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He Will Be Back Soon

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.

Mother and child: Image by heblo from Pixabay

Mother and child: Image by heblo from Pixabay

Original Inspiration

In his Writers Mailbag: Installment #360 Bill Holland provided the following photo and invited fellow writers thus:

"Here’s a pic for you to play with. Give me one paragraph describing emotions based on the pic. Come on, you can do it! Dig deep!"


Well, something about the image of the mother and her two children, that Bill provided touched feelings in me and inspired me to try to describe it in a few short paragraphs. I managed to do that and share it in my article: The Value of Word and Photo Prompts.

However, that still hasn't satisfied me, and the image is still playing on my mind. For that reason, I decided to expand on those original few paragraphs and turn them into a piece of flash fiction. Will it end here? I don't know. I may even decide to work on it further and turn it into a short story - but time will tell.

For some reason, I can no longer upload the said image so you will have to see fit by visiting either Bill's or my previous article. Most of you can probably recall it anyway. * the image above is similar

Image by Jo-B from Pixabay

Image by Jo-B from Pixabay

He Will Be Back Soon

I rested my head on my mother’s shoulder to try to offer some comfort. She didn’t smile anymore. It seemed so long since she had. My baby brother slept a lot..at least when he wasn’t crying.

I am grateful for the canvas shelter that protects us from the sun and rain, but I’m hungry. Ma says we have to stretch what little we have and make it last.

At least Pa will be back soon. He left three or four weeks back to look for work on the railroad. He said not to fret, when he returns he’ll have money, food and presents for us all. He will be back soon... tomorrow I think...or the next day.

The lure of the Railway: Image by slavom from Pixabay

The lure of the Railway: Image by slavom from Pixabay

I wish I could do more to help.. at least until Pa’s here. I am not a baby anymore, I am eight years old. Ma gets me to collect wood so that we can light a fire and stay warm at night. But I need to do more than that. In fact, I know I can.

Pa has a box full of tools and other stuff he calls 'cessities which he keeps in the corner of our shelter. I open it up to try and find what I need. There it is! A spool of fishing line with hook and sinker attached.

We don’t have much I could use for bait, but I find a small piece of beef jerky on the bench. I put that in my pocket. “I’ll be back soon, Ma. Just going to collect some wood,” I yell, not waiting for her reply, as I head towards the river.

Ma thinks I am too young to go near the river alone. Well, I’m not. I need to grow up sometime, especially now Pa’s gone…I mean… away working. I put the jerky on the hook and toss the line in the water…and wait.

Eventually, there is a tug on the line...and I pull it sharply, then begin pulling it in. I can feel some weight, I caught something! As the hook comes out of the water there is a wriggling fish attached. It’s not big, but it is better than nothing.

I take it off the hook, shove it in the sack I took with me, re-bate the hook and toss it back in. Hopefully, I’ll catch another. I’m just about to give up when I feel another bite. That’s two fish….enough for Ma and me for dinner. My baby brother still drinks Ma’s milk.

he-will-be-back-soon

I proudly make my way home. I know Ma will scold me for going to the river, but I think she’ll be really pleased when she sees the fish. So it’s worth it. Pa will be home in a few days, I have faith, but at least I can help provide food until then. Pa will be proud of me too.

At first, I was angry with Pa going away and leaving us alone, but he said we needed the money and everything would be better when he returned. I know it will, and I forgive him for going. I just have to be the man of the house until he gets back. Tomorrow, I may hunt for rabbits ... if I can reach Pa's gun, and work out how to load it.

Old Railway Station: Image by Brigitte makes custom works from your photos, thanks a lot from Pixabay

Old Railway Station: Image by Brigitte makes custom works from your photos, thanks a lot from Pixabay

© 2021 John Hansen

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on July 01, 2021:

Hi Alyssa, So glad you enjoyed this story. Cheers.

Alyssa from Ohio on July 01, 2021:

What a wonderful story! I love how the young boy feels that sense of responsibility to help take care of his mom and baby brother while his dad is away. I felt so excited and happy when he caught his fish. Well done!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on July 01, 2021:

Thank you, Mark. Much appreciated.

