RWH: The secret sits

Agnes blew on her coffee and took a tentative sip. It burned her tongue. She set the cup down on the dining room table and gazed out the window. She could see Tomas locking up the barn for the night.

Marilyn sat across from her, slowly stirring a sugar cube in her cup until it dissolved. Agnes could feel the elder woman watching her.

Without turning toward her, Agnes asked, “How do you stop asking yourself the ‘what ifs’?”

“You accept that what’s past has past. It’s done. You cannot change it. You make a promise to yourself to move on.”

“I just can’t stop it. What if I had just told David I didn’t want to have a baby?”

Marilyn watched the sad young woman staring out the kitchen window. She saw her husband walking slowly back towards the house, his hands in the pockets of his overalls.

“But that’s it, Aggie. It doesn’t matter. You did have the baby. You can’t take that back. You can sit around supposing and wondering for the rest of your life, but you’ll never know because you can never turn back time.”

Agnes sighed and picked up her coffee mug again. She took another tentative sip, the coffee burning her tongue once again. She resisted the urge to throw the cup across the kitchen. Breaking the cup would not take away the burnt part of her tongue.

Marilyn sat back in her chair, blowing carefully on her coffee but not taking a sip yet. The two women sat like that until Tomas came through the door. Marilyn watched her husband help himself to a cup of coffee. No cream, no sugar. He joined them at the table.

“I think Mae Belle is going to birth that calf soon. I might go check on her tonight.”

He gulped down the coffee, oblivious to the heat of the dark liquid. Marilyn took a sip of her own.

Agnes finally picked up her cup again and took a tentative sip. This time it was the perfect temperature.

“If you don’t mind, Tomas, I’d like to be there when the calf comes.”

Tomas nodded and the three of them silently finished their cups of coffee.


This piece was written as a part of my fictional work-in-progress, Finding Agnes. You can find more from Finding Agnes here.

Red Writing Hood is a weekly writing meme from the Write on Edge community. Constructive criticism is appreciated.



This week’s Red Writing Hood prompt:  A tiny poem by Robert Frost to inspire you this week: The Secret Sits  “We dance round in a ring and suppose, / But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.” You have 450 words.

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9 comments on “RWH: The secret sits”

  1. Annabelle

    I’m going to have to go read some of the rest of this — I want to know what’s going on with Agnes!

  2. angela

    Ahhhh, I really like the conversation between them and the revelations of their personalities through their coffee drinking. Nice job with this.

  3. Wisper

    I must commend you on your ability to continue weaving this story throughout all of the various WOE prompts. That you continue to tell such a wonderful story is outright amazing.

  4. shelton keys dunning

    my husband thinks it’s funny because I drink my coffee “cold”. His idea of cold coffee and mine are completely different. I for one do not know how coffee doesn’t scald his mouth.

    Soooo long story to tell you I liked the traits you gave them with their coffee choices. Nicely done!

  5. cait

    Oooh! This piece is alive with feeling and mood. You captured that brilliantly.

  6. Cameron

    There’s a softening in Agnes as she goes. And I love the simple conversation for all that it reveals. A subtle, light touch with the dialogue.

  7. Kathleen Basi

    There’s lots of good stuff in here–I like how you used dialogue and action, not just narrative (something I’ve been fighting lately in prompts). Careful of the POV switch; we dipped briefly into Marilyn’s head, and the number of characters made me stop while I tried to figure out who belonged with whom. I have a feeling that part is because this isn’t the beginning of the larger work, so it probably isn’t an issue in the big scheme.

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