Lori Thatcher

Writing and Thinking about writing


The Boundless Sea

        When I was fourteen, I saw the sea. I might have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been convinced that I was approaching my last breath.

        My Dad had lived with his sister ever since he was released from the hospital after being shot by his lover’s husband. His visits were wrapped in disagreement between him and my mother. I grew sad and fearful.

        I took to consulting a Ouija board. It spelled out words I didn’t know. We spoke to souls of the dead – one hanged for stealing a chicken. It was an appealing diversion for sheltered country kids.

        When my father decided to take my brother and me to Maine on our first-ever vacation, I was ecstatic—the sea. My mother bought us new clothes, normally a once-a-year occurrence.

        Before we were to leave, the Ouija board spelled out that if I left Massachusetts in the next month, I would perish. “Doesn’t perish mean die?” I asked.

        Suddenly the trip was a death sentence. But it would be unthinkable to even tell my father, never mind cancel.

         I felt like a person on death row. The world was at once sweeter and sadder. I said goodbye to my mother and my horse. I wore my seat belt without being told. I awaited my impending death.

        We had not yet seen the sea before we crossed the border to New Hampshire. I was sure I would die without having seen it, but the border fell behind us and I still drew breath.

         Then it came into view—the vast, the limitless, sea. I breathed easier, surely this could not be the last time I would see it. Somehow I came to believe it wouldn’t be. Little by little, I relaxed.

         It indeed wasn’t my last time.


This Challenge prompt was from: 

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodThis week,  Kir of The Kir Corner gave us this quote:

“The cure for anything is salt water….sweat, tears or the sea.”
~ Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke

Did you come to a resolution by the sea? Did a character reach a crossroads of sweat and tears?

Link up your 300 salty words (oooh!), but only if you’ve responded to the prompt.



Far Away

The doorbell rang, but Louise ignored it.  There was no one she wanted to see in the entire state of Florida, no one she even knew except her landlady, a wrinkled, crabby old woman.

After her last fall on an icy doorstep, her husband Alan had insisted they spend the winter in a warm climate, and she felt she had to comply, but she missed  her Vermont home and family members who visited often. Now it was Christmastime.

 The doorbell rang again. “Wait,” she called, opening the door, sporting her own wrinkled, crabby-old-woman face. The young man’s smile wavered as he swayed on the doorstep balancing a big cardboard box.

“Hi, I’m Jeff, your daughter told you I’d be coming.” At Louise’s confused look, he continued. “Mrs. Alan Webster? I’m delivering a Christmas present from Sally.”

She held out her arms to take the box, but he said, “I need to set up this computer, so you can video chat.” He came in before Louise realized she had stepped back.

She woke Alan from his recliner-nap and told him to watch the boy while she called Sally.

“Mom, I forgot to tell you.” Sally apologized. “It’s our Christmas present. Everyone is coming for super tonight and I know you’re sad you can’t be here. ”

Before long the young man was showing Alan how to connect. Like magic, their daughter Sally was right there on the screen in the living room, and at suppertime, Louise and Alan grinned and waved into the screen as they spoke to each grand child.

When Sally returned to the screen, Louise had tears in her eyes. “This is the best present ever,” she said.

“Look Mom.” Sally turned the camera toward the lighted front yard, and the snow began to fall.

Red Writing Hood

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood December calendars are filling up, notes about what to cook and who to see; some of the obligations traced lovingly with a smile and some met with a frown.

This week we asked you to use the holiday season to inspire you to write a piece beginning with “The doorbell rang” and ending with “snow began to fall.”



“Don’t cut my hair, Ma. I need to go to a beauty place. Please!”

My mother told me to stop whining. I knew I had only a few seconds before she would say I should go tell it to the chickens, so I talked faster. “Janey got a perm and everyone loves her hair. No one likes my hair. I hate my hair.”

“Come here.” She peered at me and I peered back from under my too-long bangs. She fluffed up my straight, shoulder-length brown hair and sighed. “We’ll go tomorrow.”

I was thrilled, even though tomorrow was Friday and I would have to wait until Monday to show off my beauty-place hair.”

Friday at school was two days long. I ran all the way from the bus stop, charging through the stubble in the corn field. Ma met me on the doorstep with her old black pocket-book. We walked to the neighbor’s house and got a ride into town.

The place smelled smoky and there were old men sitting in chairs against the wall, but I was delighted when the man draped me with a black plastic cape. I couldn’t see the mirror, but I watched the hair fall onto the floor and imagined what everyone would say. I felt special; I couldn’t remember ever going to town just for me.

Monday morning, my hair was messy, but I combed it all the way to school. I paraded in beaming and everyone smiled at my beautiful hair. When Janey asked me where I got my hair done, I said, “At the beauty place.”

She said it looked like someone had put a bowl on my head. I didn’t care. My ma hadn’t cut my hair. She took me to a beauty place, and I felt beautiful.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

This week we asked you to write about hair. So many of us have a love-hate relationship with it. For some of us, it’s our defining feature. Whatever it means to you – or to your characters – we want to know about it.

But we don’t want you to simply describe it. We want you to use it as a vehicle to tell us something about your character, a situation, you or your life. And you needed to keep it to 300 words.