Florence slowed Israfel to a walk as they approached Molly, who grazed sedately by the ruins of the plane. Though Israfel was named after a warring angel, it was Molly who had the personality of a terrifying eldritch creature with divine powers. Hence, her presence outside of her paddock and clear across Florence’s father’s land. Molly did not think fences suited her.
Sighing, Florence eased off Israfel, who wisely backed up a few paces. Florence stood, looking at Molly in exasperation, while Molly side-eyed her, chewing industriously.
“Bath,” Florence said.
Molly’s ears perked and swung her long nose in Florence’s direction. “Uh-huh,” Florence said, moving forward stealthily. “I thought bath might get you. Can’t get baths out here, can you? No, no.”
Molly, whose favorite pastime was being sprayed by the hose, allowed Florence to loop the rope around her neck, then jerked her head back, taking the rope with her, and trotting away, tail high.
“Molly!” Florence shouted, her calm dissolving. “Fine! No baths. No baths ever!”
Florence checked on Israfel, who was clearly judging her for the ‘no baths’ comment, his ears pointed in opposite directions as he chewed. He also didn’t enjoy yelling.
“Sorry, buddy.” She said, jogging after Molly, who had stopped nearer the plane. Israfel snorfled at her, but Florence didn’t hear, her gaze focused on Molly, then on the plane as movement caught her eye.
“Molly,” Florence whispered, walking up alongside her. “Is someone in the plane?”
The plane in question was a wreck, the back end gone, presumably falling into the water before the plane crashed. It was a small plane, with very few passengers in it at the time, and all had somehow survived, which was why it hadn’t been big news for that long, and why it was taking so long for anyone to bother cleaning it up.
The plane had crashed at the edge of her father’s land, and Michael was not one to make a fuss about something that truly wasn’t bothering him. He had checked to make sure the oil and fuel was properly cleared away (could never be too careful about that), took six-year old Florence to see it, one time at night, near Halloween, a night which would stay in her memory forever, and then let the company that owned the plane decide when to clear it away.
The company of the plane seemed to develop amnesia. As Florence grew older, she started to worry that the plane might be a hazard to the horses. Her father argued that the horses rarely reached that end of their land, their pastures didn’t go that far, but at that time they didn’t have Molly.
Florence absent-mindedly stroked the side of Molly’s nose. Molly nickered, headbutting Florence gently in the arm. Florence barely noticed.
Another movement in the window. A shadow passing by, in the distinct form of a human. Even as a chill crept down her spine, Florence thought, what a cliché, but that didn’t stop her from shuddering. She eased closer to Molly, who took that as an invitation to mouth at her sleeve.
Florence could hear movement now. And voices. A lilting laugh.
Florence’s jaw clenched as the laugh registered in her brain. She knew that laugh.
Leaving Molly nosing at empty space, Florence jogged to the open back of the plane, stopping abruptly in the entrance, trying not to sneer at Leah’s yelp.
“Dad.” Florence said.
“Daughter,” Michael said, with not an ounce of shame. “What brings you here?”
Florence huffed irritably, trying her best not to glare at Leah, who was still recovering from her shock, hand on chest like she was in Gone with the Wind.
“Molly escaped her paddock, Dad. She’s right there!” Florence pointed to the other side of the plane.
Michael jumped to the ground, absent-mindedly helping an unsteady Leah down, before he strode to the other side of the plane.
Molly perked her ears up at his approach, her entire stance exuding innocence.
Michael put his thumbs at his belt, humming softly to himself, before turning to Florence. “Yup. She’s there alright. Look,” he pointed toward Israfel. “Issy’s here too.”
Florence could feel her blood in her face – she was probably red. She stomped past her father, barely able to stop herself from muttering the expletives that were bouncing around her mind. She almost let one out when she heard his soft chuckle when she passed him.
Molly seemed content with the drama as she let Florence take the rope without any more fuss.
“Molly could’ve gotten hurt, Dad. There’s metal sticking out all over that thing . . . what were you doing in there anyway?”
At the first half of her sentence, Michael had turned toward the plane with a speculative look, but when the last half of her sentence registered, he remained staring in the direction of the plane, very noticeably not looking at her.
He hummed a non-committal sound as if he hadn’t heard her, and before Florence could explode with all the thoughts in her head, Leah rolled her eyes and stepped forward.
“You know, I was just saying that to your father.” She said.
Florence had opened her mouth to release the tirade and stopped mid-breath, which left her mouth open as Leah went on.
“Your father’s been talking about expanding the herd, and of course he’d need to use more land. I figured the plane could be sold for the metal – someone would want it. Scrap metal is surprisingly good money. It’s as good as yours, by now, anyway; they took too long to take care of it. What do you think?” Leah stroked her fingers through her long, bottle-blonde hair when she was nervous and curled the ends around her fingers as her voice lifted in the questioning tone. Leah’s accent was very Southern – United States Southern, though it seemed to be a mixture of many of the Southern accents, with a tiny bit of the Midwest thrown in, which made sense as Leah grew up on the rodeo circuit surrounded by her Southern uncles.
She may have looked like a past-her prime buckle bunny – though Florence had to admit she still carried the style off well, Dolly Parton-like – but Leah was one of the smartest, most shrewd realtors in the area. If someone wanted junk metal, Leah could probably find them.
“I mean . . .” Florence struggled with her bias. Sure, her mother had been dead since she was a toddler, and Michael had devoted himself to only her her entire childhood, but that didn’t mean she saw Leah as a welcome new addition to their little family.
Florence noticed Michael surreptitiously eyeing her, and in his eyes was something like hope, which made her heart ache.
Sighing, Florence glanced at the broken plane, which seemed to have a draw for more than just Molly. “Seems like a good idea. Surprised Dad wants to do it.”
“I figured it was about time we cleared this wreckage away.” Michael said, looking fully at his daughter for the first time in five minutes.
Without knowing why, Florence glared as she gathered up the rope holding Molly and began to walk toward Israfel. “I guess you two can walk back home.” She said. “Don’t get tetanus.”
“Nice seeing you,” Leah called.
Her father just laughed, as if he’d heard a joke he hadn’t heard in a long, long time.
A very short story I wrote inspired by the fiction prompt from my post the writing prompt with the horse. Feel free to write your own stories inspired by my prompts. Be sure to tag me in the comments!
Let me know what you think of “Canoodling in the Wreckage”.