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October 2018 Writing Challenge

  • 01 Oct 2018 10:31 AM
    Message # 6700749
    Jim Keen (Administrator)

    Did you misplace your lunch or find a random cooler? What’s inside? Is it a surprise picnic or something more notorious? In one thousand words or less tell a story inspired by this picture. 

  • 04 Oct 2018 9:19 AM
    Reply # 6706937 on 6700749

    Fruit with Feet

    On my way home, I noticed a car parked on the shoulder of the road and a cooler sitting in front of the pasture gate. My cow was standing under the apple tree in the pasture, which seemed a little odd. Molly was a red Jersey, a relatively small cow with short horns. But I didn’t see anybody.

    Puzzled, I walked out in the pasture before even going in the house. Then I heard some voices crying “help.”

    When I got closer, I saw feet dangling down from the lower branches. Two teenage girls were perched in the tree while Molly stood underneath, watching them  curiously and hoping they would dislodge some ripe apples. I didn’t get much fruit from the tree because Molly ate any windfalls. Sometimes she would even rub up against the tree trunk trying to shake down some fruit, but these two ‘fruits’ looked likely to fall without any help from Molly.

    “What’re you doing?” I asked.

    “We were just going to pick a few apples,” one of the girls explained, “when this bull chased us up the tree.”

    “First off, she’s a cow,” I said. “And secondly, why are you stealing my apples?”

    “We weren’t stealing them,” the second girl said. “They were just hanging in the tree and would have just fallen anyway.”

    “Do you own the tree? Do you own the ground where they would have fallen?” I asked. “If you don’t, then you are stealing someone else’s apples.”

    “We didn’t mean any harm,” the first girl answered. “We thought anyone could pick fruit from a tree.”

    “Would you just grab an apple in the grocery store and start eating it?” I asked.

    “No,” the girl answered. “But this is different.”

    “How is this different?” I demanded.

    “It just is,” the girl said. “Can you move your cow so we can get down?”

    “I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe I’ll go eat dinner and put off milking for a couple of hours.”

    “Please,” they begged. “We’ll pay for the apples. Just please let us down.”

    “These apples are expensive," I said, "worth at least twenty dollars.”

    “Come on mister,” the first one pleaded. “We don’t have that much money with us.”

    “So how are you planning to pay for the apples?” I asked. They just looked at each other at a loss for words.

    “Tell you what,” I said. “It’s about time for milking, so you can work off your debt.”

    “What would we have to do?”

    “Just help me with the milking and then you can go about your merry way.”

    After they nodded yes, I grabbed Molly’s halter and pulled her towards the barn. I waited for the girls to scamper down, and then waved at them to walk beside Molly. One of them stepped in a cowpie and said “eeoou.” She tried to wipe her shoe on grass, but she didn’t get it all off.

    In the barn, I head-tied Molly and put hobbles on her hind legs. She began to eat the grain in her bucket while I put the milking stool beside her. The girls were still wary of Molly, so I had to encourage them to stand beside me.

    “Place your hand around a teat,” I explained. “Squeeze with your thumb and forefinger. Then squeeze with your middle-finger, your ring-finger, and your little finger. And gently pull down at the same time, like this.”

    The squirt of milk rang on the bottom of the steel bucket. Then I got up to let one of them try. They just looked at each other, neither willing to go first. Finally, the taller girl awkwardly sat on the stool.

    “Like this?” she asked as she tentatively wrapped her fingers around a teat. I nodded, so she squeezed her hand and pulled down. Molly shuffled her feet, although she couldn’t kick while wearing hobbles. The stool turned over as the girl jumped up to back away.

    “You have to be gentle,” I said. “Sit down and try again, gently.”

    She set the stool back upright, and straddled it to keep her feet as far away from Molly as possible. Slowly she tried again, and was rewarded with a few drops dripping into the bucket. Encouraged, she tugged again and got a bigger squirt. Then she tried with her left hand, and after alternating a few times, she seemed to get the hang of it.

    She gave up her seat to her friend, who had benefited by watching, but she still took a few tries to yield a tiny bit of milk. Molly was about finished with the grain, and then she would get a little antsy, so I decided to let the girls go.