Mark Tulin from Palm Springs, California on July 01, 2021:

I like your little details in this story, John. "I put the jerky on the hook and toss the line in the water…and wait."

Rozlin from UAE on June 30, 2021:

It's ok, John. It was a pleasure to read. Thanks for sharing.

Stay safe and healthy.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 30, 2021:

Thank you, Rozlin. Sorry the story was short. I may add to it but I haven't decided yet.

Rozlin from UAE on June 30, 2021:

This is a lovely story, John. I like the understanding and feeling of the 8years old boy for his family. I kept scrolling down to read more but it ended soon. Thank you for sharing this great story.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 29, 2021:

John

Yep, he sounds pretty resilient.

I'm sure if his Pa doesn't come back tomorrow, he will try.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 29, 2021:

Thank you, Brenda. I wonder if he would try to use the gun. Maybe his Ma will be aware enough to prevent that, but you never know. He is pretty determined.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 29, 2021:

Great reading your other take on this one.

It is amazing what kids can do.

At least he was successful, but I really hope he doesn't try loading the gun.

Great write.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 29, 2021:

Vidya, that is so true. I think a lot of children would step up to help in such a situation. Necessity, tends to do that. Hopefully, when Pa returns the boy can resume his childhood.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 29, 2021:

Hi Shauna, many young boys are full of confidence and can be quite fearless, as this young fellow is in trying to provide for his family.

Pa is busy on the railroad try to earn and save as much money as he can to make his family proud. Hopefully he will return sooner than later, but time (and my muse) may tell. Thank you for reading.

VIDYA D SAGAR on June 29, 2021:

A very touching short story John. Necessity does teach even the young to find means of survival. I admire the little boy, trying to be the man of the family and helping his ma. His pa will be surely proud of him when he returns and learns about it. A very interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 29, 2021:

John, this is such a poignant story. I worry about the little boy figuring out how to load his pa's gun. I wonder what Ma's reaction will be when her little big man shows up with dinner.

I think you should continue with this story. I'm also curious to see if Pa returns.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 29, 2021:

Thank you, Marlene. The man of the house has to do what he thinks right for the family. Cheers.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on June 29, 2021:

This was a fun story to read. I really like your character's thought process. I sure was rooting for him.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 28, 2021:

Thank you, Mary. Yes, I agree there is a good lesson here for us all.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 28, 2021:

Thank you for reading this story, Kathrine. I am glad you enjoyed the read.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 28, 2021:

This image is so powerful. I love the story you wove about it, a story of growing up fast enough to respond to life's challenges. a lesson for most of us.

Kathrine S on June 28, 2021:

Love this short story. The hope coming from young mind but with great sense of responsibility. hope and faith from young people amidst poverty~ thanks for this, John.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 28, 2021:

Thank you, Nithya. Glad you enjoyed it.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 28, 2021:

I enjoyed reading the story John, looking forward to reading more.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Thank you Moondot. I am pleased that you enjoyed this story. Sorry, it ended too soon for you.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on June 27, 2021:

Beautiful piece of writing, Jodah. In fact, I was looking to read more but it ended soon. The young boy in the story is so admirable. Thanks for sharing.

Stay safe and healthy...

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Hi Fran, yes, you do what you have to for your family’s survival. Thank you for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Thank you for reading and for your input, Linda. I think it is sometimes better to let the reader imagine the ending for themselves, especially if there is a possibility of it not being a happy one. Much appreciated.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on June 27, 2021:

John loved your story. It's all about survival and doing your best for your family. Thanks for your piece.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on June 27, 2021:

John, the heartbreaking story you wrote probably happened, again and again. Although other commenters have asked for more, I would prefer to let it end here and let each of us imagine our own ending.

In my Pollyanna view Pa would be there at the encampment when the lad returns.

