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'Escape' and It's a Fluke's first race of 2024!

This short story evolved from several thoughts including my, albeit limited, knowledge of spousal abuse. I'll quickly add that the story is a hopeful one.

My thoughts sometimes drift to the real-life stories I heard, both directly and indirectly, from women who escaped abuse and sought out safety in women's shelters.

The reason I heard some of these stories is because I led a violence prevention initiative when I worked with the Ontario SPCA and part of our research about the link between animal cruelty and human violence included a survey of users of women's shelters.

I won't share any of the stories here and there is no reference to animal abuse in the story.

But domestic violence was on my mind.

I hope I haven't deterred you from reading it because I think you'll enjoy it!

After the story is a link to It's a Fluke's first race of 2024 with a short explanatory note.



Her sense of time was confused by the darkness. She turned the lamp on and listened to the rumbles of distant thunder. The towering pine trees swayed impossibly with each gust—they were too close to the cabin. And the cabin was too far from the marina.

Two of the six girls she was responsible for had brought smartphones with them which Marcia confiscated, as promised. Marcia had hidden hers in a tin but, in any case, she didn’t know if she’d get any service, especially during the storm.

Barbara had failed to show, so Marcia was the only adult. She’d stood on the dock with her hand shielding her eyes, wishing for Barbara’s shiny red car to sputter down the hill to the marina’s parking lot. The girls laughed and squealed and rocked the boat and didn’t notice the delay until half an hour after they’d arrived. Discontent erupted when one girl asked when Marcia was going to start the engine, and another said she was hungry. That got them all going. Six pairs of unrelenting eyes and six high-pitched, demanding voices were aimed at Marcia. She checked her phone for the umpteenth time. No responses or messages from Barbara.

Marcia was reluctant to leave without her. Barbara was the social worker and family counselor assigned to the camp. Marcia shouldn’t have left without another adult, but she eventually did. The girls were so excited about the adventure and had been sending her messages for weeks—asking so many questions about the cabin, especially about its remoteness and being accessible by boat only.

It’s not as if the girls are babies—they’re thirteen, Marcia told herself as she started the boat’s engine to cheers. Once they’d backed away from the dock and were pointed to the open water of the sun-dappled lake, she relaxed. She had more than enough supplies, most of which she’d stashed in the cabin the day before when she made up the three bunk beds, and her double bed in the adjoining room.

There was power. The spacious avocado-coloured fridge was full. She was well prepared.

The girls were disappointed that they weren’t permitted to go swimming in the lake while she prepared dinner. Otherwise, things went well.

But they’d been in the cabin for less than five hours when flashes of lightning illuminated the rocks and set the water sparkling. The ensuing rumbles of thunder drew closer and the wind gusts created turmoil on the lake’s surface. White crests danced on waves that spewed out brown froth onto the beach.

The temperature plummeted by ten degrees. Marcia made hot chocolate and placed three boxes of jigsaw puzzles on the heavy, solid-wood dining table. The girls laughed at first, but Belle opened one and then they all pitched in. They’d almost finished it when the power went out.

Marcia was prepared with flashlights and candles. The girls lit up their contorted faces and told improv ghost stories.

Marcia retrieved her phone but couldn’t get any internet or phone service. She’d managed to email earlier, so something had failed somewhere. Marcia had planned this adventure for the girls as a means of escape, but she hadn’t intended to be completely cut off.

She’d hired Barbara to provide the professional counseling support she knew the girls would need. Marcia was not equipped to deal with anger management issues or violent outbursts. These girls came from dysfunctional families. Most had directly or indirectly experienced the effects of drug addiction, including physical abuse. Marcia had no experience with drug use, although she was a baby boomer and many of her friends had experimented during the sixties.

That didn’t mean it had been smooth sailing for Marcia. Her childhood was uneventful, but she married the wrong man when she was too young. Merton was full of bluster and had delusions of grandeur. He could be loud and boisterous and bragged about his new projects and ideas. But Merton evolved into a monster when his dreams of greatness fizzled. His anger boiled over. He lashed out at Marcia and not just with words. Beaten and bullied, Marcia couldn’t take it anymore. She left.

She believed she wouldn’t have survived without the support of the women’s shelter. That’s where she met women like her and their children. Later, when she had turned her life around, she opened a new shelter in her community. And this was the first camp she’d planned and organized for children who wouldn’t otherwise get a vacation. She’d refurbished her family’s cabin, borrowed a boat, and repaired the dock. But now she was afraid. The storm was roaring and threatening violence. It made her think of Merton. She felt trapped and wanted desperately to leave. It was as if she was suffocating.

A cold, wet cloth was placed on her forehead. Someone held her hand. Someone else put a blanket on her. She opened her eyes. The six girls were sitting on her bed. Two were crying. They told her she’d been screaming, yelling, and sobbing. They were familiar with domestic violence. They understood.

They had a group hug in the semi-darkness and talked and talked and talked. They shared their stories: happy, tragic, and all that was in between.

The storm passed and patches of sunlight lay scattered on the wooden floor by the time they all fell asleep.

Barbara arrived by water taxi as Marcia and the girls were preparing a late brunch. She expressed surprise that they weren’t all out in the water or on the beach.

And Barbara was unable to figure out why she wasn’t needed during that vacation. After all, she’d been carefully selected for her counseling skills, especially with young teenage girls.  

Vicky Earle Copyright 2024

It's a Fluke's First Race of 2024

It's a Fluke was up against tough competition so some would say his 5th place finish wasn't surprising. But others had picked him as the favourite, and the odds as the gate opened showed him as second favourite.

He was in good form and very fit and eager.

But, for a variety of reasons, he didn't run the race the way he likes to.

He prefers to be in the lead (well ahead of the other horses) for the whole race, and he does not like to be held back. While it looks like he was leading most of the time, he wasn't where he wanted to be. (See previous races when he won).

I don't know exactly what happened or why, but we believe he'll do better next time, so stay tuned and put some prosecco in the fridge ready to celebrate!!

Here's the link to the race:

Thank you for reading my post.


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1 Comment

May 07

Great story!

It’s a Fluke looked like a dead cert!!!!!

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