Just a Dream

Just a Dream
December 1, 2011 11 Comments Writing Stephanie Ayers

Suggestion: Play the video while reading the story.

Kate woke up the next morning feeling refreshed. She made herself a cup of hot tea and enjoyed the quiet of her morning while Malcolm still slept. She loved these quiet fall mornings. It wasn’t quite cold enough yet for a jacket, and the sun shining on her front porch was a welcoming invitation. She wrapped a blanket around her, slipped on her fuzzy slippers and relaxed on the porch swing.

This neighborhood wasn’t her favorite, but it was nice enough. Trees bordered the opposite side, and they were radiant in their explosion of colors. She loved the spontaneity of the fall season. She loved the way the trees would pepper the woods, some still resistant and remaining green while their neighbors burst forth in hues of reds, golds, oranges, and yellows.

Her favorite were the ones that turned last, their vibrant maroon and orange appearing like fires blazing their fragile limbs. Her neighbor across the street had two such trees in her yard, and they were just beginning their fire play. She smiled as the wind brought the earthy smell of falling leaves with it. She closed her eyes and let it dance around her, flipping her hair in wild abandon as she rocked gently in the swing.

Her bliss was interrupted by the arrival of a small four door white sedan. Two soldiers got out and headed to her porch. They were dressed in common fatigues and had patches all over their sleeves she didn’t recognize. Their shirt pockets claimed them as “Anthony” and “Johns.”

“We regret to inform you that your husband, Corporal Martin Allen Chisholm, Jr. is dead.” The taller of the two, Anthony, told her.

“What?!? Wait!!” Kate’s smile melted quickly into a puddle at her feet. Liquid salt filled her eyes and a single tear found its way down her cheek.

“We are very sorry for your loss, ma’am.” The reply was simple as they handed her a white slip of paper. A quick glance told her it was a contact list filled with names she wasn’t familiar with.

“This makes no sense! Do you know how he died?” She wailed. “It …it was only a camping trip!”

“No, ma’am. It is still under investigation.”

Johns watched her for a moment with a look of concern on his face. As they turned to leave, a heavy breeze blew down the sidewalk and up the front porch. The piece of paper she held was lifted from her fingers. She didn’t even notice its absence as she stared blankly into the distance.

A loud gasp caused the soldiers to look at her once more, and Johns stepped forward and caught her as she fell.

When her eyes fluttered open, she was lying on her back on her porch, her blanket covering her respectfully, and two pairs of concerned eyes were staring at her. She tried to sit up and instantly found two hands on her back to help her.

“You fainted,” a man she didn’t recognize told her. He bore an MP patch on his arm and the white car was gone. “Will you be okay or do we need to call someone for you?” He handed her the paper again.

Reality sunk in again as she remembered why they were there. Her nose tingled as she felt grief find her face, the tears rising and spilling over, her lips tightly pressed downward, her voice lost.

“Ma’am?” the other MP continued to offer comfort as he nodded his head to his companion. He pulled a two way radio from his pocket and called in for a grief counselor to come to her aid. A neighbor walking her dog stopped at the edge of Kate’s yard. She’d seen the soldiers on Kate’s porch and feared the worst. She hovered there, as if waiting for an invitation. Malcolm’s cry from inside the house startled them all. The MPs looked expectantly at Kate, who merely looked to the neighbor she’d just noticed standing there.

“Maura?” Kate’s plea was weak, but heard. Maura moved quickly down the sidewalk, tethered her dog to a post on the front porch and went in. Within in moments, she produced Malcolm and handed him to his mother.

“Martin’s gone?” Maura was simple in her question. She knew the MPs would tell her nothing and probably knew nothing more than that. They nodded their heads in affirmation. She nodded back and swallowed hard to choke back the tears that came to her own eyes. This was never easy. She breathed deeply and squared her shoulders, preparing to weather this ride for as long as she was needed. “I got this.”

