Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hum (06/06/13)
TITLE: Sounds of Home
By Brenda Rice
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The ugly scars greeted Cody each time he looked in the mirror. The only thing different about this day was that he was going home…no more doctors or nurses, no more surgeries and hopefully, no more stares.
Home was Charleston, South Carolina and his grandparent’s old cotton plantation, on the river. He had inherited the property four years ago while he was in Europe during World War II.
The stately house stood wind burned behind an expansive, un-kept lawn. Cody’s eyes scanned for any sign of welcome for a soldier coming home from war.
After hours of removing debris and cleaning the first floor of the old house, Cody found his granny’s dishes and an old tea kettle. He remembered his granny in the kitchen with that kettle rocking on the stove, humming a low tune before breaking into a shrill whistle. “Wash up Cody. Your supper’s ready.”
Later in the barn, he uncovered his poppa’s 1936 Ford Coupe beneath layers of kudzu vine that had crept in and flourished, because of an enormous hole in the roof. Cody remembered riding with his poppa and the sound of that old coupe. Can I make this car run again?
Searching further in the barn, Cody found all his poppa’s tools like hidden treasures. Knowing his poppa had held the tools in his hands made Cody feel even more bonded with him.
His poppa’s words came clear as the blue sky above him, “Son anything worth doing is worth doing well. We ain’t got a lot, but what we have, we take care of.”
Darkness brought the serenade of frogs and cicadas from the river. As the sun fell low, Cody watched a family of ducks on the pond. He breathed in the mellow night breeze full of jasmine and honeysuckle.
The low buzz of honey bees after their last nectar of the day caught his attention. He knew the bees were tired from their labors, and he realized how tired he was from his. All the sounds of home became his lullaby on his first night in the old house, alone.
“Sleep tight Cody. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” His granny’s voice echoed through the house.
Sounds came from under the hood of the coupe. Tools lay this way and that. Cody cleaned, tightened, oiled and adjusted everything. The car was shining except for a couple of rusty scrapes that marred her finish. Cody rubbed leather oil into the cracked upholstery.
His poppa voice was clear. “I knew you would come home, Cody. Your granny prayed every night and when she prays, God listens.”
At last, the moment came to start the engine. Cody’s hand reached for the ignition switch. Putt… putt…putt…choke…sputter…hum-m-m.
The old engine came to life. Wiping his tears, Cody put his foot on the clutch, put the car in gear and pressed the gas petal.
The coupe jerked forward before it loped across the yard. Shouts of joy startled cranes into flight at the river. “Look Poppa, I got her goin’!” Cody yelled as he drove down the path toward the river.
A blaze of reddish orange spilled over the horizon. A wayward rooster crowed outside the window of the house. Cody sat up dazed from his deep sleep. He remembered his dream and how he heard his poppa’s voice. A surge of determination mixed with family pride swept over Cody. He had a mission just like when he was in the army. He wouldn’t let his granny’s prayers or his poppa’s pride be wasted on him.
Today Cody would start work on the old coupe amid his poppa’s things. When he heard the drone of its engine, it would literally be his, sound of freedom. He was determined that his scares would no longer control his life.
Cody had paid a price for serving his country. His scares had caused him to hide from life, but now, he would bear them with pride. When he completed his mission and drove the coupe, he would always be reminded that those who went before him had left footprints for him to follow.
Sounds of home make life worth living in times of war and in times of peace.
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