Childhood Innocence: Short Story Response to a Photo Prompt Challenge

Updated on April 16, 2020
annart profile image

Ann loves to write stories & poems & is always eager to meet challenges issued by other hubbers or herself, to exceed her comfort zone.

26 Letters - Infinite Combinations - Use them!
26 Letters - Infinite Combinations - Use them! | Source

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….


Old barn window
Old barn window | Source

Childhood Innocence

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.


Old barn rafters
Old barn rafters | Source

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.


Old John Deere
Old John Deere | Source

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!”


Out buildings
Out buildings

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.


Lazy cattle on a hot day
Lazy cattle on a hot day | Source

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.”


Inspiration

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!

Reaction to Prompts

Do you respond best to....

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The Mind which Sees the Whole Picture

Are you able to visualise....

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© 2020 Ann Carr

Comments

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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      8 weeks ago from SW England

      Thank you, Denise. I'm glad I succeeded in the emotional aspect, though didn't want to make you cry! I appreciate your kind comments and support.

      Ann

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      2 months ago from Fresno CA

      How gripping. I started crying at the end. I was truly moved. Wow.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 months ago from North Central Florida

      Hi Ann...I gelt as thiugh I wad "in" the story...with words you created the visual images I prefer to trigger my thinking. Well done. Angels once again or headed your way

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Don't worry, Chris - so does mine!!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      5 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Good, I'll not forget this time. hahaha, my mind does funny things these days.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Thank you Chris, for such a great comment. You asked some time back about co-writing and I'm still happy to have a go at that. Your stories with John have been good.

      Ann

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      5 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Wow, that was an awesome short story. Ann, would you consider cowriting a story with me some time? John Hansen and I have done a few, and it has been a rewarding experience. I'd love to write something with you. You are a gifted writer.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Thanks, Jo! That's a lovely thing to say. I always like his challenges, as visual prompts always work better for me.

      Good to see you today.

      Ann

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      5 months ago from Tennessee

      You and Bill make a good team.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Hello Dora! Thank you for your lovely comment. I hope you're keeping safe and well.

      Ann

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 months ago from The Caribbean

      Good story-telling. In a way, I can relate to Tom being alone and trying to occupy himself without causing any trouble. What a soft, beautiful ending!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Hello Linda! Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Funny you should mention the organ pipes. I thought the same, it's the shape I suppose! I appreciate your support.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Thank you, Paula. Lovely to see you today.

      I'm overwhelmed by your response to this and I'm so pleased it made such an impression. You've made my day! Much appreciated.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Hello Ruby! Thank you for your wonderful comment. I like 'when I grow up', that made me smile. Sorry to shock you and make you cry but I'm glad I reached the emotions.

      Ann

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've written a sad but powerful story. I enjoyed reading it very much. I like your interpretation of the barn rafters as a cathedral. They remind me of a cathedral's organ pipes.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Suzie 

      5 months ago from Carson City

      Ann......W O W !! You can write, girl......I'm near-speechless. This short story may be the best I've read in a very long time! You captured the mind and activities of a young boy, roaming about a farm, to perfection.

      How stealthily & gracefully you created the unexpected ending. Like a spike through my maternal heart, instant tears came to my eyes.

      I'm so glad I had the time to stop by and read today. This story is amazing, Ann.....................................Paula

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I'm sitting here with tears in my eye's. I did not see it coming, then ' The wrinkled face ' was a shocking moment for me. This is writing at the very best. I hope when I grow up, I'll be able to write like you. Thank you Ann for a great story!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Thank you Devika, for your kind words. Glad you enjoy my hubs; that's a great compliment. Stay safe!

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt: Thank you for reading and leaving your comment. Much appreciated.

      Ann

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Ann I like the photos set in beautifully and your story kept me reading on with a great twist. I enjoy reading your hubs. Mixed emotions gave me a perfect story.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      5 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Nice one. Interesting.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Liz: Thank you for your generous comment. I appreciate your support and for taking the time to read this.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Rinita, you're very kind and I appreciate such a generous comment. Thank you.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Thank you, Zulma. What a lovely comment! I'm glad you enjoyed this.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Well, bill, thank you so much for your comment. I'm thrilled with that! I really enjoyed writing this one but it took some working - so glad it was worth it!

