For the Time Being
The mountains hummed in the afternoon shadows. A light wind could be heard only on the topmost ridges. Down in the hollers it was still, as though sound had been gathered up and put away for the time being. Every now and again a branch would crack or an oak would lean to one side, the roots straining while the leaves whispered.
Tom Sutton brushed his palm across the rough body of a pine, the bark scratching at the pads of his mud and sweat stained fingers. In front of Tom, the ripe green stalks of fifteen pot plants trickled down the ridgeline, appearing as though crows had dropped the seeds and they had sprouted at random. Tom bent over the nearest plant and cupped a leaf in his hand, the jagged ends like the fur on the spine of Tom’s dog, Taro. The dog pushed his nose into Tom’s palm and sniffed the leaf. Then he sat on his haunches, his patient eyes flitting between the quiet conversations in the treetops and back to Tom’s tense shoulders.
Tom fingered the knife in his pocket. He thought to himself that if he pulled up the plants and burned them somewhere hidden, nothing would come of it besides a few weeks of lying-low, avoiding talk at the bar. But the buds on top were ready to be packaged and sold, meaning that somebody would be more than just pissed if the plants disappeared.
A sign marking the boundary line between the Sutton land and National Forest clicked against the trunk of an oak twenty feet to the east of the plants. It was a miracle that a ranger hadn’t found them by now, being this close to the line. Tom peered through the trees in a panic. Everyone from the area knew that the searches were an excuse to get drunk and raise hell, cops and storeowners alike. When the men of the town caught wind of growers, every man from the county would be out there with fire in his veins and nose to the ground like a coon dog, the excitement bleeding between the men with the bottles of whiskey they passed.
Once Tom had gone out on a search for some growers that lived back in Little Creek Bend. He had watched as the sheriff lit a cigarette just before they went in the house. The smoke drifted amongst the rising fog and to the east the sky had lightened, fingers of pink slicing the thick black tarp. Then the sheriff grinned and said that he used to grow. He told Tom that the first time he went on a bust as a cop, the man they were arresting for growing had bought the seeds from the sheriff four months before. The sheriff said he had beat the man over the head before he could say anything, that he hadn’t grown a plant since. Then he watched as the sheriff pulled a man older than anybody Tom had ever known out of the house. The sheriff threw the man on the ground and spat on him, the man’s face stained with age and blank with exhaustion. Since then, Tom regarded pot as something of a disease—something that twisted people’s minds up into knots and kept them there.
Tom examined the plants, their sharp tips crackling against the dried leaves. He slowed his breathing and reasoned that nobody would believe that the Suttons had grown the plants anyways. One thing the Suttons were known for was honesty. People called them when they needed help, maybe to move something or just a quiet person to talk to. The Suttons had a reputation of being good listeners. In Harbor a reputation was about all most people had to claim.
About a year ago Tom’s older brother, Eli, had been called over to help out Old Man Esco who lived back in Old Pine. The foundation of Esco’s front porch had been rotting away, the front half bending its knees until you couldn’t set a plate down, for fear it would run down the boards and fall into the worn ground below. Turned out Esco had not a single intention of fixing the porch. He sat Eli down on the worn steps and talked until the night bugs began to call, bringing out beer after beer until there was a whole pile lined up behind him. Eli listened without a word, his bottle full. He told Tom later that one of the best ways of learning was from the lives of others.
Tom stood up and looked around. A cardinal chirped somewhere up ahead and moments later another responded from behind. He decided to leave the plants be for the moment. He muttered to Taro that it might be worse in the long run if he moved them now. Taro wagged his tail and trotted down the side of the mountain just ahead of Tom.
The decline flattened out and the tree line broke off into a flat expanse of land, lined on one side by a chirping creek. The valley had slowly been transformed by tobacco fields. The sloping roof of the cabin glinted in the middle of the valley and the porch was shadowed and sleepy. Every time Tom looked down on it all, he wanted to reach out and gather it up in his arms and keep it there under the stars where it would remain safe always—clasped in his hands as the leaves fell and grew back.
The porch steps sagged under Tom’s weight. Eli sat smoking, the thin trail of grey flowing upwards and mixing with the cobwebs that dripped from the rafters. Eli was tall and broad, with a well-kept beard the color of the clay that seeped up from the earth in plowing season. His creased work boots were unlaced but still on his feet. In the corner, where the porch met the side of the house, a shotgun stood in arms reach.
