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The Mountain - An Answer to Bill Holland's Newest Writing Challenge

Updated on August 30, 2016
Emese Fromm profile image

Emese is first and foremost a writer. A few of her articles and children's stories have been published in magazines over the years.


At first all we could see were clouds, covering everything above the tree line. Yet we knew that the mountain was there, somewhere, under the thick white cover. The kids didn't care, they were just playing in the meadow, enjoying the outdoors. As the hours passed, the cloud cover slowly started to dissipate, and behind it the snow-covered top of the mountain became visible. No matter how many times I've seen it, I've always been amazed by the beauty of it, by he change that only elevation brought on. Where we stood, it was summer, warm, we were comfortable in shorts and t-shirts, surrounded by wild flowers in green meadows, among tall pine trees. Yet, so close it seemed that we could walk to its top in a few minutes, the mountain stood, its peak covered with a thick layer of snow. Never ceased to amaze me.

The kids were running around in the meadow, happily chatting about the birds, flowers and wildlife around them. A pair of marmots peaked out from behind a rock, and they stopped to look at them. As we continued up the trail, two Japanese tourists, walking in front of us, stopped and motioned us to be quiet, pointing excitedly to an opening in the forest. A small fawn was grazing there, following her mother. The deer looked up at us, but as she sensed no danger, she resumed her grazing, keeping an eye on her young.

It was so peaceful, so wonderful to be there. Yet underneath it all, I could feel the tension, the hurt, the anger that was still keeping us from talking to each other.

"I have to climb the mountain," he suddenly turned to me. "Are you going to come with me?"

"How? What would I do with the kids? Are you insane?"

"I don't know. It's always the kids with you. There is no room for us any more. I'm going, with or without you."

"You don't mean now, do you? You can't! You don't have the right gear, or the right clothes. Go next time we come, when you are prepared."

"I wasn't going right this second. I know what I need. I've been on this mountain before. But I'm sick of waiting for "next time". What happened to the girl I married? What happened to your sense of adventure?"

I wasn't going to get into the same argument. It was no use. We've been through this many times before, and we were not getting anywhere.

"She grew up." I said quietly. I wasn't even sure he heard me. He trotted off ahead on the trail. I knew he would be gone for hours.


The old depot was deserted when we passed it on our way down. We stopped and let the kids play on the old train. As always, he had just disappeared. He needed to go take a hike in the woods. He couldn't walk as slow as I was with the kids. I tried to understand. Yet, sitting there just with the kids, I felt very much alone. Did we really grow so far apart, that we had nothing in common any longer? We both loved the woods, we both loved the mountain. This place had brought us together years ago, we used to hike these woods hand in hand. Yes, we needed to slow down for the kids, but we could still do it all. A different pace, that's all we needed, why could' he see it? As my four year old daughter came running to tell me about the story they were playing, filled with dragons and fairies, who lived in the train and the surrounding woods, I joined in their game.

We helped the fairies fight the fire breathing dragon, and free the little children he held captive on the train. Then sat with the dragon in one of the carts, when he started crying, telling us that he was all alone, his family left him and he had no one to talk to. He took the children because they were friendly to him, and he thought they would be happy with him. My daughter explained to him that the children miss their mommies and daddies, it was wrong of him to take them. So he returned them to their own home, then the fairies helped him find his own family. His wife and children were happy to see him, they missed him as much as he missed them. His cute dragon kids just wanted him to play with them. So he took his whole family back to the train where they all still live happily with the neighbor fairies. We were visiting with them, and they offered us tea and cookies for helping them get back together.

As we got off the train, we saw the lonely figure coming out from the woods.

"Daddy, daddy!", our little girl ran to him, and he scooped her up in his arms. "Guess what?" Without waiting for an answer, she continued.

"We found a mean dragon in this train, and he was fighting the fairies, who tried to free the children he captured. But he was only mean because he was lonely, and we helped him get his family back and now he in not lonely any more. He is not grumpy either. Want to meet him?"

" Dad, it's just story she made up. Dragons and fairies are not real." said her five year old brother.

"So what if it's just a story? It could be real." her sister answered. "Dad, guess what? Mom figured it out that the dragon was just lonely and not really mean, so now he's happy."

"Really? Your mom is a smart lady. She knows about dragons."

"And about kids," he added, looking at me. "Maybe not so much about people."

What was that supposed to mean?, I thought. However, I kept my mouth shut. We had argued enough for a lifetime. As much as I knew we would need to clear the air, I had no energy for it.


The old barn looked deserted. The place we were renting for the night should have been right there. There seemed to be no road leading to it, no other structure close to it, everything seemed to be overgrown with weeds. Finally we noticed a small farm house in the distance, and a dirt road leading to it. That has to be it, the farm house we were looking for.