    “Come on,” I said as I led them out the front of the barn. “Walk across the yard to the road and follow it to your car. And next time you want something, ask for it first. Okay?”

    They nodded in the affirmative and quickly walked off. Had they learned any wisdom? Probably not; they were teenagers who still thought they knew it all. But at least I tried.

    Last modified: 24 Oct 2018 7:40 AM | Michael Worthington
  • 24 Oct 2018 9:01 AM
    Reply # 6871337 on 6700749
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    I haven't had time to tell you how much I love this story. Bravo!

  • 04 Nov 2018 1:48 PM
    Reply # 6888039 on 6700749
    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin

    "No Trespassing"

    We walked past the farm for the 13 years that we went to school. First Ruth Gansburger Grade School, the then Cesar Chavez Middle School and finally Rancho Arroyo High School in Hayward, California.

    No one ever appeared at the farm and but the land was always taken care of. The "No Trespassing" sign replaced year after year by unseen hands.

    It had become the Boogeyman, I dare you to climb the fence and a spate of horror stories that we told to each other the closer that it got to Halloween.

    The blue crate just showed up one day between morning and afternoon classes at Rancho Arroyo.  No one wanted to look inside.  It sat there for over 5 years unopened.  The tape still holding strong after many harsh winters and summers.

    The blue crate had begun to take on a life of its own.  Who would be the brave one to open it?  It sat there all through our high school years untouched by human hands. It became its own legend.

    Most of us went off to colleges in different states.  Only a few of went to school closer to home. No one went near the blue crate again for years.

    The time came for our 10 Year High School Reunion.  We decided to gather as many as we could and finally take the tape off and open the crate. By this time the crate had faded to a barely blue color, the tape still held strong, resisting all our efforts to remove it. This was the end for most of us.  If it would not open, nor should it be opened.

    As most lives go, we married and had children.  They walked past the same barely blue crate all of their school years and new stories were told to scare the younger kids.

    The years passed and new generations of children and grandchildren came along and they told the same stories to the younger ones. 

    Decades passed and the blue crate remained. People lived and died and the blue crate remained never being moved or opened.

    One day a new generation of children passed the farm. The "No Trespassing" sign had been removed along with the fence.  But the blue crate remained.  They looked up and saw a very old man walk down the road from the farm.  He did not say a word, but picked up the blue crate and never looked back as he walked back up the path to the farm.

    Townspeople flocked to the farm just to stare and gossip about the mysterious farm, old man and blue crate.  Gossip started to go wild and some demanded that the old man tell them what was in the crate. Speculation was that it was a dead child, dead animal, gold or some other such nonsense. 

    One night a group of crazy people from the town with torches in their hands made their way up the road to the farm.  When they reached the farm there was nothing there but a hold in the ground where they assumed a house would have been.  There sat the blue crate perched in the middle of the hole.  On top, it said Open Me!

    The tape had been removed and the top cracked open. Inside there appeared to be some sort of skeleton.  Around its neck was a sign that said “Please bury me. I thought that someone would find me long ago and I long to be with my parents.”

    Not a soul said one single word.  They just walked away from the blue crate.  Only one child remained.  “I will carry you home my brother.” He said.  “I have been waiting for you too long and have lived many children’s lives.  Our parents have been waiting for you for much too long and will we joyous upon your return to them.” 

    He picked up the tiny skeleton and vanished into thin air.

    “This is a cautionary tale of not wasting your life by being afraid. Never be put off by “No Trespassing” signs in your life. Never hesitate to do the right thing even though it may seem insurmountable at the time. Live life to the fullest, for you never know how much time you have left and be kind to your fellow man even if they are different from you.”

    Dedicated to my father William J. Gould, Jr. Who never put off the things that were important to him.  He lived life to the fullest and I miss him every single day.


  • 04 Nov 2018 1:49 PM
    Reply # 6888040 on 6700749
    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin

    Michael I just loved your story.

    Gloria

  • 05 Nov 2018 6:54 AM
    Reply # 6889313 on 6700749

    Gloria,

    Very appropriate story for Halloween! The suspense built slowly and steadily, holding the reader's attention. But the ending was anticlimactic -- it would have been better to just let the question linger in the reader's mind. Thanks for the very enjoyable story.

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