It was very difficult deciding on the three best short stories to go with the photo below.
So, four authors have been chosen as winners in the writing contest. They may choose a free download of the e-book of one of my four novels from smashwords.com. I will print their stories on this blog in alphabetical order by the author’s last name .
Here is the first one. Congratulations to Barbara Breese, from Harvard, Massachusetts.
“Hey Mom? What’s this?” my daughter Katie calls to me from the attic. She thumps down the attic stairs, then appears in her bedroom doorway trailing a collection of backpacks and duffel bags. She has something in her mouth that she drops at my feet like a puppy.
I am helping Katie pack for college, but I pause and pick up the small white object. It’s an old photo.
“What is that weird place?” Katie asks.
“El Paraiso.” I haven’t seen it in years, but I think about it every day.
“No way!” She’s worldly-wise, my daughter. “It doesn’t look like paradise. Looks more like a dump! Does anyone actually live there?”
I sit on Katie’s bed. This photo tells the end of the story, but I remember the beginning. I remember the ranch when it was alive. This was the view from my bunkhouse window. The jersey cows lived in that barn; they were my favorites, sweet-natured and gentle. They liked having their noses rubbed. That smaller building was the canteen; we had breakfast there every day, and lunch, too, unless we sat under the tree. That tree hadn’t always been twisted, gray and dead. I never knew exactly what kind of tree it was but I had loved its cool, shady canopy.
“I did,” I tell Katie. “I lived there.”
Katie lets the bags drop. “NO WAY!” She’s worldly-wise and articulate. She sits next to me, staring at the photo. I feel her breath on my cheek. She smells like shampoo and lip gloss. I ask where she found the photo.
“In one of the duffel bags,” she answers. Katie looks at me, her eyes round with surprise, and I know that as I pack up Katie’s life, I must unpack my own.