The Surprise

I have been absent while trying to get my new editing business off the ground. I hope to become more regular in my posting from now on. Here is a story I wrote about five years ago. I hope you like it.

The Surprise

By S.C. Mathisen

The cold wind whistled through the loose boards on the shack. Two figures inside shivered and wrapped their blankets around them more tightly to try to fend off the frigid air.

“Is there any more wood to put on the fire?” asked Anna.

“No, I’ll have to go out and round up some more.” Jacob took off his blanket, rolled it up, laid it carefully down away from the fire, and stood up.

“Where will you find wood this late at night?”

Smiling, he turned to his sister and winked, “I have a source you know nothing about. I’ll be back in a little bit.” He grabbed a sweater from a peg on the wall,

“You’re not stealing it are you? You know what Pop would say.”

Jacob layered the thick sweater over the other’s he already wore. “Don’t you worry about that. I’ll worry about what Pop might say when he gets back. In the meantime, he’s not here and we need wood.”

“I can’t understand why he’s been gone so long. Sometimes he goes away for a day or maybe two,” Anna said,“but this time he’s been gone for three days! We are nearly out of food and already out of wood for the fire. “ She buried her face in her knees. “I’m beginning to wonder if something happened to him and he can’t get back to us.”

“Maybe so, but we can’t wait for him to come back. We need to take care of ourselves and that is what I am going to do right now. I’m going out for some wood.”

Anna looked up and turned her eyes straight at her brother, “Jacob, be very careful out there. The storm is really bad. I don’t want to lose you too.”

Jacob laughed his bravest laugh and imitated Pop’s voice. “Now don’t you worry your pretty little head, Anna, me girl. I’ll be back in two shakes of a tail.”

Then pulling his hat on hard enough to cover his ears, he went out the door into the stormy night and closed the door hard behind him.

Anna stared at the door for awhile, then at the red coals that were the remnants of their fire. She wept and prayed.

Outside, the wind was blowing so hard Jacob had to lean into it in order to make any headway as he walked. He made his way across the street, turned left and then down two blocks until he came to a hole in the side of an old brick building so tall he couldn’t see the top.

Once inside, he had to crawl over lots of rubble to get to the pile of wood he was looking for.

Just as he was starting to fill up his arms with the wood, there came a voice. “And what do you think you’re doin’ with that wood? It don’t belong to you, it belongs to me.”

Jacob turned toward where he thought the voice was coming from. He couldn’t see anyone.

“No, it doesn’t!” He shouted back. “It doesn’t belong to anyone; it’s just scrap wood and I’m taking what I need to keep warm.”

Jacob  grabbed more wood and then started running with all the speed he could muster back toward the way he had come in. He could hear the footsteps of someone chasing him, so he hurried even more.

He was almost to the hole in the wall that went outside when he tripped, fell and dropped all the wood he was carrying. He jumped back up and was picking up the wood when he felt something hit his head. He started to see lots of bright lights and then everything went dark.

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