Take That Mountain

Sarah stared out the window at that fog-shrouded mountain looming in the distance. She could not look away, clutching her purse even closer until she was almost hugging it for comfort. All she could do was continue to stare as the train carried her ever closer to the towering beast. It rushed at her, mouth open wide. As fast as this train traveled, it was only a matter of minutes before the breathy fog of the beast disappeared as it swallowed the train whole.


Sarah relaxed. For some reason, she felt an odd sense of relief. How strange that a tunnel would be so peaceful. She expected her claustrophobia to kick into overdrive as soon as they entered the tunnel. It was not so. Instead, fatigue suddenly weighted her eyelids. Allowing them to close, she drifted off to sleep remembering days long gone.

The Hideaway

Sarah and Chris grew up side by side as neighbors. They were inseparable practically from birth and wherever you found one you were sure to find the other. When they were not together, Sarah spent hours reading. Her favorite series was The Boxcar Children. She liked the adventures the children in the books had as they solved mysteries together. She also liked that the books had just enough adventure to keep Chris interested in listening to her as she read. He hated to read. His mother often told him that if not for Sarah, he would not even know what a book is. She even helped him through many reading assignments in school. So when they stumbled upon the abandoned boxcars on the old forgotten tracks in the woods, they knew that would be their special hangout.


Somehow the two of them managed to bring blankets and pillows, all sorts of things to their hideout a little at a time so that their parents were not aware the children were making themselves a home away from home. No one ever disturbed their secret getaway, except for an occasional animal. They felt safe there, whether they were there together or alone. Over time, their visits there together became less and less as the years saw them through middle school and on into high school, though Sarah never stopped going there to be alone.


One fall day, shortly after high school began, Sarah noticed Chris leaning up against his locker talking to a beautiful cheerleader without a care in the world. An odd sense of jealousy swept through every fiber of her being. Did he know how good he looked, standing there with his soft blond hair and the greenest eyes she had ever seen? He looked up. Oh, that smile. So familiar, yet different this time. Why? Oh, God. Did he know what she was thinking? He read her better than any book she had ever read. It's not fair, she thought. What's wrong with me? It's just Chris. Too late now. He caught her eyes and offered an easy smile. She had no other choice but to return the smile, but she could not bring herself to talk to them. She knew he would know something was not right if she did, and he would not let it go until he found out what it was. Hell, she was not even sure what it was.


The rest of their high school years saw them drifting further apart, though her feelings for him did not change. He was no longer just Chris to her. Sadly, he was also no longer her inseparable friend. Sarah spent many hours alone in that old boxcar, content with doing her homework there and with reading alone while he enjoyed a life of popularity, doing whatever it was that the in-crowd did. She was far different than the kinds of girls Chris liked to date. However, that did not stop her from daydreaming about the day he would suddenly realize the two of them were meant to be together.

The Old Barn

High school finished with the two of them going to the same college, yet remaining friends. Four more long years of dating separate people. Resigned to believe she and Chris were not written in the stars after all, Sarah sat out walking, leaving him behind to chat with the crowd at their joint graduation party. How could the scenery in this small town have changed so much while they were away at college? Sure, there were visits home from time to time and over the summer months, but it felt like years since she had been here. Still, one thing was painfully clear: the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Their parents still saw them as the inseparable duo, and she still had feelings for a man that knew her too well to ever consider her more than a good friend.


Unwilling to face the past, Sarah headed in the opposite direction of their hideaway. The Johnson's moved away over a year ago, she was told, but they left behind a piece of property that was yet to be inhabited. Sarah could not for the life of her understand why. Approaching the farm, she was instantly struck by the beauty of the landscape. An old-fashioned farmhouse stood square in the center of the land. Sprawling land spread out behind it where produce once grew. The barn looked as if it needed a bit of repair. The house probably did, too, but all the fields needed were a little tender loving care to bring them back to life. She pictured acres of corn. Or maybe fields of cattle or horses.


"Sarah!" a voice behind her called.


Startled from her reveries, she spun around to find Chris rushing toward her. Before she could respond, he had her in his arms, his smile landing on her lips with a passion she could not have ever imagined. When he pulled away, she was completely breathless and unable to speak. She did not have to, though. He knew like he had known all along. He still read her like the books she loved. He was such a fool to ignore her all those years. That much she knew. What changed, she suddenly wondered? Could it be he had also noticed she was finally giving up on him? He finally realized what he stood to lose? It did not matter. All that mattered now was the fact he had her by the hand, leading her toward the open barn and she was powerless to refuse.

