Throw me Thursday: Great Blue Heron

I wrote a good two-thirds of this story last night and it wasn’t working. At all. So I tossed it. Tonight I gave it another go.

“Great Blue Herons” was suggested by @MariAdkins (Mari Adkins) It takes me to the Snake River outside Jackson Hole, WY.


Cab could have killed us, but he didn’t mean it. We had life vests after all. And they were the best thing for us, since I never could swim worth a damn.

It was the Fourth of July and, as he reckoned, PBR was just the thing all decked out in red, white and blue. Looking back, I have my own version of the old red, white and bruised.

There were two rafts for the six of us, and an easy stretch of mountain river, the Snake. Some of these guys I’d just met, friends of Cab’s in the west, not the old hellions we ran with back home. And there was Cab and my husband before he was my husband and me. We just floated that old river scaring out herons with our whoops, not giving the guys in the other raft a chance at catching those fish.

We took it easy, a real Wyoming vacation. Cab had picked up a couple of those waterproof disposable cameras to take along. The film got used up mostly in the first hour with rock jumping and general mayhem. Didn’t get a chance at my first squadron of honest-to-goodness wild pelicans, but I remember them, sure enough, galumphing around on a rocky shoal pouches all tucked in.

I picked up a handful of river rocks pocketing them with intention. Just tonight my daughter was feeling one in her miniature hand telling me how smooth and how pretty it is.

I was sunburned from nose to Teva and hungry, though I didn’t notice then. By late afternoon our raft turned the last bend. The truck was waiting.

Cab bounced out. He wasn’t done with the river. “Man,” he said, “We should have done the rapids. We could take them. Let’s do it. Let’s take Lunch Counter.”

But the sun was getting a little lower. In the mountains, you don’t notice til it dips.

One raft was looking too low, so all six of us piled in that one good craft and signed our rights away on a cloudless sky.

I was in front this time with Cab’s roommate. He said to me, “When we go over those rapids, pull up on the front and whatever you do, don’t let go.”

We hit our first rapid. The raft bucked. We held firm. Up. We were knocked back, then down with the raft and a heavy splash. “Oh, shit!” Cab yelled and we all hollered. We would take the Snake.

“Hey, hey,” Cab called out, “look up there. That’s Lunch Counter.” Up ahead and off to the right the river frothed at the mouth. Nobody bothered to ask just who’s lunch was being served.

We were all howl and delight. Bravado y bravada. “Hold tight!” Cab yelled. My knuckles were as white as the rapids, but what I held tight to wasn’t so much the boat as the stupid, cocky-ass notion that I would not be destroyed. Not yet. And that’s when I went under.

Like in all the movies, I bobbed up and down in the water gasping and spitting still holding firm to the raft. Cab counted us out–all safe and sound, a kind of a surprise considering the shallow rocks below. We edged to shore making plans. I didn’t know hide nor hair where I was, but whatever happened, I was not getting back in that boat.

I hauled my sorry butt up on dry land letting my shock do all the work. My guy came along through the underbrush and scrub. We scrabbled up the mountain toward a road we assumed was there. Mountain chill came on in the shadows and our bodies shook for want of warmth.

We found the road, two ragamuffin vagabonds on Independence Day.

Like a little memoir with your lunch? Like the Facebook page. I sure like you!

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About E. Victoria Flynn

E. Victoria Flynn is a mother and a writer living in Southern Wisconsin. Published in a variety of venues, Victoria is currently writing the first in a series of three fantasy novels based on Cornish folklore. When not taking part in a shrieking dance party or engrossed in her own little fictions, Victoria is keen on art, the natural world and people unafraid to explore their own brilliance.
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15 Responses to Throw me Thursday: Great Blue Heron

  1. Lisa says:

    Victoria, when I grow up, I want to have a writing voice as strong as yours.

    For some reason, this simple sentence took me by delightful surprise: “Just tonight my daughter was feeling one in her miniature hand telling me how smooth and how pretty it is.”

    Happy weekend to you and your family!
    ~ Lisa

    • pennyjars says:

      Oh, Lisa, you are just so sweet. I’m really looking forward to the next time we can sit with coffee together again.

      Yesterday, I thought, isn’t that strange she’s asking about this one particular rock in a pile of shells and stones and I’m right now trying to tell that story. It seemed best to let her have her say. 🙂

      Happy weekend to your and yours. Spring will come for us soon.

      • I agree with Lisa, on all parts. My other favorite line is this one:
        I was sunburned from nose to Teva….

        I’m so glad you stuck with this story.

      • pennyjars says:

        Thanks, Christi. Something I find particularly fun and difficult with writing is saying something ordinary in an atypical fashion. I’m terrified of cliche and the problem of it sometimes creates interesting language. So glad you liked!

  2. Beth Hoffman says:

    This is wonderful. All my senses were engaged. I was there.

    Brava!

    • pennyjars says:

      Thank you so much, Beth. I think this is the thing I need to work out most in writing–dramatic tension. I hadn’t realized how little attention I pay it. As ever, thank you for your kindness!

  3. kario says:

    What a ride! It was worth waiting for. Times like this, I miss Wyoming.

  4. Lori Gordon says:

    Yoo rocked this story! I felt like I was right there, going under. I loved your opening…Cab could have killed us, but he didn’t mean it. I even felt your sunburn, lol!

  5. Chelsea says:

    Great stuff, loved the pelicans and the PBR can… I never realized what a perfect 4th of July beer it was before!

  6. Great story, makes us never want to go river rafting! 🙂 We’ll just stick to our bench on dry land…

  7. pennyjars says:

    And pray you never get a flood… 😉

  8. I love these: “Looking back, I have my own version of the old red, white and bruised,” “… a handful of river rocks pocketing them with intention. Just tonight my daughter was feeling one in her miniature hand…” and “I hauled my sorry butt up on dry land letting my shock do all the work. ” The character i would really love to see more description of, to realyy SEE in words is “that old river,” the Snake, who soon rises up to dump you. Perhaps as a one-line paragraph four? WELL DONE! thank you!

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