Scars of a Broken Heart

EER_0315 (3)

It was a warm Sunday afternoon. Jim took a small hand-ax with him as he climbed the ridge behind her farm. They had been friends since primary school, but now, seven years later she had broken his heart. Tommy Butler beat him to the draw, asking Julie Anne to the middle school dance… and she said yes.

With all his strength he chopped at the initials carved into the side of the tall sugar maple. He carved them there when he was thirteen. Now it was a bleeding scar where a heart of love once lived.

When Jim, told George what he had done, a smile crossed his wise old, wrinkled face.

“When I was your age, I had a girl who broke my heart as well. She played with my heart, then ‘she’d had it sliced away leaving a scar’. It still hurts.”

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Sarah asked us to write a prosery story of 144 words, which must include the line: ‘she’d had it sliced away leaving a scar’. from a poem by Michael Donaghy. (https://rihlajourney.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/liverpool-michael-donaghy/)

I decided to continue my conversations of Jim and his friend Old George.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

The Call

DSC_0089 (2)

Carrie woke to her cell phone lit up and vibrating on the nightstand. It was a text that simply said,

” It’s ready!”

“Please call ASAP.”

She had been waiting anxiously for the past two months for this call. Three times a week, as Carrie sat hooked up to the dialysis machine, she dreamed of this day.

This was an experiment she volunteered for over a year ago. Researchers at Wake Forest University finally perfected a way to take tissue from her bad kidney, isolate the good cells, and grow a new healthy kidney. It would eliminate the rejection factor.

But would it work?

Many anxious thoughts raced through her mind as she stared at the phone. “For how can I be sure I shall see again the world on the first of May?” she wondered.

There were no guarantees, she would be the first.

***

Today at d’Verse, Merril gave us this prosery prompt:

For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May”

–From “May Day” by Sara Teasdale

We are to take this line from the poem and include it in a flash fiction piece of 144 words. My story inspiration came form a PBS show where are Wake Forest Research doctor talked about this kind of thing being studied. In time they will be able to grow new organs from your own body tissue. How amazing is that!

Join us at: https://dversepoet.com

Live Now

IMG_8619 (3)

        Grace sat quietly in her wheelchair on the long veranda facing the valley below. It was a quiet place, except for the Cardinal who kept singing to his mate and the tiny Carolina wren whose piccolo voice made up for his size.

        Her mind wandered as she sat waiting for her sweet granddaughters to show up for their Sunday visit. She thought about her life and all the places she had visited and the interesting people she met along the way. Tom was a free-spirit and the two of them always envisioned the next place they might visit. “Talk what you please of future spring and sun-warm’d sweet tomorrow.” She had lived her life with exuberance and joy. This is what she wanted to impress upon her sweet granddaughters as well.

Hi, Grandma! What a beautiful view you have out here on the porch.”

*****

Today at d’Verse, Sanaa gave us a prosery prompt form Christina Rossetti. We are to write a flash fiction of 144 words using this quote: “Talk what you please of future spring and sun-warm’d sweet tomorrow.” – from the poem A Daughter of Eve by Christina Rossetti.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Things Unspoken

IMG_1466 (2)

Why don’t you ever talk about your childhood,” Jim asked, as he sat on the edge of the porch.
George paused for what seemed like a long moment. “It is because that is part of my life I try to forget. My mother was Shawnee Indian from a tribe in Shawnee Oklahoma, where I was born.”
In those days, the government took us Indian children and put them in a school to learn to speak English and become part of white culture. If we spoke our Shawnee language, they would punish us.”
I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night.”
How awful,” said Jim, “It must have been very sad to be separated from your parents.”
My mother passed away during that time. I didn’t even get to go to her funeral.”
So, that is why I try to forget my childhood.”

Painting: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Lisa reminded us of the atrocities carried out against Native American Children in the US and Canada.  Children were taken from parents and put in training schools to get rid of their Indian Culture. Sadly, many of those who ran the schools were from various religious groups. There were many abuses that took place with these children. Now they have found mass graves in the US and in Canada where some of these Native American Children were buried. Seems like we will never learn!

Lisa gave us a line from a poem written by Kimberly Blaeser, called “When We Sing of Might,” which must be used in the story as it is written. The line is…   I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night.”

