Only A Few Days More--Contest Entry For BillyBuc

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Sweet Magnolia

I almost didn't recognize the house when I parked across from it. The last time I'd laid eyes on it was over 40 years ago. Over half a lifetime for many of us, and more than that for some.

Whoever the present owners are--of no importance now--they've made the old place look very respectable. But the memories of its past are alive to some of us still, and as ever vivid in our mind’s eye.

I was born and reared deep in southern Georgia. A land of piney woods and palmettos, swamps and rattlesnakes, but also of enchanting women. Something in the hot climate seemed to make everything vital and urgent, fast growing and fertile.

This seemed to pertain to the women as well. One such belle in particular caught my eye with her charms, led me to do things I would not ordinarily imagine, made me a slave to her charms as such women often do. I called her Sweet Magnolia.

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Memories Remained

Her real name was Magnolia Baker, Maggie for short. More beautiful than her floral namesake and twice as intoxicating as the scent from the famous southern bloom. Her hair was as dark as ebony and shinier still.

Eyes the color of sapphires she had when happy, but dark as coals when not. I was trapped when I first looked into them, caught as easily as a hare in a wire loop snare. I didn’t know it of course, had no idea of just how lost I really was at the time.

I’d no desire to see the house any closer, was sure the memories still remained inside, and I'd no need of refreshing them. I travel around the country these days, driving to various small town festivals and fairs, setting up my small tent and hawking my wares, so to speak.

I started to skip the small town of Clear Springs simply because of the part it played in my past. But I could not ignore my memories so easily at last.

Duty Bound

Maggie and I were married soon after we graduated from the local high school. I was already drafted into the army by that time, soon headed off to Vietnam shortly after our honeymoon ended. On my first furlough home Maggie informed me--her sapphire eyes shining with joy--of expecting our first child in a few months time. I too was thrilled and full of hope for our future.

What little time we spent together after our marriage was in the old house I now gazed towards. Back then it had belonged to Maggie’s grandmother, her only living kin. Neglected for decades, it was unpainted and had never been any color but shades of aged heart cypress. Tints of silver and gray, faded by the sun, seemed to suit the mood of the place then. And for me now, if the truth be told.

When I returned to duty and the war, I began counting the days until I could see my new family, dreaming of them at night, dreams of holding a raven haired, sapphire eyed child in my arms. This was especially so after I became a POW. My squad was ambushed one ill-fated day towards the end of my tour of duty in Nam, too early for my dreams to be fulfilled.

Only a few days more and I would have been on the way home, only a few days more and I would have seen my family again, only a few days more. How many times have I uttered these words to myself in my lifetime, and how many more times will I do the same?

Prisoner Of Love?

Long after the war was over I remained a prisoner, was shuttled from here to there so as to keep me hidden from view of those who might tell the outside world. For what purpose I know not why, but perhaps it doesn’t matter now, nor did it ever.

Some things require no answers, nor are they satisfactory when given. I finally escaped after 12 years of being a captive in the steamy jungles and squalid villages of the isolated countryside. But even as I relished my new found freedom I also dreaded the future, feared what I didn’t know.

I later found out I’d been mistaken for a slain member of my squad and declared legally dead for these many years. Maggie had remarried and had 3 more children while I was gone, and certainly grandchildren by now. She was apparently happy, and surely over our brief commitment long ago.

I could not blame her, could certainly not muster any feelings of betrayal or dishonor toward her. So I pleaded for my name to be kept secret, begged for a new identity with which to re-enter the world of man again. I had no other relatives or friends I wished to dismay or excite with my rebirth into the world. I was already dead to their lives.

Source

A Place To Not Call Home

I rented a garage from an old couple in Texas as sort of a base for my travels, and as a place to keep my stock and few belongings. No, not exactly a home of course, but still a place I can linger for a bit while my wanderlust is satisfied. Never long though, the memories will not allow it.

I've decided to skip the Clear Springs Festival after all, instead opting to head west. The mountains and rivers of another place with a much cooler climate beckoned me now, as they have on other such occasions when the memories were much too strong. I will view these beautiful vistas in hopes they will erase those sad memories still in my mind. But they never do.

Just before I pulled away from the house a little girl came out to check the mail. Yes, she was indeed young enough to be my granddaughter, and with black hair shimmering and sapphire eyes shining, she smiled and waved as I drove away toward the mountains once more.

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Comments 56 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I will read this at the end of the month. I just wanted to thank you for entering and wish you good luck.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks, Bill. I didn't know if we were supposed to publish it here and send you the entry in a Word document also, so I did both. Thanks for the contest as it made me try and be brief for a change. lol!