The Cemetery

Cold, somber, and rainy. Sarah hated the weather for helping to set the mood. They did not need any help to feel anger, anguish, and despair today. They just laid the love of her life to rest in the ground. The ground. Without her. Where she would never again see those laughing green eyes or feel the warmth of his loving embrace. She felt robbed. They had only been married a few years. Though the two of them spent a lifetime together thus far, their romance felt as if it had only just begun.


With buckling knees, she sobbed, "No, no, no."


To the ground, she fell. No one tried to stop her or pull her away from the grave. Instead, both sets of parents wrapped her in their love, weeping with her. Someone had sense enough to stand above them holding an umbrella, but it did not matter. She could catch a cold and die too for all she cared.


Damn the drunk driver who passed out at the wheel. The crash awakened the driver, but his drunken stupor relaxed his body enough to be able to get up and walk away with barely a scratch. He could not even feel the nasty gash on his forehead as it gushed blood. He should be dead. He should be locked away from life and those he loves, not Chris. Not her Chris.


Every time she closed her eyes she saw the headlights veering toward them, crossing the solid stripe in the center as if it were a passing zone with no curves ahead and as if he had all the space in the world to pass the car in front of him on the narrow two lane road. She did not even have time to scream. It all happened too fast. The car in front of the drunken man managed to speed up enough to avoid being caught in the collision, but the intoxicated jackass slammed into them full speed ahead. Chris took the brunt of the impact, and if not for the people in that other car, Sarah would likely be resting beside her beloved. Damn them, too.

Back to Living

Months passed before Sarah finally decided it was time to leave her parent's home, though she did not want to. Sarah wanted to hide from the world because life did not feel worth living without him. But she tired of her family's well-intentioned attempts to ease her darkness. Escape seemed like the best answer, so she applied for a teaching job miles from home. Somewhere no one knew her or her history. Chris always said she would make a good teacher. She loved children as much as she loved to read. So she found herself aboard a train, headed down a path she never intended to take.


"You can do it, my love.," a voice interrupted her nightmare. "You're gonna take that mountain. My Sarah's a survivor. And now it's my turn to wait for you. Just be happy, my love, and live as if you'd never lost me. Live as if there is no tomorrow. Love and laugh the same way. There is no other way. You must not allow heartbreak to dampen your spirit. I'll proudly watch it soar; I promise you."


Sarah's eyes snapped open.


"Chris!" she said out loud.


Who said that? It sounded so real. She heard that, right? But the blank stare of the old man sitting across from her was her only answer. If he was alarmed by her sudden disorientation, he showed no signs of it. He seemed only to be a random stranger, wrapped securely in his own world, totally oblivious to the goings on around him. Until he spoke.


"He lives on in your heart, you know."


"What?"


"He lives on in your heart. The love of your life will never be forgotten even after you traverse the mountain you now face. Death cannot take away what once was because it will always be."

Take That Mountain - Reba McEntire

The Challenge

This hub is the result of a challenge issued by fellow-hubber billybuc. Bill requested that we leave links at the bottom of our hubs to others who also accepted the challenge. I'll oblige because they are totally worth the read. Here are the ones I have been made aware of thus far:


More by this Author


Comments 46 comments

Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 3 months ago

Really high quality and thoroughly enjoyed reading. I am so moved and the smooth transition from photo to the next is stellar! Cheers :-)

Five stars and up, up and away.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 months ago from Queensland Australia

Heart-wrenching stuff, Shanmarie. What a great response to Bill's challenge. Well done.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Jo! So good to see you here again. Thanks so much for your kind words. Glad you found it moving.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Aww, Jodah. Thank you! It was fun to write. Wouldn't have done it without Bill's challenge. Kinda busy here with the first week of school. So had to stay up late to finish What I started. Good thing I am off work today and can go back to sleep after the kids get on the bus.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Please don't laugh at me crying. Love, heartbreak and rebirth. You touched my heart with this one. Thank you.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Oh, Eric. Forgive me, but I did chuckle at your comment. Something about how you said it. Of course, it's only because I don't take myself so seriously. That is, if stirring someone's emotions through what I just wrote occurs, I am somewhat in awe myself. Why? Because simply reading just anything doesn't often stir that kind of reaction in me. To evoke my emotions, it better be damn good writing. And I just don't know that I live up to my own standards. LOL

Thanks for reading and for the compliment. Much appreciated.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Shan......My heart is broken. Sooo sad. You have a gift for fiction! Very real. I was there with Sarah...and that's when I'm sure the writing is superb. Time for you to write that book, girl! I'm tweeting this! Peace, Paula


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Paula, I don't even know what to say to that. I just told Eric I don't live up to my own standards, let alone the high standards of those who truly love to read and write. Thank you sincerely.

