Bill Holland has issued a short story challenge, if you haven't already heard...
"A Writing Challenge: Are You Up For It?"
Bill asks that you publish on HP, of course, but also email him at email@example.com to let him know - as he doesn't want to accidentally miss an entry.
It's been a great while since I've published anything on Hubpages for a variety of reasons. Bill's challenge stuck a personal chord in me. I also read some great submissions by other writers that have inspired me to throw my net into the waters.
Here goes - hope you enjoy!
Enter Nurse Molly...
Nurse Molly stepped lightly as she performed her nocturnal rounds on the critical coronary care unit.
For the last thirteen years, she cared for patients with acute myocardial infarction and post-operative open-heart patients. Molly could handle anything - one of Walker County's finest nurses.
"I'm not sleeping so good in here, nurse."
"Call me Molly. And what do you like to be called?"
"Sammie. Mrs. C. Up to you, dear."
Night after night Sammie sought out the kind and compassionate Molly. This nurse cared and knew how to listen. At the ripe old age of 83, Sammie didn't trust easily. Molly, she trusted...
At first, Sammie opened up about her early years during the Great Depression - in the 1930s and 1940s. While money was scarce, food was plentiful. Her Momma and Daddy had 189 acres - with vegetables, poultry, livestock, fruit and nut trees all about.
Molly's eyes misted as Sammie shared the simple joys of tasting a ripe Alberta peach picked directly from a tree she had climbed -clearly an unforgettable memory of her childhood.
Days off found Molly thinking of Sammie. While at the Farmer's Market, she was drawn to some beautiful ripe peaches for her Georgia peach back at the hospital.
"You remind me of my daughter. She was thoughtful like that."
"Oohh, let me get that chin of yours - you are dripping peach juice...!"
"Stop fussing over me. Here, let me show you some of my pictures. When I was four years old, our family moved to Lookout Mountain. Our home in Washington, Georgia had burned to the ground."
"Oh, Sammie, you were so young. You must have been frightened out of your wits."
Never did cry much...
"I loved our new home on the mountain - felt surrounded and protected and naïve, looking back. My sister, Catherine, developed diphtheria. She was eight and I was one year her junior. Dr. Wood travelled by train from Washington to treat her. Except he didn't get there on time. Momma and my other sisters were sobbing at the funeral. I stood strong supported by Daddy and Lookout Mountain - amidst a sea of broken hearts."
"The summer after graduation, I moved away to find work. I couldn't get far enough away from Lookout Mountain and the ruins that used to be our farm. Momma had become a shell of her former self after Catherine died. Daddy had already moved to Charleston finding a wartime job with the Power Company - came home on weekends whenever possible. I got a job at Western Union as an operator. I also volunteered for the U S O and the Red Cross with some of the girls I lived with at the YWCA."
"I met my Maria's father at the USO. He was a handsome Navy man. We got to know each other for about three weeks before he sailed to England. We tried marriage when he returned home in the summer of 1945. Two years later, the love of my life was my little girl. Andrew moved on - there's a lesson somewhere, I sure never figured out the marriage game."
"Tell me about it, Sammie."
Molly decided the nursing profession would never let her down after her own brief disaster of a marriage. How can Sammie stir up these memories in me? She needed to focus and get ready for a long weekend with her man - a soulful Black Labrador Retriever, named Alvin.
"Miss you, Molly. Time off is good for you. My Maria never took good care of herself. She was always worrying after me."
Molly thought she could handle anything. Seeing the empty bed that had been Sammie's reminded her she was all too human.
People come. People go - next stop the morgue, in most cases. Sammie was different. Sammie was unforgettable.
A month later...
Molly was greeted at the nursing station by an enormous basket of juicy Alberta peaches and a note from Sammie's granddaughter when she arrived at work.
In the note, she learned the rest of the story...
Sammie's heart was torn in half when her daughter was fatally shot in a random shooting while walking her dog. Maria was 37 years of age. In one instant, Sammie and Kylie both lost their anchors.
Kylie moved away with her father - eventually becoming a nurse like her mom. Sammie volunteered at the local clinic - her way of keeping Maria's legacy alive.
The letter ended with: "I'll be in town next week. Would have been Nanny's 84th birthday. It'd mean the world if I could meet you, Nurse Molly. We have a mutual angel connection."
Taking a bite of the biggest peach in the basket, Molly proceeded to fill out a leave slip. Lookout Mountain sounded like a slice of heaven.
Life is Like a Mountain Railroad
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