Hey everyone! I wanted to share this poem I wrote with you. Let me know what you think!
You are afraid of the dark,
Of what will happen when you go to sleep.
What people are saying when they talk,
and when a loud noise goes off you leap.
I am afraid of blankness,
What will happen when my brain has no spark.
What I will do in all of my frankness,
When my page hasn’t one little mark.
When the trees of my mind are no longer filled with birds,
The sky no longer shines blue.
I know you must think it absurd,
All of this that I am telling you.
I think and I think,
I pace and pace.
And just when I think I’m on the brink,
I get more behind in the race.
The words they are trapped,
They cannot make it through.
Without them, my page is forever blank,
Hey everyone! How’s the writing life?
I was just sitting here wondering what your favorite thing to write is. I have found that poetry comes to me very easily. I can spit out a poem in 15 minutes. However, writing stories is much harder for me. I spend hours pouring over the plot, before I even begin writing the story.
“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”
This quote from Anais Nin is very true in my writing life. Whenever I sit down at my desk with the mind set that I am going to write something, nothing seems to come. However, while riding the bus to school one day, I wrote a poem titled “Sleep”. While on a trip to my great-grandmother’s, I got the inspiration for my short story “Once Upon A Time…”. Inspiration is everywhere. I always keep a notebook in my purse so I can write down my ideas when they come to me. Where do you get inspiration from? Have any of your writings been inspired by unique things? I would love to hear from you! Please comment:)
This is a short story that I have not yet finished. It is written from two points of view, Hope and Nathan. It is my first time writing something l like this. I would love to hear your thoughts. As always, please feel free to comment.
Once upon a time… yeah, I wish my story started out like that. But does anyone’s ever really start like that?
And no, my story doesn’t begin in a beautiful castle or tall tower in an enchanted forest. It starts in a hospital in New York City. I was born at 12:01 a.m on January 1, 1994; the first born at the hospital that year. They were giving a prize of $1,000 to the parents of this “New Year Baby”.
I guess that finally gave Mom reason enough to leave my scum-bag of a dad. He was an alcoholic to the extreme. My mom almost miscarried because of him when she was four months pregnant with me. He had gotten drunk and decided to play a little game of push and shove.
She’d been secretly saving up money for a couple of years, especially since finding out about me. She would take a dollar or two out of his wallet after he passed out on the couch. It wasn’t a lot, but she had to make sure he didn’t notice the missing money.
He had always made her give him her paycheck. She’d started going to the bank and taking $5 off of it. When he’d asked her about it, she’d told him the store had to make paycheck cuts. How he never found out, God only knows.
After she got the grand from the hospital, that was all she needed. She packed up me and her few possessions into her old Ford and we drove off in the middle of the night. My mom decided she’d had enough of the city, so she drove down to Lovelace, South Carolina. With a population of 903, I’m pretty sure it’s nothing close to the city.
She made a new life for the both of us. She changed her name from Jessica to Rosie. My name was Hope, reason being that Mom said I had always been her only hope. Rosie and Hope West. Mom heard from a friend in New York that after my dad found out that we had left, he went on a psychotic rampage. He tore our tiny apartment apart: putting his fist through a wall, throwing what little furniture we had around. Finally, he jumped off the balcony. We were on the 21st floor.
I know what you’re thinking. Why’d she marry such a son of a bitch?
I’ve asked her this too. Her response is always the same.
“Alcohol can turn anyone into a monster.”
That was all she would say; nothing more, nothing less. I never knew the full truth about my dad until my thirteenth birthday. Mom thought that I was finally old enough to know the truth.
When Mom got to Lovelace, the first thing she did was find a job. It didn’t take very long; I mean, like I said it’s a small town. She got hired at Bob’s Place, the town diner. It had been in business since the 50’s, and was the center for town gossip.
We stayed at the town motel for about a year until Mom could afford to by a farmhouse outside of town. We’ve lived there ever since. Looking at it now, you can’t tell how bad it used to be. When Mom first bought it, it was a total hole-in-the-wall. According to the previous owner, it had been built by his great-great grandfather after the Civil War. He told my mom he was aging and didn’t have the time nor the energy to maintain the house.
The paint was peeling off the interior walls, the front porch steps had caved in, it was dusty and dirty inside and out, some shingles were missing. The list goes on and on. Little by little she fixed it up. Using tip money from the diner she would buy paint, lumber, appliances, and everything else in between. It took about three years. By the time I was four, it was done.
I don’t remember what it looked like before, but Mom took before and after pictures with a cheap Kodak camera from Wal-Mart. She made the house look so beautiful, you would never know it’s ugly past. When Mom’s friends came over, they always complimented our “quaint, elegant country home”.
