ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Hand That Shaped the Stone: Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on December 17, 2017
cam8510 profile image

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Source

The Writers' Challenge as Issued by Bill Holland

Credit Where Credit Is Due

My good buddy Mike (Mr. Archer from HubPages) wrote to me the other day. He had an idea for a writing challenge and he passed it along to me. Here it is:

“Bill, hope this finds you well this morning. I had a thought this weekend (strange as that may be). We were traveling the interstate between Joplin and Springfield and I spied a fireplace not far from the road. It is a sight I look for every trip and have seen it many times over the years. But his time I wondered: what is its story? Then I thought of you and your challenges and wondered if you could inspire others to create such a story. It is a lonely fireplace, standing aloof and solitary beside a fence separating the highway from an empty field. In past years there has been a wreath hung on one side of it during the holiday season, but not this past one. Makes me wonder if the person who was placing it there has passed and no one remembers the reason for it anymore. Anyway, there you go. What do you think? A good challenge for others to spin a yarn about?”

So there you have it.

Mike didn’t have a picture of this fireplace, so I found one online that is basically the image we need for this challenge. Use it for your challenge, write your response to the challenge and send me a link so I can link it to this one. And that’s all you have to do! Let’s see if your creative juices are flowing today, shall we?

Missouri Homestead

An elderly woman and a male college student stood side by side in a Missouri soybean field where the dark stubble of the previous year’s crop poked through a dusting of powdery snow.

“Mrs. Brennan, when Pastor David told me you needed a ride out into the country to visit your childhood home, I had a vague mental image of an old farmhouse and a barn or two. I certainly didn’t expect this.” Before them stood the yawning mouth of a stone fireplace, black against the surrounding, wintery scene, its mantel trimmed with a thin layer of snow. Towering over them, the stone chimney stood as a lone sentinel against the blue, December sky.

“This is all that’s left, Will. After the fire, we moved into town, and my father took a job at the granary. I come out here a couple of weeks before Christmas every year to hang a wreath above the mantel, just like we did when I was a child.”

“Did your father build the house?” Will asked.

“Yes, he built it after he came home from the war. At first it was a simple, one story log cabin. When my half brothers and sisters and I started coming along, he added on a little at a time. I remember it as a two story farmhouse with a covered, front porch.”

“World War Two ended in ’45, but the timing doesn’t seem quite right.”

“No, not World War Two, Will.”

“World War One, then. That fits better. Where did your father go during the war?”

“Not World War One either, young man.”

“You’re testing my knowledge of American history now, Mrs. Brennan, but I do recall studying the Spanish-American War just before the turn of the century. That was more than a hundred and fifteen years ago. That can’t be right.”

“It’s been a long time since I told this story, Will. There’s no one to talk to these days since I’ve outlived all my family and friends. Before I begin, let me have a little fun with you. I want you to guess my age.”

“I thought men weren’t supposed to fall for that one, Mrs. Brennan.”

“That may be true for women in their forties and fifties, but after that, age becomes more irrelevant with each passing year.”

“Okay, then I guess your age to be sixty-seven.”

“Are you trying to flatter me, Will? Because it’s working.”

“Alright, but you can’t be a day over seventy-five.”

“Like hell I can’t be.”

“Eighty?”

The old woman chuckled.

“Ninety?”

“You’re getting warmer.”

“But Mrs. Brennan, you can’t be.”

“Next month I will join that exclusive club made up of centenarians. But let’s get back to my father. When the President of the United States visited my father’s unit after the war ended, the two of them actually shook hands.”

“That would have been Grover Cleveland or William Mckinley, I think.”

“Think again, son.”

Will took out his cell phone and pulled up his web browser. “Mckinley was president during the Spanish-American War,” he said. Mrs. Brennan chuckled again.

“My father left the military two years after the war ended. He returned home to his first wife, and they moved here and built the little log cabin. They started a family and farmed this land until his wife passed away in 1910. My father was seventy years old at the time. In 1913, he married a local woman who was many years younger than he was. She got pregnant soon after the wedding, and I was born on January 12, 1914.”

“Mrs. Brennan, I’m sorry, but the math doesn’t add up. If your father was seventy in 1910, he would have been in his late fifties during the Spanish-American War. I don’t think they would have let him into the military at that age.”

“Wrong war, my friend.” Mrs. Brennan walked to the fireplace and touched one of the stones. “Come here, Will.” He stepped forward and stood next to the old woman. “Touch the stone.” Will followed her example and ran his fingers across the rough surface.

“Tell me what it is that I’m missing, Mrs. Brennan.”

Fredrick Upham, 93 Years Old, Son of a Civil War Soldier

Source

“The hand that shaped that stone and put it into place and sometimes tenderly touched my face, was the very one that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln.”

“Your father fought in the American Civil War?”

“He did, indeed. Missouri State Militia, Infantry Division, 1861 to 1867.” Mrs. Brennan took the large, pine wreath out of a plastic garbage bag and handed it to the youth. “Would you like to do the honors?” she asked. Will took the wreath and hung it on a hook protruding from the stone chimney.

“I have a feeling this is the last time I’ll see the old homestead. I’m glad I was able to tell my story again, Will.”

“So am I, Mrs. Brennan, so am I.”

Author's Note

As of February 13, 2015, there were thirty-five men and women alive in the United States whose fathers fought in the American Civil War. For more information, read my hub on the topic.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)