Three-Word Sentences By Karen Hayes

Portal AZ Photo by Karen Hayes.jpg

Portal, AZ Photo by Karen Hayes


(This piece was generated from a writing workshop with author Abigail Thomas. The instruction was to write about a period of your life, all in three word sentences.)

Alden died today. The view remains. Rhyolite spires up-canyon. Mesquite here below. Those don’t change. All else changes. Miles from anything. Center of everything. We loved it.

            He loved me. Man of grace. “Time to die.”  He said it. I said, “Wait.” It was hard. Not too hard. A thankful note. I keep it.

            I’ll stay here. Might leave later. Take memories too. Goodbye to friends. Goodbye to scenery. Goodbye to birds. Quail, take care. Jays, be kind. Goodbye to rattlesnakes. You’ll get by. Goodbye to mice. Mice in house. They climbed walls. Traps all over. We emptied traps. Jays ate mice. Roadrunners did, too.

            House built solid. Adobes made here. House stayed cool. Warm in winter. A terrible well. Iron and caliche. Toilets turned red. Hair did, too. Water from neighbors. In gallon jugs. Finally new well. Good, thank god.

            Havelinas came close. Ground level windows. Snout marks there. Geraniums in pots. Pigs devoured plants. Only dirt left. I threw rocks. They didn’t care. They had babies. Boars defend fiercely. Don’t go close. Just throw rocks.

            Monsoon rains came. Arroyos filled up. Creek ran fast. Boulders would move. Branches got stuck. Creek spilled over. More rains came. Rain gauge filled. Write down inches. Enter into log. Life makes babies. Birds make nests. Snakes would mate. Came near house. Watch your step.

            Miles from anywhere. Center of everything. Broke my leg. Doctor in Tucson. One-hundred fifty miles. Oh, well, hell.  Deal with it.

            Start a gallery. A regional co-op. Take black-white photos. Print the images. Change the filters. Fix the composition. Mat and frame. Set a price. Sell my photos.  Argue with members. Gallery works out.  

            Nearest town, Douglas. On the border. Agua Prieta, Sonora. Bank is there. Groceries are there. Odor of meat. See pork snouts. Pigs’ feet there. Little English spoken. My name “Aye-yes.” [how Hayes is pronounced in Spanish]

            Save the canyon. It sounds trite. But it’s serious. Stop the mine. No cyanide pit. Fight Forest Service. They lie easily. They lie often. Lies flow fast. I am pissed. Stupidity is rampant. Appeal to politicians. They don’t care. “Mining is good.” “Thank you, sir.”  You lie, too.

            Forest Service corrupt. See their files. Copy the documents. CYA all over. Word goes out. The voters care. The world cares. Science is there. Now politicians care. A three-year fight. Act of Congress. We did win.

            Another dry spring. Finally summer rains. Lightning strikes peaks. Thunder echoes near. Snakes in yard. Mesquite in bloom. Deer walk by. People are friendly. Lived far apart. Some not friendly. Get over it.

            Alden lived there. I loved him. He died there. Center of everything.

            Then I left. Memories came, too.  

Karen Hayes.jpg

Karen Hayes writes dark 'n whimsical fiction and creative non-fiction. Karen wrote the essay Online Dating for Seniors and My Shadow Selves and is currently working on her memoir, True Places. For more information visit:

NOTE: If you don’t know how to start a personal essay, write a page or two in three-word sentences. It’s a unique way to get your thoughts on the page without any pressure . . .

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