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Fiction Fundamentals - Short Story #1

Last week I started the first of my fiction concentration classes, Fiction Fundamentals. We had to write a short story between 1,000 and 1,200 words long. I finished writing this one and was at about 1,400 words (and I wasn't even fully happy with the story). Here is what I submitted, but I'm keeping the longer story for my portfolio.
Maria’s Family
Maria quietly moved around the bedroom trying not to wake her sleeping child.  Santina was finally sound asleep on her parent’s bed after an hour of restlessness. She ran a hand down her daughter’s mass of black hair, saying a silent prayer that her child would feel better in the morning. Santina was looking forward to the small Halloween party her class would be having in the afternoon.  Which reminded Maria, part of her sewing for the evening was to finish the little hat for Santana’s clown outfit. Gathering her supplies, Maria slipped out of the room and quietly closed the door.
Walking down the hallway, she passed by the room her two sisters-in-law shared. Pausing in the doorway, Maria let them know she was doing some sewing if they had anything that needed to be mended. They didn’t, but they said they would come down to sit with her in a little while. Continuing down the hallway towards the stairs, Maria stepped into the small room used by her brother-in-law, Roman.  There were two work shirts sitting on his bed.  Picking them up she realized he’d have to buy some new shirts soon, these wouldn’t be lasting him much longer.
Maria walked down the steps to the living room.  She placed her supplies on the small table by her chair before turning and heading into the kitchen. The house was too quiet after the noise of a Sunday dinner with her zio’s family. In need of some sounds, she turned the radio on and turned the volume down low. There was music on and she swayed a bit as she finished putting the last of the dried dishes away. She could hear the announcer interrupting but didn’t pay much attention.
On a typical night, Maria and her husband, Carlo, sat listening to the radio, waiting for his siblings to come home. Carlo never went to bed until his siblings were all safely in the house.  Since the death of his parents a year ago, his siblings’ wellbeing was just as important as that of his wife and child. Tonight she let her thoughts wander to the joy of her family as she moved from the dishes to folding the laundry. One of the girls must have taken them down from the line before heading upstairs. Maria loved being part of the family. Finding Carlo and his family made the last years the happiest of her life.  At that thought, the baby moved and Maria put a hand on her stomach. She was hoping for a boy; Carlo wanted a son badly. Folding the rest of the laundry, Maria hummed an Italian lullaby to the active baby within her. She thought about taking the folded laundry upstairs but knew Carlo would be upset. He didn’t want her to go up and down the stairs too many times a day, he feared she would fall and hurt herself and the baby.  He’d carry the basket up for her when they turned in for the night.
Maria walked into the front room just as Torina and Cecilia came downstairs.  The sound of the radio was quickly drowned out by the sounds of the girls laughing. Maria smiled as she picked up the first of Roman’s shirts.
“Is that my brother’s shirt?” Torina sat in the other chair while Cecilia sat on the sofa.
“Sì. He has to buy new shirts soon.” She held up the shirt for Torina to see.
“I just put a new button on that shirt last week!” Torina reached over to grab it from Maria. “What does he do to these shirts?”
“I don’t think it’s him.” Cecilia said as she picked up the other of Roman’s shirts.
Both girls started to laugh and talk about their brother.  Maria could have joined in, but she was content to listen to them talk through the evening.  Each girl having taken one of Roman’s shirts started to fix the loose buttons and tear in the hem.  Maria focused on the costume for Santina. Slowly the girls’ conversation and the murmur of the radio became just background sounds to her.
“Ti, Sis, zitto!”  The girls stopped talking to see what had disturbed Maria.
She had heard something on the radio.  She couldn’t say what had caught her attention but a word or phrase had broken her focus. On the radio, a reporter was talking about something falling out of the sky near Trenton. The women all stopped their work to listen to the radio. Torina moved to sit beside her sister and listened as the events unfolded.  They were frozen in their seats listening to the horrible account of what was happening, only miles from their home.
“Mio Dio.” Maria whispered and crossed herself when the reporter mentioned a creature rising from the pit. What was happening? Was this real? Maria felt frozen in her spot; she couldn’t move from the chair. Without her knowledge, her hands had covered her stomach as if by instinct to protect her unborn child. Her child.
“Santina!” Maria stood up.
“I’ll get her.” Tornia was up the stairs before Maria could even take her first step.
“Sit Maria, Ti will get Sandy and when Carlo and Roman get home they’ll know what to do.” Cecilia helped Maria into her chair.
Torina hurried back down the stairs with a freshly woken Santina. The child was confused and on the verge of tears. She cuddled into her mother’s arms as Maria hugged her tightly. Torina was about to sit down when she saw her brother walking to the house. Opening the door, she yelled out, “Carlo, vieni rapido.”
Carlo had just placed his foot on the first step of the front porch when he heard his sister yell for him.  His first thought was Maria and the baby.  He ran up the steps and before he was even in the door, Ti was going on about something troubling on the radio. Carlo pushed past her into the living room. His women were in a panic. His daughter was crying, her mother and his sisters were all talking to him at once in a mix of Italian and English. He stood in front of them and held up his hands to stop
everyone from talking. Except for Santina’s crying and the radio, the room was silent. Carlo picked his daughter up and started to pace while he listened.  He had to only listen briefly until he realized what the women were listening too.
“It’s not real. I was at zio’s when the program started.”  Carlo started to laugh, it was a mixture of relief and humor.
“Are you laughing at us?” Torina looked up at her brother.
“We were scared and you’re laughing at us!” Cecilia said at the same time as her sister.
Before Carlo could defend himself his sisters were playfully berating him.  He handed Santina back to Maria when Cecilia started to hit him with a shirt. Roman chose this moment to walk in the door,“Did I miss something?”  He took in the scene, “Hey is that my shirt?”

Maria started to laugh; this was family.


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