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February 2019 Writing Challenge

  • 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)
  • 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 gone home 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.

    The week before, she had received a cable that her mother had passed. Her mother had never complained about her health, so her death came as a shock. Friends from her mother’s church had cleaned and dressed her body, and laid her out in her bed; 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 casket on the farm in a grave beside her husband. Georgia had been a teenager when her father had died, and they had placed him in a grave 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, and dates of birth and death. But now that she could afford it, Georgia had arranged for a proper headstone for her parents.

    Her husband, José, had often asked Georgia about her childhood, but she had always dodged the question. 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 on WPA projects. He had just married my mother whom he had met in Rocky Mount, NC; he had defied 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 was thrilled at the chance to hire a gang of laborers because he had been hiring local men piecemeal, but usually they would 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 deference if they were African-Americans, Native Americans, or a mixture of the two.

    The Indians established a semi-permanent camp near the job site, and the women cooked in a communal open-air kitchen. The men earned cold cash, which was very scarce 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 was a good haggler.

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

    From long experience, the Indians knew that my father 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. At first, they just wanted to get across the county line because most sheriffs only cared about crimes committed in their own county, 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.

    Then over the state line in Tennessee, Papa found work building a TVA dam. Mamma used 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; 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. She hired the young man from over the hogback ridge to help I leased the farm to him for enough cash to pay the taxes and for his promise to keep the place up.

    Then Georgia fell silent as emotions overwhelmed her. In the darkness only dimly broken by the new moon, she could almost see her parents working around the farm. 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 had not even suspected that she was pregnant. After he recovered from the surprise he answered, “If it’s a boy, we should name him after your father.”

    Last modified: 13 Feb 2019 1:16 PM | Michael Worthington
  • 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.”

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