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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)

TITLE: Can You Hear Me?
By Yvonne Blake


“Good morning, Bill. Let’s open these curtains and let the sunshine in!”

Those red flowers in the garden are pretty. They look like the kind Miriam planted around the porch in Westbrook. That was a nice house, but the back door never shut right. I had to file the bottom every spring. Miriam’s birthday was in the spring—in April.

“Let’s put in your hearing aids—although they don’t seem to do much good.”

April is the time to plant the corn. I hope it doesn’t snow, although it’s free fertilizer—full of minerals. Zeke’s corn never grew as good as mine, ‘cuz his was at the top of the hill—didn’t get the run-off water. He’d never listen to me though. ‘Course, too much water ain’t good neither.

“Are you thirsty? Here’s a fresh cup of ice water. Here, let me help you with that.”

I wish I could have some water from Gramp’s well. There was nothing so refreshing after harvesting hay. We’d pour bucketfuls over each other’s head, or we’d race each other to the creek and dive into the pool at the bottom of the falls. Harry ‘bout died when he bumped his head on a rock—couldn’t walk again.

“Ready to ride down to the dining room? We’re having oatmeal today.”

Miriam made the best oatmeal, with spices and raisins. That old cookstove would smoke somethin’ fierce when the wind came from the east. I must have cut a forest of wood to keep that woodbox full. Warmed me three times: chopping it, lugging it, and burning it.

“Here, Bill. You can sit right next to Esther.”

Your eyes are so pretty—like a robin’s egg. Miriam, do you remember when little Billy found the baby bird, and we raised it in the kitchen? I wasn’t very good in the kitchen. I burned your birthday cake, remember?

“We made quite a mess, didn’t we? We’ll have to change your shirt.”

Those baby lambs that were born in the blizzard made a mess of the kitchen once they got their strength. You were fit to be tied when they knocked over the flour barrel and jumped on the table.

“That Esther is quite a character, isn’t she? Of course, you didn’t hear a word she said.”

Harry was a crazy feller. Once he dared me to ride the bull. I broke my nose and told Ma that we were wrestling. She probably found out. Ma always seemed to find out somehow. I got a licking ‘cuz I bribed Lil’ Sammy to milk the cows for me... I never liked milkin’ cows.

“It’s such a nice sunny day; would you like to sit out on the patio?”

Pa woke me up early to milk the cows. When it’s below zero, it’s mighty hard to get up before the sun does. Summertime was hard, too. We worked all day, from rooster crow to whippoorwill, especially during harvest. Sammy, do you remember when the thunderheads darkened the western sky, and we were pulling in the corn as fast as we could? Pa wouldn’t let us go home, even though we were soaked and the lightning was flashing around us.

“I’m sorry, Bill. I didn’t notice that it started to rain.”

Ma always knitted us sweaters for Christmas. The arms were sometimes too long, and the wool was itchy, but they felt good when we got chilled. It was so cold, our snot froze on our shirtsleeves. We’d sneak Bullet to bed with us to keep our feet warm.

“Why don’t you watch TV? Here’s a nice western movie.”

Bullet was a good pointer until you took a shot. Then he’d be home before you cocked again. He didn’t even like it when we listened to the old radio shows. He’d howl and howl until ma would tell me to put him out in the barn. We liked going to the matinees in town. A boy could watch movies all day for only ten cents. We’d cheer for the good guys and cover our eyes during the kisses.

“You like these old movies, don’t you?

Miriam, we didn’t have much money for the movies while the children were sprouting up. I could tell when you were in the family way when you started knitting baby things. You must be enjoying being with our little ones that went on before. I’ll be there soon, Sweetheart. My heart is longing for you.

“Bill? Bill? Can you hear me?”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/09/09
You hit the topic dead-on with your wonderful analogy. Much to remember here.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/09/09
Oops...the previous comment goes with the previous entry. Sorry :-)
Your story is outstanding. I felt such a sympathy for the old man and shared his joy in relishing his memories while he looked forward to being with his wife and children again. Great job!
Patricia Turner07/10/09
Thanks for showing us a still active and alert mind that sadly just isn't always evident.

I especially love Bill's final thoughts.
Patricia Herchenroether07/10/09
A very sweet story; his memories were certainly intact, even though his hearing wasn't.
Charla Diehl 07/11/09
Great story and liked the way you let the reader into Bill's mind, thus getting to know the man he was in his younger days.
Sonya Leigh07/14/09
I just loved these two very divergent thought processes. Nicely woven!
Marijo Phelps07/16/09
He heard every word and they all took him back! Congrats on placing so well! Loved this, Vonnie!
Marita Thelander 07/16/09
Awe, Vonnie, so sweetly done. Loved the flashbacks, you did an awesome job taking me back. Felt like I was walking with Bill down memory lane.
Helen Dowd08/20/09
Yvonne, you told this story so well. I could so relate to the back-and-forth conversation with one who was living a past life, while living in the present. Old memories never die, and they become more predominant when the mind is weary with age. It is easier to live in the past than to accept the present. You made a good distinction of the two conversations, by using italics for what Bill said...Very enjoyable...Blessings...Helen