"Like Land Does" (a story from Inroads)
A woman delivers a memento to her mother.
This month’s content is brought to you by readers like you whose paid Substack subscriptions and book purchases help produce and promote my work: extraordinary stories about ordinary Americans. Thank you for supporting and reading my work and spreading the word.
Inroads, my second short-story collection (and fifth book), is now available. Thank you to everyone who helped produce and promote this.
Extraordinary stories about ordinary Americans. A stock-car driver gets money any way he can for his son's birthday present. A girl meets a horse for the first time. Two firefighters help each other while a storm delays their camping trip. A museum employee is asked to monitor her colleague. A boy wavers saying goodbye to his friend. A super receives an evening call from an elderly resident. A brother decides between the family business or his estranged wife. A daughter delivers a memento to her mother. After losing his main income, a craftsman continues supporting his grandsons…and more.
Fire In Hand Media
ISBN (print): 9780578866581
ISBN (ebook): 9798986092706
Because a book's success can thrive on word-of-mouth and grassroots marketing, I’m asking you to help spread the word about Inroads. One of these following actions from you can positively impact me and my work:
Buy the book.
Recommend Inroads to friends, acquaintances, and book clubs.
Suggest the book for libraries and bookstores near you.
Share Inroads on social-media accounts.
Add and rate Inroads on Amazon, Goodreads, and platforms devoted to books, fiction, American culture, and reading.
Place a copy in Little Free Libraries.
Praise for Inroads
5 out of 5 stars. An amazing book of short stories. Some will sure to make you smile, and some will bring a tear. The stories touch on young, old, losing, winning, and how to keep loving.
4 out of 5 stars. An intriguing collection of short stories that open your mind to other people’s lives and their dilemmas. All the short stories are well written and a delight to read. A well put together collection by an accomplished author.
And now for this month’s story, which is from Inroads.
“Like Land Does”
Copyright William Auten
The pump gets going, and I call Agee’s from inside my car. Music from the Jeep parked next to me is too much to talk over. Nor do my ears like it. Agee’s says I am more than welcome to add something small to Mother before they proceed—and they will wait for me. “Call us when you can. Let us know where you’re close. We’re happy to stay open for you until you get here.” They’ve been so patient, like answers arriving from afar.
I step out when my tank clicks full. The Jeep with college students tips when the boys return from the store and hand beer to the girls in the back. One of them offers a can to me. He says it pairs well with Pop Tarts, which he pulls from a plastic bag, for a day on the lake. I laugh and tell him no thanks and to watch out for that exit—OHP likes to post there. He turns his ball cap backward and toasts me before checking bungees on jet skis. The music fades as the Jeep’s doors close. Its red paint is blotched like insect spots.
A few semis cruise through the parking lot or rumble alive. Landscapers take a break from mowing. A delivery-truck driver jabbers with them before loading a dolly. No one honks at me to have my pump or pulls into empty stalls. My legs are already numb from the first hour of sitting—a few more left. Last week I told Mother I couldn’t get there fast enough. “And then I’ll be back down here again to get you.” Us old gals can grab dinner tonight in spirit and then, when she’s with me for good, whenever we want. I told Agee’s I’d rather they not ship her to me.
Sixty miles from Paris, I pull over because I miss a voicemail. Traffic spurts by. The message clicks in and out with “Gwen from Ladybug” before dropping dead. Rain and wind pick up in the distance. Most of the morning darkens down near the border and toll bridge.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to William Auten Stories and Newsletter to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.