Winyah Bay by John Riley

Effie reckons the river her sister keeps asking about, the Great Pee Dee, was named after some Indians. She knows it runs, the Great Pee Dee, north of Florence, close-by the farm their daddy worked. There’s a college in Florence named after Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, who sure taught the British a thing or two, that wasn’t there when they were girls. She doesn’t know what sort of lessons they have at the college, but it’s probably as big a waste of space as her sister is, spending day and night slumped in her wheelchair, slobber bib yellow and crusty, asking over and over what happened to the Great Pee Dee, never just the Pee Dee, mind you, always the Great Pee Dee, instead of sitting there quiet like a good girl and watching The Price is Right. Hope to die, when people start losing their minds they get stuck on the craziest notions. Worrying about a river, and here it is 1976, when everyone knows rivers don’t mean a thing no more, what with the big trucks roaring up and down the superhighways and airplanes flying stuff all around the world day and night. It ain’t like when they were girls and rivers did people some good and they’d sneak away from their chores to watch rafts of pine logs drift south on the slow current and wonder what it’d be like to float all the way to Winyah Bay.

John Riley’s stories and poems have appeared in Fiction Daily, The Dead Mule, The Centrifugal Eye, Conteonline, Soundzine, SmokeLong Quarterly and other journals. He lives in North Carolina where he works ridding himself of opinions. He thinks others should do the same.


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12 responses to “Winyah Bay by John Riley

  1. Very believable and troubling voice. The expectation that her disabled sister should just be quiet instead of expressing her longings is sad but realistic.

  2. Really great capture of a relationship hidden within the details.

  3. Len

    your characterizations are spot on. you write with a very strong voice. you should consider a novel and taking this further. reminds me of “bloodroot” which was a best seller in 2010.

  4. I think the ‘Great Pee Dee’ went over my head. What is it?

    Otherwise, I really liked the voice in this. :)

  5. Thanks for the nice words, everyone.

    The Pee Dee is a river in South Carolina. In some areas it’s called the “Great Pee Dee” and in other areas it’s just the Pee Dee. I don’t know why.

  6. John, you have a great use of voice and details in this piece. Lots going on just beneath the complex surfaces.

  7. John Riley

    Thank you, Robert

  8. Kim Hutchinson

    A troubling but arresting voice. There is much more to this story.

  9. Yes, the voice in this story is kind of spooky but also, filled with suspense…Enjoyed this story.

  10. Love the voice, and the description of the river and it’s history.

    And Go Heels! Peace…

  11. Pingback: Week #34 – Floating away | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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