Tom sat down and scratched his bare chin, something he did when he didn’t quite know what to say.
“Find anything?” Eli asked, gaze steady on something halfway up the ridge.
“No tracks…reckon the deer are skittish this season.” Tom scratched his chin again and exhaled through his nose.
“What?” Eli said, shifting his gaze to Tom’s hunched shoulders.
“Nothin’….Eli?” Tom stopped. “Somebody’s planted pot up on our side of the line, about twenty feet from National Forest.” Eli’s lips drew tight and he scratched his knee. He looked back up at the ridge and kept his eyes there.
“How many?” Eli asked.
“I reckon about fifteen or twenty. They’re fixin’ to be picked too. I would’ve burned them, but I figured I should tell you first….” Tom’s words trailed, unsure.
“Shit,” Eli said.
“What should we do with ‘em?” Tom asked, still fingering the knife in his pocket.
“I reckon’ we’ll have to get rid of them.” Eli said, eyes tracing the curves of the ridge.
“What about the growers?”
“I’ll take care of all that.” Eli stood up and dusted off his jeans. He stooped and tightened his boots and threw his cigarette between the boards of the porch. “You stay here and take care of the chores. I’m goin’ up on the ridge to see about this.”
Tom began to object, saying that it might be dangerous if the growers came back, but Eli just clasped the shotgun in his huge hands and moved out between the fields. His shoulders were set square and broad from years of plowing and staking. As Tom watched his brother move away, he wondered if he’d ever have a beard like his brother.
It was only on very important matters such as this that Tom asked for Eli’s advice. Tom had turned sixteen last month. He’d figured that he was old enough now to figure things out for himself. Eli was getting close to thirty, and deep creases were starting to show when he smiled. Eli had raised Tom ever since their momma died when Tom was three. Folks said that she’d drowned herself out of loneliness. From then on Eli learned how to run the farm from the old timers that came by and helped out. They were lonesome men and said that it just wouldn’t be right to let the boys starve or for a farm with such good land to go to waste. They taught Eli to do things like to use a plow and make biscuits. One man with a weeping eye and scarred palms told Eli that when the second crop of blueberries are ripe for picking, the tobacco leaves should be half the size of a grown man’s hand. He said that if the leaf is any bigger or smaller, then the crop will be rotten.
Eli passed the lessons of the old timers on to Tom. You could cure a sore neck if you stuck clover between your toes on a full moon and you should never set sugar next to the flour for too long for fear of a bad harvest. The Sutton boys weren’t very superstitious of nature and when they got older, they laughed at the old wives tales. But sometimes they did move the sugar and pick clover out of respect for the men who had raised them.
Maybe those old timers took pity on the Sutton boys because everybody said their daddy, Ronnie, was a good for nothing piece of shit. Eli always said that he should stay away from him, that Ronnie could suck somebody’s soul out by just looking at them.
Ronnie showed up every now and again. He lived a couple of miles over the ridge by the Sutton place in a trailer that looked like somebody had taken a piece of metal and stuck it straight into the mountain. Rocks the size of beer bottles rolled down the ridge and bounced against the dented roof of the trailer. Useless old trucks sat wheelless in the yard with flaking paint and dip cans lining the sides.
Sometimes he’d walk up to the porch at the Sutton place while Eli and Tom were eating dinner. He’d make himself comfortable in the doorway, swaying so the jar of shine in his hand dripped on the boards and left little marks like creek spray on dry rocks.
“Ya’ll got somethin’ to eat?” he’d ask, the words long and drawn out.
“Fuck off, Ronnie,” Eli would always say, muscles rigid, hand underneath the table where the shotgun was propped up when it wasn’t on the porch.
“Shoo boy, you’d better learn how to treat your daddy right. One day you’ll understand to always treat your elders with respect.”
“If you don’t get off this porch this minute I’ll skin you alive.” Then Eli would stand up, the shotgun raised and aimed right at the can of shine. Then it would get real quiet so that the cicadas were the only thing making a sound. Then he’d stumble backwards down the porch steps and into the night, his laughter bouncing up through the holler. Taro would howl at the echoes that passed back and forth as they rolled down the mountains and disappeared between the tobacco leaves.
