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February 2019 Writing Challenge

  • 07 Mar 2019 8:10 AM
    Reply # 7204326 on 7136845

    Gloria: Great pacing leading up to the climax. I enjoyed reading the story.

    Oliver: The introductory prose made the poem more moving. Wonderful concept.

  • 06 Mar 2019 5:16 PM
    Reply # 7203167 on 7136845
    Gloria A. Goul-Loftin

    The Lake

    All I wanted was a happy life….

    ********

    My childhood in the Carpathian Mountain home I shared with my parents and three brothers and sisters were almost magical.

                We played in the Carpathians foothills, swam in the lake in front of our lodge and bathed in the thermal mineral waters that surrounded the land my father owned.

                The animals of the forest were our friends. They had never been around people before and were not afraid of humans.  Wolves, deer, bear, wild boars and foxes never harmed us.

                The only thing my parents feared was the night.  We were well schooled from birth, never to be out after dark. The night held the only scary part of our childhood.

                “Aurora, you are the oldest and must show respect for your mother’s and my ways.  You must always look after your brothers and sisters. Being the eldest, you must show them the right path to take.” Her father told her.

                Across the lake was a very old gothic mansion.  Lights only shown at night and cast dark shadows across the lake.

                Ever since I was a young girl, I would see a young boy row half across the lake each day when the sun set.

                He looked right at my bedroom window each night and we would stare at each other until the sun started to rise and he would row back across his half of the lake.

                I looked forward to seeing him each and every night. It was almost as if we could hear what was in each other’s mind. His eyes seemed to sparkle, but I thought is was just the moon shining off his face.

                I never went across the lake to the other side until that fateful night of my 16th birthday. I stayed awake until everyone else had gone to sleep. I was lucky, for on this birthday I was given a room of my own. I dressed very warmly since even in summer the night was cold. I crept down the stairs and out the back door of our lodge and made my way toward the lake's edge.

                As I was staring at the lake the lights went on in the mansion.  It seemed like the lights were dancing just for me across the waves of the lake.

    As I started to walk around the edge of the lake. He came out and walked toward me. For the first time, he smiled at me if he had been waiting for me for his entire life. We met halfway around.

    He took my hand in his and said, “I have been waiting for you my entire life.”  “My name is Stephan. It was easy for me to place my hand in his as if I knew that this was what was meant for me.

      I asked him, “Why do you seem the same age as when I saw you as a child?” He told me he would tell me at the end of the summer

    We talked for hours, about our lives and families until the sun began to rise and he said, “Please come back tonight.”  He stepped back and seemed to melt into the shadows.

    I hurried back to my house and ran up the stairs and into my bed before my mother called us down for breakfast.

    We met for the rest of the summer each night until the sun began to rise.  Each time he left he took a little bit of me with him.

    The next night we met, he told me his family would be moving to their familial castle high in the Carpathia Mountains.

    “I want you to come with us when we go,” Stephan said.

    “My family wants to meet you this evening, will you come with me? There is something important that I have to ask of them and you.”

    I placed my hand in his and turned away from my family and my home. I knew that whatever his family wanted I would comply.  I could not see my life without Stephan in it. We walked up around the lake and entered his home.

    “Welcome child,” I heard from the tall pale man in front of me. “I am Stephan’s father, Baldric he said with a very wide smile and a soft chuckle.

    “Yes, welcome child.” I heard echoing off the walls of the manor.

    A very pale woman walked up to me and Stephan and set her palm upon my face.

    “You have captured my Stephan’s heart,” his mother Adrianna said. “I hope you will stay with us as we travel to our mountain home.”

    “Has Stephan told you of what he must to for you to become one with our family,” his mother asked.

    “I will do whatever you want me to. I love Stephan and want to be with him as his wife,” I replied.

    “I have lived in these mountains and have heard the stories of the Vampire since I was small.  Since Stephan has not aged in almost 16 years, I knew he was one. I want to become one of you even though it means that I will never see my family again.”

    “Dear child, you need not got that far. Has your father never told you of your ancestors?  They were once as we are now.” Baldric said.

    “You father and I had been great friends a long time ago.  He chose to become human and have children. I chose another path.

    Stephan has been your champion since you were born; keeping watch until your 16th birthday.”

    “He is right,” dear daughter

    I turned around and there were my mother and father. Sad but smiling at me from behind Baldric. 

    “We tried to keep you from this, but we see that you have chosen as we chose what was the path that we wanted to walk,” her father said.

    “Aurora,” called Stephan. “You will feel no pain.”  And as he took my hand, I smiled up into his sparkling eyes and bent my neck for my husband’s kiss.


  • 26 Feb 2019 11:51 AM
    Reply # 7188323 on 7136845
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    Thank you gentlemen for sharing your stories. Seeing the variety of stories that can come from one prompt is amazing. We appreciate you both sharing your talent with us. We look forward to reading more of your wonderful stories. 

