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Kick in the Ass -Response to Billybuc’s Photo Prompt #03

Shauna's preferred genre is fiction. She particularly enjoys rising to a challenge posed by fellow artists. Picture prompts spark her muse.

Grandma and Grandpa's house

Grandma and Grandpa's house

I remember it well: the cozy one-story house that mirrored the clear skies with its blue hue, large four-paned windows outlined in wispy white, as if caressed by the billowy clouds that set my imagination free.

I loved spending summers with Grandma and Grandpa.

Before dawn each morning, rain or shine, Grandpa would mount his John Deer and set about ploughing fields for the next season’s crops or mowing tall grass on the back acreage to fertilize the ground for future planting sites. Sometimes he’d even let me sit on his lap and steer the tractor.

Those are my favorite memories of Grandpa.

Once day broke, we’d head to the house for breakfast before setting about the rest of the day’s chores. To this day, I can’t smell bacon or hear eggs frying without thinking of my summers on the farm. Grandma was always cooking up something good.

Bessie, Flower, and Coco

Bessie, Flower, and Coco

I’m an only child, so imagination has always been my best friend. Well, besides Grandma and Grandpa. Oh – and Bessie, Flower, and Coco. Those were Grandma and Grandpa’s cows. I used to tell them stories and I think they looked forward to my visits. When they (the cows) saw me approaching the fence between the barns and where they grazed, they’d come right on up to me and listen aptly.

Judging by the mews and moos they’d offer through my storytelling, I’d say they looked forward to my visits as much as I looked forward to spending time with them.

Life Changed

Grandma and Grandpa died when I was only fourteen. They died together. Seems they just went to sleep one night and decided not to wake up.

I was heartbroken. Mama and Daddy never seemed to have much time for me. The only love I really felt growing up was when I spent summers with Grandma, Grandpa, Bessie, Flower, and Coco.

I don’t fault my folks for not being the nurturing type; Mama was forty-five when she had me. Let’s just say I was a surprise and they weren’t prepared to be parents. It’s okay. I had a good life, thanks to Mama’s parents and the farm.

Grandma and Grandpa left me their farm in the will, but I couldn’t take ownership until I turned twenty-one.

I did, but it would be years after my twenty first birthday before I’d take possession of what I considered to be home. In the interim, I’d sold the cows, which broke my heart, but I wasn’t yet in the position to care for them.

I told you that I’ve always had an imagination, right? Well, it’s served me well. I was fortunate to land a menial job with a publisher, after being recommended by my high school creative writing teacher who knew someone in the business. She had faith in me, and I was rewarded with a foot in the door upon graduating.

At first, my job was to screen queries for the editors of the company. I enjoyed the job because it let me know what publishers are looking for in budding – or even seasoned – writers. One day, my publisher read a story of my own that I’d inadvertently left on my desk and she was impressed. She encouraged me to write. I took the bull by the horns and tackled my first novel, which was published by the company who had opened my creative door.

I had a successful career for a while, then writers block struck. And it struck hard.

It was time to go back home. Maybe there I’d find inspiration.

Neglected Outbuildings

Neglected Outbuildings

Rude Awakening

When I pulled up to my beloved childhood haven, my heart broke. The place was in shambles. But what else could I expect after having neglected it for all these years?

The barn where we’d kept the cows at night and milked before letting them out into the pasture in the morning, and the chicken coop, were in a complete state of decay.

How could I have let this happen? I’ve been so wrapped up in my career that I let my beloved home die along with the only love I’d ever known!

Pull yourself together, Shannon. It’s not too late. That was Grandma’s voice in my head. I had no choice. I had to forge ahead.

Looking up from inside the barn

Looking up from inside the barn

Sucking It Up

I took a deep breath, wiped the tears from my eyes, and ventured up to the window of the lower outbuilding. As I peered inside, memories came flooding back. All senses had been reawakened. I smelled bacon coming from the house on the other side of the fence. I heard Grandma calling Grandpa and me in for breakfast. I smelled the fresh earth that Grandpa had dredged and I (imagined I) saw Bessie, Flower, and Coco heading out to pasture, mooing cries of freedom.

I wanted to go inside, but I was frozen in place by the incongruence of good memories and the chastising of selfish neglect. I lowered myself to the ground and sat with my back against the wall, overlooking the grounds until I was able to pull myself together.