That’s about all Tom knew of Ronnie. A few years back, Eli had managed to get him put away for a while by tipping off the cops that Ronnie was growing and had a still, but he’d been released last year, and his visits had started back up again.
Tom stood up and looked out over the fields. Somewhere far off a barn owl hooted and a deer wheezed. A cloud drifted over the sun, casting the world in pale shadow. The humidity was thick like the air had decided to sit down for a while. The old cow groaned in hunger. When she saw Tom approaching she raised her head and glared with her one blind eye, the creamy pupil framed by long black lashes. Eli said that they should have eaten that cow long ago but he never could make up his mind to kill her and so he reasoned that they kept her around for scenery.
Eli was still up on the mountain when Tom finished his chores. He left a note saying that he’d be in town. The sun had sunk so that only the tip was glinting above the tree line. Moths flitted in clouds through the tobacco stalks. They scattered at the sound of the truck engine as Tom pulled out and headed towards town.
Up on the mountain, the wind brushed through Eli’s hair and his beard scratched his neck. He crossed his arms and studied the plants. There was a slow anger in his veins that crept through the empty spaces of his body. It made his hands tap nervously against his thigh. He kept the shotgun close, propped against a poplar a couple of feet away.
Eli knelt down in front of a plant. He brushed its leaves with his fingers. The tender membranes ripped apart underneath his calloused palms.
“Touch it again and I’ll kill you.” Eli felt the slow anger begin to burn. He clasped his hand into a fist. He turned to face Ronnie, who had the shotgun aimed at Eli’s head.
“Ronnie, you got plenty of land to grow. Where’d you get the crackbrained idea to grow on mine?” Ronnie pulled the safety on the shotgun and steadied it.
“Son, you think I can grow on my land with cops showing up every night to check on me? Got drug dogs coming in from Mayesville just to search my land every six months now, like I’ve got to be looked after or somethin’.” Ronnie swayed to the left and he had to catch himself on the poplar. Then he started coughing as though there were chains wrapped around his lungs and he was trying to get them loose.
“Those years I got you put away were the most peaceful years of my life. Most peaceful years Harbor has known,” Eli said, his voice raised. He shifted his weight forward and spread his feet so that he stood up tall.
“I gave you life, boy. You had better be thankful. Look at you, shoo I swear you got steam a’comin out of your ears you’re so mad. Well when I planted these seeds…” Ronnie’s voice faded out and his eyes went blank. He stared at Eli for a moment, unmoving, the shotgun trembling in his grip. Eli thought that it could be the drugs. He had heard Ronnie had gotten into meth. Ronnie’s arms were covered in thin scratches that Eli tried not to notice. He saw the blood under Ronnie’s fingernails. Eli said to himself that he didn’t care, but buried below the anger he felt a whisper of sadness. Ronnie blinked and started talking again, his eyes jerking as if he couldn’t keep them in place. “I planted these seeds with the idea in mind to give you forty percent of the profits. Forty, sixty, son—that’s more than fair.”
Eli stood for a moment, silent. He looked at his father, white hair falling out in patches so that his pale scalp glowed in the light of the rising moon. His features had collapsed on themselves. His skin was wrinkled with liver spots lining his gaunt cheekbones. A thin stream of drool leaked from the side of his lips, left over from the coughing fit.
“You don’t know what fair is,” Eli muttered, his anger still grappling with the growing sadness.
“Speak up son—let the whole world know!” Ronnie said, close to shouting. Between his words, the air was still and heavy, crouching behind tree leaves and in the curves of where branch met trunk. “Tell em’ your daddy is a good for nothing piece of shit!” His voice grew and his breath came in gasps. “Tell em’..Tell em’ because I know they say it and I want them to know that it’s no secret. Your daddy knows what he is, never be nothin’ else but a piece of shit!” Then his eyes grew wide and he staggered forward, pushed by years of illness, alcohol and drugs. He dropped the shotgun that was still fully loaded before tumbling down the mountain towards Eli. Eli stepped aside and watched as his father rolled past, crushing the pot plants and coming to a sudden halt at the base of an oak.
