The Falling Year


The autumn afternoon was cool as Maggie walked the path from the woods to the gardens behind her home. The air was always sharp and clean in the falling of the year. Soon, everything would drift into winter sleep and await the stirrings of spring. She had forgotten to pull her hair into a ponytail that day, and her long red curls tumbled in the wind like the auburn leaves of fall.

The path had not been traveled since early summer when Mama held her hand on their nature walks. Several days before her seventh birthday in late July, Mama left her side to walk with the angels. By autumn, the brush had begun to reclaim the unused pathway. The tangled weeds pulled at Maggie's ankles to remind her that she was not where she was supposed to be.

“Now Mags, you stay away from those woods and keep close to the house…you hear me now,” Papa said in a stern voice earlier that morning. He hadn't cried when her mother died, nor since. She often thought that he sent his better self and love with Mama so she wouldn’t feel alone after leaving them behind.

Maggie had tried to remember the names of her trees in the woods. Although tossed and shaken, she knew they would never leave. She saw the surety of it in their strong roots that dug deep into the earth. A few green leaves still clung to summer amidst their nodding siblings dressed in vibrant, red-orange hues. They did not know they were supposed to find their way to the bed below, and Maggie was happy the sun still smiled rather than scold them for not knowing their place.

Near the pathway, two crows swooshed upward from the thicket. Their black ragged wings and craw-claw songs sent a shiver through Maggie as she zipped her jacket closed. She quickened her pace when she heard the distant sound of car tires crunching on the gravel drive in front of her house. The air buzzed with the hum of muffled voices from the grown-up world that had pushed her life forward since early summer.

A sudden rustling in the brush caused her to glance to her right just off the path ahead. A thick swath of black was moving close to the ground. It shook the thick reeds to let Maggie know it was alive but wrong for this place, and she was not to walk any closer to where it was hidden from view. She froze as the black thing’s movements stilled. They waited in an endless quiet. Terrified, Maggie's silent cries that called within could not reach beyond her mind.

The muffled voices grew louder and she looked up to see Papa running toward her with strange men dressed in a jumbled blur of odd white. They all came thrashing loudly through the pathway and brush with her father’s fearful yell…

Maggiedon’t move!!

It had risen from the ground, tall and bowed in black tatter-rags of a long dress and shawl that covered sallow lines in skin of ashen flour. Thick grey hair as wild as the woods billowed about her ravaged face and shoulders. She stood dead still, glaring into the ground with small eyes of black glass. Maggie trembled to see them slowly rise to pierce the intruder who had awakened them from their sleep.

When the woman’s gaze reached the little girl, she caught her breath in surprise. Her black eyes flooded blue with luminous, tender care. Maggie could see in them the skies of heaven smiling downward...their radiance softly lulling and drawing her in. But their warmth faded swiftly for they could hear the strangers were almost upon them. The woman shrieked and flung herself into the ground, where her hollow cries echoed like those of a lost child.

Source

Papa reached them first and lifted his daughter up with strong arms that folded her close to his chest. He ran back to the house as the strangers in white knelt down in the dense brush.

When they reached the safer ground of their backyard, Papa fell to his knees in tears and gently lifted her face to his, searching for any harm. His breath sighed in grateful release. He drew Maggie close as his tears continued to flow from the depth of his heart. Curling her arms tightly around his neck, she felt his love return and flood through her with the warmth of the summer they had both lost.

Maggie was later told about the mysterious trespasser who lived a few miles from their home at a place that kept the lost souls of dark and troubled minds. She had slipped away from her gatekeepers days ago to wander the woods near where she once lived as a child. Maggie nodded at this whenever grownups warned her with grave faces about the mad woman and the strangers in white. But during her secret nighttime prayers, she peeked through her bedroom window at the path beyond and forever thanked the fallen angel for bringing Papa home.




Autumn


I am rewriting and polishing a few short stories I wrote a couple of years ago. HP has given them a 'half moon' symbol, so I am trotting them out of the moth balls, so to speak.


The Maggie & Papa Series

This is the first short 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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53 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Such a clever title, Genna! I love that you haven't thrown stuff away but that you are re-working it....a writer's work is never done. :) Well done!


jhamann profile image

jhamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

Thank you for bringing these out they are very enjoyable to read. Jamie


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Your suspenseful story may be short, Genna, but it is eminently eloquent. Believe me!


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 years ago from UK and Mexico

Goodness, Genna, where did that come from? Very compelling and I finally saw the poetry in what I had thought was merely prose at the beginning.

