A Saturday in autumn, early and quiet. It started simple like that. If it’d been one of her boys I would’ve laughed myself dead, but with Ruth in mind the whole thing seemed more serious somehow. Maybe cause we all knew her so well. We could imagine her coming out for the paper in that plump blue robe of hers, hardly awake, white hair still mussed from the pillows. Then not three steps out the front door, her bare toes brushing against something setting beside the porch rail, something with heft. Said it took her a whole minute before she realized what was laying there, staring right back at her.

Half-hour after that I was easing my cruiser along the single-lane mountain roads, still about three coffees shy of living. I turned left off Gambill onto Locust Drive and followed it all the way up. Only five homes at the end of Locust, all of them tucked in thickets set back from the road. Few of those properties butt up against the pastures of the old Nance Farm. It can be pretty country to look at.

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Michael Gray received his MFA from Florida Atlantic University and currently serves as an Associate Professor of English at John Tyler Community College in Virginia. His fiction has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Carte Blanche, Fiction Southeast, and Coe Review.

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