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Heaven is not really that far away / A writing challenge

Updated on May 17, 2015

The Lone Sentinel

The lone Sentinel
The lone Sentinel

A Writers Challenge

This writers challenge was suggested by (Mr. Archer from HubPages) and was set by Author Bill Holland (billybuc from HubPages)

The tall fireplace shown here is the inspiration for this story. It can be found in a location somewhere alongside the interstate between Joplin and Springfield which is well known for its paranormal activity,

Along the Highway


A Ford F-100

The 1953 Ford F-100 ground to a halt in front of the rusty gates.

I slowly tried to extricate my tall frame from the front seat of the truck.

Anyone looking even from a distance could not help notice the old thin transparent skin, lined face and blue eyes which were framed against the shock of white hair.

My body once so tall, slim and handsome was now gaunt and stooped with age.

Classic Ford

Classic Ford
Classic Ford | Source

Wrought Iron Gates

The wrought iron gates so hauntingly familiar yet so completely different now, broken and bent, hung carelessly from rusty old hinges.

Lovers in the night

The green foliage in the high trees lets through the dappled light.

Fallen trees and leaves are blanketed by the dark undergrowth.

I shade my eyes from the light filtering through the trees. I stand and listen to the familiar sound of birds as they chatter to one another. I hear the incessant tap of a single woodpecker. I strain my eyes to see him, but I cannot.

Bark rubs against Bark and is occasionally interrupted by the sound snap of a twig or a branch falling to the ground.

Two trees branches intertwined, rub against one another, so intimate that they appear to caress one another, like two lovers in the night.

Drinking in the sounds

I drink in all the sounds; shift my body a little, in an attempt to ease the stiffness and pain which exudes from my bones.

I lean heavily against my stick and take comfort from the bone handle. I feel the warmth of it through my skin, a familiar friend, this small remnant taken from another life, flesh long gone, eaten with nothing gone to waste.

Patience, my friend, now is not the time. It won’t be long before our remains will together lie in some far off sacred place.

A wry smile passes my lips for these old bones will never grace a walking stick but there is a pretty good chance that we will together lay in a wooden casket, me and you, my walking friend.

Only the remains

With faltering steps, I walk unsteadily towards the broken down gates.

A slight breeze parts the shrubs growing there.

For a fraction in time, I see beyond the rusty gates. Through the rungs, there is no sign of the house which once stood there but. then I see the remains of the old fireplace, incongruously stood there, all alone, in the clearing beyond, its long chimney extending high up into the trees.

Once I was strong but now I am weak

My body, once strong but now weak, somehow finds the strength to beat a path so that my dear old friend and I can cross into the uneven terrain together where exposed roots abound.

With weak and trembling knees, I find myself standing before the old fireplace. I caress her. My hand slides across the uneven bricks, half expecting to feel warmth there but they return cold from once where there was only warmth.

I ease my tired old bones down onto the ledge which runs around the fireplace and let out a sigh of relief. My back and head lay against the thick walls where moss grows from every crevice.

A small tree has seeded itself between the thick bricks; its young roots can be seen coming through the bricks.

Little ferns adorn the well-worn bricks and I watch as an occasional small mauve flower accepts a bee into its depths.

A smile lights up her eyes

In my mind’s eye, I am back in the old kitchen now, putting out my hand to accept the warmth given so freely by the flames.

I smell my daughter’s fine cooking, dumplings and rabbit stew.

An involuntary twitch appears at my nostrils, a little dribble falls down my mouth.

I see Mary now. She smiles to herself when she hears the child scolding one of her dolls!

A smile lights up her eyes and as she looks across the room at me where I see in her eyes, the eyes of my late departed wife.

Too little too late!

The tornado struck Joplin, that day, taking with her, the house, my only daughter and her beautiful child.

We spent that fateful day hunkering down; tying down everything in anticipation of its arrival.

Dear God, forgive me, I did everything I could that day. I tried so hard to ensure the safety of my family. but it was all to no avail. The wind, she tore the roof from the walls of our house taking with her Ruby and Mary but what she did next was quite unforgivable.

She spat them out much later but by then, it was too late, for they had already met their maker.

Forgive me dear Lord

I shut my eyes trying hard trying to forget. Dear God how does one forget this nightmare, the memory of those two broken bodies lying face down in the dirt and rain!

The light is fading fast now and I know the time has come for me to find my way back home to my lonely life but instead, I drift off to sleep and in a while I am woken to the sound of a child giggling.

I open my eyes and see in the fading light, a porch swing which I once made for the child and sitting there it is a little girl dressed in white, Ruby!

I rub my hand across my eyes in disbelief but when I take my hand away the child is still there, watching me, swinging her little legs backwards and forwards, trying to fly higher.

Granddad she calls, can you see me now, and can you see me? Can you come push me, make me go higher, please granddad, please can you make me fly higher?

I struggle to my feet, Granddad is coming child but by then, it is too late, I catch my boot on an exposed root and outstretched hands cannot save me from crashing to the ground.

No more pain left now, just the soft tender touch of a young child gently touching my face.

No need to worry anymore Granddad, you are home now, safe in the arms of Jesus..

Grandma, Mummy and me; we have all been waiting for far too long.

© 2015 Sally Gulbrandsen


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