This week Inland 360 introduces its first serial story by former Moscow-Pullman Daily News Reporter and Editor Tara Roberts. Illustrations are by Cody Lee Muir, a recent University of Idaho graduate. The story will be told in weekly installments.
By Tara Roberts
I’ve lived in Idaho my whole life, so I’ve heard animals scream. Cougars, deer, coyotes, foxes. The sound cutting through the snow isn’t any of them. When my son was 2, he fell down a flight of stairs. He screamed when his tibia snapped — but this doesn’t sound like that, either. It sounds like me as I watched him fall.
Two days earlier:
I’m cleaning up vomit when Jamie calls. I ignore my phone, but it lurks in my brain as I finish scrubbing. Jamie is my college roommate, now a TV news reporter for Seattle’s fifth-most-popular station. She texts sometimes. She tweets. She tries to convince me to use Snapchat. But she doesn’t call.
Still, I’ve got other things that are a little more immediate. I peek into the kids’ room to check on my daughter, Maggie, and see she’s peaceful for now, sprawled on her toddler bed with a stuffed penguin balanced on her face. (That will need to be washed. Everything needs to be washed.) She has a stomach bug for the fifth time this year. Maybe sixth.
I’m on the edge of wishing I had a fairy godmother to whisk me away, but I suck it up and return to being Rose Blaine: Super Mom.
See how I silently remove the penguin and tuck Maggie in. Watch me do today’s seventh load of laundry without complaining. Marvel at my ability to completely ignore the dishes because I know my husband will do them when he gets home.
I wish I could watch Netflix while Maggie sleeps, but I have a deadline looming. I worked at an advertising firm before she and my son were born, but now I write product descriptions for an online clothing company that caters to wealthy older women — hippies turned professors, is how I always imagine them. I get to entice them into dropping a few hundred bucks on merlot-colored silk scarves and cardigans printed with frolicking sheep, all while wearing sweatpants in the comfort of my own home.
I’m struggling to find good synonyms for “sumptuous” when Jamie calls again.
“You were ignoring me, Rosie,” she says when I pick up.
“Maggie was barfing again.”
“Thanks. So, what’s up? New job? New boyfriend? New haircut?”
“I’ve got big news.” She pauses, waiting for me to react. I let her hang there a minute before finally asking her to spill it. “I’m in town.”
I’m genuinely surprised. She hasn’t set foot in the little city where we went to school since the day after graduation. She’s never made fun of me for staying here, but I know she’s not exactly impressed.
“I talked my boss into sending me over to do a story on the Hoodoo Mountain Howler,” she says. “It’s some internet legend about weird stuff happening in the forest past Potlatch.”
“Sounds like hard-hitting journalism.”
“Hey, we need some fun in these difficult times,” she says. “So I’m going to go have some fun in the forest. And so are you.”
“Me?” I say, just as I hear the knock on the door.
To be continued next Thursday …
Coming next week
Roberts is a writer and mom who lives and works in Moscow and is very slowly pursuing her master’s degree in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.