I feel like I can pull people in fairly well and usually quickly. My challenge is keeping them there until the very end. And that is my greatest reason for procrastination with these book ideas I have. If I am gonna write a book(and I am working on one), I have to give it my all. And I know I still won't be completely satisfied with it. LOL


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 months ago from london

Excellently written. Like Ruby, very effective use of the pics too. A two-way approach of looking at that mountain. Creative piece!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

I'm always blown away by the quality of writing that comes from these challenges. Bravo, my friend. I'll stick this in the file an revisit it when the deadline comes. Thanks for ignoring sleep to play along.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Thanks, manatita. I haven't read Ruby's yet. I make it a point not to read other responses before I write if I decide to take on a challenge. Otherwise, it hinders me. I want my own ideas to come forward and I don't want someone's else's spin on a challenge to influence me. I am afraid of being less original. LOL. That said, I look forward to reading Ruby's. Her stories are always so moving. Will you be participating?


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Bill. It was fun to stretch my imagination some. I kinda like the photo prompts. It is like having an outline already planned, not that I ever prepare a detailed one beforehand anyway. But, you know. It gives a sense of direction and then the words come as they do. As it often seems to happen lately, I wrote the first part and then the ending came from nowhere. All I had to do was lead everyone else from A to B. Strange how that works.

I am a night owl by nature anyway. Thought I would go back to sleep after I got the kids off to school, but here I am being totally lazy instead of accomplishing anything. And not accomplishing sleep either! Guess I might as well get up and get going, maybe go to bed early tonight. LOL


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 months ago from london

In NY, my Sweet. Got my hands full with our spiritual celebrations. Today I should have been at our Marathon in Rockland State Park. I'm a medic, after all. But I took a day off and I'm catching up.

Well, God has blessed me. Your point is valid, but should I start writing, then I will go into another zone. Ever creative, you see. (chuckle) Maybe when I get back.

Love you guys. Keep up the good work.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Ahh, another medic friend. I didn't know you were one. I admire y'all. Not sure I could do it. I am not squeamish and don't usually react emotionally until after an emergency, but. . .Oh my, the things you guys see. My heart would break.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 months ago from Southern Illinois

I must admit I had a tear roll down my cheek. This is a beautiful love story that ended so tragically. I especially loved the ending with the old man speaking and reassuring her. I know that real love really never dies it just rests until they meet again. Excellent writing Snanmarie!


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Ruby. I'm happy you noticed the ending. I wanted to leave it open to interpretation as to who or what the old man may be. . .how he knew what she was going through or dreaming about. I was hoping it would stand out. Glad you liked it so much!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 months ago from Orlando, FL

I was listening to Reba sing as I read your story. Excellent storytelling and a fine taste in music. Well done!


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Aww. . .I knew you had fine taste in music when we were talking about Blake Shelton serenades. LOL. I have never seen Reba in concert, but I would love to. Every time she went to my hometown I was either too young or out of town. Every time she sang in OK near the TX border, I was out of town. She has that house in the town I lived in and still never saw her. I keep saying someday.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 months ago from Taos, NM

What a beautiful, beautiful story and so inspiring too. You are a fine short story writer with a wonderful writing style. It flows so smoothly. I think you have a talent for short story writing. I hope you write more, because I would love to read them.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Suzette. Like I said, this was a particular challenge to me precisely because it was a short story. LOL. I rarely do them. I've never considered it to be a talent of mine. In fact, before this, I think I've maybe only written one, maybe two short stories. . .unless you count those grade school assignments, which don't count for obvious reasons. ;) As a matter of fact, the other one was also because of a challenge Bill issued. . .also involving a mountain. Go figure. And the second one I posted here on HP is not really a short story,though many took it to be one. It was actually the first chapter of a novel. And now that I think of it, it also included a mountain! Maybe my muse lives on a mountain somewhere, you think?


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Reading through the comments, it seems you are inspired by the majesty of mountains. Your story covered quite a bit of ground through the eternal. This is a great response to Bill's challenge. He seems to have brought out the best on HP.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Hi, Mike. That's one thing I do like about writing challenges even when I don't participate. It's fun to see the different angles people take on the same subject. Only fitting that one of the best should bring out the best in others.

