From "Briley of Crooked Creek" (A Western Short Story)
Crooked Creek, Montana Territory—December 1865
Untouched snow surrounded the small cabin. A narrow stream of smoke did not rise from the chimney. The small barn tucked away behind the cabin stood in silence, as though its occupants had long abandoned the sturdy structure.
“Are you certain you have the right place, ma’am?”
Briley Donaghue sat perched on the seat of the buckboard next to the older man with a friendly smile who answered to Clete. The stage coach driver had greeted Clete with a grand handshake and broad grin, asking after his wife. The driver assured her that no one would look after her better than Clete, and so she hired him. She had expected her husband to meet the stage and escort her to the home they would share. At least, that had been the fanciful notion Briley’s imagination had concocted when she answered the advertisement. His letters hadn’t been filled with romantic gestures, nor had she really expected such things from a stranger.
Now that she gazed upon her immediate future, Briley thought that if she’d had any sense at all, she would have found a way to return to Ireland rather than venturing to Montana Territory. “It’s the right place.” Her voice was filled with apprehension.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING TODAY. I HOPE TO SEE YOU AGAIN SOON.