The Carrying Year

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For Maggie, the days of early summer were golden and plentiful. Birdsongs and insect hums filled the air and mingled with flowered scents that tickled her nose. She loved how the warm sun coaxed new smells and colors from the earth, and laughed as she wiggle her toes in the grass that was barefoot green and cut tangy-sweet.

Summer was also the time of the year when Mama and Papa would take her on a long drive to Canada where they would spend a month with her beloved Nanny and Grandpa on the lake. But they did not make the trip last summer for it was the falling year, the year that Mama left them to journey with the angels a few days before Maggie’s seventh birthday.

Just when she had given up hope of going to Canada for the second summer in a row, Papa surprised her. “So, Mags, would you like to drive up to Nanny and Grandpa’s this weekend?" She squealed in delight as she rushed into her father’s open arms for a warm hug.

Maggie spent the next few days gathering up everything she wanted to take to her grandparents’ house. She squirreled through her drawers and closets to retrieve her favorite shorts, jeans, t-shirts and sweaters...all of the things she wore that spoke of happy times with the people she loved. She made sure she had her silver-tone medallion with the words 'love, hope, faith and charity' inscribed. Although heavy, it was one of the many gifts Mama had given her. Maggie always found some comfort by carrying it in one of her pockets whenever she could.

On the morning of their departure, she helped her father pack up the green station wagon that would carry them over hundreds of miles. She was surprised at how much they had to take. Suitcases and smaller bags were filled with things snuggled in soft pockets that were snapped closed and zippered shut. There were spare pillows and blankets, and warm-up jackets for cooler weather. Papa brought out fishing poles, nets perched on long handles, and boxes with little cubbies holding hooks and shiny, metal lures of baby fish. The last item was a cooler filled with fresh apple juice and Maggie’s favorite sandwiches of chicken salad her father had made the night before.

By 7:00 am, they were packed up and on their way. It was a ten-hour drive, but Maggie knew better than to ask Papa, “How much longer?” He would always say, “Not too far Mags, just a few hours more.” She thought it was foolish to mark the day with hours. It took forever and ever for long hours to end, and there were always more waiting to take their place.

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After driving for what she thought was a long time, Papa pulled into a gas station. He filled the tank, then drove around the side of the building to park between two restroom doors. When she finished using the ladies' room and returned to the car, her father said, “Now Margaret Anne, I want you to keep the car doors locked and the windows up. Beep the horn if anyone comes close and stay in the car. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

She nodded, and knew by Papa's gentle but firm ‘stay put’ voice that she was to follow his instructions. She was still nodding as she watched him disappear through the men's room door.

Moments later, a man wearing frayed and grimy clothes walked around the corner of the building toward the restrooms. He was dragging a shopping cart full of tattered bags, cans and blankets. Maggie wondered how long it took him to pack the cart each day before he began his journey. The man stopped, and with his back pressed against the wall, slid down into a sitting position as he drank from a bottle hidden beneath crinkled, brown paper. He was old, and she could see the lines cut deep in his sad, worn-out face of mottled whiskers and vacant eyes.

She quietly unlocked the car, ran over to the old man and scrunched down in front of him with her elbows perched on her knees. The man looked into her eyes and she looked into his. They talked for a couple of minutes before she scampered back to the car and snapped the door locks shut only seconds before Papa emerged through the restroom door.

When he started the car engine, Papa saw the man sitting against the wall. “Did he come near the car, Maggie?” he asked, his brows in a furrow.

“No,” she replied. “He didn’t move from that spot, Papa.”

Her father shook his head in sadness at the homeless wanderer as he backed the car out of the parking space.

The old man’s eyes followed the green station wagon as it traveled from the station lot and onto the road. He continued to stare after the driver and his little girl when they had long disappeared from view.

Sometime later, he stood up and threw the bag with the half-empty whiskey bottle into a trash bin. Fumbling through his pockets, he found what little change he had left. He spotted a nearby phone booth, and called his son who wept with love as he asked his father why he had decided to call after so many years. The old man turned the medallion he held in his fingers and read the words etched into the shiny surface. He cried as he told his son what the little girl had said to him when she slipped the silvery treasure into his hands…

“We carry it around with us until the day we learn to carry it in our hearts.”


Summer - The Final Season ('Only Time' -- Enya)


The Maggie & Papa Series

This is the fourth and final story from the Maggie and Papa series. There is one story for each season in this year of Maggie's life, which is the year she lost her mother. Each season seems like a year for little Maggie, as seasons are much longer in the passage of time for young children. Autumn is the first in this series; The Falling Year.




© Copyright 2010 by Genna East. All rights reserved.


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29 comments

always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

Oh this is so beautiful Genna! What a wonderful story. It touched me deeply. The homeless man only needed someone who cared. Maggie was the little angel who lifted his spirit. Thank you for touching my heart once more.......


mckbirdbks profile image

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

All fields have their artisians. Genna, the field of writing has you. This is both strong and also delicate. It is airy yet displays panache. It is memorable which should always be part of a writer's goal. Both 'Liked' and Tweeted.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Oh how lovely and heartwarming! So very moving. Genna, thank you for sharing your amazing gift of writing here for all to enjoy and delight in reading.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Lovely images Genna. You described scenes very well and I enjoyed the story.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Oh, wow! That really tugged at the heart-strings. It was so beautiful and so well told.


trielesstraveler 3 years ago

Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Well done.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Well, Genna, while the rest of your series has come close, "The Carrying Year" has rendered me a weeping fool tonight.

