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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Note (02/07/13)

TITLE: Divided Hearts
By Marlene Bonney
02/11/13


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Edward Cole Robinson swung the ax with practiced, rhythmic motion, sweat stains spreading across his shirt. His muscled arms glistened beneath the sun’s glare while the notched tree spread its limbs up to the sky as if pleading for mercy. This mighty oak was a landmark on his grandparents’ “back forty” acres, fondly named “the sweetheart tree” by the locals. It’s scared trunk bore the names of many couples over the past half-century.
Ed had further plans for this timber than the usual logs for the farmhouse’s cavernous stone fireplace and the kitchen’s wood-burning stove. Grandma Abby had a special fondness for the tree, so Ed planned to salvage the carvings on the old tree, making them into a new mantelpiece for his grandmother’s birthday. . .

After stacking multiple cords of wood in the lean-to, Ed began to start on the mantelpiece project. The largest and most remarkable chunk was first, its initialed arrowed heart more elaborate than the others.

“That’s odd,” noticing upon closer scrutiny that the plus sign between the ‘E.J.’ and ‘A.M.’ had an indented circle around it.

Ed pushed his fingers experimentally around the plus sign, and it popped out and fell to the floor, revealing a small pigeonhole no bigger than the tip of his pinkie finger.

“Well, I’ll be! They must have traded hidden messages here,” prying out a piece of yellowed scrolled paper. He whistled softly as he read the faint script:

‘Meet me at our spot. Midnight. No baggage. Forever, Edword.’

The unique spelling of that name was the same spelling of his legal first name, EDWORD.

“‘E.J. + A.M.’—Edword—something, and ‘A.M.’—ABIGAIL MORGAN,” his grandmother’s maiden name, “could it be Grandma?! Wow, I smell a mystery!” . .

Ed watched his grandmother’s face blanch as she fingered the note—before she collapsed at his feet . . .


Sixteen-year-old Abigail Morgan returned to the lovers’ trysting place every midnight for a week, returning home, brokenhearted. How cruel that the one day she had been too sick to visit the sweetheart tree must have been when Edword left the note. She was too late. He was gone, forever lost to her. He had never been sure she would come and when she didn’t show up, he must have booked single passage to the distant country, leaving her behind. So, Abigail buried the note back into their secret mailbox, as surely as she buried the love of her life deep within her bleeding heart.

Abigail’s family was as puzzled by her wan appearance and listless demeanor in the following week as they were by her subsequent hasty marriage to their closest neighbor, Cole Robinson, a previously rejected beau. Baby James Cole Robinson was born eight months later and became everyone’s pride and joy, rallying quickly from the “premature” delivery. Abigail became more like her previous animated self, taking to motherhood like a duck to water . . .


While Doc Adams was tending to his beloved grandmother, Ed paced the floor and prayed,

“Please, God, spare her. Since you took Ma to be with you when I was just a wee babe, Grandma Ab has been the only mother I’ve ever known.”
Doc met him at the foot of the old creaky stairs.

“Nothing to be alarmed about, son, she just fainted. Get on up there now, boy, she’s anxious for you.”

The love note laying between them, Abigail told her grandson the story of his father’s birth.

“Did Grandpa or Dad know the truth?” Ed whispered, still amazed by his grandmother’s revelation.

“I told your grandpa I was pregnant before we married—said it mattered not a whit to him as long as I became his wife. We never discussed it again. Your dad grew up greatly loved by both your grandpa and me, never doubt that. I didn’t tell your pa, he and your grandpa so close I didn’t want to jeopardize that. In retrospect, I wasn’t sure but that we were doing him an injustice. But he was so lost after your ma died and then he got killed in the war, and I lost all chance to tell him. Truth be told, by that time, I had grown to love Cole so much, I even forgot about this note.”

Abby burned the note in the fireplace that very afternoon and Ed changed his project into a carving to place on the old mantle:

‘To My Beloved Grandmother Abigail, my first love; From Ed.


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This article has been read 156 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Virgil Youngblood 02/15/13
The title was a perfect fit for the story. I enjoyed the suspense that you built along the way and the satisfying wrap-up. Well done.
Linda Goergen02/16/13
What a fascinating read. Well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/17/13
In enjoyed this well written story with the excellent descriptions.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/21/13
Congratulations on ranking 27 overall!