Slowly, Eli moved towards Ronnie. The dead leaves underneath his feet clasped the bottom of his pants. Eli reached for Ronnie’s shoulder and turned him over so that he could see the swollen veins in his forehead. His eyes were closed and there was blood dripping from his temple. Eli reckoned that the meth and shine was taking hold of Ronnie, the chemicals burrowing into the marrow of his bones. He wasn’t lost yet, but Eli had seen the dead light in Ronnie’s eyes, how they were looking at the film between this world and the next. Eli placed his fingertips on the side of Ronnie’s throat and felt a weak pulse. He leaned back, resting his hands on his knees. Then he laughed, the sound high- pitched and broken. In his chest he felt something hollow and restless beneath his flesh.
He retrieved the shotgun that lay nestled on a thick patch of moss. He paused and listened to the stillness around him. The silence crept closer still, until Eli could feel its breath on his neck. He rested the barrel of the shotgun just above Ronnie’s hairline. The oily grey hair wrapped itself around the barrel in the breeze. A branch fell from an old white pine standing nearby. The trigger of the shotgun was slick from Ronnie’s sweat and Eli’s index finger slid down the smooth curve, the gun trembling and sending static up his arm. A shudder ran through Eli and the barrel jerked to the side. He blinked, his eyes burning. The click of the safety falling into place on the shotgun broke the silence. He moved to the crumbled pot plants and picked them up, tucking them underneath his arm.
Before he turned towards home, he glanced at Ronnie and noticed how small he was, his wrists no bigger than the body of a baby rat snake. He lay curled at the base of the oak, one arm underneath his head and the other lying in the leaves. He left hand was still, grasping the thick bark.
When Eli reached the edge of the tobacco fields, the whole valley opened up before him. Eli dropped to his knees. His fingers shook as he tore at the blades of grass beneath him. He remembered sitting on the front porch steps of the house a couple of weeks after his momma had died. Ronnie had missed planting season again and the tobacco fields were bare. He had kept his gaze fixed on the empty dirt road, wondered if the tobacco grew up and swallowed him, if anybody would notice that he was gone. Ronnie never stopped by to see if the boys had food or if they had washed themselves.
He thought about the loneliness he had felt all those years ago, sitting on the porch and waiting for Ronnie to come down that empty dirt road. Every day for three weeks he had waited and the emptiness had turned to an anger so deep it wound knots into his neck. An anger that made his trigger finger itch every time he had held a gun to Ronnie when he showed up to the Sutton house during dinner and let him leave Ronnie lying between the roots of an oak for something else to decide his fate. But Eli could never shoot, and not because he loved Ronnie. Eli reckoned it was because Ronnie knew what he was, a good for nothing piece of shit, and that in itself was worse than any death.
Eli looked up at the dirt road and then over the healthy green fields. He pictured the morning sun rising, the pink streaks sleepy behind the ridge. Ronnie would wake slowly, look around for the plants. The emptiness in his veins would make his anger stronger when he found nothing but the tossed, dried leaves. He would think that Eli had taken the plants for himself, that the tobacco for this year just wasn’t enough to pay the bills.
Slowly Eli stood up and moved to the creek. He tore up the plants and dropped them into the water. The eddies spun the pieces of green into the darkness of the overhanging laurels. He made his way to the porch where he sat down heavily, the hum of the cicadas steady. A deer rose its head in the middle of the tobacco field and watched Eli as he lit a cigarette and inhaled. They examined one another, the long muscles in the legs of the deer taut. Eli exhaled and the deer lowered its head, hidden by tobacco leaves.
The rocks baked the undersides of Tom’s legs and the pads of his fingers. Cool water nipped at his toes and creek spray mingled with the sweat on his forehead. The afternoon light was fading and the shadows stretched their arms towards Tom, brushing the tip of the bank opposite from where he lay. The summer had been hot and Eli and Tom had made a routine of going down to the creek every afternoon after dinner. They dunked themselves in the cold mountain water that froze joints in place and turned skin a strange purple color. Afterwards, they would sit on the smooth, sun-baked rocks. They smoked cigarettes and drank Jack until the ridge swallowed the sun and the night bugs began to sing.
Two days had passed since Eli had left Ronnie up on the mountain. There were purple circles under Eli’s eyes from watching the stars at night instead of sleeping. When Tom asked what had happened, Eli just said that it had been taken care of. Yesterday, Eli had gone back up to check on things. Ronnie was gone, spots of blood left behind on the roots of the oak. The leaves where the pot had been crushed were thrown about, patches of wet earth visible beneath the clumps.