Shortly after Mom finished the house, her life changed forever. Mama found God. She’d never gone to church as a kid; her mom wasn’t exactly Mother of the Year. Mama and I were really close and told each other everything. The one thing she won’t tell me is how it happened.
“It’s just between me and God,” she’d say.
Whatever happened, it must have been a miracle. Lovelace is an entirely Roman Catholic town. The only church is St. Francis de Sales which is just a short drive from town. Mama passed the faith onto me and I was baptized in to the church when I was four years old.
So that’s how life began for us here in Lovelace. Mama quit her job at Bob’s Place when I was thirteen and started working at the library after the former librarian, Mrs. Mabel Lee, passed on. She was a sweet woman and always read books to me on our library visits when I was younger. The library was my favorite place in the world. No one hardly ever went there so I would go and spend the evenings there after school. I worked on my homework and then would read until closing time.
It was an older library, built in 1859. Many of the books were as old if not older than the building. My favorites to read were Charles Dickens, Williams Shakespeare, and mostly Jane Austen. The library was my escape; a place where I could go and feel free. I had no worries at all, just a book in front of me. With those books I could escape to places I’d never imagines. I could go to London, Africa, Poland, and France. Any where I wanted to go, the books would take me there.
So that was my life. Everyday, the same thing, 365 days a year. I would wake up, go to school, go to the library, come home, eat supper, take a shower, read, then go to bed. On Saturday’s I mostly just hung out at the library or went hiking in the woods. Mama and I both loved being outdoors. Something about the wind gently blowing through your hair, listening to the birds sing to you, and hearing the bubbling of a creek winding it’s way through the forest replenished my soul. It was like being born again.
Writing was also an escape for me; I’d been doing it my whole life. Putting my thoughts down on paper, was much easier than saying them out loud. I’d read once that writing was a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. I’d come to believe that that was true. Some days I would just be going through my day like normal, riding the bus eating dinner, when words would flow into my head. I could hear people talking, then I dialogue would form, then I would write it down and a story would grow from it. There were so many characters running around in my head, just waiting to get out.
I posted my writings on a blog for years. I don’t know why; I knew no one would take any interest in them. I guess I was looking for some way to put my thoughts out there for everyone to see, even if they never did. It sounds odd know, but it didn’t back then.
Then, before I knew what was happening, my boring life was turned upside down. Behind our house was a large forest that seemed to go on forever. An old trail led to a creek that ran throughout the entire forest. During the summer, I would lean against and large, old oak tree and dip my feet in the cool water. Some days I would read, some days I would just close my eyes and relax, and some days I would sit and write. I
One day I decided to go down there just to blow off steam. Mama was hovering over me, concerned I wasn’t living right.
“Hope, your seventeen years old and never do anything except go to the library or the creek and write. That’s not normal for a girl your age,” she said looking worried.
“Mama I’m fine. I’m just not like the other kids at school.” Not that there were that many, anyway.
“Hope, I just don’t think it’s right…”
“Well I think it’s fine,” I interrupted, then stormed outside.
Why was it so important that I have friends? I hadn’t had any all my life and I wasn’t about to start now. It’s not that I didn’t like anyone…no one liked me. In Lovelace, I was considered the geek; the weird kid with the single mom who always had her nose in a book and didn’t play sports. Sure I was bullied but I never told Mama. I didn’t want them to know it bothered me even though it did.
I was an outsider. I guess I was used to it but it still hurt, way down inside. That’s why I couldn’t wait to graduate. I could leave and go far away. I wanted to leave, maybe I even had to leave. But there was part of me that loved this town. Sitting in the library, hiking through the forest, sitting by the fireplace with my mama, and relaxing by the creek, they had all become a part of me. It was who I was.
I dipped my feet into the cool water of the creek, leaned against the old oak, and let out a big sigh. Why does everything have to be so complicated? I thought.
SNAP! I jerked at the sudden crack of stick. I looked around for the signs of an animal or maybe even a human. I didn’t see in anything out of the ordinary so I relaxed against the oak tree.
“Hey,” a strained voice said. “Hey can you help me?”
Once again I jerked up and looked all around. Only this time to my surprise there was a guy leaning against a tree on the other side of the creek. I recognized him immediately as Nathan Kress from school. We were both juniors and we had every class together. Even so, he probably didn’t even know my name.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, thinking about how odd this was.
“I was hiking the trail about a mile back. I tripped on a tree root while I was taking some pictures. I think I broke my ankle,” he told me.
After he told me, I noticed the camera hanging around his neck .
“Umm…I think we have some old crutches in the barn. I’ll run back and get them. Do you think you can make it across the creek by yourself?” I asked, because I didn’t know if I could help him. He was very muscular; he worked on his uncle’s farm.
“I think I can manage that,” he said with a smirk on his face.