I am going to have to read this a few times.

Bob x


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 3 years ago from Los Angeles

Hi Genna,

So glad you pulled this one out of the moth balls! You've crafted a very suspenseful story and balanced it with the powerful emotional bonding at the end. I especially love your descriptive passage of the leaves on the trees! This is another fine example of why you are one of the top writers here and a fave of mine! Thank you.

:) Cat


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Wow! You pulled me right in and would not let go! Wonderful story, Genna!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@billybuc

Thank you , Billy! “A writer's work is never done.” Absolutely. I’m never satisfied. Ever. But that’s me. :-)


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

I am certainly glad you have done so here in the most wonderful and creative story here, as I did not see it when you first had written it.

Thank you for sharing your great gift of writing with us all here.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper


W1totalk profile image

W1totalk 3 years ago

This beautiful writing set a mood and really is beautiful. Thank you.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Brilliant story Genna! It kept me gripped to the end, and what an ending, so glad it turned out that way, wonderful!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Jahmann

Thank you; I'm pleased you liked the story.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@drjb & Diogenes

Thank you so much! Good to see you both. :-)

To answer your question, Bob:

The story about the old woman who had wandered off from a private mental institution is true. She really did meander onto our property. We stumbled upon her lying in the dense thicket between the gardens behind our home and the woods beyond. She was dressed in black, clutching a bouquet of weeds. She was harmless, poor soul, but had no idea of the year; she truly thought she was in her childhood years. And the men came in white coats really did come to retrieve her…she’d been missing for two days.

I created the character of Maggie around that story. Her circumstances are, of course, different than mine. But I love this character and created more stories around her situation that dealt with the loss of her mother, and the challenges that Papa had as a single parent. The stories are about love and understanding, and the strength we derive from what we initially feel is left behind, but come to learn that we carry with us, always.

I know that’s too much information, but it was the basis of the story. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@WillStarr

Thanks, Will! Your stories pull us in all the time, and hold us till the very end. So I am very pleased you liked this Maggie and Papa story. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Cat on a Soap Box

Thank you, Cat. The trees were important for a few reasons, so I tried to describe them as they would look and feel to her. Good to see you, and thank you again for those thoughtful and encouraging words.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

A wonderful story and I look forward to reading the others.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

It was a compelling read Genna. I hung on every word, a bit scary but ended with a good feeling, papa's love overrode his depression. Loved it...


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

in all I love the creativity and most importantly the pacing you are indeed an able story teller


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Faith

Thank you, Faith. I appreciate your kind thougths and encouragement.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@W1totalk

Thank you, and it's nice to meet you. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@NellRose

Thank you, Nell. It's good to see you.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Rosemay50

Thank you, Rose. I appreciate your comments.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@AlwaysExploring;

Hi Ruby. Thank you. I was a little worried that it might be too scary, but hoped that the resolution between Maggie and Papa would balance out the tone. And that Papa’s love would save the day, so to speak. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, my friend.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@FrankAtancio

Hello Frank. Thanks for the visit and for those very nice comments. As I mentioned to Ruby (above), I was afraid that it might be too scary. Have a great week. :-)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Beyond wonderful, magnificent. From start to finish this short story is captivating and so beautifully done. PLEASE don't trust HP's half moon!!! I loved it and read it over and over.

Certainly not too much information in your comment Genna. How thrilling to know this was based in truth. You are certainly a storyteller of the highest rank. Can't wait to read more about Maggie and her Pa.

Voted everything but funny, pinned and shared. I hope this rises to the top where it belongs!!!!!


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and interesting. Really enjoyed this. It was fascinating. Scared me a bit too. Passing this on.


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 3 years ago from Somewhere in the West

Oh Thank goodness I am not living near these creepy people, Poor Maggie!!!!

Hewww!!!! the last part of your story sounds scary, do hope you have a wonderful night's rest. May God be with you


mckbirdbks profile image

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

Your short story covered so much ground; from the sadness of departure to the joy of a homecoming. Using the conduit of madness to light the way is brilliant and that brilliance illuminates the setting.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 3 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

i salute you for this masterpiece. I planned to write a short story too but don't know where to start :) looking for inspiration on your works genna.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Truly a story in a poem. So well written and a delight to read. I do hope you'll write more like this, it's beautiful, like a delicately crafted cameo.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

"When the woman’s gaze reached the little girl, she caught her breath in surprise. Her black eyes flooded blue with luminous, tender care. Maggie could see in them the skies of heaven smiling downward...their radiance softly lulling and drawing her in. But their warmth faded swiftly for they could hear the strangers were almost upon them now. The woman shrieked and flung herself into the ground where her hollow cries echoed like those of a lost child."

