A Return To The Past: Billbuc Photo Challenge Short Story 1
I'm branching out. A request came for Bill (Billybuc) to revive his photo challenges and because I'm always up for a challenge, I decided to play. The following is my fictional short inspired by the photos Bill provided. In his article, he set some rules:
- The pictures "must be used in the order that they appear, from top to bottom."
- 1000 words minimum
But after reading through the comments, he also said no rules, so I went with that. haha! When I originally started jotting down notes, I had fully intended to follow them, but as my story progressed, it became less about following the rules and more about just being inspired by the photos Bill provided. I ended up with 858 words, a flashback, and a description of one of the photos. (Not bad, considering the last time I wrote a fictional short story was 15 or 16 years ago.)
Thank you, Shauna (bravewarrior), for the request and thank you, Bill, for helping me ease out of my comfort zone.
A Return To The Past
It was one of those spring mornings when the sun shines so sweetly, offering the promise of summer, the scent of grass and wildflowers floating through the air.
It all sounds so lovely, doesn't it? Just wrap it up and tie it with a sparkly bow. But things haven't been that great and I ponder my disdain for this otherwise perfect day as I enter that godforsaken town. Back to where it all started.
I thought I had seen the last of this place thirty years ago. The memory of that day comes flooding back as I park my car in the empty lot.
It was blistering hot. The very act of being alive caused sweat to pool above my eyebrows and drip incessantly down my back. The shower I had taken five minutes ago was a complete waste of time.
I looked at the cap and gown I had thrown on my bed. The culmination of thirteen years - the same old brick buildings, walking the same halls every day, surrounded by the same people - all led to this moment. My prize, a piece of paper laying haphazardly in the black knapsack on the floor. The thought of saying goodbye to the familiar and stepping into a newfound freedom filled me with such exhilaration. I had been looking forward to this day for so long, but now that it had arrived, I was beginning to doubt the plans I had painstakingly made.
"What's done is done," I muttered to myself as I folded the gown and set it neatly on the dresser. Placing the cap on top, I took one last look around the room where I had spent so much of my life. The powder blue walls, now bare, were once filled with posters. My radio in the far corner where I spent countless nights with headphones on, jamming to music, trying to escape this hell I called home. So many arguments, so many rules, so many memories. I picked up my suitcase, swung my knapsack over my shoulder, and headed into hall, leaving the echos of my youth behind.
I headed down the stairs, expecting one final battle. I set my bags down at the door and turned the corner into the dining room where she was waiting to pounce, like a ferocious lioness sizing up her prey. Our eyes met and I mentally prepared myself for the verbal beat down I was about to experience. After all the fights and temper tantrums over the years, I knew it wasn't going to be a clean exit.
She didn't disappoint. Standing in the center of the room she didn't waste any time, one hand on her hip the other flailing about, as if the movement itself would lend validity to her points. Her five foot four-inch frame was made larger with the amplification of the insults she spewed. For the final time, I braced myself, rooting my feet to the hardwood floor. As I looked at her rage-filled face, I couldn't recognize the stranger glaring back at me. How did it come to this? For the life of me, I couldn't say.
Half listening, half just wishing I would be dismissed, I stood there in silence. Nothing I said or did had ever made a difference before, and had I made the attempt, it would have been worse, as unimaginable as that seems.
Her fury finally reached an end and with one last disgusted look at me, she stomped off. I heard a door slam in the distance and took that as my cue. Grabbing my things, I quickly headed out the door, promising myself that I would never return.
I shake my head, trying to erase the images of the unpleasant memory, and start to take in the path before me: The stone dirt trail, worn from the steps of human and animal alike; bushes of poison ivy daring you to step closer; crowds of trees reaching out of the ground, up to the sky, as if they too feel a longing for anywhere other than here. I can hear the sounds of life all around me. Birds call out to each other over the constant buzz of the Cicadas. A squirrel Evel Kneivels from one tree to the next. To the right in the distance, I see a blur of brown, a doe making a getaway. How fitting. I continue down the path that seems to stretch for miles, getting longer as I move forward.
Finally the clearing appears. Taking a deep breath, I inch closer. A figure begins to take shape up ahead, facing away from me, head bowed. I'd know him anywhere.
"Thank you for coming," he says as I take my place beside him.
There is a lot that could be said. I've practiced whole conversations in my mind over and over, but staring down at the stone marker sticking up from the ground, none of that seems so important anymore. I've lost my self-righteousness, my need to be right, to be acknowledged as the winner. In that moment, I realize it no longer matters.
"Of course," I reply.
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