Sunday Photo Fiction : How long will you be gone?




‘How long will you be gone?’ She tries to keep the anxiety from her voice but fails.

‘Until the thaw,’ he says, voice gruff.

All she sees is Patrick’s back, broad, blank as the hills that surround their cabin. He fills the tiny bedroom, heavy furs the same dun brown as the wooden walls. He doesn’t fit with the indoors, with the shutters, the rag rug she made from old dresses, the lamp with its blackened glass chimney. His world is the deep woods, the river contracted in its icy husk, the smell of hot blood and cold air.

She remembers her mother’s words, speaking through her pinched nose, her pursed lips. What will you do when he’s trapping, Sara? Knit? Darn socks all winter?

How sweetly simplistic her mother’s view of their lives was, as if the greatest hardship Sara would face through the long lonely season was to prick her finger.

Patrick turns, face clean shaven for the last time in months. ‘The Tappers are only a mile away up the valley.’

She nods. Only a mile. But what will sniff just outside the door? What will scratch the bedpost as she lies awake?


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. See the picture and write a tale. See here to join in and to read the other stories.




38 thoughts on “Sunday Photo Fiction : How long will you be gone?

  1. What a heartbreaking life she’s gotten herself into. I love your description of the cottage, and the contrast between it and him. I imagine that, like the trappers themselves, the best people to be trappers’ wives are those who enjoy solitude. Although given the real dangers of living alone in such conditions, her mom might have made more reasonable suggestions — like taking on a roommate!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha! Yes, that would have been good advice. I think my heroine is a girl from a comfortable city life, somehow wedded to a handsome trapper, lacking the skills and self-sufficiency that would happily take her through the winter. I think she’ll survive, but she might struggle. Be good to write her story. Just wondering who and what she’d have to face to make it through to spring … Thanks Joy 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If she’s from the city, I sure hope her trapper husband has trained her in survival skills before leaving her alone all winter! Sounds like the start of a harrowing “woman against nature” story.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like that. I was also reading yours and Joy’s comments. I think a story of Sara versus nature would be a good line to pursue.

    If they are only a mile away, maybe he can come back at some time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much! The scale of these chilly wildernesses is almost unimaginable for someone living on a smallish island like the UK, so I’m relieved that aspect came across okay. Thanks very much for the positive feedback 🙂


    1. Thanks Lorraine. If I wrote it again ( or did a longer version) I’d make it a bit further for her to go – even I could walk a mile in the snow and foul weather. I liked the idea though – woman against the elements. Thanks 🙂


    1. Thank you Louise! This scenario does appeal – a woman alone against the elements, wondering what she’d have to face, what she’d have to conquer. Thanks for reading. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. She sounds as if she needs more company. It’s too much time spent with him gone. But maybe she didn’t think about this newly in love with him. Perhaps it took a while for her to see how Life would actually be — so lonely.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re right. She may have rushed into life in the wilderness without thinking it through enough. Let’s hope she still loves him after the winter’s over! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes let’s hope. It reminds me somewhat of a short story we read Iin high school/university short story class, classed “The Painted Door,” by Sinclair Ross. Essentially it deals with isolationism and disastrous results for a woman in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan one cold winter. I did try to find you a copy of the short story or a summery online with little luck. But maybe you’ve read it?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes wonderful job finding it! It’s not a long read, but covers similar themes to the story you shared here 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I think she may have been right on this occasion, but she’d also probably say ‘you make your bed, you lie in it.’ Let’s hope Sara survives the winter in one piece! Thanks so much for reading


  4. This is an extraordinary piece of writing, Lynn, as good as anything I have seen from you, and you know how highly I regard your work.
    From the matter of fact description of the household contents, to the contrast between the couple, and then her inner anxieties, this is all just superb.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, C. If you could see me now, you’d see a little blush of pleasure creeping into my cheeks. To read such kind things about my writing is so lovely. I’m not sure why, but this story has been very popular with lots of reads and positive feedback. I’ve hit a chilly nerve somewhere 🙂 Thanks for your support as always


    1. Thank you Louise. I’m sure there is more to write about this woman, the hardships she’d face and how she could battle through them. I’m not sure how realistic it would be for a woman to be left alone in such conditions, but frontiers women had to be tough as nails, so it might well have happened. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I see her having a dog – a big gruff mutt of a dog. The type of dog that gets hurt saving her life and she spends much of the winter nursing it back to health.

    These 200-word nuggets are great jumping-off points and I think you’ve scratched the surface of a good one here!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jesse. You’re quite right. What she needs is a hound that can warn her of invading folk / wolves / bears, be brave and loyal and tear at our heart strings when I kill it in the final act! 🙂
      Thanks very much for the feedback – always welcome and a few people have said I should write more on this gal. Now I just have to find her a plot 🙂


    1. Thanks so much Sally. I couldn’t get myself recognised on your site to leave a comment, but I read your story for SPF and enjoyed it. Better off without a gambliing addict – that kind of love will only lead to trouble


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