Writing

A GOOD DAY (in more ways than one)

Carrollton League of Writers, my writing group, had a Flash Fiction Contest a few weeks ago.  Flash Fiction is a complete story of between 300 – 1000 – 1500 words.  Ours was 1000 words or less.  It was judged by author, Amber Royer (Check out her historical fiction books!)  And guess what!!!  I won 2nd place!!! I’m so excited.  My first contest and my story placed 2nd!

My story was inspired by an oil painting my momma painted many years ago and I’ve always wanted to write a story about it.  So when the opportunity came along to write a flash fiction story AND enter it in a contest (motivation) I decided it was time.

So here’s my story as submitted.  I hope you enjoy reading it as I did writing it.

A GOOD DAY

The star filled, cloudless sky promised productivity on the farm today. There was much to do before the spring rains and storms came.  But the almanac said there was plenty of time.  He loved these early morning chores before the sun came up.  The quietness just before dawn soothed his spirit.  Not that it needed soothing these days.  Life was good.  A wife who loved him, their first child on the way, a farm to provide for their needs were just a few of the blessings he enjoyed.

“Honey, breakfast is ready,” she beckoned from the back door. Her voice carried through the quietness like a stream of light showing the way home.

He pick up the bucket of milk on the way. She wouldn’t have to call him twice this morning.  He was starving.  The closer he came to the house the stronger the scent of bacon, eggs and biscuits. His favorite breakfast.

“Smells good!” he said as he set the milk bucket down. “I’m starving today.”

“Imagine that! Been out working since before the hint of sunrise and you’re hungry?” she teased.

After offering a prayer of thanks, they began discussing the plans for the day. She had already started soaking beans for noon so she could devote her morning to finishing the quilt for the baby.  She dearly loved preparing for this child so long waited for and already loved so dearly she could scarce endure the joy.

His morning would consist of feeding the livestock and trying to get that infernal pick-up to run. He must have it running before time to take the produce in to the farmers market on Friday.

After the breakfast dishes were done, Ellie set out to finish that quilt.  She always liked to have the radio on while she worked.  This morning they were playing the old time gospel songs.  Then came the screamin’ preachin’.  She could never understand why some preachers screamed their sermons at people.  It didn’t inspire listening.  All it inspired was switching to another station if the signal was clear enough or just turning the radio off all together.  Nobody wants to be screamed at on this beautiful morning.

She only had one more row of quilting and then she could hem the quilt.  She had enjoyed this one so much.  Maybe because it was shades of blue, her favorite color. Or maybe because it was for her own child this time. Done!  She could finish that hem first thing after dinner and maybe spend a little time in the flower beds this afternoon.  It was shaping up to be a wonderful day.

Charlie was gritting his teeth while tightening down that spark plug.  Automotive repair was one of his most dreaded chores.  Click, click, click.  Drip, drip, drip.  The pungent smell of oil and gasoline infused his nostrils and the grease stained his hands.  What a mess.  And then, he heard it.  The engine starting up with the first turn of the ignition!  Today was a good day!

“Oh, my, Ellie!”  He raved.  “These beans and cornbread hit the spot!”

“No suggestions on how to make them better today?” She asked with just a twinge of sarcasm.

“Well, I must confess.  I added a little sugar when you weren’t looking,” he admitted sheepishly.

“Like you do every time we have beans.  Why do you think I don’t ‘add a little sugar’ myself?” She patted his hand.

“Got the truck running,” he told her as he stood to take his plate to the sink.

“Really?  I didn’t hear any hollerin’ this morning,” she said with a giggle following him to the sink.

They froze and stared out into the West pasture watching as the milk cows trotted toward the barn.  What a strange site in the middle of the day.  In the time it took for them to eat a plate of beans, the sun had been hidden behind the darkest, thickest clouds they’d ever seen.

They ran outside to get a better look.  The clouds were boiling like a vat of dye fighting whether to become black or keep some hint of blue.

They watched in wonder as the cows came up to be milked as though it was nightfall.  The chickens were vying for their favorite nest in the hen house.  The rooster was crowing obviously confused about the time of day.  The cattle left in the pasture were turning away from the gusting wind.

“I’m going to pull the pick-up in the shed and get those cows in the barn,” Charlie informed Ellie as he sprung into action. “Do you think you can hurry the hens into the coup and then shut it up?”

“Yes, I’m fine.  I’ll take care of that and then get in the house and wait for you.”

They each fought the wind as they hurried to take care of the cows and chickens and fight their way back to the house.

Ellie was just stepping up on the porch when the air exploded with thunder.  She instinctively spun around toward the barn and she saw a fist of lightening hammer down on the shed.  Where was Charlie?

“Charlie! Charlie! Where are you?”  The wind was so strong and loud that her voice seemed to fall at the edge of the steps.

The rain fell like sheets of water.  Then she heard a faint voice, “Get in the house, Ellie!” It was Charlie, running.  They both rushed into the house and embraced.  They were together.

By the time Charlie had gotten into dry clothes, the storm was past.  They walked out to the shed to see the damage. Charlie cleared the fallen lumber away from the truck, climbed in and turned the key knowing all his work that morning had been for nothing. The engine came to life with a few coughs and sputters.  The livestock were all safe.  The crops were wet but not ruined.  They were safe.  It was a good day.

 

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PAUSE & PONDER – IT’S CALVING SEASON

The above photos are courtesy of my big brother, Ken, who owns the Circle Bar P Ranch.

