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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "It's No Use Crying over Spilt Milk" (without using the actual phrase or literal exampl (02/07/08)

TITLE: The Whole World and All
By Dee Yoder


It was the summer of 1952, when Mama took us with her to visit Uncle Buddy in Tennessee. I was seven and excited as all-get-out to be riding the train for the first time.

Pop took us to Union Station in Cincinnati, where sights I’d never seen before and smells I’d never smelled before enveloped me as soon as we stepped into the building.

Hot dog vendors pulled their mustard-laden sticks over the tops of juicy footlongs, slathered on a heaping spoonful of chili, and handed the sloppy dogs to the hungry people waiting in line. My mouth watered.

A group of exotic looking girls, dressed in long, colorful robes, wore veils across their faces and pushed past us to whoosh into a shiny black cab, which hunkered close to the sweeping curb of the driveway. Everywhere people were rushing and hurrying, and we were no exception.

Pop gave us a quick goodbye kiss and pointed to the track, where the great sleek train crouched, ready to receive us into its belly and whisk us away from all things familiar.

“Hurry, Children. The train’s about to leave.” Mama tugged us along beside her, causing my pink overnight case to bump painfully against my shins. My brand new Mary Jane’s were slick as spit on the soles; I watoosied across the marble floor of the station, each foot sliding away from me before I could finish the stride. My sister and I exchanged timid glances as the huge beast we hurried toward, sat grumbling on its rails.

The uniformed conductor rushed to us and helped us up the steps and onto the train.

“Whew! We made it, Girls!” Mama exclaimed. She blew her bangs off her face and looked over at us with a wide grin. “This’ll be fun!” We found two empty seats facing each other and flopped onto their padded laps.

We ate our dinner as the train steadily rolled its way over the Kentucky mountains and slid down the steep valleys into Tennessee. When the overhead lights blinked on, the windows instantly became black mirrors, their mysterious panels reflecting our white faces.

“Mama, what’s Uncle Buddy like?” my sister asked.

“Well, now. What’s Uncle Buddy like?…hmm…he’s tall, like Grandpa was, and mighty rich, I can tell you that. And…he has a big house and lots of land…and…well…he’s just Buddy, I guess. You’ll see.” Her cheeks flushed pink and she bit her lip as she stared out at the dark shadows beyond the blank windows.

“Is he nice?” I continued.

“Yes...I think you could say he’s nice. Yes, I surely think you can say he’s nice.” But her face showed doubt, so I persisted.

“You told Papa he was a rat, Mama. Remember? You told Papa that when you got the letter. Remember, Mama?”

“Corinne! Now, you know nice girls don’t eavesdrop. Shame on you!”

“Well…you did say it,” I insisted under my breath.

She glanced at us as she propped her chin on her fists and her elbows on the tabletop. She sighed.

“Uncle Buddy did make me mad. I’ll allow as how I got steamed when I read what he’d done.”

“What, Mama?” Shirley asked. Her brows furrowed over her oval face; I knew she was worried about Uncle Buddy, and so was I.

“Well…” Mama whispered. She watched the blurred scenery we sped past. “He sold the farm,” she explained softly. Tears gathered in her eyes and she quickly swept them away. Still looking out the black mirrors, she sighed again. “I wanted to help pay the back taxes…but…Buddy wouldn’t wait…wouldn’t let me help.” Mama looked at us, her face tight.

“I grew up on that farm, Girls! It meant the whole world and all to me…I never would’ve let him handle all that if I’d known what he was meaning to do,” she emphasized, her dark eyes shining. She sniffed and pulled out her handkerchief, dabbing the tears off her cheeks. “But…well…it’s all said and done, now. Can’t change a thing.” She shook her head, and then put on a bright smile once more.

“So! We are just going to go and see it…one last time! Won’t that be fun? I can show you my old room…and the barn…and all the places that I grew up around. Why, I guess it will be just like old times!”

Her smile had a sad tip to it, and she repeated, as she turned her face to the deep, dark night, “Won’t that be fun?”