Realizing they’d been dismissed as Maura moved in, mothering both Kate and Malcolm, they walked slowly down the sidewalk and drove away. Maura managed to move a vacant Kate still holding Malcolm into the house. She spied Kate’s cellphone sitting on the coffee table and helped herself to the contacts in it. Only two numbers were on speed dial and one wouldn’t be used anymore. She called Fallon.

“Kate.” The voice was stern, commanding, and insistent. “Kate.” A hand caressed her face. A brush of fingers beside her ear made snapping sounds. “Kate!” Crying decorated the background. “Kate!” Red hair filled her vision. Water filled green eyes lined in red met hers. “Kate, oh Kate. Honey, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Fallon? Martin’s gone.” Kate wailed as she folded into Fallon’s waiting arms. “Martin’s gone, Fallon!”

“Shhhh, honey, I know. Oh God, I know. I can’t believe it either.” Fallon finally allowed her tears to break and fall. “I can’t believe it. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. You don’t deserve this.”


For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Lisa challenged me with “Pick a song that you love. Tell the story from the song writer’s point of view, that inspired them to write that song” and I challenged ChrisWhiteWrites with “Rivers, rumbles, and earthquakes, oh my.”

The song I chose was Travis Tritt’s Tell Me I Was Dreaming (click link for lyrics). This really is one of my favorite songs, and it just happened to fit a scene from my NaNo project so I went with it. It was actually playing in my head as I rewrote the scene.

Did you need tissues? Did I evoke your emotions? Tell me what could be better. I welcome constructive criticism always.

Wikipedia: “Tell Me I Was Dreaming” is the title of a song co-written and recorded by country music artist Travis Tritt.

Stephanie Ayers A published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is the Executive Creative Director of OWS Ink, LLC, a community for writers and readers alike. She loves a good thriller, fairies, things that go bump in the night, and sappy stories. When she is not writing, she can be found in Creative Cloud designing book covers and promotional graphics for authors.
Leave Comment
  1. 11 Comments

    Angelia Sims

    Love the peaceful way it started. I felt like I was on the front porch..warm in a fuzzy blanket. As for the rest…not fond of people dying and grief. 🙁 So sad. And that video? Oh my goodness! Great song, just heartbreaking.

    1. 11 Comments


      I’m not a fan of people dying and grief too, and I had a really hard time writing this scene. Capturing people’s emotions can take a toll on your own.

      Thanks for reading, Angelia.

  2. 11 Comments

    lisa from insignificant at best

    Wow….just wow. I’m so glad you ended up with my challenge. This was really great. I loved how you set he calm and peaceful scene and then turned it on it’s head like that. That’s a great Travis Tritt song and you conveyed it beautifully with your story.

    1. 11 Comments


      Yay! I spent a lot of time agonizing over the song, but my gut said this one, so I went with it. Then I turned it on and listened while I wrote the scene. I’m so glad you liked it!

  3. 11 Comments

    Tara R.

    This was so heartbreaking. I live in a military town and can only imagine how often this sort of visit has happened here.

    1. 11 Comments


      I’m never a fan of killing off characters. I cried the first time I killed one. LOL

  4. 11 Comments

    Liz Culver

    Wow that was excellent. You start off so mellow and peaceful and then when the car turns up and it’s military was just such a jarring moment on her peace. Sad but also Maura being there was a small bit of relief.

    1. 11 Comments


      It’s a small role but an important one that Maura has. Thanks for stopping by Liz!

  5. 11 Comments


    This is so sad…and of course he’s not actually dead at this time which makes it more tragic, that she has to endure this…then again, I know how your story ends…kind of 😉 So I guess maybe he IS dead.

    Still , very powerful and emotional

    1. 11 Comments


      HAHAHHA. This story’s ending took on a little twist I think, though you do have more clues than anyone else. 😉

      Thank you so much for all of your help during NaNo, before, and now. I’m so grateful.

      And pssst…newbies reading this don’t know that he isn’t dead. For this, he just really might be. 😉


It's YOUR write side, too! Let's hear it!

%d bloggers like this: