Foreword: We live in an amazing world. Every day I look around and am inspired by the beauty of my surroundings. And recently it occurred to me: why not put that inspiration to good use? So here is a story in three parts. Each part was inspired by a photograph that I took. I hope you enjoy it!
Homeward Bound, Part 1
Maddie paused at the railroad tracks, giving her feet a rest. It had been a three-mile walk from the bus station to where she now stood. Her blisters had felt every step. And there was still half a mile to go.
She looked east, toward the family homestead which sat large and white and as eternal as the mountain range which slumbered behind it.
The last time Maddie had seen this view, she had been looking over her shoulder as she walked away. Her head had been high, her shoulders straight. She had been so sure she would make her mark on this sad and weary world. And in a way, she had done just that. But the world had marked her, too.
Maddie licked her lips, tasting salt. She pulled the old kerchief from around her neck and wiped her face. Time to get moving. She bent down automatically to pick up her guitar, then straightened again when she realized it wasn’t there.
How long would she keep feeling for that guitar, like an amputee feeling for a lost limb?
Setting her jaw, she adjusted her backpack, which now contained only a few pairs of dirty underwear and a sheaf of pages with song lyrics sprawled across them. Though her body ached with exhaustion, and her heart ached with loss, she started forward.
At least she was still on her own two feet. Though the years had been hard, there had been moments of pure gold. And she had remained honest, from the moment she had left home to now, when her weary feet ascended the back porch steps.
Maddie had thought it would be the hardest thing she ever did to raise her hand and knock on the kitchen’s screen door. But it turned out she didn’t have to. As she peered through the wire mesh she became aware of a figure moving around inside. Dim and shadowy, hard to see, but a figure she would know anywhere. Maddie swallowed and spoke hesitantly. “Mama?”
The figure stopped, rotated slowly, and met Maddie’s eyes through the mesh of the screen door.
“So, you’re back,” Mama said.
“Yes, ma’am.” The words were hard to speak.
Her mother came forward slowly, feet bare and slapping against the kitchen tiles. “You must be hungry.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Maddie said again.
Mama nodded. “Staying long?”
Maddie felt her backbone prickle. She shook her head slowly. “No ma’am.”
They looked at each other through the screen, parent and child, child and parent. She felt her mother’s eyes take her in, evaluate her. They saw the guitar which wasn’t there. They saw the months of hard work, the tears and the triumphs, and the fact that Maddie wasn’t done trying yet. They saw everything.
Mama pushed open the door. She hesitated for a moment, then reached out for her daughter and held her tightly.
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.” – Robert Frost
Thank you for reading the first part of Maddie’s story. It will be continued next week! If you enjoyed this story, you might like to check out my novel, Homesong, which is available on Kindle, Nook and Kobo. Either way, I hope you’ll leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of Homeward Bound, Part 1. Thank you and much love, Misha.