SSSSS


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Beautifully haunting story. I will remember this one.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thank you very much for commenting and for reading this one, Becky. It was tough for me with only a 1000 word limit. You know how long-winded I tend to be. lol! :)

SSSSS


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Randy, Good job grabbing my emotions and wringing them out. But that is what writing is about, making people feel. Thanks for the good story.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Your comments are very much appreciated, Chris. I'm looking forward to all of the entries in this enjoyable contest. Good experience for all of us fiction writers I' sure. Thanks again!

--RG


i scribble profile image

i scribble 3 years ago

Didn't realize I was reading fiction until close to the end. Very compelling. Good luck in the contest.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

@i scribble--I'm very pleased you found this tale realistically written. Thank you for reading and for your time in commenting on it. The contest is a good exercise in writing short fiction at any rate. :)

--RG


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Wow! Awesome story, Randy. You put mine to shame! You're amazing!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I don't think you've anything to be ashamed of, bravewarrior. Your tale is a great entry in the contest and besides, we all win in this one with the experience we gain. Good luck and thanks for the kind comments. :)

Randy


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is beautiful Randy. You are a very talented writer with a writing skill unsurpassed. Congratulations!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks so much for your very kind comments, Ruby Jean.(that sounds like a southern gal's name. lol!)

I love to pen short tales and billybuc caught my attention with this contest. Yours and many others too, apparently. :)

At any rate, it's fun to read everyone's imagination. Thanks again for your time.

Randy


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Randy, this is so captivating I had to read it again!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I am honored you thought this tale was worth a second look, bravewarrior. There are some good entries in this contest so far. I wish I knew how to find the others easily as I wish to read them all. I don't suppose you know how to find them? :)

--Randy


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

No, Randy, I don't. I only found you because you found me. (How'd you do that, anyway?) I was thinking of doing a search for 'Writing Contest' to see what comes up. Or we could go into billybuc's challenge and see who has commented with their acceptance.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

That's the way I've found most of the few entries I've read so far, bravewarrior. Other than just accidentally seeing them as they appeared on my feed, that is. There has to be an easier way, I would imagine.

Randy


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Let me know if you find it!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Will do, bravewarrior! There's got to be an easier way! :)

--RG


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 3 years ago from Sunny Florida

Beautiful story. It draws you in from beginning to end. Definately first rate. Up and awesome.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Your kind comments on this entry pleases me very much, KoffeeKlatch Gals. I truly appreciate your taking time to read and give your input on it. A really fun contest . Thanks again! :)

Randy :)


Sunnie Day 3 years ago

Oh my Randy, I truly loved this story. So creative and I just wanted to read on and on. Perhaps when the contest is over you can make this into a novel, I think it has such a great story line. Best of luck in the contest.

Sunnie


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks so much for your comments, Sunnie. I really appreciate your taking the time to read my entry and for the encouraging words. As hard as it was to cut my original tale down to less than 1000 words, it horrifies me to think of adding to it again. lol!

Good luck to you on your fine entry also. A fun contest and very good practice for us fiction writers I think! :)

Randy


Ghaelach 3 years ago

Morning Randy.

Great job you've done with your entry to Billybuc's contest.

I think the answer to your Q to Bill about seeing all the entries is to open a board in Pinterest as I have done called "Billybuc's Contest" and pin-it.

The only problem is there are those who don't want their work shared. But up till now there is only one of the entries that is so.

Good luck in the judging at the end of the month.

LOL Ghaelach


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Good morning to you too, Ghaelach! Thanks for the idea about Pintarest and I may check it out if I have time today. I appreciate your taking time to read my entry and for the nice comments. Good luck to you too on your entry. I think most are enjoying the contest and the experience. :)

--RG


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Randy, this is incredible! your story could almost be the next chapter to my own submission, just a few changes and I've found Jack.

I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Best of luck.

Jo


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Ha! Toldjaso, Jo. :) Not very similar in the rest of the details but still amusing to find. But you know, I never named the character in my tale. I wonder if his name was Jack ? (theme to Twilight Zone here) :o

Thanks for stopping by and hope you enjoy the contest. :)

--RG


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Randy, this is a magnificent story that gave me goosebumps. You're very good at evoking both setting and mood in your writing. The little girl who waves at the narrator near the end added the perfect touch.

Jaye


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I'm so glad you enjoyed this tale, Jaye. It took me longer to figure out a plot using billybuc's photo prompts than it did to write the tale. lol! But then, I suppose this was what he had in mind. A wonderful exercise for a fiction writer, no doubt. And fun to do, to boot.

I appreciate your time and input, Jaye. :)

--RG


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 3 years ago from Brownsville,TX

Oh what a wonderful story.. so sad .. but beautiful none the less.. I love this story.. I could feel his love for her and his pain absolutely wonderful

sharing

Debbie


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Hello again Deborah, I'm so very pleased you enjoyed my entry into billybuc's contest. Just the experience for me, and nice comment made by you and others, has made me feel a winner no matter the results of the contest. I think Bill's efforts seem to have rejuvenated some of the fiction writers on HP. At any rate, it's been lots of fun.

