The wild one

by | Oct 18, 2011 | Fiction, Flash fiction | 24 comments

I wrote this story for a contest, but I missed the deadline—wrote the wrong date down. So it’s this week’s flash for the blog, instead.

The Wild One
By Laura McHale Holland

Old Pete left the ranch to his three grown kids. The two sons were too busy helping their offspring with algebra, fixing leaking roofs, launching Internet startups and such to take over the place. They wanted to sell, and I was set to buy. Until his daughter, the Wild One, put her foot down, said she wanted to move back home, run the place herself.

I’ll say this for her, she’s belligerent. She wore her brothers down.

She left her barista job and second-hand lover in some West Coast hamlet and moved back here to Wyoming, her Subaru wagon filled with ripped jeans, patchwork jackets, tarot cards, marijuana and non-diet, diet books like Skinny Bitch and Women, Food and God.

Almost as soon as the she slipped her tattooed body through the front door it was one long party at Old Pete’s place. As far as I can tell she didn’t mend one fence or even saddle up a horse. She was too busy painting her toenails and posting hourly updates on Twitter. Meanwhile, all the animals were starving. I couldn’t stand it, especially seeing Pete’s dog, Spike, turn to skin and bones.

I complained to her brothers, but like I said, they were busy. They didn’t want any headaches, and they didn’t believe me anyway.

So I stole Spike, and then some of the horses. The Wild One didn’t notice. If I’d stopped my thieving then, the remaining horses would have died, and the cattle, too. So I crept into Old Pete’s house late one night and knocked his only daughter out with a Louisville Slugger. Then I carried her home and locked her in a soundproof basement room where I used to have a recording studio.

When I bring the Wild One oatmeal each morning she asks when I’m going to set her free, but I don’t answer. She’ll never wear me down. You see, I up and stole her freedom. I stole it and I’m glad I did.

Everyone thinks she ran off with a new lover, so Old Pete’s place is up for sale again, and I’m set to buy it. I think Pete would be okay with this, because Spike is fat and happy, sleeping at my feet. And his wayward daughter has settled down at last.

Share this:

The Kiminee Dream: Now Available!

My new novel is coming soon. Mark your calendar!

Influenced by folklore and magical realism, The Kiminee Dream is a lyrical story with characters equally charmed and challenged while living where the ordinary and miraculous coexist seamlessly. If you like depth as well as whimsy, arresting twists, and details that rouse your senses, you’ll love what is both an eloquent exploration of acceptance and a tender tribute to the people of Illinois.


  1. Jerry Kohut

    fat and happy works for me lol Another great hit from the famous Louisville slugger

  2. Erin O'Riordan

    Not the ideal solution to the problem, maybe, but nonetheless a fascinating piece of flash fiction.

  3. admin

    Thanks, Jerry. I so very much appreciate your consistency in stopping by and sharing your thoughts about my stories!

  4. admin

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment about my latest story. I wrote it for a contest but missed the deadline. One of the requirements was that the story contain the sentence, “I stole it and I’m glad I did.” So stealing someone’s freedom is where my imagination took it.

  5. Barbara Toboni

    To post or not to post? I’m glad you decided to share this on your blog. You can always publish a collection later from your blog posts. This one would have been winner!

  6. admin

    You are prescient, Barbara. I do plan to publish an edited collection of these next year sometime. It’s a fun project while I’m letting a few ideas for longer works percolate. What are you working on now?

  7. Nancy LaTurner

    Your wicked imagination delights me and ignites ideas of my own — double the pleasure! Best wishes for the success of your collection!

  8. admin

    Thanks, Nancy. I know what you mean about how reading other writers’ work ignites your own ideas. It’s fun to be part of such a creative process. … I hope your book launch for Voluntary Nomads is going splendidly. I’m going to put it on my to-read list.

  9. Kathy Rygg

    I saw your post on linkedin and had to stop by–I’m glad I did! I love the voice of this piece and I laughed out loud at the last line!

  10. Kenneth Weene

    Old Pete must be happy, too – wherever he is. Equation solved.

  11. Antonio mendes

    9/11 friend, I always enjoy your blogs, they have great story line.

  12. ScottTheWriter

    Great flash fiction. This really brings the reader into the mind of the protagonist. I feel what he/she feels. It could be a woman, right?
    The point is, I want more.
    Let’s read more of your stuff.