I felt myself blush. I quickly got up then ran to the barn to get the crutches. After moving around a few boxes, I found them leaning against the far wall. Grabbing them, I tried to get back as fast as I could without tripping myself. I wasn’t very coordinated; I could barely walk and talk at the same time. That’s why I didn’t play sports.
I made it back to the creek (safely, thank God). Nathan had made it across the creek and was leaning against the oak tree.
“I found the crutches. My mom can check to see if it’s really broken or just sprained,” I told him.
“Thanks,” he said taking the crutches.
I helped him up and we started off towards my house. I could feel him staring at me though I tried to avoid it.
“I know you from school. Your name is Hope, right?” he asked.
I was stunned with the fact that he knew my name.
“Umm.. yeah. How do you know my name?” I asked, trying to hide the surprised look on my face.
“I umm…follow your blog,” he said, clearly embarrassed.
I thought, Okay, now I’m positive that I’m dreaming…He follows my blog? I didn’t know anyone read that blog besides me.
“What? You follow my blog? No way,” I told him, completely blown away.
It was a blog that I had started a few years ago when I was 14. I posted all of my writing: poems, short stories, memoirs etc. He reads it?
“Yeah. I write too. You’re really good,” he told me, still a little embarrassed.
“Wow,” I sighed, still shocked.
He looked at me with a puzzled look on his face.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“This has been a really weird day. I’m pretty sure I’m dreaming,” she admitted.
“Why do you think that? I’m not quite sure it’s a dream, cause my ankle hurts pretty bad,” he joked.
“Well first of all, you showed up by the creek. Then, you knew my name. Then, you say you follow my blog. Then you say I’m a good writer. What’s not weird about that?” I asked.
“Why would it be weird for me to know your name?” he asked.
I thought for a minute.
“I didn’t think anyone at school payed any attention to me,” I confessed.
As we came up to the house, I helped him up the steps. I motioned for him to sit down on the couch, then got a pillow for him to prop his leg on.
“I’ll go get Mom,” I told him.
I headed upstairs to Mom’s office and found her reading a book.
“Hey Mom. A kid from school was in the woods and thinks he broke his ankle. I told him you could check it out for him. He’s downstairs on the couch,” I told her, realizing how weird it all sounded coming from me.
“Oh,” she said putting down her book. “Of course.”
After thoroughly checking his ankle, Mom concluded that it was in fact broken. Mom had some materials for a cast at home. She didn’t really like the doctor here in town so she just kept everything she would need here at home. She wrapped it up, then returned to her office leaving Nathan and me alone.
“This is just great,” he muttered.
“Mom said it’ll be fine in 6 weeks,” I said . “That’s not so bad,” I assured him.
“I guess, but it still sucks pretty bad,” he complained.
“So I’m guessing you need a ride home?” I asked.
“Do you mind? You’ve done so much already,” he said.
“No problem. It’s not like I have anything else to do,” I said.
My truck was a an old blue Ford…definitely nothing to brag about. When we finally got on the main road, I asked “Where do you live?”
“Just drive to the courthouse. I’ll show you were to go from there,” he said, sounding tired.
“So, you’re a writer too?” I asked, trying to break the silence.
“I guess you could say that,” he said . “I’m not half as good as you though.”
I felt my face blush again. “So how did you even find my blog? I didn’t know that anyone at all read it except for me.”
“I don’t remember actually. One day I was just messing around on my laptop and stumbled upon it.
“I haven’t been on there for a few weeks. Just been distracted I guess.
“I noticed. I’ve been waiting for you to post something new for a while,” he said.
After a few more minutes of silence, I turned on the radio. “You can put it on whatever station you want. It doesn’t matter to me.
“Nah, that’s okay. I’d rather talk to you,” he said. “What inspired you to write that poem about France? That’s my favorite.”
Man, I wish my face would quit turning red. I’m never been like this around anyone. Not that I’m with anyone all that much.
“I guess I’ve just always wanted to go to France. Especially to see the Eiffel Tower,” I answered.
He nodded his head, then seemed to go into deep thought. The rest of the ride was silent until we arrived at the courthouse.
“Just turn left here then head down McLean Road,” he instructed.
I did as he told until we came upon a few houses, each a few yards apart.
“Mines the third on the right,” he said, nodding his head in that direction.
I pulled up in the driveway then unlocked the doors. It was an average, cookie-cutter house. White trim, maintained hedges, minivan parked in the driveway.
“Guess this is it,” he said.
“Thank for the help. Don’t know what I woulda done if you weren’t there,” he said.
“No problem. Can you make it in alright?” I asked.
“Yeah I’m fine. You’ve done so much already.”
“Mom! I’m home!” I hollered. I was dreading having to explain my broken ankle to her.