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This article has been read 1167 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Chrissi Dunn02/14/08
I like how you used dialogue to explain your story. I'd love to know what happened next - If they were able to come to some sort of reconciliation. I guess the fact that she's going to meet with him and see the farm for the last time, conveys the fact that she has moved on, and isn't 'crying over spilt milk'.
Seema Bagai 02/14/08
Your descriptions are vivid and clear. I could picture what was happening.
Joanne Sher 02/15/08
Very nice descriptions - you put me right there. I hope you expand this - I would love to hear how it all works out.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/16/08
Your talent for description and dialogue are supersized. I loved this glimpse into a little girl's visit. True or no, you made us believe it to be.
Laury Hubrich 02/17/08
This is a very good story, full of great descriptions!
Sharlyn Guthrie02/18/08
Excellent descriptions and authentic dialogue. Your stories make for delightful reading.
c clemons02/18/08
Good storytelling, not sure why towards the end some words were put in italics, unless the mother really didn't mean it. Good job.
Lyn Churchyard02/19/08
Ahh,another masterpiece by Dee. Iloved the way you showed the history by your dialogue.
Loved the description of the train too..."where the great sleek train crouched, ready to receive us into its belly." Your vivid pictures of the family at the station was just so good... "I watoosied across the marble floor of the station,"
So colourful!
LauraLee Shaw02/19/08
I love this so much. Your descriptions were so vivid that I could picture being there. The words you chose to emphasize in italics brought the dialogue to life. It reminds me of my grandparent's farm I used to visit every weekend when I was little. My kids were so enamored when I took them by there for a visit a few years ago. You struck good sentiments in me. Thank you for sharing this piece. :)
Patty Wysong02/19/08
This put me right there on the train with the girls. I could hear Mama whisper, and see her trying to convince herself...super job. I love that word: watoosie. Cool. Hugs!
Yvonne Blake 02/19/08
To someone like me, who has moved about all their life, a family farm is something yearned for. It always makes me sad when the family farm has been sold to strangers.
good writing
Jan Ackerson 02/19/08
Your last three or four paragraphs have such a poignancy to them--the whole piece is excellent, but that last bit really sold it to me. What a mastery of "showing"!
Beth LaBuff 02/19/08
Beautiful writing Dee! I totally understand the emotional ties to a farm.
Lynda Schultz 02/19/08
Wonderful descriptions. The ending touched me—I walk by our old house when I get a chance to go home. How I wish I had the nerve to knock on the door and ask for a tour. Well done.
Sara Harricharan 02/20/08
You captured this whole rushing off to an exciting adventure theme! I liked seeing the hotdog vendors through your eyes. You made this era come alive. The ending had a melancholy feel to it. Very nicely done. ^_^
Marita Vandertogt02/20/08
You create such believable characters. And I like the way this story unfolds taking the reader along to an ending that sums up the topic perfectly. Nice job!
Sally Hanan02/20/08
I agree with all of the other commenters--you mastered this one. I was right there with that little girl and could see and feel everything she went through.
Debbie Wistrom02/20/08
Wonderful journey here and so many uncertainites. Could be part of a novel, many character to flesh out and places for them to go and people for them to meet. Keep up the good words.
Dianne Janak02/21/08
Dee, Congrats on your highly commended and making the EC list! Great story.. as always you blew me away again with your skill to set a scene and make the characters and action come alive.. in such a short time.. kudos to you.. Dianne J.
LauraLee Shaw02/21/08
Congrats on your EC!!!! So glad the whole world and all has a chance to see this marvelous piece!!!! :)
Beth LaBuff 02/21/08
Dee -- Congrats on your level placing and EC with this!! ....movin' on up! :)
Sheri Gordon02/21/08
Dee, Congratulations on your EC, and welcome to Masters. I loved when she watoosied across the floor -- made me laugh out loud. Great job.
Loren T. Lowery02/21/08
Dee, I knew I would see you in Masters - truly where you and your writing belongs. COngratulations over and over again!
Sara Harricharan 02/21/08
***Congrats, Dee!***
Mariane Holbrook 02/21/08
Dee, this was so well written that I would have been upset if you hadn't been a winner! Whether fiction or not, this dialog could have taken place within my family. You stirred up some deeply-rooted memories in me, some poignant and beautiful, and of course, the despair when it's all changed. Some things are so irrevocable. Beautiful piece of work, Dee.
Edy T Johnson 02/21/08
Your slice of life story is just delicious, with the right amount of sweet, salt, sour and bitter ingredients. Just like life, too, when loss pulls the plug and we cannot get back what is gone. Beautiful writing, friend! Congratulations.
Sharlyn Guthrie02/21/08
Woo-hoo! It's up to master's for you! Congratulations.