Childhood Innocence: Short Story Response to a Photo Prompt Challenge
This story came about due to another of fellow HubPage writer Bill Holland’s intriguing photo prompt challenges. I love these. A visual prompt works well for me. Some of us respond best to visual stimuli, some to aural, some to kinaesthetic or tactile stimuli and some even have logical, photographic minds who see a three-dimensional overview. Whatever your forte, a prompt can call to your muse and she’s off, running away with your imagination and mixing your ideas.
This sequence of photos recalls times gone by and made me think of a little boy playing amongst the buildings. So that’s where this starts….
Rain lashed the window, bucket after bucket after bucket. Tom pressed his nose against the pane, trying to see what was beyond. He cleared the mist from inside, caught a glimpse of trodden grass and flailing trees before a blur returned to frustrate his view.
It would have been great to have a brother to share this with. Still, he loved roaming here, left to his own devices, exploring like boys do, building dens, hiding in the bushes, making friends with the birds. His pockets were always full, raisins and crumpled biscuits for the blackbirds in one, boiled sweets for himself in the other.
Today he’d stay sheltered for a while. The birds seemed to be doing the same.
This place didn’t change, though there were a few more cobwebs than last time. Just an old barn. The cows might come in to shelter but these days there were other more substantial sheds nearby. This side of the farm was neglected.
Tom changed his gaze to the dusty-dim interior, though uniform lines of sky-light decorated the surfaces and lit up dust mites.
The rafters had been well-constructed. Now mottled moss sheathed the brave beams supporting the cathedral roof. To the eyes of a seven-year-old, it spoke of heaven and mystery. It still felt warm and welcoming here, his seven years of memories hugging him close, like mother.
The silence told him the rain had ceased. He ventured out onto the soggy grass. There in the distance was the familiar tractor. He knew he couldn’t go near it, for mother had told him it was dangerous, that he couldn’t play on it. Once it had held a fascination hard to resist. Those chunky tyres lured him with their power. The large steering wheel was willing him to turn it, the engine button begging to be pushed. Somewhere in his heart, he felt fear. Another part of him heard a screamed “No!”
Above the tractor, on the far slope of the farmyard, was a row of sheds and stores waiting for him to visit. An old ball lay in the long grasses behind the top shed. Tom picked it up, strode up the steps and hauled himself onto the wood-slat roof. From there, if he got the angle right, he could bounce the ball all the way down to the lowest point, like a bagatelle game. He threw it.
Boing! Crack! Thud! That ball glanced left and right, arched high, skimmed low, until it found its resting place beyond the low wall. Whoah! He’d done it! He ran to retrieve his old toy, took it back to where he’d found it and left it for next time. He was improving his performance each time. He’d perfect it before he showed mother.
Even the cows showed their curiosity at his antics. They knew, they’d seen him before of course, but they never tired of his show of expertise. They appreciated a distraction from chewing the cud. Better than the disturbing noise from that old tractor.
Tom decided he’d better go home. It must be nearly tea-time and he should not worry his mother by being late.
He walked through the nursing home door, along to his mother’s room and sat on the bed. He stroked her hand and looked up at her wrinkled face. Her eyes softened and a smile touched the corners of her mouth. A nurse said,
“She’s day-dreaming again, no doubt about that boy of hers, poor love. Well, she’ll be able to see him soon.”
“I won’t need to come again,” Tom uttered in hushed tones. “Then you can come and play with me on the farm like we used to. I promise never to go near the tractor again.”
Thanks once more to Bill for these photo prompts. A sequence is better than just one photo, for me, as I find it guides one down a particular path. I like to push the boundaries a little and this genre is one I haven't tried before. I hope you liked it.
Keep safe and well!
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© 2020 Ann Carr