“I’m in the kitchen,” she answered. I hobbled down the hall and into the kitchen as best I could using the crutches. When she turned around and saw my ankle and the crutches, a worried look flooded her face.
“What happened to you? Are you okay?” she asked, rushing over to me.
“I’m fine, Mom. Just tripped in the woods and broke my ankle, that’s all,” I answered.
“How did you get the cast and the crutches?” she asked.
“A girl from school lived close by and her mom had a bunch of medical stuff at her house. She fixed it up for me,” I explained.
“What’s her name? I’ll have to be sure to call and tell them thank you,” Mom said.
“Hope. Hope West,” I told her. God, just me saying her name made me smile. I wonder if she knew I had a big crush on her. I’d followed her blog for years. She was the wrote the most amazing things I’d ever read. The way she describe things made you feel like you were there in the middle of everything. You could feel her words in your soul, and once they came inside of you there was no turning back.
After finally convincing Mom that I was okay, I headed upstairs to my room. I plopped down onto the bed, the events of the past hour and a half playing over again my head. Earlier that day, I’d decided that I needed some fresh air. I headed out into the woods with the intention of hiking for about an hour and then heading back home. Before long, I tripped on a tree root semi-hidden behind some bushes. I hobbled for about an hour before coming across a creek, and was surprised to see Hope sitting on the other side.
After she had gotten me the crutches and we were walking to her house, I kept catching myself staring at her, but I don’t think she noticed. If she did, she didn’t act like it. She was so pretty and I’m not even sure she knew it. She had the most beautiful hair I’d ever seen. It was the color of a burnt sunset and fell perfectly over her shoulders.
I’d never talked to her before that day, but I felt like I knew her. She never really talked to anyone at school and the only other times I say her were at the library and Bob’s Place. I never could seem to work up the nerve to talk to her. I dreamed about a million times but every time I got anywhere near her, I chickened out. Not today, I thought as I opened up my laptop. I decided to send Hope and email, hoping that it would be easier than asking her face to face. Here goes nothing, I thought. Then I clicked send, and sent my dreams of Hope into cyberspace.
I came home to a flood of questions from Mom. Who is he? Do you like him? Is he your boyfriend? I dismissed them as soon as they came out of her mouth. Leave it to Mom to make a mountain out of a mole hill.
I went into my room and checked my computer. Expecting nothing, I was surprised to see a new message in my inbox. Who could this be? I wondered. After clicking it, my question was answered. Nathan Kress. He must be saying thank you again, I thought.
It’s me Nathan. Thanks again for all your help today. My mom was worried about me when I didn’t come home. I was wondering if you would wanna meet at the library tomorrow. We could talk about writing, I could show you some of my stuff. I completely understand if you don’t want to. Looking forward to hearing from you.
I thought for a second before replying.
He must have been sitting right at his computer, because shortly after I hit send I already had a reply.
Is 9:30 okay with you?
I can’t believe I’m doing this, I thought before replying.
See you then!
Great. I’ll be there!
As I closed my laptop, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. Why are you doing this? I asked myself. Before I could answer myself, a thought came into my head, ruining my good mood. I have to explain this to Mom. She’s gonna get carried away, I thought.
I took a deep breath before going into Mom’s office.
“Mom?” I asked.
She turned away from her computer and faced me smiling. “Hey sweetie. What’s up?”
“If I tell you something, will you promise not to get the wrong idea?” I asked her.
“Sure!” she answered. I knew she was probably lying, but what else could I do?
“Nathan wants me to meet him at the library in the morning so we can-”
“Hope!” she interrupted, “this is great! I knew you liked him!”
“Mom, it’s not like that. We’re meeting so we can talk about our writing,” I explained, hoping she would lay off.
“Okay, whatever you say. I know you like him though,” she added.
“Whatever,” I said, walking back to my room. I sat down on my bed as a flood of thoughts entered my mind. What was I going to wear? How should I wear my hair? Then I stopped myself. Since when was I concerned with what I wore, or how I looked? We’re just meeting at the library, I told myself. It’s not that big of a deal. Stop acting like this.
With that, I decided to just go to bed. As I curled up underneath the thick quilt, I thought of what tomorrow would bring.
After a quick shower, I braced myself for a rejection letter from Hope. I figured there was no chance you would want to go to the library with me, even if I didn’t say it was a date. Sure enough, I saw the message box flashing. I took a deep breath, before opening the message.
I couldn’t believe she agreed! I was so filled with excitement, I almost forgot to reply. After a little back and forth, we agreed to meet at the library at 9:30. I finally did it, I thought.
My alarm clock woke me up at 7:30 the next morning. Good, I thought. I still have plenty of time to get ready. I still don’t know why I was suddenly so worried about my appearance. Maybe because he was the first guy to ever ask me to meet him. Even though it wasn’t a date, it still was a pretty big milestone for me.