Thanks so much for your time and very nice input. I truly appreciate it and your sharing my story too!

Randy


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

This was captivating from beginning to end....and it was as if I walked along beside you as you told this tale.

Sending you Angels this morning :) ps


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

So happy you found my entry into billybuc's contest enjoyable, Patricia. Your comments are so much appreciated and really encourage me in my efforts at this craft. I'm really not accustomed to being so brief with my stories, but this was a good experience in brevity for me. Thanks for your time!

Randy


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Really great read here. Since I am a southern girl, I really loved that it is in the south. I grew up in Georgia. Excellent.

Voted up +++ and sharing.

God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Always good to hear from a former southern belle, Faith Reaper. They say to write what you know about, and for me it's the south. Thanks for checking out my entry and for your nice comments. It's been a fun contest in which we are all winners, I'm sure. :)

--Randy


habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia

Really good tale, Randy! Your imagery is wonderful. The old Victorian reminds me of the one in downtown Lenox. Best of luck in the contest! I danced on your buttons.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks Hollie! This has been a fun contest and a challenge to me because I tend to go on and on. Tough because of having to use the photo prompts too! I appreciate your time and for the ratings too.

--RD


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

Wow, this is beautiful. I mean, really breathtaking. Your description was mesmerizing.

It was a very sad story, and bittersweet.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thank you very much, Kathryn. I learned a lot from this contest. Mainly that I'm not cut out for Flash Fiction, apparently. lol! But thanks for your kind comments and your time. I'm pleased you appreciated my efforts. :)

--Randy


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

It was very hard to keep it under 1,000 words! I had to cut out 200 words, and I could have easily gone on and on. It is a good challenge to cut parts of a story out, and to be brief. But normally I like to compose longer stories.


lovedoctor926 3 years ago

Awesome flash fiction story. You kept me hooked in from beginning to end; although I must disagree with you.... Lol.. You are cut out for Flash Fiction regardless of whether you won or not.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I do understand what you are saying, Kathryn. My efforts are usually much longer but I thought this one worked out quite well for my first--and possibly last--FF contest. I'm simply too long winded to qualify. lol!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks, Lovedoctor. I appreciate your comments but I apparently don't understand the type of content or mood required in FF, even though I try. Better for me to stick with my long-winded tales and a genre I fully understand. I did learn a few things in this contest, however. Thanks again! :)

Randy


annart profile image

annart 3 years ago from SW England

What a sad, gripping story; it really tugs at the heartstrings - one of the best reads I've had for a long time. Well done indeed! Up and beautiful and shared. Off to follow you now. Ann


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Your time and nice comments are very much appreciated, Ann. I'm pleased you enjoyed my efforts at FF. I thought your entry was one of the better ones in the contest.

Randy


habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia

Guys, in case you didn't see this on the forums, I'm having a writing contest, too - for southern fiction. I hope all of you give it a shot!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I saw it on the feed, Hollie. I was considering doing something similar myself. Sounds very interesting and I love the word limit. Now if I just knew how to talk southern......


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 3 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Randy, I REALLY enjoyed this one very much. It tugs on your heart. Your words were very descriptive and I was able to connect.

I vote up awesome, beautiful and interesting.

Chris


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks so much, CM. It was fun to do and I'm glad it struck a nice cord with you and others. Check out Habee's new contest. It sounds like fun! Thanks again for your time!

--RG


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Randy

Walking along with this character as he told of how life unfolded was mixed with joy and sorrow just as our lives are.

Well done, kudos, and all.

Sending you Angels this morning :) ps


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Good morning, Patricia! Yes, joy and sorrow seem to be what our lives are all about, with this character certainly experiencing enough of both in his lifetime. Thanks for your time and for your nice input on this tale.

Randy


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Anyone of you guys entered Habee's short story contest yet? Time's running out ya know. There's money to be won by the top 3 entrants. You guys do like money don't ya? :)


habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia

Thanks for the plug, RD!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

No problem, Holle! I was in hopes we could start a regular string of contests for those of us who write CW. I know there are a lot of fiction writers on HP and hope they'll get into the spirit of things. I've almost got my entry done. Actually I've gotten several of them done. Now if I can just choose the one I want to submit! lol!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Perhaps folks are waiting until the last minute to enter, Holle. I hate to have to call them "CHICKEN"! BOK, BOK, BOK! lol!


habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia

I sure hope that's the case, Randy.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I'm sure of it, Holle. Certainly they aren't afraid of professional literary judges? (that oughta do it!) lol! Like Para--I'll poke 'em with a stick! lol!

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    Randy Godwin profile image

    Randy Godwin1,197 Followers
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    Randy Godwin is a true southern male who enjoys writing about the past in his part of the world. I hope you enjoy my Tales of the South.



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