Literary Revelations is thrilled to feature an exceptional story by K’Cee Scoggins. I hope you enjoy it.
A winner of the 8th Annual International Memoir Showcase in San Diego, K’Cee Scoggins has a passion for advocacy and strives to capture the strength of rural women within her written work. She has bylines in multiple anthologies including Hidden in Childhood, The Oklahoma Women’s Journal, The Absolute, & 100 Word Project.
When she’s not moonlighting as a writer, K’Cee works for Oklahoma State University as a community grant coordinator. K’Cee enjoys horseback riding, reading, and traveling. To keep things interesting, she’s also a student. K’Cee currently resides on a small acreage outside of Oklahoma City with her family.
Rose Rock Ranch
If you’re an Okie, you’re cursed. You pay for your father’s sins. You pay for your mother’s sins. Hell, by the time you reach the age to commit your own sins, half your soul has already been dragged & blown away by the wind. And that’s why we’re cowboys.
For the first time in years, I’m going home. I always thought my Gran would die doing what she loved. Instead of going out on the back of a horse with her boots on, she softly slipped from this world in her canopy bed while the full moon hovered over Rose Rock Ranch. Although her generation tended to force women to hold a hand to make it, Gran bucked tradition and was more formidable than any man I’ve ever known. Beloved Dolores Anne Parker. She understood why I needed to leave home and why I couldn’t come back. Gran was the gatekeeper of Parker family secrets.
I guide my rental car past a faded sign that reads, “Welcome to Bridgewater. Home of Petty Officer Ethan Crenshaw.” My hands tremble, and my heart drops before I slam on the brakes and shift the car into reverse. Nothing in Bridgewater changes. Ever. Gran used to say, “Taylor, you can’t look back.” And maybe she was right, but I’ll be damned if someone didn’t change the welcome sign.
Lost in thought, I self-consciously push forward my wavy dark auburn hair to cover the burn scar on the left side of my face. My sister Morgan is meeting me at the ranch to finalize the estate paperwork. I’m only staying in town long enough to help tie up loose ends. I plan to return to my daughter Grace and my life in Seattle as quickly as possible.
I turn right at the end of Main Street and head toward my childhood home. The ranch is seven miles north of town, down a dusty, pothole-riddled, dead-end road. I smile as I pull into the circle drive of the familiar Victorian mansion. The wraparound porch is surrounded by cactuses and rose rocks.
I park the car, pop the trunk, turn off the ignition, take a deep breath, and climb out into the blazing Oklahoma heat. I adjust my sunglasses and walk around to the back of the car to grab my luggage when suddenly, I hear a loud, “Hiss, Honk, Hiss!”
In a furious haze of white feathers, a goose jumps over my luggage, attacks me, and bites my thigh. What the hell? A GOOSE just bit me. When did Gran get a goose? Panicked, I scream and race to the old oak tree that sits in the middle of the circle drive. The resident guard-goose is now in fast pursuit. I make it to my destination and try to climb, but my red-soled stilettos and black pencil skirt aren’t designed for climbing trees. Abruptly, I hear a soft giggle coming from the porch, followed by a sharp whistle. The goose stops immediately. It’s Morgan, in all her heroic glory.
“Welcome home, Taylor.”
I quickly wipe sweat from my forehead and try to compose what’s left of my dignity. It’s just my luck to spend years fine-tuning my life only to be taken out by an Okie monster goose.
“Morgan, that goose is evil! I can’t believe you didn’t warn me beforehand,” I shout as I remove my sunglasses.
“Maybe if you came around more often, you would’ve been properly introduced to Al. Gran rescued him from the animal shelter in town a while back. He’s protective but harmless. Come on. He’ll leave you alone now,” Morgan asserts.
I keep my eyes cautiously trained on Al the Goose as I make my way up the stairs of the front porch. When I finally reach Morgan, I smile and spread my arms wide for a hug. Morgan, with her wild curly blonde hair, reminds me of sunshine. She’s the first to pull away from our hug and I follow her inside.
The house still smells like saddle soap mixed with the faint smell of sweet horse feed. The entryway is neatly lined with racks of saddles. I pause for a moment to slowly run two fingers across a motto tooled into the leather stirrup fender of the saddle Gran gave me when I turned nineteen. Omnia Feminae Aequissimae.
My mind drifts to the evening I received it. Gran explained the motto means “women are equal to everything” in Latin. It was also the night I gave myself to a man who would devastate me.
I shake myself out of the memory. The hardwood floors creak with every step as I make my way into the kitchen. An old radio sits on a ledge above the sink and forlornly hums “Seven Year Ache” by Roseanne Cash. I instantly notice a copper urn proudly displayed on the kitchen island.
I gasp, “Mor, why are Gran’s ashes sitting here? Jesus. You’re such a creep.”
Morgan shrugs and winks at me before she spins around and pulls two glasses from the cabinet. “I figure she should be included in the conversation we’re about to have. Gran hid a lot from us, Tay. Not to mention, I have no idea what to do with her ashes. You know she didn’t want a fuss.”
It’s not like Morgan to be so cynical. I’m the jaded older sister. She’s whimsical, kind, and gracious. I don’t know how to handle this version of my sister.
With a sigh, I suggest, “I think it would be a good idea to ride out to the bottomland and spread her ashes in the creek. It’s what she would’ve wanted. Gran was too independent to be confined in an urn for eternity.”
Morgan smirks, “You’re not riding anywhere in those fancy shoes, darlin’.”
Morgan pours icy lemonade into the glasses, reaches down to shuffle around in a lower cabinet, and comes up victoriously holding a green-labeled bottle of Tullamore Dew whiskey. Day drinking with my goody-two-shoes baby sister was not on the to-do list.
I grin as she hands me the glass of lemonade, “Before you pour the whiskey, I need to bring in the luggage I left outside because of the monster goose.”
Morgan sighs, “God, Tay. I’ve missed you. You should move back and raise Grace here on the ranch.”
Before leaving the kitchen, I roll my eyes, “You know I can’t, Mor. Grace is happy. Settled. I don’t want this place to hurt her like it did us.”
I nearly reach the front door when I stumble over a small rose rock in the entryway. Perplexed, I bend down and grab it. I smile wistfully, thinking about when Morgan and I were little girls. We would gobble up the wild legends Gran told us about our Parker ancestors communicating through rose rocks. She swore rose rocks were mystical.
Unexpectedly, I hear a loud knock. I straighten my skirt before opening the front door and making eye contact with a set of striking blue eyes that have haunted me for years. Ethan. My high school sweetheart. The father of my child. Petty Officer Ethan Crenshaw. Gran told me he was killed in action. He’s dead.
The last thing I see before I welcome the darkness and collapse to the hardwood floor is Ethan’s calloused hand. He’s holding my luggage.
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