I didn’t want to dress up to much. That would just be weird. I laid out a pair of denim shorts, a white tiered lace tank, and a light gray cardigan. I added an antique gold locket that belonged to my mom’s mother. It was the only proof I had of other family members besides my mom.
Mom didn’t have a very good life. Her dad left before she was born. Her mom struggled to pay the bills and often tried to find the answer to her problems at the bottom of a bottle. As soon as Mom was old enough she got a job. It wasn’t much, but at least she could have a descent meal at night.
She said her mom, my grandmother, was a really good mother when she wasn’t drunk or suffering from a hangover. Mom never really blamed her; she was left by her husband with a baby and $50 to her name. She had a broken heart. Mom doesn’t know why her dad left her mom. She was usually to drunk to talk about it. I had often wondered whether my grandmother was still alive. One of my dreams was to meet her one day.
After I laid out my clothes, I hoped in the shower. When I got out, I wiped the steam from the mirror. I looked just like my mom. We both had fiery, wavy red hair. She claims that it runs in the family because of our Irish roots. Our eyes were the color of emeralds, or at least that’s what everyone always told us. We weren’t pale but we had fair skin. Surprisingly, neither of us had freckles, a trait usually typical of red heads. I’d always wondered what my dad looked like but I never wanted to upset Mom by asking.
I wrapped my hair up in a towel, hoping it wouldn’t cause me any trouble. After I got my clothes on, I went downstairs to eat breakfast. As I went to grab some orange juice from the fridge, I noticed a note stuck there with a magnet.
Went to work early. We’re getting a shipment of some new books and I have to shelve them. See you and your “crush” later!
Please don’t let my mother ruin this for me today, I prayed. After a quick bowl of cheerios, I went upstairs to do my hair. All I usually had to do was blow dry for about ten minutes. That is, if I wasn’t having a bad hair. I was hoping today wouldn’t be one of those days.
After a quick ten minutes, I discovered that it was indeed a good hair day. Then came the makeup. I never really wore a lot, just foundation, light blush, and mascara. When I was finished, I stepped back to look at myself. Guess that’s as good as it gets, I thought, shrugging my shoulders.
I went to my room and glanced at my cellphone. I still had plenty of time; it was only 8:45. So I decided to mess around on my computer for an hour. My MacBook was a gift from my mom one the previous Christmas. She had to order it online since there wasn’t an Apple store within a 300 mile radius of Lovelace.
After logging on, I was again surprised to see that I had a message in my inbox.
We still on for 9:30? Just wanted to check and make sure nothing came up.
Of course nothing came up, I thought. Nothing ever seems to come up around here.
Nope! Nothing has come up. See you then!
After a lot of time spent piddling around the house, I finally headed to the library. There were already two cars in the parking lot. The black 02′ Toyota Camry I recognized as Mom’s, and an old orange and white Chevy truck that I assumed was Nathan’s. I slung my messenger bag containing my laptop, notebooks, and pens, over my shoulder. Taking a deep breath, I headed through the library doors.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
This quote made me laugh the first time I read it. I think Hemingway is talking to the people who consider writing an easy task, something that everyone could do. However, this is simply not the case. Any true writer knows how difficult writing can be. There are the moments of ease, when the words flood out of you. There are the moments of struggle, when the dam of writer’s block keeps the word flood back. There are the moments of triumph, when you break the dam and the flood returns. Then there are the “pull your hair out” moments of editing: looking at every tiny detail and correcting every minute mistake.
Are there any struggles you have come across while writing? Any triumphs? I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment!
COPYRIGHT January 20, 2012
This is a short story that I wrote for an assignment in English class. I would love to hear what you think!
The sound of the ocean waves relaxed me. The sand warmed my toes as I stepped off of the back porch. The seagulls were taking flight out over the water. What a great feeling that must be; to be free to fly over the ocean, not knowing where you will end up, I thought. Because we lived in a beach front house, there was no one else on the beach except for me.
Mom, Dad, and I had just moved to North Carolina about two months ago. My dad was Col. Troy Douthit, serving in the United States Army. We had moved four times before, but this time Dad promised that this would be permanent. I was so excited I literally jumped up and down. Moving around all the time made me feel like I never belonged anywhere. To keep people out, I built a wall around myself. I didn’t make friends because in the end I would have to leave them. I’d made that mistake once, and I wasn’t going to do it again.
Being an only child, I had always been daddy’s little girl. My dad was my best friend in the world. We did everything together. In Kansas, we lived on a farm. Every morning, my dad and I would go out and gather the eggs and mile the cows. I remember the first time Dad let me milk the cows by myself; I was so proud.
