She Laughed Loud

She Laughed Loud

A Story by Susan Wingate

A flash piece inspired by my current stay and status at a writers residency at the Orcas Artsmith Colony. Hope you enjoy...



by Susan Wingate

She laughed loud. An echo bounced off a northerly garden wall, off the massive veiny boulder creating its backdrop.

Sugar moss, sedums and shamrock clung onto and dug into the rock etching out a spot to live, taking up a spot to spend the rest of their days as homesteaders, as squatters.

A flowering leftover plum tree from an orchard past, decorated the entire beachside view, seawater and gulls floating between its arms in minipanoramas, with one plum elbow leaning on a shard of granite as if thinking. Fragile oriental blooms, quill strokes painting cherry pink onto a thousand miniature canvas petals, scented the air in a hint of bergamot or was it honeysuckle. Something sweet. Something strong enough to make you breathe in deep but soft enough to make you wonder. An unidentifiable fragrance yet one you smell all the time in gardens like this one.

With her mouth wide open from laughing, you could see the gold metal crown on a back molar. You couldn’t help but stare.

Her dull brown hair looked dry from overstyling, living too long, coloring, stripping, streaking, attacks of stress and a host of other reasons, for sure. Her shine had zeroed out somewhere between then and now and like everyone else her age, senescence had crept in under a glossy film covering her eyes.

The color of her hair tattled on her, the color meant for a younger woman. Maybe twenty years younger.

Bent next to three heaping, gritty piles of fallen leaves and parched twigs, you couldn’t help compare. Them to her. Her to them.

I been usin’ the head of this here rake!” She held it high like a prize. “Hey. Works good. Can’t complain.”

Pushing off, using the rake head for a cane, her upward motion caught on something that looked like pain, a hip, a knee, her back but something hurt. She pushed through it. Standing slow.



Waiting still for the throbbing to subside.

Oh that’s a killer. Got a bad hip, ya know. Bad since ’98. Took a fall. Off a slimed-up stair. Landed square on my a*s, right on the corner o’ the step. Stung like a hornet.” But she beamed out a smile and you could see something in her drawing out another chuckle, this time not so loud. “Cried like a baby.” Then, one big barking laugh. You had to laugh with her.

She walked past the piles of decay, signaling back at them. “Lupé’ll get ‘em. A good little Mexican man I found me some years back.” She paused. “No. I mean it. When I say little, I mean it. He’s small.” She held the rake head up almost to shoulder level. “Did some work for us a few years ago then disappeared.” Pausing a beat. “Then reappeared and we been together now going on thirteen years solid.” She stopped, put the rake head up to stop you then she looked into your eyes like she was about to tell you something important. “Lupé’ll get that mess. Don’t you worry ‘bout it.”

Then, she laughed out loud. That bright tooth shining at you like that.

And, waving you forward, with that rake of hers, to follow.

© 2010 Susan Wingate

My Review

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You had me at "northerly." Your prose is like a well-directed art film, Susan, one that draws the reader in to the scene to stand amid the crackling leaves. Nicely done!

Posted 12 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Susan Very good and imaginative. I like it. You are great and I love to read your stories.

Posted 14 Years Ago

minipanoramas (mini-panoramas)
garden wall, off the massive veiny (semi-colon instead of comma)
was it honeysuckle. Something (question mark after honeysuckle instead of period)
Minor typos; I also suggest that the para beginning "Oh,that's a killer. . ." be broken up into two paragraphs for clarity. Same with para 14 "She walked. . ." to make it easier to read.
A very sensitive and interesting of character study against the environment. I like this story.

Posted 14 Years Ago

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3 Reviews
Added on March 3, 2010
Last Updated on March 3, 2010
Tags: Susan Wingate, fiction, short story, flash fiction, writing


Susan Wingate
Susan Wingate

Seattle Area, WA

Published - 2 Novels: Bobby's Diner, A Falling of Law 2 Short Story Collections Several Plays Lots o' poetry more..