It’s calving season, meaning lots of babies are being born on the ranch. The one in the truck is being helped because he’s too young to keep up with the herd while moving them to a new pasture. The photo above that one is this same calf hidden by his momma. I asked my brother (since I am not up on this ranching thing) if they did that often. He said they do it every time. The momma will give birth and hide the calf until they are able to keep up with the herd, probably about a week or so.

That’s amazing to me. The momma knows how to take care of her baby to protect it from predators or elements or whatever (again, I know nothin’ ’bout ranchin’). She instinctively knows to hide her calf until it’s strong enough to be part of the herd. No one had to show her, teach her, instruct her. She just knows what to do!

When Ken told me this, my first thought was “How can anyone think this world with all it’s marvelous workings was an accident?” It’s so amazing that God thought of EVERYTHING regarding the creation of this universe right down to creating the protective instinct in a momma cow so her baby would survive.

Like I said, I don’t know nothin’ ’bout ranching or cows or calves but one thing I do know is that this earth and all within it was created by a loving, thoughtful, powerful being. It.Was.Not. an accident. He created all of the earth, all of the cows, all of us on purpose. By design.

Job 37:14 Says to stop or pause or stand still and consider the wondrous works of God. (NASB; The Amplified Bible; The Voice). I know I need to do this more often. Stop and just think of all God’s wonderful works. How about you? Are you willing to stop – pause – be still – and marvel at God’s creation?

LET US PAUSE AND PONDER

Let us pause and ponder
The wondrous works of God
The stars & moon & heavenlies
And this amazing earth we trod.

Let us pause and ponder
The stars, the sun, the moon
How they order bright new mornings
Or cozy, snowy afternoons.

Let us pause and ponder
The beauty we all can see
The flowers that explode in color
And the tiny and giant trees.

Let us pause and ponder
The creatures He has made
The birds that fly, the bees that buzz
And the cattle that lie in the shade.

Let us pause and ponder
The creatures of the sea
The whales, the fish, the lobsters
And the ones too tiny to see.

Let us pause and ponder
How He waters all the earth
How it carries with it life
And in due season brings new birth.

Let us pause and ponder
The intricate designs
That make living on earth possible
And that includes all mankind.

Let us pause and ponder
These amazing bodies He has wrought
How each part works together
How it required intelligent thought.

Let us pause and ponder
This breath of life within
How He uses it to guide us
Back into communion with Him.

Let us pause and ponder
This unending love He gave
How He sent His Only Son
So, all of us He could save.

Let us pause and ponder
This didn’t happen by mere chance
That God in His infinite wisdom
Planned everything in advance.

Let us pause and ponder
Our response to all these things
How it should bring forth gratefulness
How His praises we should sing.

Let us pause and ponder
This amazing world in which we live
Can’t even begin to compare
With the one He’s waiting to give.

Won’t you pause and ponder
The love God has for you
How Jesus shed His blood
So, you can enjoy heaven, too?

Artis Hayes – 4/26/18

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It’s Fall, Y’all!

Throwback Thursday: This was a little piece I wrote several years ago as part of a writing workshop I did.  Thought I’d pull it out again and share it.  Hope you enjoy!

The air is chilled and filled with the smell of a wood burning fireplace. The street is lined with such an array of color it’s as though you have stepped onto an artist’s pallet and are surrounded by hues of orange, red, and yellow.  The colors glisten in the sunlight as if each leaf was sprinkled with gold dust.  It’s fall and the world seems beautiful.  There’s an umbrella of serenity hovering over the neighborhood.

As I walk down the street I have an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder. It was only yesterday, it seems, when the sweltering heat kept the neighborhood quiet – keeping everyone inside – in the air conditioning.  But today the serenity is not from the quiet street.  It’s from the briskness of the air.  The color of the trees; the playfulness of the children; the friendships of the neighbors.  The scene is reminiscent of childhood memories.  Running from one yard to another.  “Tag, you’re it!” Screams of delight follow with bursts of energy surging through the running children.

What is it about the changing of the seasons that strikes such chords within us? The seasons remind us we are alive.  The change awakens our senses causing our eyes to open and gaze on the newness and freshness of another day. Our ears become aware of laughter and playfulness.  And the scent of fireplaces and the feel of cool air exhilarate our consciousness to the point that even the harshest critic can’t control the necessity to smile.

New thought:

What a beautiful reminder, through the changing of the seasons, that our hearts and spirits can be renewed as well. As we become aware again of the beauty of God’s handiwork; the kindness of our fellow man; being together with family, we know and experience renewal and re-creation.  We are encouraged and exhilarated by His spirit within us that life is good.  God is good. We are loved by Him, the creator of all things.  And we can, by merely opening our eyes, our ears, our hearts be renewed and strengthened.

It’s fall, y’all and God is good!

autumn daylight fall fog
Photo by Vali S. on Pexels.com
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AND AWAY WE GO!

The inaugural post of my author website!!

My hopes and dreams are beginning to take shape and it’s exciting, intimidating, fun, frustrating all rolled into one wonderful adventure.

My current WIP is a book featuring my Grandmother-in-law.  She was widowed at age 32, expecting her fifth child.  Single parenting is daunting in the best of circumstances but hers was far from ideal.  Options for making a living were slim during the 1940’s and add to that the fact that it was wartime.

But Grandmother raised her five children to be some of the most godly, joyful, gracious people you could ever hope to meet.  And she did it during WWII when times were tough and that’s putting it mildly.

Not only did her children turn out to be well rounded individuals, she herself, was joyful, grateful, generous and loved people.  She could have easily become bitter and blame God for her difficult life but that was not the case.

We all could learn some lessons from her life – a life lived on The Rock.

Stay tuned….

Blessings!