When we had lived in Tennessee, Dad took me fishing every Saturday morning. That night we would have a cookout and eat what we had caught. I remember the smell of the fire and the burn of the smoke in my eyes. I remember how sticky my hands were after I ate my dad’s famous s’mores.
In Kentucky, my dad took me horseback riding at a stable down the road from the house. I can still hear him calling me his “little cowgirl”. One day, we took the horses to a track and raced them. I beat him, but not matter how hard he tried to deny it, I’m pretty sure he let me win.
Since our move to North Carolina, we hadn’t stated anything new yet. We were still trying to turn the house on the beach into a home. It was a pretty large house, even though there were just three of us. My dad had always wanted us to have a big home. He said he wanted to give his queen and princess a “palace.” My mom and I always laughed when he told us this. But now, he made made his dream come true.
The house was Cape Cod style, built right after the Civil War. The paint was the color of the sky and the shutters were identical to the clouds. The interior was breathtaking. A beautiful staircase led you upstairs. The wood was dark, typical of older homes. My dad shared my love of reading, so he turned one of the upstairs rooms into a library; it was my favorite room in the entire house. Three large bookshelves towered over me, reaching the ceiling. They contained all of my favorites: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, William Blake, Shakespeare, and so many more. I almost cried when my dad surprised me with the room.
Though I was thirteen, I read on a college level. Books were the only thing that kept me and Dad connected while he was gone on deployment. We chose three books that we would read while he was gone. At the same time each night, we would read one chapter. I know it sounds cheesy, but it made me feel close to Dad, even when we were separated by a huge ocean. If your dad has never been deployed, let me tell you this: it sucks.
“Andie!” my mother hollered from the kitchen. “Suppertime!”
“Coming!” I yelled back, closing my book.
As soon as I opened my door, the welcoming aroma of fried chicken greeted me. In my mind, the best cook in the world was Mom. If Dad and I lived by ourselves, we would probably end up having either cereal, grilled cheese, or pasta. You definitely didn’t want Dad cooking for you.
The dining room was definitely formal. A chandelier illuminated the room, hanging above the table. The table was long, with two chairs on each end, and three chairs on each side. Mom and Dad sat on each end, while I sat in the middle chair on the side.
“Hey girl,” my dad said. “Hungry?”
“Starved,” I answered, rubbing my stomach.
“Well we definitely have plenty of food. Your mom has prepared us a feast!” he laughed.
“I wouldn’t call it a feast, but you probably won’t walk away with your stomach empty,” Mom joked.
“Can I say grace tonight?” I asked.
“Sure,” he nodded. “Let’s join hands.”
I reached over and held my mom’s hand and my dad’s with the other. We bowed our heads and I began to pray. “Dear Lord, thank you for this beautiful day. It has been a blessing to have finally found a permanent home. Please bless our home, Lord. Bring us many laughs and help us through our times of sorrow. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”
“Let’s dig in!” Dad said, grinning from ear to ear.
“Sometimes I think I have two kids instead of just one,” my mom teased looking at him.
“Very funny,” my dad retorted, his mouth full of mashed potatoes.
After Dad swallowed, he looked at me. “Hey Andie. How about tomorrow we go walk up the beach and look for some sea shells?”
“Oh that sounds fun! What time should we go?” I asked smiling.
“I was reading on the Internet, that the best time to go was during low tide. When you’re done with supper, why don’t you look for the tide schedule on Google?” he suggested.
“Awesome! I can’t wait!” I told him, feeling the excitement rise upon me.
“I hurried up and finished my supper then asked Mom is I could be excused. After she said yes, I cleaned up my plate and hurried upstairs to look for the tide schedule. After a few wrong clicks, I finally found what I was looking for. According to the article, low tide occurred at about 7:30 am. Dad and I agreed to wake up about 6:15, eat some breakfast, and then head out. I could hardly sleep, I was so excited. Finally, we are starting something new, I thought before finally drifting off to sleep.
The next morning we woke up, ate some scrambled eggs and toast, then headed out onto the beach. After walking for a little while, we had found some nice shells but nothing to be really excited about. We sat down, taking a rest for a while.
“So do you like it here?” Dad asked.
“I really do,” I told him. “It’s every kid’s dream to live right on the ocean.”
“It’s every dad’s dream to have a daughter just like you,” he praised.
“Daaad,” I groaned. He was always saying stuff like this. You know, the kind of stuff that would embarrass you if you were out in public.
“I’ve gotta tell you something,” he said, lowering his head.
I began to get this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I hope it’s nothing bad, I thought. “Ummm, okay,” I said warily.
“I’m being deployed to Afghanistan next week,” he confessed.
As my heart began to break, I tried to hold back tears. “Oh,” was all I could manage to get out.
“I’ll be gone for about ten months,” he added. I broke. Tears streamed down my face. They were just like the ocean; warm and salty. Grabbing a nearby rock I threw it as far as I possibly could.