Hidden behind the old, deserted barn, was a very old house, with a tiny garden in front, its door unlocked, as promised. A plate filled with fresh baked, home made cookies welcomed us on the kitchen table. The kids devoured them in a few seconds.

There was a note next to the cookies. "Welcome to our cabin. Hope you feel at home here. If you need anything, we live in town, a few miles down the road. Feel free to pick any of the fruit and vegetables that you find ripe. Enjoy the cookies."

The cabin was tiny, but cozy, built of old bricks and wood. There was barely enough room for us, but we felt comfortable. The real treat was outside though. The garden had fresh vegetables and ripe strawberries, that he kids started picking right away.

"Why are these so tiny, mommy? asked inquisitive little girl. The ones we buy are much bigger"

'Those are genetically engineered," answered her brother before I could open my mouth.

"What does that mean?", asked her sister, giving me a "here we go again, how does he know everything?" look.

"Never mind that, these are much sweeter." she added, as she plopped one in her mouth.

We sat on the patio, around a table, with a perfect view of the mountain.

The kids took off to play in the surrounding wilderness. I wasn't following them as closely as I usually do, I knew they were safe here, far from the city, from the crowded streets, from its dangers.

"Mom, come see the barn with us!" my daughter called.

It was unlocked, like everything else on the property. As I set foot in it, the smells, the sight of it transported me back to my childhood, to another barn, in another part of the world, in the village where my grandparents grew up. Their barn was a different shape, people spoke a different language there, but the surrounding nature, the smell of old hey, of animals that once filled the space, was the same. I had played in that barn with my cousins, during every vacation. I spent some of the best moments of my childhood there. As I watched my kids playing in the old barn and the farm around it, I suddenly knew exactly what to do.

I left them to play and ran back to the cabin to Jim.

"We should buy this property!" I told him as soon as I saw him.

"Hmmm.... what?"

"We should see if we can. I'm sure they would want to sell it, no one lives here, they don't make much money renting it out, we are in the middle of nowhere, how many tourists do you think come here?"

"OK," he said slowly. "But how do you think we could live here? I have a job, we have responsibilities. We can't just give up everything, pick up and leave."

"Why not? Didn't you just ask earlier what happened to the adventurer you married? Who's trying to play it safe now?" I smiled. "Yes, we do have responsibilities. The most important ones are to our family, to our kids. They would be so much happier growing up here. We would all be happier. I can homeschool them if the school in town is too far, or we don't like it. And let's face it, you hate your job, you are not meant to be just another face in the corporate world. Don't you think I know it? I can see it every day you go to work. It is affecting all of us, you being so unhappy. You don't need to make so much money, we are not even spending it, we don't really care. Do you think the kids need more things? They need to be able to play outside, breathing fresh air instead of the polluted city air, I need to let them be without worrying about them every second they are out of my sight. I can stop being a helicopter parent, but I can only do it here, far from the city."

He just stood there, looking at me like he didn't recognize me. Then, slowly, a huge smile spread across his face.

"You are serious, aren't you? Won't you miss the city, your friends, the shopping? Aren't you worried about the kids' education? I don't even know anything about farming or about living in the country."

"Neither do I. But we'll learn. I feel more at home here, in the middle of this deserted farm, than I ever do in the city. So are the kids, just look at them. And if we are this close to the mountain, you can climb it any time you want to. I'll go with you, too. In a small community like the town a few miles down, I'll feel safe leaving the kids with their friends."


As we took a walk around the property, hand in hand, we came across a small graveyard. The stones were so old, it was hard to make out the names, but as deserted as the rest of the property was, this small area looked well cared for.

As we stood there, trying to decipher the writing on the grave stones, an older couple, accompanied by their dog, came out of the woods, walking through a path we didn't notice before.It turned out they were the property owners, Martha and John. We found out that the graves belong to their great grandparents, and the rest of their family, the original owners of the place. They had built the barn and a big farm house in the 1800s. It has been passed down through the generations, but a few years ago the big farm house burned down. Since Martha and John had no children, and were getting old, they moved into town. They had kept the guest cabin and occasionally rent it out.

We looked at each other.

"Would you consider selling the property?" Jim asked.

They were. In fact, they were very happy to do it. They only asked to let them keep the small site where the graveyard stood. We happily agreed.

The kids came to join us, and they instantly fell in love with the dog, who was happy to play with them. When they found out that Martha had baked the cookies, they became instant best friends with the older couple. They walked with them, as they asked a million questions about the dog, the barn, the surrounding woods.

Sitting on the patio that night, watching the sunset over the mountain, we knew we finally found what we were looking for.


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    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Ann, thank you so much! Timing doesn't matter, I am so grateful you got around to reading it. Glad you liked it.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      What a charming story! I'm only sorry it took me so long to get round to reading it. I could feel the vibes as the worries were done with and the countryside and mountain took over. Great!


