Late for Dinner

Five otters were near the mouth of the Ho river. Two adults were on the bank beneath some trees. One of them had caught a large trout. Frolicking in the fast, turbulent current, their three half-grown kits could not be coaxed out of the water.

One of the adults picked up the fish and dropped it in clear sight along the edge of the bank. A pileated woodpecker hammered away in the deep woods. A raccoon, washing something on a nearby sandbar, was observing the scene with interest. Still the youngsters would not come out of the water. They continued to frolic.

So the adults began eating the fish themselves. Suddenly their young ones were upon them, scrambling hurriedly up the bank, tumbling over one another. But little of the meal remained. The sleek adults slipped quietly into the river, while their young sniffed about for overlooked morsels.

Copyright 2013 George Lowell Tollefson

Cliff Edge

Sammy scrambled to the top of the stone wall at the edge of the cliff. What a view. Even a five year old could appreciate the distant vista. He glanced down at the trees in the ravine below and his stomach flipped. His lifted his chin to the horizon. That was better. He walked carefully, feeling his way, absorbing the view.

“Sammy!” His mother was suddenly beside him, reaching out. His concentration slipped and he jerked away from her involuntarily. She grabbed him as he started to fall and pulled him to safety.

“I told you to stay away from the wall!” she scolded. “It was a good thing I was there to grab you when you fell!”

“I didn’t start to fall until you grabbed me,” he pointed out sulkily.

Copyright © 2014 Loretta Miles Tollefson

The Hermit and the Hiker

The hermit sat in his cabin, checking his gear. In the Gila wilderness, he had always been able to find enough gold to keep himself going. But never more than that. At first light he would go and check his sluices.

Gold was not what kept him in the forest. He did a little trapping too. He prepared his own pelts. He did a little carving of the wildlife. There were copies of Thoreau, Emerson, and Audubon’s notes on a rough wooden shelf, and next to them was a photograph of a young woman. She had been lost to him before he came to live there.

In the afternoon he was on the river, and a hiker encountered him. The hiker could see he was alone. “Do you live here?” the hiker asked.

“No. I build cabins when I camp.” the hermit grumbled. Later he regretted his sharp tone.

Copyright 2013 George Lowell Tollefson

Robbery Attempt

He approached her as she was putting the last of the groceries into the trunk of the car. She’d been shopping for two hours with two little kids and she was exhausted. The twins were already in their car seats with their bottles. As she closed the trunk and reached into her purse for her keys, the dark haired young man in the tattered jacket stopped just beyond her empty cart. “You have any change?” he demanded.

She frowned, shaking her head.

“Get in the car,” he said. “I have a knife.”

“No you don’t,” she said irritably. She shoved the empty cart at him and slipped into the car, locking the door. She backed, careful not to look in his direction. At the end of the lane, she braked and looked back. He was nowhere in sight. Her hands were shaking. Surely she hadn’t imagined what had just happened.

Copyright © 2014 Loretta Miles Tollefson

Life Lessons

He had plowed the field in the morning. In the afternoon he came back and disked it. Now in the evening twilight he stood at the edge of the field and looked out over it with satisfaction. While it had been light, some crows had landed among the clods of earth and busied themselves picking out insects. Only two remained. It felt good to know he would sow corn in the morning. The rains had been adequate and promised a full harvest. He turned and walked toward the barn.

Inside the barn he saw that his son had put the milk cow into her stall, but he had left the gate open. “Michael!” he called.

There was no response from the house. Michael was so indifferent about his chores.

The farmer closed the stall and went into the house. Upon entering, he said, “Michael, the cow’s out of the barn.”

Copyright 2013 George Lowell Tollefson

Stomach Flu

“Mama, I’m hungry,” Cindy said.

Amanda tried to sit up, but the nausea overwhelmed her. She sank back on the couch. “There’s cereal in the cupboard,” she said.

Cindy shook her four-year-old head. “I ate it for breakfast.”

Amanda closed her eyes. “There should still be bread.”

“Daddy made sandwiches with it, for his lunch.”

“Have an apple.”

“I can’t cut it.”

“Oh, Cindy, please just find something to eat and leave me alone. Just talking about food makes me feel sick.”

Cindy crawled onto the couch and snuggled against her mother’s shoulder.

“You’ll get my germs,” Amanda said.

“Then I won’t talk about food and make you feel bad,” Cindy answered.

Amanda chuckled. She pulled Cindy closer. “Having you next to me does make me feel better,” she said drowsily.

They were both asleep when her husband came in an hour later, a bag of groceries under each arm.

Loretta Miles Tollefson © 2014

In the Forest

A mountain lion watched a young doe from a rocky outcrop near a forest glade. It was cool in the glade, which was not far from an open meadow where several other deer were. There was a newly fallen tree between the doe and the lion. The lion crept closer, looking down from above.

The doe sensed that this was not a safe place, but she was attracted by the browse which had been brought within reach. She was eating peacefully.

The lion sprang. Though it had to clear the log, the kill was quick.

A raven entered the forest and was very much interested. It watched from a lower tree limb, cawing for reinforcements. None came.

Its hunger sated, the lion pulled some brush over the carcass and withdrew to rest near the foot of the rocky outcrop. From this secluded position, it watched the raven inspect the kill.

Copyright 2013 George Lowell Tollefson