“Andie, I’m so sorry,” my dad consoled. Not letting him finish, I got up on my feet as fast as I could. I ran; faster than ever before. Maybe, I thought, if I keep running Dad can stay.
He hollered out my name, but I just ignored him. I wasn’t angry at him, just angry at his job and all that it had taken away from me. Dad missed my first grade dance recital because of it. On my eighth birthday, my mom was the only one there to clap when I blew out the candles. Dad missed out on so many things because of his job. Sometimes, it made me wanna scream.
I ran back to the house, up to my room, and onto my bed. I cried into my pillow for hours it seemed, until Dad finally sat down beside me on the bed. I sat up, wiping my eyes. He pulled a gift from behind his back. It was wrapped in camouflage paper (how fitting) and had a green bow on top.
“I know this won’t make up for me leaving but it will make it a lot easier,” he told me.
What could this be, I thought , unwrapping the gift. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw it. The bitten off apple symbol, big screen…An IPad 2. “Wow! What’s this for?” I asked him.
“Well, I got one for me too. Now, we can FaceTime with each other. It would be nice to talk to you and see your face every now and then, right?”
“Dad, this is awesome! Thank you so much!” I said, hugging him.
“You can keep it under one condition,” he said in a serious tone. “Every time I try to FaceTime you, you have to answer. Agreed?”
“Agreed,” I smiled.
“Now why don’t you go set it up on your computer,” he told me, motioning towards my laptop.
“Okay” I said, jumping off my bed to my computer. But the excitement didn’t last long. Dad’s deployment was just one week away.
The day of Dad’s deployment was hard on all of us. We said our goodbyes at home, Dad not wanting to make it harder on any of us. He hugged Mom for a long time before making his way to me.
“Don’t forget to FaceTime me as you can okay? I’ll try to answer as much as I can,” he promised.
“I won’t forget,” my voice trembled. Tears rolled down my cheeks. He hugged me one last time before walking out the door. Mom and I stood there for a minute after he had gone. Turning, I made my way up the stairs. I flopped down on the bed, trying to think of what I would go without my dad for the next ten months. I had a whole summer ahead of me before starting school. I was all alone in a strange town. Sure I had my mom, but she wasn’t the same as my dad; he was my best friend.
The months went by very slowly. Dad and I chatted with other about once a week. We had chose to read Moby Dick , a classic. Dad was right, the I-Pads did make it a little easier on him being gone, but I still missed him. I prayed that God would protect him and bring him home safe.
One day, I sat on the couch and turned on the news. The chime sounded meaning that they had just received breaking news. After reading the headline, my heart spilled onto the floor. It said, “
Several American troops killed after Army post was attacked today in Afghanistan.” Immediately, I reached for the remote, turning up the volume.
“An Army post was attacked earlier this morning in Afghanistan. We don’t have much information at this time, but we do know that the unit is from a military base in North Carolina. Several casualties have been reported. How many casualties and who remains a question. We will bring you the latest news as the story develops,” the anchorwoman said.
I ran up to my room to get my cellphone. As it started to ring, I tapped my feet on the floor waiting. “Hello?” Mom asked.
“Mom, turn the T.V onto the news! Hurry!” I hollered through the phone. Mom was a babysitter. She didn’t make much money, just enough to have a little money on the side. Since Dad was Colonel, he actually got paid pretty well, about $130,000 annually. But my mom still felt that she had to help out some.
“Andie, I’m trying to get Sam to lie down and take a nap. He’s been screaming all morning long,” my mother said, clearly overwhelmed.
“Mom, it’s an emergency I promise! Please, you have to hurry, it’s about Dad!” I yelled.
“Oh my god,” she muttered under her breath. Her feet pounded on the hardwood floor of the Owens’ house. She clicked the T.V on and the anchorwoman was telling the same story she had told me, to my mother.
Mom stifled back her tears, not wanting to cry in front of me. Not one had I ever seen or heard my mom cry. Not when Dad left for deployment, not when her mother died, not when her best friends, Sgt. Melanie Bosewell had been killed in action last year. Not even during happy times. She said she didn’t want me to ever see her cry.
“Andie, honey, I want you to get on your I-Pad and try to call your Dad. Call him on his cell phone, call all of his buddies, call anyone who might know anything. Call me back whenever you find anything okay? I’ll be home as soon as I can, but I can’t leave the kids here by themselves,” she told me, the words coming out hastily.
“Okay Mom,” I told her hanging up the phone.
Processing all that Mom had told me to do, I grabbed my I-Pad. While it was ringing, I looked at Dad’s contact picture. It was taken the night before he left. He was sticking his tongue out and I was giving him bunny ears. A lone tear streamed down my cheek. Dear God, please just let him be okay. He has to be okay…he’s my dad. Please God, I prayed.