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

The Climb … segments 10-11-12

EER_0703 (2)

George awoke stiff and cold from his unsettled night in the cave. Sunshine reflected off the shimmering snow outside, with the promise of warmth in its rays. George picked up his gun and made his way into the morning light. The sun on his face felt wonderful and took away some of the chill he felt. All around spread a world of white with only a whisper of a breeze in the trees above.

As he ate the last half of his granola bar, he was glad he kept the water bottle in his inside pocket. His body heat kept it from freezing solid. George knew his climb down to the valley below would help him warm up. Stomping his feet, numb with cold, he felt his joints talking to him telling him he was much too old for this kind of activity. His left arm was tingling again and he had a slight tightness in his chest, so George popped a glycerin pill and let it dissolve under his tongue. He always carried them with him for situations like this. His heart was not happy with all the strain, but the tightness and tingling soon subsided.

As George prepared himself for his climb down the mountain, he noticed some tracks in the snow outside the cave. On closer examination, he saw the imprints were cat tracks as big as his hand. The tracks left the cave entrance and trailed up the hollow. George looks further and noticed slight spots of red sprinkled very lightly in the snow next to the tracks.

He recalled what he thought was his bad nightmare from the night before. Did a mountain lion actually visit his cave last night? Did George actually take a shot at her grazing her just enough to bleed a trickle of blood in the snow?

George emptied the shells from his rifle. Only five shells in the gun instead of six! Still not believing what he saw, he climbed back into the cave. Sweeping the leaves aside, he found nothing. Then over in the back corner lay his expended shell. He could not believe what he was seeing. In the middle of the night, in his sleep, he had taken a shot at a mountain lion. Who would believe this tale? He knew Jim would love this story.

*****

Feeling extremely cold, George knew he needed a fire to warm himself before starting down the mountain. Dragging out a pile of dead leaves from the cave, he added some small dead limbs from the bottom of the white pines nearby. The leaves were dry from being in the cave and he soon had a blazing fire going. It was enough to take away some of the chill from his body.

By now the sun was shining through the tree tops and the pines covered with snow sparkled like a million diamonds. Overnight the snow accumulated to a foot and a half deep. It would take quite awhile to wade through it all and make it back to his truck.

When the fire had burned down to embers, George covered them with wet snow to put them out. He new it was time to start moving.

Deep snow made walking difficult for George, but he slowly made his way down the west side of the hollow so the morning sun could help warm him in the frigid morning air. After walking for an hour, he brushed the snow off a fallen log and sad down to rest. He really needed a drink so he scooped up some fresh snow and melted it in his mouth. The cold water trickling down his throat refreshed him.

As George was ready to trudge on, he heard a rustling in the pines across the way. In a moment two doe came into view followed by a third. George sat real still knowing they could not tell him from the trees, except by smell or movement. Suddenly they stopped and sniffed the air, ears perked up listening for any movement. Since the breeze was blowing up the hollow, it carried George’s scent away from them, so they continued moving slowly nibbling at the ends of young saplings sticking up above the snow.

What a beautiful sight to see thought George as he watched them moving further up the ridge. Another noise drew George’s attention back to the pines. George could not believe his eyes, as he watched the old buck come into view. He stood tall with a majestic rack that spread above his head like a king’s crown. Being cautious, he always seem to follow the doe who checked to see of there was any danger ahead. The old buck stopped and sniffed the air unaware that George was just across the hollow. It was as though he sensed something different in the morning air.

George’s heart was racing as he saw the buck come closer. This was the chance he had been waiting for and talking about for years. Now the opportunity was right in front of him, with a clear shot that few hunters could miss. George raised his rifle and looked through the scope. The cross-hairs focused right behind the old buck’s shoulder.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

A continuation of an earlier prosery prompt from d’Verse Poets Pub….  Scroll down my site to see earlier segments.

The Climb… segments 8 & 9

image0019-2

Back home in Windy Gap, the sun was setting and George had not returned home. Since his wife had died three years earlier, he had live alone with his old hound dog, Blue. Like George, Old Blue had also seen his better years. He thought it best to leave old Blue at home for this trip.

Down at the end of the gravel lane, his neighbors the Clancy’s lived with their ten year old son Jim. Patrick and Nora were wonderful friends who looked out for George since his wife died. Nora took George hot meals from time to time and often invited him down to visit.

