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TITLE: The Way Home 6/27/14
By R. Jamerson

The Iron Gate slid shut behind me with a loud clang. It had been two years since I entered the Wayne County Youth Correctional facility. One thing for sure It wasn’t the same person walking out as walked in.

Squinting against the bright sunlight, I spotted Mom’s beat up old Chevy parked at the curb. My heart ached at the pain I had caused her. Yet she never gave up on me. I would hear her praying when I sneaked in through the back door all hours of the night. It was her prayer that protected me back then, and throughout these last two painful years.

We hardly spoke on our way home. Mom was like that I could see the pain and hurt in her face but she never lashed out with her tongue. I vowed in my heart that I would work very hard at taking away that pain and seeing her beautiful smile again.

The car swayed gently as Mom made the sharp turn off the highway. We were almost home. The familiar sound of loose gravel crunching underneath the tires was comforting. I pressed my face against the glass drinking in the beauty of the fall foliage. Evening sunlight spilling through the branches overhead created shadows that danced merrily across my face.

Suddenly there was a flash of white as a doe and her fawn scurried away into the
forest startled by the sound of our vehicle. Such graceful animals, and they have the
most beautiful brown eyes. I could never understand why anyone would want to shoot

The one lane gravel road was narrow and bumpy hardly room enough for two cars to pass. It twisted like a mountain stream through the beauty of the surroundings.

Up ahead was a field of golden daisies. Mom called them Black Eyed Susan s. Each
year they grew like a carpet spreading out further and further along the road side. A family of rabbits made a mad dash for the woods as we neared the garden spot. Guess they were having dinner in what’s left of the garden again!

Mom slowed the car as we began the descent down the steep hill to the house below. I could see the rugged, gray rock of the foundation through the red, gold, & yellow of the leaves. A small chalet nestled on the hillside almost hidden by the forest. We were finally home. Mom eased the car up under the old oak tree, and turned off the engine.

I sat quietly, enjoying the silence for a moment. A soft breeze was blowing through the trees. The distant sound of a Whippoorwill rose above the wrestling of the leaves. I remembered how Dad loved to sit outside at night, and listen to their call. Pain coursed through out my body as I remembered the last time I saw him.

“Vickie, life is what you make it. You have chosen your path and you will have to live with the consequences.”

“Mind your own business old man, what do you know about life?” I could see my words hurt but I didn’t care. Dad passed away soon after my incarceration.

The excited bark of Wicket, our family pet, broke the stillness. “Good Doggie,” I
said. “No one gets into the house without your approval!” Mom smiled and gave me a big hug. “It’s good to have you home Vickie,” she said. “Could you fetch us some wood for the fire?
There’s a nip in the air this evening.”

A fire! It has been years since I sat by a cozy wood burning fire! I could already smell the smoke in the crisp autumn air. “Wait a minute!” “Is that apple pie I smell?”

Mom smiled again. “Could be,” she said. “Now hurry up with that wood!”

I took one last look around. Rows of firewood were stacked neatly under the deck. Brightly colored pansies were still blooming around the stepping stones. What a fool I had been. I had everything anyone could want and traded it for the harshness of a bleak prison cell. The events of the past two years left scars that would be constant reminders of what I had lost.

Tomorrow offered the promise of a new beginning. Would I succeed in rebuilding my life, or would the monsters in my past prove once again to be too much for me to handle.

I took a deep breath of the fresh clean air, allowing the contentment of the moment to settle
over me like a warm blanket. It was so good to be home!
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