Teeter Totter Floor Boards

Camila sat down by the old wood stove to finish her coffee and read a bit before her husband and daughter came down for breakfast before running off to work. The air was rich with her cinnamon french toast, a whole stack of them today because Mondays were always busy for both her police officers.

Herb was captain while Melissa had just finished her third month as a beat officer. Camila loved having breakfast ready for them, making sure that neither started their day hungry. She settled back, holding her book on her lap to listen for Melissa’s floor-board signal that she was awake and getting dressed to come down for breakfast.

Early one morning, when she was in grammar school, Melissa had screamed out a question to her mom downstairs and woke her dad who had just gone to sleep after a long night on the job. It was Camila who realized that her daughter’s room was right above the living room and whenever Melissa stepped on a certain two floor boards, a teeter-totter creak–pop sound could be heard below if Camila sat right by the wood stove. Melissa was delighted when Camila told her she could use those loose boards to send a ‘good morning’ message to her mom. Her verbal, “Good mornings” were soon replaced with, “Did you hear my message Mom?”

girls bedroom C

When Herb heard about this months later, he said that he’d fix it the next weekend. Camila was firm, “You’ll do no such thing. I love getting those messages from our daughter.” Melissa beamed to hear her mom protecting her floor boards from being repaired and soon developed a sequence of teeter-tottering back and forth to signal, ‘good — mor — ning — [pause] — I — love — you — Mom’. The years passed but Melissa, never outgrew her morning ritual because she knew her mom was right below waiting for it. Through Melissa’s school and police academy years, Camila each morning cherished her daughter’s odd ‘good morning’ creak – pop signal.

Camila gathered her quilt about her lap because the air was surprisingly cold today. “Brrr, going to have to talk to Herb about re-caulking the windows again.”

“Who are you talking to, beautiful wife of mine heart?”

She smiled and in a practiced motion lifted her chin to meet his kiss as he stepped off the bottom stair. “Ummm, Good morning officer. I did not mean to say that out loud. I was just feeling the wind chill and thinking about caulking again.”

“Yea, maybe this weekend I can get it started. Can I add some wood for you while I’m here?”

“No, I’ll do it later. Go get some breakfast while it’s still hot. I zapped up some frozen sausages for you behind the french toast in the oven. Don’t you leave it all for us again.”

He smiled weakly, as if distracted by something. She asked him, “Expecting another busy day?”

He returned to the moment, sighed, turned to the kitchen and answered, “Oh yes. Things have far from settled down. The whole bunch of us will be late getting home again tonight.”

She put her book down and watched as he made up his plate, ate standing up and put his plate in the dishwasher.

“Herb. I’ll take care of that for you. You have more important . . .”

“It’s no bother sweetheart. I don’t want to leave you with a mess.”

He came back over and knelt down to get to her eye level, “How are you feeling today? Are you going to be okay?”

“I’m fine. Other than worrying about you two, I have a few chores to do and a good book to finish so I really am fine.”

He smiled back with pinched lips and chose not to press her but instead kissed her on the forehead and answered, “Don’t you ever forget that you are my best and only girl forever.”

Camila smiled back, enjoying again her good fortune in having such a man love her. “And you,” she said with dimpled cheeks, “will always be my best and only man forever – now give me a real kiss mister or I’ll wrestle it out of you and ruin that nice uniform.”

He reached down to her waist, pulled her towards him, gave her a deep and loving kiss.

“Okay then. I love you madly but really need to get down town. It’s going to be another day around the civic center.” He stood up and straightened his belt. She noticed some sadness in his eyes as he said, “But you’ll call me for any little reason that comes up. Hearing your voice still make my day.”

She smiled, appreciating his love but tiring of his fussing over her. “Go on now my precious husband. Go keep the peace.”

He put on his coat and mouthed a kiss to her as he walked to the front door.

Camila smiled back but suddenly looked up as she heard the creak-pop from upstairs and knew her beautiful daughter would soon be down.

Herb paused at the door, and noticed her glancing up and breaking into an expectant smile. His chest tightened with a sadness that tore open afresh the unhealed hole in his heart. Helplessly, he turned to leave.

Three weeks ago, the civil unrest from downtown broke into three groups of rioters who coordinated a flanking attack on the police. By the time order was restored, twelve officers were down and four of them never got up.

Melissa was among the four. Camila’s heart and spirit were shattered when Herb, in tears, called her from the hospital. When he came home without their daughter, Camila cried in his arms for nearly three days straight and could not be comforted.

