For Wintonbury: A Collection of Short Stories
Cassaundra K Sanderson
This is a story about Annabel Olive and Wintonbury, Massachusetts, more specifically those inhabiting Bakers Street.
For Annabel Olive, Writer
My name is Annabel Olive. On the Thursday in the last week of June, I walked out of the local Kum & Go with a vanilla Coke Zero in one hand and a set of keys to a light blue '94 Skylark Buick in the other. The Buick, smelling faintly of cigarettes covered by lavender from a previous owner, grumbled when I drove it, like an elderly man displeased with his place in the world.
I ended up in the Buick after a soot black SUV hit my Fiesta hatchback like a bowling ball hitting a golf ball. Except instead of being impelled out-of-bounds into a body of water, I spun around in circles in the hatchback, trying to remember and carry out the advice from my father about steering into the skid. Somehow I landed safely onto the shoulder. My hatchback, with its body forced firmly against its rear left tire, was not so fortunate. I grabbed my belongings and watched the tow truck pull away.
So there I sat in the Buick replacement car on that Thursday in the last week of June, going 30 and wondering if the grumbling car would make it to my destination and wondering when the insurance agent would call with an announcement like a teacher introducing a new student in class --that I wouldn't have to work with my current partner any longer.
The accident was just the latest of events which led me to drive to Wintonbury, Massachusetts. I was heading to my great-aunt's cottage in Wintonbury for a change of scenery --and hopefully luck. Everything I own was in the trunk of the Skylark Buick, consisting of a neatly packed scratched golden ochre suitcase, a large striped Victoria's Secret tote, and my gray messenger bag -which always holds my Chromebook, phone charger, notebook, and pens. I decided to move to Wintonbury so I could help take care of my great-aunt and focus on writing which, I know, sounds like a cliche movie plot, but I've realized sometimes life can be that way.
It didn't take long to drive through the small town of Wintonbury. Aside from the residents' houses, the town consists of a diner, grocery store, gas station, bookstore, newspaper office, very small inn, a Baptist church, and a law firm. As I approached Bakers Street, I slowly turned down the volume of my Elliott Smith radio, counting the houses until I reached the fourth one on the right with ivy growing up the side of its faded pink exterior. I parked on the edge of the street, stepped out of my tired and scorching Buick, and observed my new surroundings.
Wintonbury had the feeling of a town in an old book. The houses along Bakers Street resembled the color palette of a Wes Anderson film. There was a beagle strolling through the yard next door. A boy holding a stick from a tree branch walked down the sidewalk across the street. I started to feel as though someone would be narrating the lives of the people of Wintonbury, Massachusetts. I picked up my bags from out of the trunk and walked up to the front door of my great-aunt's cottage. She answered the door seconds after I rang the bell, as if she had been in her wheelchair watching out the window, eager for my arrival. She had hot tea on the stove and a plate of snickerdoodle cookies that she noted were my "absolute favorite" when I was young.
I set up the basement as my study for writing. It was a quirky and pleasant space with a collection of items that seemed additive over time and unplanned. The concrete flooring of the basement was painted a violet-gray. There was a hand-built coffee table, bookshelf, oddly put-together lamps, and a crimson red and golden wallpaper. I liked that it didn't have to pretend to be perfect. I also like that it didn't contain the collection of pigs which inhabited the rest of my great-aunt's house. She once told me that she wanted to see pigs fly. If they could, it would happen in Wintonbury.
Henry, a boy with shaggy brown hair, was walking down the sidewalk when he saw the light blue, unfamiliar beat-up car pull into the driveway across the street. He didn't think much about the car or the woman who drove it. He dropped the stick that he was walking with, which he had dragged along fence posts and feeling much like Tom Sawyer, turned the doorknob to his grandfather Walter's house and walked into his bedroom. Living with his grandfather was fairly new for Henry. His mother had passed away four months ago, leaving him orphaned at the age of seven.
Although it had been four months, Henry still left his suitcase by his neatly made bed. Every morning, he would open the suitcase and take out his red toothbrush and a change of clothes. At night, he would return the toothbrush to the suitcase, and when laundry was washed, he would re-pack the clothing. The handle of the suitcase was held together on one side by wire when he and his mom found
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