Friday Fiction - "Phoebe Waits for Zeke"

Today is Friday Fiction. For lots of great stories go to Sherri Ward's A Candid Thought .Have fun!

In my writing, I draw upon the memories of my childhood. Just this week, I had Phoebe experience the fear of sudden responsiblity. She and Zeke are helping a runaway slave escape up the Erie Canal. Zeke has gone to stable the horse at the livery stable. Phoebe and Tessa have met the boat at the agreed upon place, but Zeke isn't back yet.

Here's an peek at it:
(excuse any errors; it's just the rough draft)
(For those who visit my blog everyday,
sorry for re-posting this.)


“Phoebe, I need to leave Ol Sam and the wagon at a livery stable. I’ll drop you and Tessa off near the lock. You’ve got to keep hidden in the bushes until Bones comes along.”

“But what if you’re not back?”

“I’ll be back. Just look for the white kerchief. If you don’t see it, keep low.”

“Zeke, don’t be gone too long!”

Phoebe and Tessa hunkered down in the bushes away from any paths or open areas. Little Moses squirmed in his sling and started whimpering. Tessa put him to her breast and he quieted again.

A few barges and packets went by. Phoebe looked at the name plate on the front of each one. SALLYMAE, DORY, MARYLOU… She thought it strange that they all had girl names. The sun was getting higher. It felt good as it warmed them. Phoebe kept looking back toward the road. “Come on, Zeke. I can’t do this by myself. Please, come, Zeke.”

Another boat was coming up the canal. It was traveling slower. It had a white piece of cloth floating in the breeze. “Oh no! Come on, Zeke!” As it got closer she could see the red color around the edges. The name was the SUNNY BELLE. “Zeke! Hurry!” The boat was almost to them.

She stood up. Bones was on the deck. He hollered at a boy on the towpath. “Hoggie!” The boy pulled on the halter of the nigh mule. “Tie them mules up on the snub post!”

“What’s wrong, Sir?”

“I just want you to check something. I hear a noise in the rear hold. I need you to check to see that it’s not leaking or nothing is rolling around.”

The boy hopped over the gap between the edge and the boat. He dropped down into the hold. As soon as he had disappeared, Bones motioned for them to come. Phoebe and Tessa ran to him. Bones helped them hop over the space between the edge of the lock and the boat. Phoebe’s stomach lurched as the boat gave way under her feet.

Bones grabbed Tessa’s wrist and hurried her down into the front cabin. “Make yourself comfortable in the straw in the corner. I’ll be back soon.”

When he returned he looked at Phoebe. “Where’s Zeke?”

“He’s putting the wagon at the livery stable. He said he’d be back soon.”

“He’s not here? I’m not wet nursing some child for him!”

“I’m sure he’ll be here soon. Can’t we wait?”

“I can’t wait too long. I have to make the next lock with a half hour, or I’ll miss the water flow and then have to wait for it to drain again. I’ll give him five more minutes.”

Phoebe stood on the deck and watched the road. “Come on Zeke. I don’t know what to do.”

Bones paced back and forth. He scooted down underneath for a few minutes to be sure Tessa and the baby were secure and hidden. When he came up again, he muttered to himself. “Is he here yet?”

“No, sir, but I know he can catch up.”

Bones walked back and forth a couple times. “Hoggie! Let’s make haste. We’ve lingered too long already.”

Phoebe touched his arm. “Sir, where do you want me to be?”

“I don’t care, as long as you don’t get in the way.”

Phoebe walked along the deck of the ship, still looking toward the lock. She walked all the way to the back of the ship. There was a little room with a door and windows. She peeked inside. It looked like a kitchen with a stove and beds and a table. There was a man and woman and a little boy in there. She nodded a polite nod as a greeting, but didn’t go inside.

She looked downstream and whispered again, “Come on, Zeke. I don’t know what to do.”

She could see someone running. It had to be Zeke. His long legs covered the distance quickly. She jumped up and down and waved her arms.

“Be careful, Miss! We don’t want you falling overboard.”

“Look, it’s Zeke! He’s coming.”

Bones shoulders relaxed and Phoebe saw a hint of a smile on his lips.
“It’s a good thing. I was planning on putting you off at the next lock and making you walk home if he didn’t show. Lucky for you, he showed up.”

Phoebe’s eyes got big. Walk back? What if something had happened to Zeke? She didn’t know if she could find her way all the way home.

Zeke walked along with the hoggie and hollered across. “The livery stable was closed. I had to go across town to another one. I came as quickly as I could.”

“I’m glad you’re here, Zeke. I was scared something happened to you.”

“Bones would have taken care of you. He’s not as mean as he sounds.”

Bones muttered and grumbled, but Phoebe saw a twinkle in his eye and realized that he had only been teasing about making her walk home.


Debra Ann Elliott said...

I love reading your stories, can't wait ti read more!

Sherri Ward said...

This piece is great, and the ending made me smile! I don't think I had read it before..

Yvonne said...

Thanks, Debra and Sherri. I've enjoyed writing it.

Dee Yoder said...

Love this, Vonnie. I can just picture the whole scene.

Sheila Deeth said...

Very nice. Glad I found you through Faith Fiction Fun and Fanciful. And congratulations on the Kreativ Blogger award.


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