The current of cold mountain water pulled at Tom’s sun baked skin. The water was up to his chest, numbing his lower body. He tentatively felt for a foothold on the smooth creek stones, his feet sliding over the worn surfaces. Eli was sitting on a big rock smoking a cigarette. The rock was long and narrow from years of wear, laid flat by the smooth hands of current. Mountain laurel and rhododendron leaned into the water, their ripe green leaves dancing in the passing water. The sun shone sideways down from the ridge and spattered the creek with pools of burnished golden light. Eli’s beard was wet and it clung to the curve of his neck. Tom crawled next to him on the rock, clawing at the dry upper body of the rock to keep from slipping.
Tom lit a cigarette and lay shivering. His heavy jeans clung to his skin like tree sap. The cigarette smoke curled around Tom’s face before it got caught in the breeze. He turned and studied the steep bank leading up to the fields. He couldn’t see the farm from here but when he closed his eyes, he was standing up on the ridge and looking down on the valley. He thought about how he had wanted to keep it safe, to hold the farm in his palms and keep it there. He thought of the sweet smell of the tobacco when it dried, the lowing of the cow when she was hungry, the wind that brushed the newborn spring leaves on the trees and the thick taste of cigarette smoke in the evenings while he watched the valley be devoured by shade.
The breeze tickled Tom’s scalp. The cigarette smoke burned his nostrils as he exhaled, as did the bite of woodsmoke when he inhaled.
“You burnin’ somethin’?” he asked Eli.
“What?” Eli said, slowly opening his eyes.
“That—it smells like smoke.” Tom said. Tendrils of grey trickled over the edge of the bank and rolled towards the creek. Eli jumped up like he’d been bitten and leaped to the bank. He scrambled up the side, the wet earth kissing his cold feet. Tom watched as he disappeared over the top and for a moment all that he could hear was the gurgle of the creek. Then there was a yell that stopped Tom’s breathing. Tom shot up the bank after Eli and found his older brother on his knees with his head in his hands.
Both fields were aflame, already a third of each consumed by thick fire. Smoke curled upwards into the orange sky. The untouched tobacco swayed in the heat and the cow bellowed, her side pressed against the gate of the pasture. She bellowed again and kicked the gate hard. It bent inwards and swung open. Splinters of wood flew into the air and the cow ran to the creek, submerging herself in the water. Taro was howling at the flames and leapt higher than the smoking tobacco leaves before running back to where the brothers stood.
The fire was moving fast, swallowing the dry earth with hungry strides. The heat washed over the brothers, wringing dry their dripping jeans and hair. Eli sprinted forward but Tom grabbed his arm and held him back, keeping his grip firm as they watched the fire draw closer to the house from both sides.
As the first flames leapt towards the house and caught on the porch steps, Tom felt as though his heart was caving in. The land that he had worked so hard to protect and maintain was gone.
The smoke began to rise from the top of the house. As the sun disappeared behind the ridgeline, bright orange flames seeped through the sides of the tin and underneath the awnings. Tom could see the burning furniture through the window, the big table where Eli had taught Tom how to mix the batter for cornbread.
The house began to lean backwards and then slowly it fell towards the ground as if it was looking for the best place to rest. The grass beneath Tom’s knees cut into his skin. The sky had turned dark as though the smoke had filled it up. The fields swayed, the thick leaves grasping helplessly at the fading sun as they curled away from flame. The orange tongues simmered and cracked as they swallowed the tobacco leaves whole. Black ash floated up into the sky before falling back. Some drifted downwards into Tom’s hair, caught in the thick strands. Tom glanced sideways at Eli and saw that there was ash in his beard. Eli’s fingers were gripping the grass beneath him so tight that there were traces of blood seeping into the roots.
“We should go get someone,” Tom said, eyes unmoving from the fallen foundation of the house. The heat washed beneath their clothes and over their skin. Eli didn’t say anything as he stood and moved towards the dirt road. Tom and Taro followed behind silently, the smoke clogging Tom’s nose. Tears ran down Tom’s face and made warm trails that dripped to the ground.
Eli paused suddenly and turned around. They had climbed high enough so that everything was visible from below. In the moonlight, a tangled mess of flames rolled over the charred valley, searching for the remains of green. Smoke ran through the trees and clasped the limbs desperately, leaving fleeting touches before moving onwards. Tom wiped the tears from his cheeks and, with shoulders squared, he continued up the dirt road after his brother.
