to come to the morgue to identify him in the morning.” He looked at her, "Will you be all right?"
     She nodded through her tears.
     Numb, Gretchen put Brent in the cradle and threw herself on her bed. She cried into the night. 
     At 3:00 AM, darkness cloaked the house. Brent cried then stopped. Wiping her eyes Gretchen went to check the nursery. At the door she stopped, gaping. She swallowed against the lump in her throat.
     Grandma Whitaker sat in a chair, rocking the big cradle. Brent was sleeping peacefully.
     She looked up and held a finger to her lips for Gretchen to be quiet.
     “Shush,” Gretchen thought she heard Grandma whisper.
    
 
Gregg Mattson, (USA)
 

Comments

Reading through the first half, I was wondering why you were flying through so much stuff - and then wham! The ending. Interesting stuff here. I'm more curious about Albert each chapter, too.  Hmmmm.
Just got chills as I read the ending.  Very impressive since it's way over 25 degrees Celsius here :-)
Everyday life and the accompanying ups and downs, followed by tear jerking tradgedy, followed by a mysterious (ghostly?) cliffhanger, all in 500 words - Terrific in 8 letters.
I was so excited I forgot 'Somebody Dies."
This is going to be one interesting book.
The police visit was short lived and needed to be longer.  Gretchen seemed to get over her grief pretty quickly so maybe this leads to a different thread in the story
Hmmmm. Did the police need to stay for tea. They did their job and went back to doughnuts.  Looking again, Gretchen only stopped crying to check on the kid. 500 words. What do you want. It would ahve been worse with only 300.
When the police give the bad news.  This makes it a cliff hanger and gives the next writer something clear to get on with. 
That is true, and I see a number of ways that could still be used by other authors. As it was, the story wouldn't have moved far enough along had the chapter stopped at the police visit or dwelled longer.
and you've done incredibly well so far.  No worries. Just keep doing what you do.  Ken
I hope you can join in on the next one. Maybe we can learn something.