      Every day is a weekend at the moment! Yes, we'll enjoy it all, and be thankful for what we have. I hope the same for you and yours.

      Ann

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 months ago from UK

      You had me hooked with a real twist at the end. Your writing combined well with the photo prompts to weave an intricate and vivid story.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      5 months ago

      Your descriptions were vivid and took the story in the right direction. Yes, the end seemed predictable, but in a good way. Seven years of memories, constant references to mother, all of these were gearing up to bring about the right emotions within the reader's mind. Brilliantly done as always. One of your best, I feel.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      5 months ago from United Kingdom

      This was such a poignant ending. It surprises you, but gently. It's sweet, it's sad, it's...perfect. Very well done.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It doesn't take long to tell if a writer has "game." Lines like this one

      "Now mottled moss sheathed the brave beams supporting the cathedral roof." tell us all we need to know about your skill as a Wordsmith.

      I loved this offering, my friend. You know what to do with words, and it is a pleasure to read.

      The weekend is fast approaching. Enjoy!

      bill

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Hi John! I haven't read your response so will go to have a look. I suppose being photos being of old places, it's one avenue that easily springs to mind.

      Thank you for your kind comments. Keep safe and well.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Hi Eric! Thanks for your comments. I came up with about 4 endings too! In the end, it took itself this way. I wanted 'eerie' but not over the top, so your words back that up, thanks.

      Keep safe and well.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Yes, Peggy, he had a long wait but she finally joined him. Thanks for reading - I appreciate your continued support and your kind comments.

      Keep safe and well.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Thank you, Flourish. I was trying to keep subtle hints without giving things away, so I'm glad you appreciated that, thank you.

      It must be terrible to lose a child. I can't imagine the grief. It would change someone's whole world for ever.

      Thanks for visiting and for your valuable input. Keep safe and well.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Thank you very much, Lorna. Shivers down the spine is good!

      Glad this brought back some memories for you. It's the sort of place I used to love playing in as a child too, around friends' houses out in the country.

      Good to see you here. Keep safe and well.

      Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Shauna, your comment has made my day. Thank you so much. I struggled with this to start with and then the muse kicked in and I went with the flow and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. There were so many different versions to start with!

      I appreciate your support, Shauna. Keep safe and well.

      Ann

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      5 months ago from Queensland Australia

      I love this story Ann..just perfect from start to end. Once again you seem to get similar visions as myself from these picture prompts and I think that is great that we are on the same wave-length. An excellent response to the challenge.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Thank you, Pamela, for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Pictures are a great way to get the muse going!

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Eerie in a good sort of way. I came up with at least 4 different scenarios to cover the ending. That is way cool. I guess you got my boyish imagination going.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Wow! So Tom had already passed on and was waiting for his mother. You are a great storyteller!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 months ago from USA

      Poignant but real. My great grandmother lost her favorite child as a 12 year old and he was always a short thought away. Same with my grandmother who lost a 2 year old. The thought of being reunited one day never leaves. Well written and I like the subtleties.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      5 months ago

      Gosh Ann I did not expect that ending it sent a shiver down my spine. This story reminded me of my childhood growing up on a farm. I loved to explore with my brother, who was always getting into something. It was a wonderful time and your story creates that sense of adventure through the eyes of this little boy. Loved it.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 months ago from Central Florida

      Ann, this story gave me goosebumps. I had no idea it would end the way it did.

      You really are a fabulous storyteller! Your words paint a clear picture every time. It's almost as if I'm seeing the events unfold from inside the protagonist's eyes.

      This one ended beautifully and was a complete surprise.

      I can't say enough about this story, Ann. You've got it goin' on, girl!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 months ago from Sunny Florida

      This is a sweet short story that I enjoyed reading. It is a good response to Bill pictures. I like writing when I see pictures as a story always comes into my mind.

      Stay safe and healthy, Ann.

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