The Provider

“You never saw me for who I was!” She faced her father, blue eyes sharp with anger.

“I had nine other children to feed and clothe,” he said. “There were a few other things on my mind.”

“You fed and clothed us because that was your image of yourself as the provider, not because you really cared!”

He stared at her. “I never thought about it,” he said, finally. “I just did what I needed to do.”

“I was just supposed to be an extension of you!”

“Did you get that from a book?”

“And you denigrated every thought I expressed!”

He turned away. “This is your problem,” he said, “not mine. Are you coming to church with me tonight or not?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“I guess you’ve got to be who you are,” he said sarcastically.

She opened her mouth, then shut it again and turned away.

Copyright © 2014 Loretta Miles Tollefson

At Eagle Nest Lake

The white pickup was parked in the morning light. Melanie stood with binoculars looking out over the lake. She was watching the white pelicans. They were flying over the water below her.

“Tom and I are going on down,” Frank said. He was holding a rod and fishing net. “He’s got the bait.”

“Okay,” Melanie said. There was an excitement rising in her over the birds.

The two men took the path leading down the hill.

Tom’s wife Margaret came up to Melanie. “I don’t think they’re going to catch anything,” she said.

“Why?” Melanie asked, lowering the binoculars and turning to look at her.

“Because it’s a waste of time to be here. I’m cold.”

“You can borrow my sweater.”

“No thanks. I’m alright,” Margaret said holding her shoulders and turning away. She could not understand Melanie’s enthusiasm for nature or her husband’s interest in the outdoors.

Copyright 2013 George Lowell Tollefson


“Who you callin’ squirt?” The tall young man with the long sun bleached hair moved toward him down the bar, broad shoulders tense under his heavy flannel shirt.

“I didn’t mean anything,” the man said apologetically. The premature wrinkles in his face were creased with dirt. Clearly a local pit miner. He gestured toward the tables. “I heard them callin’ you that. Thought it was your name.”

“Only my oldest friends call me that,” the young man said.

“Sorry ’bout that,” the other man said. He stuck out his hand. “Name’s Pete. They call me Golddust Pete, ’cuz that’s all I’ve come up with so far.”

They shook. “I’m Alfred,” the younger man said. “My grandfather called me Squirt. It kinda got passed down as a joke when I started getting my growth on.”

Golddust Pete chuckled. “I can see why it was funny,” he agreed. “Have a drink?”

Copyright © 2014 Loretta Miles Tollefson

The Tree and the Robin

In the spring winds, the tree had fallen near the edge of the forest. It lay there through the summer, its leaves withered and brown. By autumn they had become litter, gathered against its trunk beneath the bare branches. Then the snow had come.

The morning after the snow a robin hopped onto the white trunk, cocked its head, then dropped beneath the branches. It emerged with something in its bill. There had not been such a vibrant visitor in months, which is why the tree had remained mute throughout the long summer and fall. Also, it could not whisper in the wind, as it might have done in former times.

Returning to its place on the trunk, the robin consumed its morsel. The sun emerged from behind a cloud, the bird’s eyes catching a warming fire. It was as though the tree itself had eyes. That was quite enough.

Copyright 2013 George Lowell Tollefson

Go to Sleep

“Christopher, turn off the light and go to sleep,” his mother said from the doorway.

Ten year old Christopher turned the next page of his book. “I need to finish this chapter.”

“You can finish it tomorrow night.” Christopher’s reading was limited to bedtime. His mother thought he had better things to do, like helping with his younger siblings and practicing soccer.

He frowned at the book. “I need to find out what happens.”

His mother came into the room. She pulled the book from his hands, put it on the bedside table, and switched off the lamp.

“Sleep,” she said. “You need to be up early tomorrow to get the twins’ science fair project to school.” She went out, shutting the door.

Christopher sighed and fumbled for the book. He placed his bookmark on it, then lay back on the pillow with open eyes. He wouldn’t sleep much tonight.

Copyright © 2014 Loretta Miles Tollefson

Who’s In Control?

She was very thin, and she had a nervous intensity about her that could be felt when she walked into a room. “Where’s my book?” she asked.

Her husband was a large man, given to slow, placid gestures. “Over there,” he said without looking up from his newspaper.

She glanced at the coffee table. “Well, you could have said, ‘It’s on the coffee table.’ That might’ve helped.”

“And leave you nothing to fuss about?” He smiled into the newspaper.

She picked up the book and tossed it back onto the table. “I wasn’t really looking for it anyway,” she said. She sat down with a frown, picking up her knitting needles. Then she grinned. “I’ll bet you forgot you put the dog out an hour ago.”

“Oh god!” he said leaping up. “I hope he hasn’t wandered too far.” He hurried out the door and was gone for twenty minutes.

Copyright 2013 George Lowell Tollefson


Dusk was falling on the back country road. The old car rattled on the washboard surface. Susan was driving, giving Carl a break. It had been a long and discouraging day. A shadow moved across the road ahead of her and she slowed. Carl opened his eyes.

“I thought I saw a deer,” she told him. “Up there on the left.”

He leaned forward, scanning the bank. “Stop a minute,” he said. “Look right there, next to the big ponderosa.”

She braked and looked, blinked and looked again. “That’s not a deer,” she whispered.

He shook his head. “It’s a cat. A big one.”

“A cougar,” she said. “Awesome.” And then there was nothing to see but shadows, rocks, and trees.

They grinned at each other. What a great day.

Loretta Miles Tollefson © 2014