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Shannon’s Story -Response to Billybuc’s Photo Prompt Challenge

Shauna's preferred genre is fiction. She particularly enjoys rising to a challenge posed by fellow artists.

Family gathering at our house.

Family gathering at our house.

I hadn’t heard from her in weeks. That wasn’t like my daughter. We spoke at least a few times a week in order to touch base. Yeah, we’re both busy, but blood runs deep.

The last time I’d seen Shannon was at a family gathering at our house, a couple of weeks before this gawdawful pandemic hit and we were forced into self-isolation. What an oxymoron, huh? Mandated self-isolation? Have our politicians even taken – or passed – an English course?! Mandated and self-chosen are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

But I digress.

So many possibilities run through the mind when life comes to a halt. Fear is the prohibitor of faith. At least that’s the way it seems until you say “Hell, no!, You ain’t stopping me, you sonovabitch!”

The cops were no help. “She’s an adult. We can look for her, but your case will be at the bottom of our priority list. Sorry, ma’am, but with limited resources, our focus is on murders and child abduction.”

So, the rest of us don’t matter? Fuck you!

Shannon needed some air.

Shannon needed some air.

The Need for Air

Shannon was going stir-crazy in her small cottage. Sure, she kept herself busy for the first few weeks of quarantine, but seriously, how many times can you clean out the fridge, scrub toilets, and wipe down every surface in sight? Even her writing had come to a halt.

Fine time to take a vacation, Ms. Muse! How can you abandon me now? Here I am stuck inside these encroaching walls and you decide to go on a freedom spree?!

Kenny Rogers’ “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille” was playing over and over in her head. She couldn’t shake it no matter what she did to distract herself.

Okay, enough of this shit. I’ve got to get out of here!

Kenny Rogers "You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille"

Shannon grabbed her camera, notebook, and pencil, stuffed them, some water and a few snacks in her backpack and headed out the door.

The sun was just peeking through the treetops as she made her way to the stone path that meandered through the forest north of her cottage. Kenny’s bombardment of her brain cells parted ways, allowing the cacophony of songbirds to permeate her mind, bringing a much-needed sense of peace.

She absent-mindedly strolled through the trees, allowing nature to guide her footsteps as her thoughts were set free to drift with the gentle breeze.

Nature was alive in all its glory. Shannon’s pulse slowed with each breath of fresh air. Her soul was once again set free with no constraints of the pandemic and forced shutdown to squelch her creative spirit.

Meanwhile….

“Ralph, I’m really worried about Shannon.” Elise placed a heaping plate full of biscuits and gravy on the table. Her husband dug in hungrily, but she was too nervous to eat.

“Elise, I’m sure she’s fine. You know how Shannon is. Sometimes she gets so involved in her creative projects that time escapes her. We’ll hear from her soon, honey. Now, please sit down and join me for breakfast.”

Ignoring her husband’s plea, Elise stared out the kitchen window as if willing Shannon to appear on the walkway. “Something’s wrong. I feel it in my bones, Ralph.” Her voice was barely a whisper.

“Have you tried calling her?”

“Yes. Several times. There’s no answer. This morning, her phone went straight to voicemail. I’m telling you, Ralph, something’s not right!”

“Give it a few more hours, my love. If you still can’t get through, we’ll drive over to the cottage. I’m sure we’ll find her holed up in her office banging away at her latest novel.”

“I hope you’re right, Ralph. I hope you’re right.”

Sadie waits in the front yard.

Sadie waits in the front yard.

That Afternoon….

As they rounded the bend that led to Shannon’s cottage, Elise let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank God! Her car’s here and Sadie’s outside. She must be here.”

Elise didn’t even wait for Ralph to park the car. She bolted out the door and nearly ran to the front door of the cottage. “Hey, Sadie! Where’s your mama?”

As she let herself in, Elise called, “Shannon! Hi, sweetie. Where are you?” She made her way to the office, but her daughter wasn’t there. She searched the rest of the house, calling Shannon’s name, but got no answer.

“Ralph! Ralph! Come quick! I found Shannon’s cell phone on her bed, but she’s not here. I can’t find her anywhere. And why is Sadie here? Surely, Shannon wouldn’t have gone for a walk without her girl!”

“Don’t jump to conclusions, dear. Let’s go out back and see if she’s in the garden shed.”

The gardening shed

The gardening shed

It Happens Every Year

It’s been ten years since our girl was found dead in the woods. COVID didn’t get her. Nor did a bear or wildcat. We think it was a simple case of not paying attention. Shannon apparently slipped on some wet moss, fell and hit her head on a path stone. She bled out. Our poor girl bled out.

Every year on the anniversary of Shannon’s death, we go through the motions of driving to her cottage in a panicked search. Sadie comes with us every year. She’s still mourning the loss of her mama and has never been the same. She always looks so sad.

Shannon was our only child. The pain of losing her never gets easier. Now that Alzheimer’s has taken Ralph, he doesn’t realize she’s gone. So every year we relive that fateful day.

And every year, Shannon dies again.

© 2020 Shauna L Bowling

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