Now, shaking his head, he thought, How long can this last? She’s still hearing those silent floor boards.

GW bio card 4

27 thoughts on “Teeter Totter Floor Boards

    1. Thanks so much Ann Marie. You are one of the readers who keep me working at this. I really want to entertain, or in this case, surprise you, but feel it regardless. Thanks again for your encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good morning Ann Marie.
        Do you know that each day I allow to pass without progressing a story, I’ve begun to fret over your reminder to keep at it? Anyway, I’ve been carving out time to progress one and yesterday, I got it across the finish line. I smiled to think that it should satisfy that image in my mind of my friend from Colorado encouraging me to just keep writing. I think you may really like this new one. When you can carve out 15 minutes, I hope you’ll enjoy ~3000 words with Ayem and Havilah via my new story:


    1. Hi Moumita. I’m just circling back to say thanks for this encouraging note. This story was such fun to produce and folks have been so kind that I was anxious to get on with producing another — but then Ayem and Havilah arrived and really derailed my plan to produce more flash fiction length items. Those two have proved to be much more of a handful than I expected and some are suggesting that these two characters and their story needs a book.

      I need some of your energy. . .


      1. Go ahead, Gary.

        You know I have read once that flash fiction has the capability to give birth to great novels.So if you have plans to do it, then you’re on the right path 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Awww, did ya’ have ta make such a sad ending???? Great story, but so sad. Love your writing “voice”. BTW, there’s one of those floorboards on hubby’s side of the bedroom. He still hasn’t figured out how I know he’s up and about from downstairs. LOL!


  2. So haunting. Beautifully written!

    As an aside, Camilia still hearing the floor boards made me think that I often get up at night and I am sure I hear the click-clack of my old boxer Maverick downstairs and he has been gone over a year now. There is a comfort in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shari.
      You know how some stories just fall out almost ready to roll? This one was like that for me. I felt in a slump one morning and getting up, I triggered a squeaky floor board and the nearly full story took form. I loved sneaking up on my reader, dropping a few hints but hoped to surprise them at the end.
      I think I recall you writing about Maverick. That was a rough year all around and if this story gave any 2nd hand comfort, well how much more could an author even hope for?
      Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Gary, Thank you so much for sending me this link to your story. It is an amazing story, and I like the surprise ending, though terribly sad. I think people could empathize and identify with the characters. I am looking for unpublished stories – even on someone’s blog. If you have a sequel to this one or one of the others you have written, I’d be happy to consider it. You have talent. Take a look at my page and read one of my story chat posts after the story comes out. Also you might enjoy reading Doug’s story this month and making a comment on it. The story chat has become a community of writers and I’m privileged to sit in the midst of them as they discuss each other’s stories. You may already be part of the Carrot Ranch Literary community. If not that is a community of short story writers that you might enjoy. I’ll look forward to hearing from you again soon. You can leave a message in my contact box with your email address and we can chat some more. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marsha, thanks for your response. I’ll do some looking around as you suggested. I’m also glad I asked about sharing a story. I’ve heard that some bloggers who host things like this prefer brand new stories. I’ve not worked like that, which only means I’ve not done this before. Question — I do like to share my stories out as quickly as possible, and if you do 1 per month, how long does that practically work out before you’re comfortable with an author proceeding? I guess the options would be something like simultaneous, 7-14 days after submission, when you share it (which might be a while if you maintain a deep queue or some else I’ve not thought of.

      You gave me some very kid feedback, so thank you both for reading it and for those encouraging words, I really enjoy creating and sharing my writing, but hearing back from happy readers – well, that has to be the best fun of all.

      I’m very pleased to have met you and hope to share some fun back and forth soon.
      Warm regards,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such beautiful imagery Gary. I felt like I was there. I was waiting for the twist. You set it up well. It’s so sad when the things we’ve grown used to expecting from our loved ones disappear along with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank Jer.
      If you “saw” this story unfold, then I accomplished what I set out to do.
      I can’t, and hope I never have the need to, grasp the pain that a parent would feel in loosing a child at any age. It was a brutal twist for my taste but oddly enough has become one of my own favorites.
      I’m so glad you liked it.


  5. Gary your story telling is amazing. You are such a talented writer. I know I have said that before but just had to say it again. The ending caught me by surprise, I definitely wasn’t expecting that. Anymore stories you can recommend to me would be greatly appreciated πŸ™‚ I just love your writing style 😁😁

    Liked by 1 person

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