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A Return To The Past: Billbuc Photo Challenge Short Story 1


Alyssa is an avid reader, writer, and coffee enthusiast. She loves sharing thoughts, ideas, and creative writings with the world.


The Challenge

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 small graveyard

A small graveyard

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.

A foreboding path

A foreboding path

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.

© 2020 Alyssa


Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 31, 2020:

Thank you so much, Dora!

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 31, 2020:

Thank you, Shauna! I appreciate your feedback! I am looking forward to the next challenge. :)

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 31, 2020:

Thank you so much, Katy!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 31, 2020:

Good story-telling! I love the ending. It makes me tell the story over again, anticipating the ending in a way I could not have done the first time. I like it.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 29, 2020:

Well, for someone who hasn't written fiction in 15 or 16 years, you sure did a fine job, Alyssa!

Your story had me glued with every word. I was there in the bedroom taking my last glance at childhood. I bore the brunt of Mother's (I assume the woman was her mother) fury as I tuned out her words and waited for the window to open, so to speak.

I walked along the path, not feeling the freedom and joy I normally would on a walk such as this.

What I didn't expect was to no longer feel the tension and anger when I was around her. I guess now, they both rest in peace.

Great story. I hope you continue to answer Bill's challenges.

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 28, 2020:

Thank you so much, Devika!

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 28, 2020:

Thank you, Bill. Your feedback means a lot to me. I had a lot of fun with this challenge, so I will definitely keep participating! :)

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 28, 2020:

A great thinker and a story with a fantastic end. You shared from the heart and coped with this challenge to perfection.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2020:

Wow! I mean Wow! I had no idea you had this kind of creative writing talent. I'm being serious now. You set the scene so well. The opening paragraph was excellent. The pace was excellent. You wrote in a voice I had not heard from you before. I have another challenge coming and you better take part in it, because you have some serious talent in creative writing.

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 28, 2020:

Thank you so much, John! Your kind words mean a lot to me.

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 28, 2020:

Thank you!

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 28, 2020:

Thank you so much, Lora! I'm glad you liked the story. The ending was the easiest part to write and my favorite. I agree, death has a way of putting everything in perspective.

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 28, 2020:

Thank you for your kind words, Pamela. I was thinking the same thing as I wrapped it up.. there's more there that could be told.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 28, 2020:

Alyssa, you did a great job with this story. It is extremely well-written and I had no idea where it was going. The ending was a total surprise. Well done.

Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on January 27, 2020:

Very well-written story! Thank you for posting it here - I really enjoyed it.

Lora Hollings on January 27, 2020:

I love your story, Alyssa. It took me a little while to grasp the ending but once I did, I found it to be a really poignant way to end this story. A very unexpected ending that caught me off guard yet I really liked it. We are all humbled by death and we can transcend hurt by even those close to us. I like the way you ended with reconciliation. A very creative story that I really enjoyed reading as I found it intriguing! You did a great job in meeting this challenge.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 27, 2020:

It sounds like we are going to hear more about this emotional story. You set the scene for the mother and daughter very well.

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