I don’t know how long I sat there feeling sorry for myself, but I suddenly heard a rustling from inside the barn. I pulled myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and ventured inside.

It took all the emotional energy I had within me to open that door. Once inside, I collapsed on the floor, looking at the sunlight coming through the rafters. As I laid there, I absentmindedly rubbed my hands back and forth through the hay that had collected over the years.

Then my right hand found something buried beneath the hay.

I dusted off the dried grass, reached in, and pulled out a book. But it wasn’t any old book, it was my grandmother’s journal.

I was taken by surprise, sat up, and began turning the pages. Who knew Grandma kept a journal?!

Grandma poured her heart into that journal. Not only did she document what went on each day, she took pen to paper to record her thoughts, dreams, and sorrows. I was mesmerized. I realized I never knew Grandma as the person she was – only the person she appeared to be: a wife, cook, maid, mother, and grandmother.

Why in the hell am I feeling sorry for myself? I’ve had the freedom to be me. Grandma had to be what others expected of her and never took into consideration who she was inside! Never took into consideration that she may have had dreams for herself!

New Life

New Life

Home

I got the kick in the ass I needed by visiting that barn. I’ve since taken possession of the house, restored the outbuildings, and refurbished Grandpa’s John Deer. Now that I’m old enough to drive it myself, I use it as a vehicle of inspiration.

I no longer suffer from writer’s block. I’m home and I have Grandma's dreams in my heart.

© 2020 Shauna L Bowling

Comments

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 28, 2020:

Thank you, Eddy. It's great to have you back. You've been missed!

Eiddwen from Wales on February 28, 2020:

Loved this story Shauna, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to catching up with many more from you. xxxx

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 27, 2020:

Chris, I'm thrilled you gleaned so much from my story. I just love these photo prompts. They really put my creative juices to work. Yours, too!

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on February 26, 2020:

This story of wandering, searching, wanting, finding, learning, growing, and bursting forth with new life is not only a good story but is a lesson in living. Thanks for sharing your storytelling abilities with us.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 26, 2020:

Wouldn't it be cool to find a piece of family history like that, Nell?

Yep, I had to throw a tad bit of help from the spirits in this story. I didn't want to go the paranormal route, as I love to do. But I couldn't stay completely away!

Glad you enjoyed my story.

Nell Rose from England on February 26, 2020:

I loved that. And I would love to find an old book hidden away somewhere. Grandma gave her the push she needed even after she had gone. Awesome!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 18, 2020:

Venkatachari, I pleased you enjoyed my story and felt the emotion. That means the world to me.

Have a pleasant day!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 18, 2020:

Venkatachari, I pleased you enjoyed my story and felt the emotion. That means the world to me.

Have a pleasant day!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on February 17, 2020:

A wonderful story, Shauna. It was appealing to my heart experiencing your feelings emotionally. It was a good ending to console me. Enjoyed it a lot.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 17, 2020:

Thank you, manatita. That means a lot coming from you!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 17, 2020:

Thank you, Meg. I wanted this story to be a little lighter than what I normally come up with. I guess I succeeded!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 17, 2020:

Flourish, it's heartbreaking that your grandparents property was sacrificed to infrastructure. I don't blame you for avoiding the area. I would, too.

I'm pleased that this story resurrected pleasant memories of your grandparents' home. Thanks for sharing.

manatita44 from london on February 17, 2020:

You tell a great story, my Dear. What an excellent piece of writing! Kudos to you.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on February 17, 2020:

Wow, what a great story about motivation, getting up and getting on and LOVE.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 16, 2020:

I can see my great grandparents’ home so clearly in my mind. The story makes me think of it although they had a large home in the suburbs (the largest in town, complete with a huge lot for growing a garden and a little restless house on it). Sadly, the lot was taken by imminent domain for an overpass even though their house still still there, a sad shadow of what it was. We avoid it. Some things are better as you remember them. I enjoyed your story very much.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 16, 2020:

Ruby, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this ass-kick. However, I can't take credit for ditching writer's block. Well, maybe a little. My writer's block was bringing me down, that's why I asked for Bill's help in providing photo prompts for me and anyone else who may be suffering from the dreaded dry spell.