When Dad didn’t answer, I tried to call his cellphone. This time, it didn’t even ring, just went straight to his voice mail. “Hey, this Col. Troy Douthit. I’m fighting a war right now, so leave a message after the beep,” his recorded voice said. We had always laughed at this voice mail greeting.
Maybe he has it turned off, I thought. I then called George Garren, one of Dad’s buddies in his regiment. He was just like a brother to my dad, a member of the family. “Come on Uncle George,” I repeated over and over. “Pick up the phone.”
Finally someone answered. “Andie, thank God you called,” Uncle George said, letting out a sigh of relief.
“I saw the news. What happened?” I asked, still hoping that Dad was okay.
“We were attacked this morning,” he explained. “A group of terrorists came in and started shooting and throwing hand grenades.” From the sound of his voice, he was still trying to wrap his head around it.
“Are you okay? Is Dad okay? Where are you?” I panicked.
“Well, praise God that I was sent out to another base to give Gen. Radcliffe some files. We got back soon after the attack had ended. Your dad, well, he’s hurt. I’m afraid it’s bad. We’re flying him to a German hospital now. I promise I’ll make sure they do everything they can for him. I will call and update you every hour. Right now, you need to call your mom and tell her,” he told me.
By now, I was bawling. “Please take care of him,” I pleaded in tears. “Please.”
“I will honey,” he promised. “I will.”
Dropping to my knees, I prayed, Please dear Lord, please let my dad be okay.
I called my mom, trying to explain to her what Uncle George had told me. I had to keep repeating myself because she couldn’t understand what I said, I was crying so hard. Of course, she didn’t cry, even though I could tell she wanted to. She came home and hugged me tightly. Then without a single word between us, we both sat in the living room, waiting and hoping for a miracle.
That night at around 11:30, the phone rang. I ran to answer it, hoping it was news from Uncle George. “Hello?”
“Andie? Is that you?” Uncle George asked.
“Yeah, it’s me. How is Dad? What’s going on?” I asked.
“Can you put the phone on speaker? I need to talk to you and your mother,” he told me.
“Sure,” I told him, hitting the speaker button. When Mom looked questioningly, I explained that Uncle George needed to talk to both of us.
“What’s going on George? Is Troy okay?” Mom asked, clearly concerned.
“Well, he began, “I’m not sure how to tell you this, but Troy had to have an emergency amputation on his left leg.”
I began to cry as a flood of thoughts poured into my mind. Will he ever learn to walk again? If he has to leave the army, will we still be able to live here? We will ever be able to do things together again?
“Oh my God,” Mom gasped, covering her mouth. “Is he okay? Can we talk to him?”
“He’s fine,” Uncle George said. “A little banged up though. He fought really hard, and the doctor’s expect him to make a full recovery. It will be a long road to recovery, but he should be fine.”
“When can he come home?” I asked.
“In about four days, he’ll fly home. I have to go back to the base as soon as he leaves the hospital,” Uncle George explained.
“Call us if anything changes,” my mom told him.
“I will,” he agreed.
The next few months were all a big blur. Dad went to physical therapy for seven months. He learned how to walk, jump, and run with his prosthetic leg. He received the Purple Heart for his wounds in action. It took a while to get used to, but after a while it became just another part of life. We learned to avoid peoples stares, and the questions from little kids. Sometimes I even forgot all about it. Dad was honorably discharged from the Army, but we got to stay in North Carolina. Dad and I became even closer, if that’s possible. He was my rock and my strength, my protector and guide.
Though my dad lost a leg, he still made some pretty important steps. We both ran the Boston Marathon together, cheering each other on the whole way. He walked me to high school on my very first day. My principal let my dad walk me down the aisle at my high school graduation. He stood up and cheered for me after I gave my speech as valedictorian. He walked me down the aisle to my husband six years later, tears rolling down his face. But the walks I remember most were those walks down the beach. We walked every night , religiously. We talked and laughed with each other. We confided in one another, and listened to each other.
I remember these walks as I lay flowers on his grave. Col. Troy Andrew Douthit 1968-2055. Husband, Father, Soldier.
“I miss walking with you ,Dad,” I told him.
Hey everyone! This is my first post on my blog, and I’m super excited! I thought that since this is my first post, I would tell you a little bit about myself!
Favorite book: “Jane Eyre” by: Charlotte Bronte
Favorite genre of books: Classical/historical fiction
Favorite place to read: Anywhere outside in nature
Favorite authors: Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Margaret Mitchell, Janette Oke, Sarah Dessen, Nicholas Sparks, William Shakespeare, among many others!
I can’t live without: paper, pencil, God, and books!
I would love to hear some things about you guys! Feel free to comment below:)