  • 14 Feb 2019 2:38 PM
    Reply # 7165902 on 7136845
    W. Oliver Barkley

     

    Reflections

    “Simply Enjoying a Pretty Day”

     I was born and raised in the country, so during my childhood our porch was not just another part of our house, but it too was a gathering place, (before the affordability of air-conditioning) where my parents, our neighbors, and friends would gather and relax in the cool of the evening to fellowship, share the ups and downs of their work day, as well as their memories of the struggles and hardships that came with southern living. For the children, the porch was our launching pad, a safety zone for games such as tag, hide-and-go-seek, and many others games we played.

    Today, I refer to those days of gathering on the porch as the good ol’ days. Back when times were simple, when a dollar was a dollar, and a man’s word along with his handshake would seal a deal. A time when we were not caught-up in the hustle-and-bustle or the chaos brought on by the rat race to survive in this 21st century. But that’s another story for another time.

    Anyhow, a few years back, around zero-dark-thirty in the morning, I was sitting on the same ol’ porch of my childhood sipping on a cup of coffee and waiting for the unfolding of a brand new day. I wanted to see if I could discern the exact moment that Mother Nature transformed night into day. And I also wanted to capture the beauty and the essence of the moment in writing because I had been trying to do so for nearly five years.

     Suddenly, around daybreak on that balmy fall morning, an idea invaded my mental skies so quickly that I became nervous and feared I would lose the idea before jotting it down onto paper. Hurriedly I grabbed my pen and paper, and while doing so, seemingly I could hear a voice whisper; “Stop and smell the Roses.” While feeling as though my mind had been caught-up into a mystical transformation, I wrote a poem that makes my heart smile, and also reminds me how to “Simply enjoy a pretty day” living one day at a time as I faithfully journey toward my promised land. Allow me to share it with you.

    Stop! And Smell the Roses

     Life is a gift from God, such a precious gift, and it is my plan to enjoy my

     gift of life living my life “One day at a time” for the rest of my life

     and I’m gonna stop! And smell the roses along

    The Way.

    I’m gonna get up with the early morning dawn and behold Mother Nature

    as she miraculously transforms night into day.

    Then I’m gonna sit down on the porch of my ol’ homestead and watch

     that great cosmic light as it gets up from the eastern horizon and

    like a symphony in motion and paints its Technicolor across

    the misty blue, as Dr. King used to say.

     

    I’m gonna Stop! And smell the roses along the way!

     I’m gonna go down on my knees in prayer, in reverence to God and who

    He is, thanking him for the breath in my body, the blood that

    still flows warm in my veins, the awesome privilege and

    blessed opportunity to see another day.  

    Afterwards, I’m gonna get up from my knees trusting God to order my steps

    throughout mid-morning with a melody in my heart as I move

    on toward my noonday highs, joyously.

     

    I’m gonna Stop! And smell the roses along The way!

    I’m gonna fellowship with family and friends and co-workers, laugh

    awhile,  tell a joke or two, I might even share a poem

    interwoven with scripture…

    “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken

    spirit drieth the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22

     

    As I approach my afternoon delights, I’m gonna breathe a sigh of

    relief, sit a spell, inhale the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle

     growing on a backyard fence, “Delight myself in the

     Lord,” love and share love the way God intended

     love to be, love unconditionally the way God

     loves little ol’ me.

     

    But I’m not gonna sit around and crystallize basking in God’s love

    for me, I’m gonna get up and move on toward my evening

    shades where romantic love falls in love with intimate

     love and no man nor woman is an island unto

    him or herself…

     

    I’m gonna find her, and then love her. “Even as Christ Jesus also loved

     the church and gave himself for it.” Ephesians 5:25   

     

     I’m gonna stop! And smell the roses along the way!

     At twilight, just before Mother Nature brings to close another God

    inspired day, when all is still and the western skies are

    colorful and peacefully bright…

     

    I’m gonna look back over my day’s journey knowing beyond a shadow

    or a doubt that it was God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy

     Spirit who’ve brought me through the day, and prayerfully His

     unmerited grace and tender mercies will keep

    me through the night.

     

    I’m gonna stop and smell the rose along the way!

     In my midnight hours of despair, I’m gonna meditate on The Word of God

    both day and night, hide The Word within my heart. For I know

     it is the thief (devil) that cometh not but for to steal my

    joy,  kill my faith,  and destroy my testimony…

    But The Word tells me in St. John 10-10, Christ Jesus came that I might

     have life, and that I might have it more abundantly.

     

    Yes! I’m gonna Stop! And smell the roses along the way…

     Enjoy my gift of life living my life “One day at a time” for the rest of

    my life as I journey on toward my promised land,

    faithfully.

     

    How about you? Will you “Stop!  And smell “The Roses”

    along your way?”