Patrick heard the roar of the old Dodge truck as George headed down the lane in the hours before sunup. George mentioned earlier that he was headed out hunting on Moonshine Ridge, hoping to come across the old buck that had eluded him the last several seasons.

George told Jim hunting stories and how he dreamed of getting one last trophy buck. Those who had seen the deer said it looked like he might have a rack with as many as fourteen points and weigh at least 200 pounds.

When Jim came in for supper that evening, he announced that George’s truck was not at the house and Old Blue was barking up a storm inside the house. With snow beginning to fall Patrick decided to go up and check on Old Blue and see if there was any sign that George might have returned home and left again.

*****

Patrick climbed up the steps to the porch and peered in the window. Nothing seemed disturbed as Old Blue jumped up at the window with a deep mournful wail. Jim found the key under the old crock on the porch and let himself in. Old Blue greeted him happily, jumping up on him trying to lick his face. Patrick left Old Blue run out in the yard to relive himself. He saw there was no water in Blue’s bucket and no food in his bowl. Very unusual for George not to tell anyone to feed Old Blue.

He went to the cupboard and took out the bag of dog food, pouring some into the food bowl. Blue eagerly gobbled it down crunching the hard bits between his teeth. Patrick added a little more and filled up his bucket from the old pitcher pump. Seeing the snow falling faster he had an uneasy feeling about what might have happened George in this extreme weather.

When George did not come home by 9:00 PM, Patrick knew something was wrong. He called the Sheriff’s office in River Bend, ten miles away. After telling the Sheriff what he knew about the situation, Sheriff Taylor said with the storm closing in, and with six inches already on the ground, there was no way they could send a search party into the mountain to look for George before morning. It would take four-wheeled-drive vehicles to make it back to Windy Gap. He told Patrick to meet him at the Sheriff’s office at 7:00 AM. They hoped George found shelter from the storm; otherwise, his chances of survival were very slim.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Earlier segments:  https://rothpoetry.wordpress.com/2021/08/18/the-climb-three-more-segments/

The Climb… segments 5-6-7

The Climb…. three more segments

IMG_4361 (3)

On Tuesday we did prosery at d’Verse Poets Pub. We had to write a 144 prose piece using the word Cloud along with a line from a poem. I wrote this short story. Several bloggers mentioned they wanted the story to continue, so I am attempting to carry on… This is the first segment followed by three new segments.

The Climb

Dwight L. Roth

The old hunter slowly made his way up the rocky mountain side. He used his 30-30 more as a cane than a gun. It was a beautiful winter day with a cool brisk wind blowing up the hollow. He wrapped his coat tightly around his shoulders as he stopped to rest.

George enjoyed hunting for the past forty years. As he unwrapped a Hershey bar, he thought about his younger days and the thrill of getting his first deer on opening day. Now the thrill was just being able to make it to the high top. The view there was spectacular.

At the top of the ridge, he found trees bent from the wind. The clouds were different today. George wasn’t sure, “But these clouds are clearly foreign, such an exotic clutter against the blue cloth of the sky” Distant snow clouds worried him.

The Story continues:

EER_0082 (2)

***

He knew how fast the weather could change in early winter. George had hiked through the mountain laurel, almost to the high-top, the rise of rocks and scrub bushes that rose sharply before dropping down the backside of the mountain.

In the West he saw clouds were moving in more rapidly than he anticipated. He knew he must head back or he would be caught in a blizzard. In his younger days George could have easily stepped it off back toward the ravine in short order. But, his body would not cooperate like it once did. So, he slowly made his way through the laurel as best he could.

Reaching the head of the hollow, he looked out across the mountains and realized there was no way to make it down before the snow closed in on him. He had to find shelter and find it quickly!

*****

EER_0017 (3)

It started as sleet and freezing rain, quickly turning into heavy snow. He remembered stories of hunters who got trapped in blizzards and did not make it home alive. George was determined that would not be his fate.

Having hunted the mountain many times, George remembered a large outcropping of rock on the other side of the hollow about half way down. If he could make it that far, a shallow cave at the base would provide shelter from the wind and snow.

Although going down was easier than coming up, one had to still be careful not to slip and fall, or step in between two rocks and sprain an ankle, or God forbid, break a leg. Carefully George made his way through the falling snow. In the distance he could see the large rocks, black against the white blanket of snow.