When they got to town two hours later, the moon had disappeared. They had taken old logging roads, the overgrown trails winding down to where the town was nestled. The men at the fire department informed them that the fire was already under control. That they could stay in temporary housing until they figured things out. Eli’s shoulders were slumped and the tired purple patches underneath his eyes were swollen.
They made their way to the bar where they bought six beers, three each, and sat next to each other in silence. Taro sat outside the door, tail wagging on the cracked concrete when someone passed. Hung on the wall of the bar, above a thick line of bottles of varying emptiness, was a clock that was an hour slow. Below the clock was a picture of the bartender, Vick, with a famous country singer that had fake blonde hair and a low cut dress.
The sheriff came in and sat down next to Tom. He smelled of old sweat, beer, and something sweet that Tom didn’t recognize. He bought another round of beers and Tom’s focus on the wall of bottles began to dip. The sheriff gripped his glass but did not raise it to his lips. He cleared his throat and opened his mouth to say something but he seemed to change his mind and looked back down at his drink.
“Sheriff?” Tom said, trying to forget the smell of smoke, but the musky odor lingered in his clothes and on his skin. The sheriff turned back to Tom.
“Son, Ronnie was found dead on his porch an hour ago. He shot himself.” The sheriff paused. The clock on the wall clicked. Outside, Taro whimpered. “There was thirty gallons of Kerosene stacked up next to him.” The sheriff stopped and spat something into a bottle he had in his coat pocket. Tom turned back to the wall and started counting the bottles, first green and then brown. Eli stayed silent, his stillness broken only by the heavy thud of his bottle on the bar.
“I’m sorry about your farm, son,” the sheriff said, still facing Tom. He tried to catch Eli’s eye but gave up. “I could use your help around my place. I know some people who could use men like you, plowing and other things. Ya’ll could even sell your land and get somethin’ for it. Start over somewhere else.”
“Thank you sheriff,” Tom said shortly. “But we plan on re-building just where we are.” When they had turned back to look down on the blackened earth that night, neither of them had thought of leaving.
“Son, that land ain’t worth nothin’ now.”
“It will be worth something in a year. Once the ash gets flattened down that soil will be the best in Harbor,” Tom said. The sheriff, who hated to be contradicted on subjects that he assumed authority, humphed.
“Suit yourself. It’ll be a long winter though,” the sheriff said, after taking a sip of beer.
“It’s just something that we’ll have to get through.” Tom rested his palm on Eli’s shoulder and smiled at him.
Eli studied Tom’s face and the hollow feeling in his chest seemed to suddenly fill. “I’ve got my brother here and we’ll be fine,” Tom said. The sheriff humphed again.
“Do ya’ll want anything to do with the body? He’ll go to the state if you don’t want him,” the sheriff said shortly. He hated death, the whole business made him irritable. Eli sighed and put his head in his hands. He rubbed his eyes, blinked, and looked out into the night where the open sign of the bar flashed.
“We’ll take him,” Eli said. Tom started to say something but Eli stopped him by resting a hand on his shoulder.
“We’ll take him and bury him in the valley. Maybe next season we’ll plant some tobacco on him.” Eli tried to smile, but his skin felt too tight to move. Tom shook his head and drank the rest of his beer. Maybe tomorrow they would go down to valley and see if anything was left, find the cow and dig in the ashes for the plow. The sheriff, feeling much lighter now that the business of death had been solved, bought another round.
They were the only three in the bar tonight. Business had been slow lately, but Vick said that things would pick back up during the fall when the leaf peepers came round. Down the street a couple of kids revved their engines and sped past; black blurs of trucks and whoops were left in the doorway of the bar. Taro howled after them. Then the dog settled down on the warm concrete and closed his eyes. For a long time, all that could be heard was the occasional thump of a beer bottle on wood. Overhead, clouds gathered, and after a while the sky opened up and it began to rain.
AMELIA LANIER is a senior at Interlochen Arts Academy. She is a creative writing major and 2015-2016 is her first year at Interlochen. She grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the North Carolina and Tennessee border. She has won a Gold Medal, five Silver Keys, and two honorable mentions in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Her favorite genre of writing is realistic fiction and her stories focus heavily on the natural elements. She enjoys walks with her dog on breaks, as well as books by Charles Frazier. You will usually find her doing strange things like eating tree bark or climbing up the sides of mountains, as well as generally avoiding the human race.