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That is Mount Rainier and again, thank you for the wonderful entry. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Hi, Rachel,

      Thank you for reading! The photo is actually Bill's, I wrote this as an answer to his challenge. I know the mountain well, though, it is Mt. Rainier in Washington state and is snow capped year round. I'm so glad you liked my story. :)

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      4 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Emese, What an amazing picture of the snow capped mountain with the fog or clouds around it. I love reading about your adventures too. Thanks for sharing.

      Blessings to you.

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you, Nell. Yes, Bill's challenge brought out some of the best stories, I enjoyed them all.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      What a great story! I loved Bills challenge, such awesome stories! :)

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you, Larry.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great response.

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you, Shyron.

      You are right, I wouldn't want to be in Bill's shoes when it comes to choosing. I've read so many wonderful stories in response to his challenge. In the end, we are all winners since we were able to read each other's works.

      So glad you enjoyed my story.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Hello Emese, beautiful story, I am sympathize with Bill, with all the wonderful stories, I think he will find it hard to choose.

      I enjoyed this one very much.

      Blessings my friend.

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you so much, Manatita. I have no words to express my gratitude of how good you made me feel with your comment. You made my day. Thank you

    • manatita44 profile image


      4 years ago from london

      A superb story, EmeseReka. I knew you are a good writer the moment I started reading this story. Like me, you started with the mountain, but yes, your angle was very different. The plot suited the fact that you had a husband and three children.

      Your approach to the mountain, the surroundings and animals were just great! I like the idea that although there is obvious continuity, each photo seem to tell its own story; its own encounters for you and family. Finally, you and the husband finding common ground at the end was just brilliant.

      I'm sure you know this happens a lot in life. For one reason or the other, we are dull, indolent, irritable, then a catalyst ... something clicks inside and all just falls into place.

      I suppose I should welcome you, EmeseReka. Not encountered you before. Great stuff!! One of my favourites. The other two are a man and a woman. Totally awesome! Much Love to the children and satisfied husband (smile)

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you, Venkatachari.

      I am glad you liked the story. I also appreciate the follow. Though I don't post much, hope you like what you see.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      4 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very nice story. It is so appealing and close to real life. I appreciate this take by you. And, I would like to follow you to view more of your good stuff.

      I should thank Nellieanna for linking all submissions to this challenge thereby enabling me find you.

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you so much, Maria.

      It is nice to meet you too here.

      You are right, from the entries I have read, they are all excellent, it's a pleasure to read so many different takes on the challenge.

      Now I'm off to read yours.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      So nice to meet you through Nellieanna's link, Emese.

      I was instantly taken in by your story - relatable theme and rich with detail.

      This may be the biggest challenge ever - I don't envy Bill his decision.

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you, Shauna. I'm so glad you like this story. You are right, nature always has a way to bring families together, and heal.

      I appreciate you reading it.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Emese, what a beautiful story! Nothing like wide open spaces and nature to bring a family together.

      Great response to Bill's challenge!

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you, Chitrangada.

      I appreciate your insight. Yes, you are right, this situation is very common, especially these days when couples live far from their parents who could help with their kids. Unfortunately, my happy ending is relatively rare in real life, but I'm calling myself a writer, and I need my characters to stay together and be happy.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the story and liked the ending.

      Thank you for the read and the kind comment.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent response to the challenge!

      I got so much involved in your story because it is so close to reality. I have seen many couples coping with similar situation after the kids come in their lives. But it's a passing phase when both must be patient.

      The ending was so good and happy . Enjoyed your story. Well done!

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you, John, you are very kind. Yes, now that you mention it, I think the kids are loosely based on two of my own children, the way I imagine they would have acted at that age. Isn't that inevitable to a certain extent? I'm glad you liked the story and the message.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Emese, you should not have been afraid to publish this. Out of all the entries so far this would have to be one of my favourites. The characters were so real. Were the kids based on your own children? The story was touching with a happy ending and I loved the message.

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you so much, mckbirdbks. I'm glad I wrote it before reading your entry and some of the others, I would not have dared to publish it. Yes, Bill has a way of bringing the best of the writers together. Thank you for reading my story, great to meet you here as well.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Emese Fromm, this is an excellent contribution to Bill's challenge. The challenge seems to have brought back several writers that have gone away from Hubpages.

      Nice to meet you here.

    • Emese Fromm profile imageAUTHOR

      Emese Fromm 

      4 years ago from The Desert

      Thank you, Bill. I've missed HubPages and I needed a good challenge. Btw, is that Mt Rainier?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you my friend. I am so happy you took up the challenge. I'll file this away and read it when the deadline passes.....I hope this spurs you on to do more writing.


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