Short Story / Writers / Writing

Migrations: A Thanksgiving Story by Trisha Ricketts

        Six a.m. and still dark. Emily could hear the soft rustle of wings. Standing on her back porch, a brown sweater hastily thrown on top of her pink-flowered nightie, she looked out into the black. She couldn’t see them yet, but she knew. Could feel it somewhere near her heart. They were leaving. Then she heard them take flight. Squinting, she could just make them out against the early glow, climbing higher and higher, then fanning into a familiar V.
        Migration time. Emily shivered in the morning chill and pulled the thick sweater around her.
        Suddenly she saw something out of the corner of her eye.
        “C’mere, girl.”
        Abby, her nineteen-year-old calico, stretched, yawned, then ambled up to one of her legs, wrapping her tail around it. Emily reached down to pet the silky back, but disinterested, Abby headed down the wooden stairs into the yard. Things were coming into grayscale. An old tire hung from the thick-trunked maple. A rake lay across a pile of leaves. A wheelbarrow, half-filled with apples from the orchard, leaned up against a bale of hay.
         Looking into the yard was like looking at an old black and white home movie. She could see the children squealing, fighting over silly things, racing around like squirrels. She could hear them too—their voices squawking over the sound of the wind and distant barking dogs.
        With head bowed, she wished them each well: Samuel for his need of accumulation, Gloria for her pursuit of all wingéd things, Jonathan for his love of music. She grieved for them even though they chimed inside her. Like morning vespers.
        A goose honked overhead startling Emily. “They’re gone,” she whispered. And all images drifted up past the morning’s pink-and-gray. Abby looked at Emily, blinked twice, then jumped inside the wheelbarrow, silent as the creeping daylight.
         The goose honked again. “Farmers’ Almanac says it’s gonna be a bad winter,” Emily shouted raising a fist. “You hear?” She laughed at herself.
         Abby mewed softly.
         “Wasn’t talking to you, Abby.”
         Emily looked back into the yard. Light began to scuttle through the gray. Maroon leaves on the maple turned from black to maroon. Blades of green sharpened. Oaks at the end of the property became a golden brown. Then the smell of coffee filtered out to the back porch through the screen door. “Time to go in,” Emily told herself. And she went inside. She poured herself a cup, went heavy on the cream. She drank it down greedily, poured herself another, then sat down. Isn’t someone supposed to be coming?
         Just as quickly as the thought had entered, it left. Emily stared out the screen door watching Abby lick a high-raised back leg, and sipped on her second cup.
         A creak on the stairs brought her mind back into the kitchen. “Happy Thanksgiving, Emily.” It was a man’s voice, rich and deep. “Coffee smells good…”
         She turned, watched him pour himself a cup, then sit right down next to her. “Sleep well, Em?” He waited, smiled at her even though her face was a stiff mask. Cautiously, he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Kids’ll be here soon.”
        Emily blinked twice, put her mug down, then headed out the screen door.
        Slant light was strong now, washing the backyard in a golden rinse. Emily scooped Abby out of the wheelbarrow and placed her on the wet grass. “Got work to do, girl.”
        One by one, she picked out the bruised winesaps, pitched them over toward the massive oaks. One splattered against a trunk making a squashy mash. Emily laughed and went back to sorting through the apples.
        Abby watched her, then started rolling on her back. Emily looked down at the cat. “Who was that?” she frowned.
        Abby didn’t reply, only gave her a single blink.
        Emily shrugged, collected eight good ones in the hemline of her nightie. “Gotta get started on my pie, girl.” She walked back up the backstairs as overhead the migrating geese flew south. Missives of motion and truth.

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Trisha Ricketts received a lifelong love of music, the written word, the visual arts, and healthy arguing from a rollicking Irish Catholic family. She has three children and six grands. Trisha has been penning essays, short stories, poems, and novels for most of her life. After receiving a scholarship to the University of Edinburgh [2010] in Creative Writing, however, her passion for writing escalated. Since then, she has had short stories published in New Directions, The Slate, Meta, and The Blue Hour magazines, and is currently working on a novel, The Speed of Dark. She received a third place in The Pulse literary magazine contest and one of her works was accepted for last year’s NPR “This I Believe” podcast series.

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4 thoughts on “Migrations: A Thanksgiving Story by Trisha Ricketts

  1. Lovely piece, Trisha. Full of the sadness and loss that is autumn juxtaposed against Thanksgiving and family which is also fraught with so many “letting go’s” especially as we grow older.

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