  13. Barbara Toboni

    I’m working on a short story now that could be a longer work in the future. We’ll see. Also my critique group and I have been posting articles about writing on our website Four of us will be reading on November 6th at Copperfields here in Napa at an open mic. Information is on the site too in case anyone is interested. Good luck.

  14. admin

    I’m so glad that the last line struck you funny. It’s one of those things that just popped out, and it surprised me and struck me funny, too. I like flirting with the dark side but not taking myself and the situations in these stories too seriously. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Do you post stories on your blog, too?

  15. admin

    Hi Kenneth, I imagined Old Pete adored his daughter, spoiled her, put up with all sorts of trouble from her and then was brokenhearted when she moved away. I didn’t really give any thought to how he’d feel about her being held captive in a neighbor’s basement. But then, that’s all back story. And we’re each free to imagine what we like. In thinking about it now, I don’t envision him being happy about her situation, but your take on that works just as well as mine.

  16. admin

    Nice to hear from you, Antonio. And thanks for the note of appreciation. (Someday we’ll have to write about having a birthday on Sept. 11. In the overall scheme of things, it’s not so bad, especially when we have friends who share the birthday and know what it’s like.)

  17. admin

    Thank you, Scott. I love that you pictured the protagonist as a woman. I had pictured a man, but I re-read it envisioning a woman speaking, and I like the twist that puts on it. I love how so much can be left to an individual reader’s interpretation. Thanks again for reading the story and for leaving a comment. I’ve been posting one per week all year, and I may keep going in 2012. I haven’t decided yet whether to continue this or do a different type of weekly posting next year.

  18. admin

    Mmmmm. It all sounds good. I’ll have to stop by and see what you all have to say. I don’t think I’ll be able to get over to Napa on the 6th, but I do hope an appreciative crowd turns out and that you have a lot of fun.

  19. Lysle

    I like the idea of the protagonist being a woman. The ranching side of my family understands this. We still own the family ranch…it is leased out right now but when THE MOM passes it will be sold. All the animals are gone though so no worries on that end….you have the possibility for an anthology here as you go on…

  20. admin

    Thanks, Lysle, for sharing your thoughts. It’s good to know someone from a ranching family can picture the protangonist being female. I’m liking that idea, too. And thanks for endorsing the idea of an anthology; I’d like to pull one together sometime next year. … Will it be sad for you to sell a ranch that’s been in the family for so long a time?

  21. admin

    Your website is way cool, Ken. Did you do it yourself with Your books all sound intriguing, too.

  22. Robin Leigh Morgan

    Right at the start I noticed a problem
    You started mentioning Pete had three grown kid.
    Then you spoke about two sons being too busy.

    You then wrote
    Until the third kid, the Wild One, put her foot down, said she wanted to move back home, run the place herself.
    Why didn’t write “Until his daughter, the Wid One….

    As I read, the rest of the story, especially when you wrote about the oatmeal for breakfast, I got a sense that his “daughter” is in reality, was Pete’s horse. She had always been a wild, free filly and now is “locked up” in a barn yearning to be free again, as she bucks and raises her front holves the little she can in that enclosed environment. Of course, she didn’t feed the dog or the other animals, how could she, since she’s a horse.

    I hope my interpretation hasn’t too far to the imaginary.

    Also I believe you had misplaced a word when you wrote:
    “knocked his only daughter out with a Louisville Slugger.”

    What I think you had in mind is:
    “knocked OUT his only daughter with a Louisville Slugger.

  23. admin

    Thanks for your thoughts on this story, Robin. I think “the third kid, the Wild One, put her foot down” identifies her as his daughter well enough. But “until his daughter, the Wild One, put her foot down” works, too, and if it avoids confusion, it might be a better choice. I didn’t imagine her to be Pete’s horse at all, but that’s an interesting twist. As far as split infinitves go, it’s perfectly okay to use them. It was some long-ago grammarian who thought English ought to follow Latin structure who dictated that it’s not okay to split infinitives, but it’s a very natural thing to do in English. I do welcome your suggestions though; you’re very perceptive. :o)

  24. Robin Leigh Morgan

    Haven’t you heard cowboys talking to or abiut the horses, “C’mon girl ……”
    And that sometimes they treat their horses as if they were an
    actual member of his family

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up here to receive your free copy of Just In Case

Subscribe to Laura McHale Holland’s newsletter

Thank you! Watch your inbox, your welcome email should arrive soon.