Sweet Maggie, what a precious angel girl...we just know she grows up into the most gracious, giving and compassionate lady.

This series is memorable and heart tugging, simply beautiful. Love, mar


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

Genna your writing is just top notch.. I like how you controlled this series and written very well thank you for sharing :)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Always Exploring

Hello Ruby. Yes, Maggie was the angel. She also released some of her grief about the loss of her mother when she helped this poor man. Thank you for your very special comments, my friend. :-)

@Mckbirdbks

Hi Mike. I’m both pleased and honored by your gracious comments, encouragement and support. They made my day. Thank you!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@FaithReaper

Hi Faith. Maggie is the spirit of hope through loss, and the gifts we give that are like small miracles – each in their own way. Both she and Papa deserve the credit for this series. Thank you for those lovely comments. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. :-)

@billybuc

Thank you, Billy. :-) I enjoyed writing the scenes – I tried to make them appear as though they were seen through a child’s eyes. Have a great weekend.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@BlossomSB

Why thank you, Blossom! It’s good to see you, and I appreciate your encouraging words.

@Trielesstraveler

Hello; it’s nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to read the story, and for your lovely comment.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Marcoujor

Hello, dear Maria. I must admit, I was in tears when I wrote the closing sentence to this story as I listened to Enya’s lovely song. I’ve grown to love little Maggie and her Papa, so your comments are very special to me. I can’t thank you enough for being here. Hugs. :-)

@FrankAtanacio

Thank you, Frank – one of my favorite short story writers. Your words are music to my ears. I’m afraid HP doesn’t agree – they subtracted a few points from my profile score each time I published one of these four stores. Oh, well. It’s comments like yours and others here that give me encouragement. It’s always good to see you.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

What a lovely short story, Genna, with a powerful and memorable message for everyone. Thank you.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

Now you've brought tears to my eyes, dear Genna. It's carved on my heart.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 3 years ago from West Virginia

Voted up, awesome, beautiful, and shared on Facebook. Genna, such a beautiful story, one that touches the deepest depths of the soul. Having such a strong connection to your story, "feeling these emotions," you've created a masterful story. Very talented Genna :)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@drbj

Thank you for the special comment, for this story holds a special place in my heart. Good to see you. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Nellieanna

Thank you, dear Nellieanna. I think that some people think it maybe too trite, but it is my favorite story in this series. I’ve grown to love Little Maggie, and her Papa. I often wonder where they will take me net. So good to see you my friend, as always.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@thelyricwriter

Thank you for the visit, for such wonderful comments, and for sharing. It is always such a pleasure when someone enjoys one of these stories, for they are special to me. Enjoy your day. :-)

@Nellieanna; I meant to type,"where they will take me next." But the comment got away from me before I could catch the typo. Have a wonderful weekend.


DnWW 3 years ago

Maggie has completed the cycle of one year since she lost her mother. What a heartwarming ending in the grace and hope she finds in her heart, and gives to others. This is the perfect finale to a masterful series, dear lady.

I read your comment above. It’s none of my business, but as an observer, if the masters of this site decreased your “profile score” each time you published one of these stories --- they are absolute incompetents.

Dana


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hi Dana, my sweet friend. I was laughing at the fact that my point score has been plummeting. The way in which profiles scores are calculated is an inside joke with a number of hubbers because many of us know that they are not uniformly applied, and are subjective.

Hubbers who are the creative writers – we write short story fiction and poetry -- have an average score that runs anywhere from 5 to 10 points lower than hubbers who do not. It has little to do with the quality of the hubs, the number of readers or votes the hub generates, etc. HP has lost of number of very talented creatives as a result.

Love to you and Molly both, and many thanks for your continued support. :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

Engrossing, well-written story with a heart-touching message. What a cute picture of lovely Maggie!

Thanks, Genna :)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hi Martie. My granddaughter is now 8 months old, and she is a red head. This little girl is what I imagine she will look like. :-) Thank you for the visit and lovely comment! It's always such a pleasure to see you.


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia

Wow, loved the imagery and emotion of your story. Voted up and beautiful!


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

This is such a lovely heart warming story. Adults can learn an awful lot from children and their untainted hearts.

I think I missed the last one so popping back now to read it

Voting up and sharing


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Weestro Thank you. I admire your writing, and your comments and votes are quite a compliment to me. Good to see you.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Rosemay

Hello Rose. “Untainted hearts” is the ideal way to describe them. There is a freedom in thought and in giving we seem to lose as time progresses and we earn roe about the world. Thank you for your welcomed visit and for those kind words, Rose. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Sorry, that last comment got away from me. I meant to say, “There is a freedom in thought and in giving we seem to lose as time progresses and we learn more about the world.”


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 2 years ago from Somewhere in the West

VERY NICE GENNA :)

have a lovely weekend


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, LadyFiddler. Best wishes for the holidays. :-)

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