KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 5: Spring 2016
Micro-Fiction: 449 words

Holding His Own

by Daryl Scroggins

In high desert land behind the adobe house, where ocotillo and low scrub stretched for miles until stopped by blue mountains, the grandmother found her missing grandson. He sat on his suitcase at the bare center of a creosote ring. Only seven years old, but already fierce in his resolve to show his mother that she should not have sent him away. The woman carefully parted the creosote limbs and stepped into the circle. She paused then, silent, and gazed up into the deep blue of the west Texas sky. Ice clouds there, much like her hair.

“You will not believe how beautiful this place gets when a rain comes,” she said. “Pretty soon, everything will bloom.”

The boy settled a bit deeper into his waiting slump, indicating, no doubt, that he was not looking forward to any such thing.

“Don’t you like your new school over in Marfa?”

“It’s okay,” he said.

The grandmother chuckled, with her hand over her mouth. “When we walked out here, the first day you were here, I guess I shouldn’t have told you that people think these creosote rings are places where UFOs land.”

The boy looked down, and her heart broke to think that he now felt like a fool.

“But the truth is maybe just as strange. See that thick bush over there?” She pointed, but the boy held onto his indifferent line of sight. “Thousands of years ago, one like that grew right here where you are sitting. When it got old it had to die, like everything does. But it died from the middle, while its edges spread out. Like a bubble getting larger. The circle there, that we both came through, is the same plant, but it’s thousands of years old now and still going.”

“Why won’t she let me stay and take care of her?” he asked, looking at his grandmother now. His blue eyes, and the knit of his brow, hers.

“She wants to see if she can get better first,” the woman said, the weight of her own doubt hardening her face. But she knew she needed to reach anew for the day. “You know, we might just need to go down around Terlingua and go rock hunting. You like rock hunting, don’t you?”

The boy nodded.

“And maybe we will drive through Big Bend Park. We might see a bear down there. Or a mountain lion.”

The boy nodded again, but she could see a flicker of interest cross his face this time.

“Let’s get some breakfast and make some plans,” the grandmother said, leading the way.

The boy rose, and followed, hugging his suitcase before him. Keeping it safe.

—Finalist in the KYSO Flash Triple-F Writing Challenge

Daryl Scroggins
Issue 5, Spring 2016

lives in Marfa, Texas. His poems and short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies around the country. His latest book is This Is Not the Way We Came In, a collection of flash fiction and a flash novel (Ravenna Press, 2009).

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Web del Sol Mini-Chap, eight flash stories by Daryl Scroggins

An Interview with Daryl Scroggins by Cooper Renner in Word Riot (16 November 2013)

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