     

    In closing, I heard a preacher say years ago, “God is everywhere present. He reigns from Eternity to Eternity standing on the threshold of Yesterday, The Porch of Today, and the Steps of Forever all at the same time-Omni-potently.”

  • 11 Feb 2019 10:03 AM
    Reply # 7157929 on 7136845

    Porch Memories

    The couple sat in rocking chairs on the covered porch quietly contemplating the beautiful sunset. Everyone else had left after the graveside service, so the only sounds were the creaking of the chairs. It was Georgia’s childhood home in the hills of Tennessee, and tomorrow they would catch a train back to Norfolk, Virginia. Tonight though, they would sleep on pallets on the porch as she had often done on hot evenings during her childhood, because she couldn’t bring herself to sleep on her mother’s deathbed.

    Two days ago, she had received a cable that her mother had passed, which had come as a big shock because she had never complained about her health. Friends from her mother’s church had cleaned and dressed her body, and laid her out on a wicker cooling board with cloth skirting hiding the blocks of ice underneath; it looked as if she had just fallen asleep. Then they had taken turns sitting with her body, day and night, until Georgia arrived.

    After the church funeral, they buried her in a plain pine box beside her husband. Georgia had been a teenager when they had buried her father at the edge of the woods overlooking the farm; his body wrapped in a traditional Indian blanket as he had wished. Then Georgia and her mother had poured concrete into a square hole at his feet, and with a stick, they had scratched his name as well as his dates of birth and death; now Georgia had arranged for her parents to have a proper headstone. 

    Her husband, José, had often asked Georgia about her childhood, but she had always changed the subject. Now she reached over to hold his hand, and in a low, slow voice began to reminisce.

    During the height of the Great Depression, my father recruited other young men from his Saponi Tribe to go on the road looking for work. He had just married my mother, defying the elders who urged him to choose an Indian bride rather than a black woman. Then my mother insisted on going on the road with him, and several other young brides decided to go too.

    The road contractor had been thrilled at the chance to hire a gang of laborers because he had been hiring local men piecemeal who usually quit as soon as the road project extended far enough that they couldn’t sleep in their own beds every night. Besides, the WPA included set-asides for people of color, and here was a whole crowd of colored men – it made no difference if they were African-Americans, Native Americans, or a mixture of the two.

    They established a semi-permanent camp near the job site where the women cooked in a communal open-air kitchen while the men earned cold cash – a very scarce commodity during the Great Depression – so they could purchase fresh food from local farmers and staples like flour from stores in nearby towns. My mother soon took on the role of buyer because she was more comfortable in the white world and proved to be a good haggler.

    Late one night, white-sheeted Klansmen attacked the camp with clubs because they resented the jobs going to 'colors', and the Indian men grabbed billets from the woodpile to defend themselves. After the initial shock, the attackers began to get the worse of the fight and were slowly driven out of the camp. Then a Klansman pointed a shotgun at the women huddled around the campfire, so my father threw an ax that split his skull. The white men retreated, dragging their wounded with them.

    From long experience, the Indians knew that a colored man wouldn’t get a fair shake from the law, so before the sheriff could arrive, they took up a collection to help my parents flee. That night they just wanted to get across the county line because most sheriffs only cared about crimes committed in their own jurisdiction, but eventually the alarm would spread. They decided to head towards Cherokee County in the Appalachians because my father knew that they would not cooperate with white law enforcement officers searching for an Indian, even from another tribe.

    Over the state line in Tennessee, Papa found work building a TVA dam. Mamma used some of his earnings to buy eggs and vegetables from farmers to sell at a roadside stand. Soon she had regular customers, including some wealthy people to whose houses she made twice-a-week deliveries. Slowly my parents hoarded cash, until they heard about the tax auction of this tiny farm. There are only about thirty acres of cleared land in this small valley – not enough to make a living with traditional crops – so nobody else wanted it.

    Papa quit his job to farm full-time. To make the most of the tiny acreage, they planted vegetables and raised chickens. With a steady supply of quality, fresh foods, Mamma's business grew until she could open a daily open-air market in town. When Papa died, I tried to shoulder more of the load, but Mamma would have none of it; she said school was my job, so she hired the young man from over the hogback-ridge to help. And I've leased the farm to him for his promise to keep the place up and to pay the taxes.

    Then Georgia fell silent as emotions overwhelmed her. She pulled her husband’s hand over to place it on her abdomen and asked, “If it’s a girl, can we name her after my mother?” José stammered a little because he hadn't even suspected she was expecting. After he recovered from the surprise he answered, “If it’s a boy, we should name him after your father.”

    Last modified: 14 Apr 2019 2:57 PM | Michael Worthington
  • 30 Jan 2019 7:45 AM
    Message # 7136845
    Jim Keen (Administrator)

    A family vacation, running away or simply enjoying a pretty day, where will your story take you. Share your one-thousand word story by uploading it here as a reply.

    Last modified: 30 Jan 2019 8:10 AM | Jim Keen (Administrator)
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