*****

As George reached the overhanging rocks, he could see his short breaths projecting like tiny steam clouds from a locomotive. He also felt an unusual tingling in his shoulder that radiated down his left arm. It concerned him, but he knew he had to find protection for the night so he pressed on.

He climbed up and peered into the shadows of the opening hoping not to find another animal taking shelter there. He breathed a sigh of relief when he realized it was empty except for a large pile of dead leaves that had blown in over time. The cave provided shelter against the wind and blowing snow.

With snow falling, covering everything, there was no way for George to build a fire or gather wood to keep it going. He knew it was going to be a long cold night. Would anyone miss him?

To be continued:

If you want more let me know…

Photos: Dwight L. Roth

This is where the story originated:

Today at d’Verse, Merril introduced our prosery prompt clouds. In prosery we are given a line from a poem of her choosing and it must be incorporated into the flash fiction story as given. The line she gave us was: “But these clouds are clearly foreign, such an exotic clutter against the blue cloth of the sky” from Clouds – by Constance Urdang

For a free pdf. file of the complete story, email me at: dwru27@aol.com

Aunt Betty’s Oyster Shack

Bing images~

My Aunt Betty grew up in the small town of Ware, Virginia right along Mobjack Bay, home of Ward Oyster Company. Aunt Bet, as friends called her, was a fine cook and specialized in fried oysters. People up and down the Ware River knew about Aunt Bet.

She was so popular that that she and Uncle Joe decided to open Aunt Betty’s Oyster Shack. It was a big success, with people lined up around the block to get a taste of her fried oysters, slaw, hush puppies, and sweet tea.

She could shuck those oysters faster than anyone I know. One day I asked her, if she was ever angry that God made her black. A broad smile crossed her face as she looked up at me and said, “No, I do not weep at the world; I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife!”

**********

Today at d’Verse, Lisa challenged us to write a prosery piece, that included the line: “No, I do not weep at the world, I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife!” from –Zora Neale Hurston, from “How Does it Feel to be Colored Me” in World Tomorrow (1928).

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

I took my fictional setting from information I found on line about the Ward Oyster Company at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. If you are interested you can read more about it below:

Ward Oyster Co. is one of the largest cage oyster farms on the East Coast of the USA, distributing their oysters all over the continental United States. Ward Oyster Co. has about 20 to 30 million oysters placed in cages near the mouth of the Ware River (our nursery) and in the heart of the Mobjack Bay (our grow out location). It is headquartered in the towns of Ware Neck in Gloucester County, and the town of Foster in Mathews county, both of Virginia. The Ware River is one of four rivers which feed the Mobjack Bay, all of which flow directly to and from the salty lower Chesapeake Bay.  Visit our online store for the best fresh oysters in the area.

Crossing Over (flash fiction)

The old man lay on his death bed waiting for his last breath. Only his wife of sixty years remained with him in this lonely hour.

“We have had a great life together,” Catherine whispered to him as his eyes opened and then closed.

The old man half smiled and tried to nod his head.

“I will miss you my dear, but your time has come to cross over.”

Catherine’s mind wandered as she contemplated his passing…

“Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.”

“As your soul becomes one with the universe, the thought of beginnings and endings will be no more. The spirit of creation will carry you into the joy of your existence; beyond all that you could ask or think!”

His breathing became more shallow. She held his hand, as John drew his last breath.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, we are doing Prosery (flash fiction of exactly 144 words). Merril has chosen a line from Jo Harjo’s “A Map to the Next World.” The line must be included in our story.

The line is: “Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.”

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com then click on the Mr. Linkey box to read more…

Being Alive

I displace the skittish bluebird from her nesting box on the grape arbor. Today, I put my hands in dirt once more. I once dug my little garden plots all in one day. This year, just days away from 74, I have dug them one small section at a time, a little each day, until I get the dirt turned bottoms up. Today it is ready for planting my seven tomatoes and a few Zinnia seeds.

I love digging in the dirt, feeling the dirt with my fingers, breaking up the clods into workable soil. It is now that I know why I bother each year to keep planting a garden. It is that connection with my farming roots of years gone by that draws me to continue. For, as long as I can feel the soil, watch the plants grow, and eat the fruits of my labor, that I know I am truly alive.

Green tomato plants

Roots in composted soil

Taste of life is sweet

Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Frank asked to write a Haibun about living in them moment. Join us at: https://dversepoets.com