Thank you for sharing your gift with us

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Yes, Bill, it certainly is a picture of despair, but it is full of so many questions and possibilities for a story. I too was surprised more people didn’t feel inspired by it. Thanks again. Have a great week.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 27, 2021:

It is one of the most stunning photographs I have ever seen. It is such a picture of despair. I can't imagine what is going on in the head of that woman. Anyway, thank you for taking on the challenge. I'm a bit surprised more didn't find inspiration in this photo. It speaks of the human condition.

Well done!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Yes, Peg, even though this is set in earlier times, there are still children forced to grow up much too soon today. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Hello Najm, thank you for reading this story and for the generous comment. I am glad you found it heartfelt and relatable.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 27, 2021:

This was a heartfelt story, John. Many children are forced to grow up all too soon because of situations out of their control.

Najm Fareed from Rawalpindi, Pakistan on June 27, 2021:

That's a wonderful piece of writing, John. it is heartfelt and relatable, it brings the audience's attention to the fact that even now, as we speak, there are kids out there trying to help their families survive.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Thank you Liz, I greatly appreciate your comment. I am glad you felt part of the story.

Liz Westwood from UK on June 27, 2021:

This is a well-written piece. The reader is taken into the situation behind the picture via your writing. I look forward to the next installment if you decide to expand on it. But I also think that it stands very well as it is.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

I sometimes have this problems with photos I try to download from HubPages. Never mind, the others I found fit the story as well. I am sure Ma was happy with the fish for dinner. Thanks Manatita.

manatita44 from london on June 27, 2021:

Lovely story. The image of the mother and child is very powerful and tells a lot! But you say this is not the right one. Sometimes I have to save the photo a second time. Then I can upload it.

Maybe Ma will be pleased with the fish all right. Stay blessed.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Thank you for reading and commenting MsDora. I am glad you enjoyed the story, and I may add to it if I feel inspired to add some icing to that cake.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Hello Misbah. I am happy you loved this story. I just had the urge to expand it a bit. Not sure if I will add to it or not, but I am more satisfied than I was with a few paragraphs. Have a great week.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 27, 2021:

This is like reading a tasty, moist slice of red velvet cake. I'm licking my tongue with satisfaction, but looking around to see if perchance there's another slice somewhere. Well done!

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Rebels. on June 27, 2021:

John, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story. It was a pleasure to read it. I love the words you used for the parents in the story "Ma & Pa". I love the spirit of that 8 years old child telling himself he is no more a baby. Loved it all!

Stay safe and healthy

Blessings always!!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Hi Flourish. I am glad I managed to capture that desperation and need to survive.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 27, 2021:

This captures the desperation of the times and the earnestness of that young boy to help his family any way he can.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Hi Pamela. Yes, it is a bit concerning with an 8 year old wanting to use a gun, but I guess you do what you need to to survive. I haven’t decided whether I will add to the story yet. We shall see where my muse leads me.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 27, 2021:

This is an interesting, very good story, John. I don't like the idea of an 8 year old thinking he can quickly use a gun to kill rabbits. However, I can picture an 8 wanting to step up and be the man of the house. I enjoyed reading this story.

So, will we have another chapter that adds to this story?

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Hi Dipankar, thank you for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Thank you, Rosina. I appreciate your comment that you were disappointed when it ended. I will wait and see if my muse decides to continue the story. Take care.

Dipankar Mondal from West Bengal, India on June 27, 2021:

Very nice

Rosina S Khan on June 27, 2021:

An interesting piece of writing, John. I got so engaged in reading it that I was looking for more when I came to the end. Maybe you will convert it to a short story and it will be even more interesting then. Thanks for sharing.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 27, 2021:

Thank you Ishika.

ISHIKA MEHERE from NAGPUR on June 26, 2021:

It is very thoughful.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 26, 2021:

Thank you for reading this Ravi. I also greatly appreciate your kind comment, and glad you could feel the emotions.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on June 26, 2021:

Great story John. You perfectly did justice to the photo and the emotions that I felt while he waited for his Pa are really tugging to the heart. Thanks, john.

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