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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction - From the archives 2008

White Oleander
Alun Williams

We decided to run away after Betty’s parents found out she was pregnant. They told her that she was to get rid of it and arranged for her to go to the Cooper Valley Hospital later that week. She cried. She cried a lot. Her parents thought that by locking her away in her bedroom we wouldn’t be able to see each other. They were a little naïve about that.
I helped Betty climb out of her bedroom window and into my dad’s pickup which I’d free-wheeled down the hill to her house. I parked it at the station and we caught the train to nowhere in particular. Betty’s head rested on my shoulder most of the way. We didn’t talk much either, there didn‘t seem to be much to say really. The conductor checked our tickets and said we’d reach our destination in fifteen minutes.

When we got off I checked us into the nearest hotel to the station. I think it was the only one still open at that time of the night. The guy at the desk had a badge that said Dick. Betty laughed at that. I told her to hush up, but she kept on laughing. Next to the lobby there was a bar. People were still drinking and I thought that in three years time they’d be able to serve me.

Dick gave us our key and took twenty bucks for the room. I found out later that it was the cheapest room in the hotel because it was directly over the bar and a juke box that played only country music. We never asked for the cheapest room, but maybe we looked as if we wanted it.

Surprisingly there was a vase of white Oleander in the room. I say surprisingly because there was little else. They looked pretty though and I pretended that I’d arranged to have them put there. Betty pretended to believe me. She liked smelling them though and I watched her breathe in the scent. It would have made a beautiful picture.

We didn’t make love that night, just lay on the bed in each other’s arms and listened to the Dixie Chicks singing over and over. We fell asleep with the sweet aroma of Oleander and the sound of freight trains. We had that one night.

In the morning the police arrived and took us away. I said we hadn't done anything wrong, but Betty’s parents wanted me locked up. The policeman said they couldn‘t really do that. Betty's father shouts a lot. I went home and cried. My parents didn’t say much but they were Episcopal, born and bred. Episcopals don’t say much.

Betty’s parents took her away someplace on the West coast and when I saw her again things had changed. She didn’t have our baby anymore.

I sent her over a bunch of Oleander when she came back but her father drove over to our house and threw them on our porch. He told me never to see her again.
I picked them up one by one. They didn't smell anymore.

© Alun Williams April 2008
maxieslim2 at

Shorts published in Cambrensis, Write Side Up, Secret Attic, Twisted Tongue as well as Skive and Stick your Neck out.

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