Yes, there is a certain majestic quality to mountains. I've seen very few actual mountains in my life. But I do have a deep appreciation for both mountains and hills. To me, there's a sense of freedom and wonder about them. I love to be at the higher points looking out.

It's funny, though. When I was in high school, my ideal home was a ranch in Montana. . .lots of open spaces and a view of the mountains in the distance. (Except that I really don't like the cold.) The first story I mentioned mountains in I published a few years ago and it came from that childhood fascination. The other two were responses to Bill's challenges and both very different from one another. One ended up being a bit of a thriller and the other one you just read. LOL


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 months ago from southern USA

Dear Shan,

I was totally drawn right into your superb story. I'm amazed at how quickly you put this fantastic piece of writing together! You are the real deal fiction writer.

I'm with Paula, you need to finish up your book, you writer, You.

It's been great to read so many excellent submissions to the challenge so far, and your submission is right up at the very top.

Bravo!

God bless


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 months ago

Shan, I am sitting here trying to keep the tears from falling on the keyboard, this was so real to me it brought back the memory of almost losing the love of my life.

Awesome story.

Blessings my friend


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 months ago from Germany

Oh my! I was blown away. So good. Amazing! Superb! I loved it. I was with Sarah and you my friend was brilliant . I have never thought plenty of excellent stories will come out from this challenge. I can't wait to read the other submissions. Thanks.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Hi Theresa,

I know I responded to you and Shryon both this morning, but the comments have gone poof! So. . .I don't remember what I said. But thanks! So very sweet of you to say. It was a nice change of pace for me lately. Y'all flatter me. Hahaha. I am especially not so sure of the middle.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Shryon. Glad that the love of your life did survive.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Thelma. I hope you do read some of the other submissions. They're excellent. Bill will surely have trouble choosing a winner.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 months ago from England

What a great story and a sure high standard for the challenge, wonderful!


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Nell! I appreciate that.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Shannon,

This is a beautiful entry - and I agree that Bill will be in for a difficult decision.

Thanks for keeping your link list so complete - it was a great help to me.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Hi Maria,

I haven't even read them all yet, not even all of the ones I've listed. Maybe just the first half of them, give or take. I look forward to reading them, though, and I hope that I haven't missed anyone. It's hard to know if someone I don't follow yet has published a response.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

I like the message of resilience and the spirit living on in one's heart, even after they have passed. Nicely done. I've enjoyed reading all of the submissions.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Hi, Flourish. I've enjoyed reading them as well. I haven't really done much with the writing challenges. However, I wouldn't mind seeing more like this one. It's interesting to see the many different variations on the same theme.


phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 3 months ago from United Kingdom

Lovely story telling. I could see the boxcars, the farm and, of course, Chris.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 months ago from Nashville Tn.

"Death cannot take away what once was because it will always be."

This is brilliant! I so enjoyed reading your story. Well done. So visual and well written.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 3 months ago from New Delhi, India

This is an excellent response to the challenge! Very high quality of writing and your story kept me involved from beginning till end.

True love lives forever. I always appreciate your style and this one is another beautiful submission.

Thanks and congratulations for this powerful piece!


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Thanks, phoenix! I'm glad you enjoyed going along for the ride.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Hi, vocalcoach. I'm so glad you liked the ending. Thank you!


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

What a nice thing to say, Chitrangada! I'm so pleased that you like it.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 months ago

Shannon, I see all the titles to the other hubs but they are not in links, but anyone can go to the other stories from here, I would not worry about losing the links.

Blessings my friend


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Yes, Shyron, the titles and who authored them stayed. It's just weird that they will not link all of a sudden. Oh well. You're right. Not to worry. LOL. Whenever I dwell too much on the strange ways of HP, I end up frustrated or annoyed. So I just don't.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 3 months ago from Hyderabad, India

It's so wonderful, Shan! Very much thrilling and lovely story. I appreciate your skills in meeting this challenge so brilliantly.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Thank you, Venkatachari. How nice of you to say. Good to see you here.


cam8510 profile image

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

shanmarie, you weaved a tragic love story from the prompts and filled it with deep emotions that your readers could relate to. It is interesting how we have taken these photos and developed such a variety of stories. But that is how the outward stimuli and the inner muse work, isn't it? Great work here. I enjoyed it very much.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas Author

Hi Cam,

I agree. It is really something the way the same set of photos can inspire such variety. I purposely didn't read the other challenges until after I'd written my response, and I'm still trying to catch up on them all. I don't know how Bill will find the time to read through them all. Glad you enjoyed reading mine.

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