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The Sunday Squirrel: deployment

It tore at her heart to watch him go. Eight days. Just eight days together and he was leaving again.

He was warm and solid and smelled like fresh air, tasted like mint. She memorized his strong brow, his square chin, his regal nose. Memorized his rough cheek, his sad smile, the adventure in his eyes.

His low voice vibrated deep in her soul. “I love you. Never forget I love you.”

Tears washed her cheeks as she unclenched her fists from his sleeves, unlocked her lips from his mouth, and said goodbye.

She stood rigid and strong while he walked to the plane, sunlight glinting off the gold bars on his shoulders. She stood rigid and strong as the plane taxied away. She stood rigid and strong in the months that passed, marking each day as it slowly ticked by.

It was when the men came to her door that her spine gave out and her strength failed her. Each knock against wood a stake in her heart. Every murmur of condolence a scar on her soul.

Now she recalled his strong brow, his square chin, his regal nose. Remembered his rough cheek, his sad smile, the adventure in his eyes. She fell before the stone in the ground where he would rest forever. “I love you. Never forget I love you.”

And tears washed her cheeks as she said goodbye.

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    You can move in deep waters. A touch of the poet I feel in you too. You could let one get mainstream on you real easy. This one came from some place other than the mind. This one had body and soul in it. This is how we wish we could write ever time we sit down to write. I bet you enjoyed this one. It flows like a river.

    • Reply

      Wow, thanks, Curtis. What a very poetic comment too. This one definitely read more like poetry in my head, and I didn’t know where it was going until the end. I enjoyed it, but it squeezed my heart a bit (and my tears). Thanks.

      • Reply

        At the risk of being insensitive, I lived for years near Ft. Hood in Killeen, TX. You speak the fear of every Military wife. Those I have known tell me they know when the car door slams in front of the house. The metallic sound of two doors back to back. And, she knows. It’s the Colonel and a Captain. Both men wear their dress uniforms. They are always sorry.

    • Reply

      Your scene reminded me of the folks I have known who have suffered the situation you describe. For me to talk about it is like trodding on that sacred ground. Something I would never want to do or be understood to be doing. I’m always about respect. So, my disclaimer. As, I said, you can move in deep waters.

      • Reply

        I understand. I guess as writers we have to be able to empathize with situations we haven’t actually been through (though I have suffered the loss of a loved one). If I just wrote about my own life that would be boring! =)

  2. Reply

    Gwen, you have a great way of expressing the feelings and making the reader want more. Your writing is getting better and better!

  3. alarob


    That is a vivid, well expressed passage. I was momentarily distracted by the passage that begins, “His low voice vibrated…” followed by her “unlock[ing] her lips from his mouth.” The sequence summoned an absurd image of him talking through the lip-lock, his words muffled by their joined lips. (You forgot to begin the kiss before ending it.)

    Then I began to think that “unlocking” her lips was too mechanical to go with all the fine sensory details of the lovers’ parting.

    “She stood rigid and strong” seemed overused the third time. It strains the reader’s credulity to believe that she “stood rigid and strong” for months on end. You’d think her legs would tire eventually! 😉 The perils of metaphor. To sustain the idea of standing, I thought it was her legs, not her spine, that should have given out when the dreaded visit came.

    I have been impressed for a long time with John Gardiner’s advice to keep the reader in a “fictional dream” woven with language. Those are the only moments where I was nearly jarred out of the dream.

    Mostly I was swept along: Especially at the beginning, I could see and sense the two of them clearly. The parallels between the parting and the visit to the grave are well handled. Your images are compelling, your adjectives are few, and they all work. Good stuff.

    The comment about the two car doors slamming, and the two dress uniforms, suggests a couple more details to work into the transition. You’re getting at an experience of pure terror. It’s hard work. Reminds me of how I once sweated over writing up an interview with a Marine combat veteran and author. How this man produced a whole book about his ordeal in WW2 (Pacific) is a mystery I don’t think I’ll ever understand. I know it took him many years.

    • Reply

      Thanks for the praise and constructive feedback. My Sunday Squirrels are impromptu works, so they will definitely not be as polished as they could be, but everyone’s comments are good to keep in mind for my day-to-day writing.

      I often struggle with the show vs. tell (without using too many adjectives) in my books. I hope that by writing smaller pieces where I focus on that, I’ll hone my craft for the larger works.

      I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  4. Reply

    “How this man produced a whole book about his ordeal in WW2 (Pacific) is a mystery I don’t think I’ll ever understand. I know it took him many years.”

    A couple of guesses. 1. For lack of a better word– the calling/skill of a writer
    2. The will to relive it. 3. The need to tell the story.

    If he was in fact a writer,in many ways he had no choice. Writers write as much out of compulsion and calling as they do out of determination and design. Everyone has a story. Not everyone thinks the world is better off for hearing it. Writers do. My guess is, he did. Writers, I think have a need to be heard. Even those who think they think only in terms of publication and pay want to be heard. I think. Or, guess. 🙂

    Write on

  5. Christine


    And that is what I KNEW you had in you, Gwen. Awesome job. Let’s talk about the finer points tomorrow-dig for that emotion and channel it into your work and you’ll be ahead of the game. Structure, plot–yeah, very important, but that scene, even with the few constructive points given–THAT IS WRITING FROM THE HEART!

    Keep mining your heart! You’re growing in leaps and bounds–I am so impressed.

    • Reply

      Thanks, C! You’re a great cheerleader.

      I like doing the impromptu work because it’s separate from a whole novel, so I can really focus on a small scenario.

  6. Reply

    Christine: You should. The only reason I post it is to force myself to write one even when I’m not in the mood. The blog holds me accountable.

    • Christine


      Do you make up your Squirrels or do you get them from a source online? I can’t remember.

      • Reply

        Generally, I make them up based on a random word. Sometimes a scene just comes to mind and I make up the word after the fact. It’s fluid. =)

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