I am amazed at your creativity in this poem Genna. Truly awesome! For some odd reason, I was teary eyed for few seconds. Very different kind of a poem I have read in ages.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Tillsontitan

Hi Mary. Your comments made my day – really. Thank you so much. It’s a low score, but they also dropped my score 5 points in 24 hours when I published it. Go figure the powers that be at the hub. Good to see you as always. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@GypsyRoseLee

Hi Rasma.

Thank you. I was a little nervous because it was scary, so I understand. Thanks for reading, and the votes and sharing. :-)

@LadyFiddler

Thank you for the visit, and for commenting. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@Mckbirdbks

Thank you, Mike! That is such a very nice thing to say, and brings a big smile to me this morning. It’s always a pleasure to see you.

@UnknownSpy

Thank you. I always look forward to your hubs; writing a short story is something you would excel with. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@BlossomSB

Your comment is so sweet…I love cameos; they are among my favorite. Thank you! :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@SuhailandMyDog

It’s a pleasure to see you, and to read your very thoughtful and kind comment. Thank you!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 3 years ago from Asheville, NC

Just plain beautiful writing. A great way to start my day. Thanks.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Suziecat. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it.


DnWW 3 years ago

I almost missed this one. I loved this! The video fits so well with the tone a message of your short story poem. The little child skipping down the country road in the fall at the 5.20 mark is hauntingly beautiful. Keep ‘trotting them out of the moth balls’ dear lady. What does ‘half moon’ mean?

Dana


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

@DnWW

Hello, kind sir. :-) Thank you!

To answer your question regarding Hubpages: “This hub is not featured because it does not receive sufficient engagement. Try updating the hub with recent information, and descriptive, search-friendly subheadings.” That is the meaning behind the label of the half moon.

It’s always so good to see you.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

This was a beautiful story Genna. I am so happy that you are bringing these out of mothballs. Not a thing wrong with the first version, I am sure.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Becky! Best wishes for an enjoyable Labor Day weekend .


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Genna,

This is such a rich, personal and heartwarming story, a sweet idea for a series and written in your magical, lilting and readable style.

Moving directly onto your winter installment. Hugs, Maria


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Maria. I do value your opinion, and it makes my day to see such a lovely and encouraging comment. Hugs.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

You had me captivated from the beginning on this one. I loved the way you presented this story. Your heart felt writing style is beautifully readable. A great beginning for a series.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Peg. I must confess that I love the character, Maggie. It is good to see you, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend. :-)


Homeplace Series profile image

Homeplace Series 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

Thank you, so much, for sharing your re-worked story. This is so important. We can each learn from the experiences of others!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

I'm so sorry I'm late in responding. This is one of my favorites shorts, so your comment was much appreciated. Thank you! :-)


klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

Genna, such a sweet and lovely story. Beautifully done.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thanks so much for the visit and thoughtful comments. This series is special to me. :-)


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 12 months ago from Cape Cod

Well Genna this work is very, very good I think, on several levels. The plot is interesting and you have sewn seeds which I anticipate will bring enchanting new growth and development in the upcoming chapters. It's a heartwarming tale and at the same time it is excellent lyric, but not formulaic, poetry. The words flow gently yet powerfully, like a winding stream in summer that invites barefoot children of all ages to dip their feet in the warm waters. Ten thumbs up !! Ten, because when it comes to manual dexterity, I am all thumbs!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 12 months ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

What a delightful comment, Bill. Thank you. I think these stories need some work, so it is great to hear "thumbs up." This made my day. :-)


Tam Thanh Huynh 4 months ago

Dear madam,

I am a Vietnamese studying English. May I ask you a question about the literal meaning of the tittle "The Falling Year"? Is it

"the time in the autumn"? What is "falling" stand for? Why not "fall"?

Sorry if my question about grammar and meaning disturb you.

Best regards,


Genna East profile image

Genna East 7 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hi Tam. Please forgive my lng absence from the Hub. The Falling Year is a play on words...both the oft-used inference of Autumn, and the "falling" of the leaves, spirits, and the "angel" that was sent earth-bound. Regards to you as well. Thank you for taking the time to read this story.

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