My short story, “The Willow,” has been published in the Second Wind anthology Change is in the Wind. Reviewer Sheila Deeth says: “Pat Bertram’s ‘The Willow’ haunts with its beautiful portrayal of love and loss.”
I hope you will read this story. It did what I wanted, capturing the essence of timeless love and the new life that comes from loss. You don’t even have to buy the book. I’ll let you download the anthology this week for free! To download the ebook, go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/146269, pick the format of your choice, and then use coupon code HG57Y when you purchase the book. Your cost should be $0.00 (Offer expires April 17, 2012)
Excerpt from “The Willow”:
One summer day, shortly after their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Gracie was curled on the couch, proofing the catalog for an exhibit of the new modernists, when Scott trudged into the room. Gladness at the sight of him sparked a smile as always, but something in his manner . . . a hesitation . . . made her smile fade.
“Do we have any plant food?” he asked, his words slurred.
“There should be some in the garage.” She peered at him. “Are you okay?”
“I think I’m dying.”
Gracie bolted upright, heart pounding so hard it shook her body. “What?”
“A little plant food should help.” Scott started to walk away.
“Wait! Just wait a minute, Scott.”
He glanced over his shoulder, a questioning furrow between his brows.
“You can’t just drop a bomb like that and then leave as if nothing happened,” she said.
She stared at him for a second, unable to speak, but finally managed to croak out the words. “You said, ‘I think I’m dying.’”
“I didn’t say you were dying.”
“Not me. You. You said you were dying.”
“I said the tree was dying. You never listen, do you?”
The chill in his voice froze her. All she could do was sit immobile on the suddenly uncomfortable couch and watch him. He stumbled as he left the room, and his shoulder hit the doorjamb.
Fear, like fury, flashed through her body. Something was wrong with Scott. Terribly wrong. In all their years together, he’d never spoken to her in such a tone. She hadn’t even known he had such a tone. And that stumble? He was the most graceful man she’d ever met, walking on the high beams of his buildings as if they were earth-bound sidewalks.
She chased after Scott and found him staring up at the canopy of the globe willow. Golden leaves sprinkled down on him as if it were fall instead of just beyond spring.
“Do we have any plant food?” he asked, warmth and worry in his voice.
Gracie put a hand to her mouth to hold back a dry sob. Didn’t he remember that he’d already asked her about the plant food? “Maybe it’s time for you to get a check-up,” she said.
“Me? I feel good.” He grinned at her and held out his arms. “How about a little stress release, love? That’s all I need to make me feel great.”
Blurb from Change is in the Wind:
The assignment was simple: submit a short story dealing with change. The results were astonishing, engaging, and incredibly varied. The stories compiled in this volume range from taut action drama, to stealthy intrigue, to enthralling spirituality, to tangled relationships, to timeless love renewed—or lost, to angelic second chances. No two of the tales are remotely similar, and yet they are linked in remarkable ways. Each story is tied it to all the others in the anthology with two exquisite threads. The first constant theme is redemption; in each case there is a transformation, often painful, that brings new beginnings, new possibilities and revitalized life. The second theme is love—timeless and true—expressed in a multitude of ways, but unfailing in bringing hope and newness. Change in the Wind is an extraordinary collection of marvelous stories from gifted, eclectic writers who draw us into their worlds and leave us wanting more.
Second Wind Publishing is starting a new short story contest. Perhaps you will be included in the next anthology! For information about this new contest, click here: Holiday short story contest