Thank you so much for your comment. You always have something positive to say and that, my friend, provides encouragement to move forward.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 16, 2020:

Peggy, what is it they say about hindsight? Do you have any family members that may have taken photos of where your dad grew up?

I appreciate that you like my story, but it saddens me that it brings back memories that only live in your mind. At least you have those.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 16, 2020:

Sha, the best thing, my friend, is when you ditched the ole writers-block and started writing again. Your story's are so good and relatable.We all dream of having Grandparents who live on a farm, and the surprise of finding the journal was perfect for a great story. I really enjoyed this ass kick.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on February 16, 2020:

Memories come flooding back as I read this and wish I had taken photos of the old homestead where my Daddy grew up. Lovely story.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 16, 2020:

Bill, if you were here right now I'd give you a bear hug!

Ironically, the only part of me in this story is the ending. My mom's grandparents lived in Missouri and we lived in Pennsylvania, so I never spent summers with them. And I've never lived on a farm. Additionally, I was raised with a lot of love and attention from my parents. Mom's only 18 years older than I. I'm her first born. I was her live baby doll.

At first I was going to go my usual paranormal route with this story, but my muse wanted to try a different approach. She doesn't want to become typecast. (We'll see how long that lasts! LOL)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 16, 2020:

There is a whole lot of you in this story, and I love it. Unlike most of my novels, this was a feel-good ending we can all relate to. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for lessons lasting a lifetime.

Well done my friend! You haven't lost one ounce of your writing skills.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 16, 2020:

Mar, you are such an amazing source of support and encouragement. I, too, hope writer's block is a thing of the past. The creative part of my soul doesn't cotton to being put in a corner, so to speak.

Thanks for being you, my true blue! Happy Sunday to you, Geoff, Andy, and Miss Fannie!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 16, 2020:

Paula, Shannon discovered a side of her grandmother that she never knew. I think it was kismet that she was compelled to come back to the farm. It's as if Grandma reached out to her, knowing that if anyone could bring her dreams to life, it would be her granddaughter.

I'm glad you were able to relate to the farm and the feelings growing up there inspired. I've never lived on a farm, so that part of the story truly came from my imagination.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 16, 2020:

Rosina, I'm so glad you enjoyed my story and that it was easy to follow without getting lost. That and your comment are very encouraging.

Thank you so much for your time and wonderful comment.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on February 16, 2020:

"I no longer suffer from writer's block" - so fitting to both "Shannon" and YOU, dear Sha.

Your stories are magnetic - they pull me into the scene and captivate my attention. I am hoping your muse hangs around for a long time to come.

Love you and have a peaceful Sunday, mar

Suzie from Carson City on February 15, 2020:

Sha.....This story is positively wonderful! I'm amazed at how clearly I was able to visit my grandparent's farm once again, as "Shannon" so fascinatingly described her special farm. I can relate to all of the emotions that well up when such happy memories take us back in time.

What a treasure to discover a Grandmother's journal. This great find would be a true "kick in the ass" if ever a muse needed one!

Cheers, girlfriend....Paula

Rosina S Khan on February 15, 2020:

The story is really compelling and intriguing, Shauna. The girl Shannon liked staying with her grandparents during summer and after they passed away, she got a job with a publisher and then she realized she had a writer's block and had to go back to her grandparents' home for inspiration. There she found grandma's journal where she had recorded her thoughts and dreams. Finally, she got inspired and renovated her grandparents' place. In the process, she got rid of the writer's block, with the option of pursuing her grandma's dreams. She really discovered herself, which is amazing. Truly inspiring and encouraging. I loved all of it and it was unstoppable!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 15, 2020:

John, you fill my heart!

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 15, 2020:

Yes, I used to think you had to wait for an article to go throughQP before others could read it but have noticed I often get comments soon after I have hit publish. It is my pleasure to read your work.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 15, 2020:

Thank you, John. Your comment has lifted my spirits. I'm actually surprised that you commented just seconds after I hit the publish button. I thought HP requires going thru QP before notifications are sent. That's what I get for thinking, huh?

I so thank you for your support. You're always in my corner!

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 15, 2020:

A lovely story of self-discovery, Shauna. I am so glad, that like the girl Shannon in the story, you overcame your writers block with the help of Bill’s photo prompts. I have loved each of your stories so far.