Entry Nickname: Burning Down the House
Title: The Farmer’s Wife
Word Count: 60k
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Jody Sinclair’s grandparents, Samuel and Lillian, have spent their entire married life in the farmhouse her grandfather built by hand. When the house goes up in flames, Lillian barely escapes with her life. Samuel is not as lucky. Fire crews attempt to control the blaze, leaving Lillian with nothing to do but watch as she loses everything she’s ever cherished.
Jody arrives at the house just after the first fire truck and offers Lillian both comfort and her spare bedroom. In the days following Samuel’s death, Jody struggles to help her grandmother return to a sense of normalcy. As they sift through what the fire left behind, they unearth more than Jody ever expected. When Jody discovers that Lillian intentionally set the house ablaze, she must decide whether she will seek justice for her recently deceased grandfather, or let the truth die with him.
When the phone rings during the opening credits of Doctor Who, I consider letting it go to voicemail. With a silent prayer of gratitude for the ability to pause streaming video, I jump up to grab it on the third ring.
“Jody?” I don’t recognize the voice. I can hear the caller gasp for breath, and worry that this is about to turn into some weird prank.
“Who is this?” I ask, my words sharp, prepared to hang up if the panting continues.
“It’s Gram.” Another deep breath, followed by a sob this time.
“Gram?” I ask, confused. Gram never calls after five or six. She’s usually asleep by eight. I glance at the clock on my stove. It’s nearly eleven. She sobs again, and my heart drops down to my ankles. “Gram, what’s wrong? Where are you?”
“I’m at Bonnie’s. Can you please come pick me up?” Her voice is raw and strained.
“Gram, what’s wrong?” I ask again. Emphasizing each word as I spit it out of my mouth. I hear her take in a sharp breath before she answers.
“It’s the house. It’s burning.”
I sit down. Hard. My breath leaves me in a rush. “Are you okay? Where’s Gramps?”
She takes a few more deep breaths, though I can’t tell whether she’s trying to calm herself down or avoid answering the questions.
“I’m fine.” She answers, sounding anything but.
“And Gramps?” The pause is even longer this time.
“He’s still in the house.”