This is such a fun challenge and I’ve seen it around a few blogs now, so I was thrilled to be nominated by the lovely Laura Beth from over at the Hot Shot Headlines Blog. She wrote a very heart felt story to the photo she was nominated for. She titled it The Polka-Dot Umbrella, and it’s beautiful! Definitly a tough act to follow!
The original/starter to this fun chain of stories challenge can be found HERE at the Electric Contrarian Blog! What an awsome Challenge!!!
Here’s the photo chosen for me and a couple others by Laura Beth, followed by the story… followed by my own photo of choice and nominees!
The long draw of breath I pull in is crisp. I love how thin the air is up here. It’s fresh, and renewing, especially at the break of day when the morning birds are singing full glory. I slip off my shoes first, and then slowly my socks. I hesitate about the notion, after all it’s barely March. The water is sure to be much colder than it looks. Thick jacket and insulated boot weather isn’t exactly wade your feet into the run-off lake weather.
I do it anyway, I can’t help myself. The stunning view of snow-tipped mountain tops in the horizon makes the water far to inviting to pass up. After tucking my socks into my shoes I wince and grimace, tip-toeing across the sharp rocks until I reach the muddy front of the water line. I let my feet sink into the cold muck for some time, letting the temperature bite at my skin, and I allow my face to contort into the largest grin I’ve had in some time.
I grew up in a small farming community at the base of this very mountain. My childhood was simple, and beautiful. I had the blessing of one of the largest and most stunning mountain range for a backyard. Of course, the very second I turned eighteen I ran, searching for some sort of luxury that I was certain could only be found in ‘big city’ living. I was young, naïve, and oh so stubborn.
Then… life happened, and despite the plea from my family I hadn’t returned until now.
Don’t get me wrong, it all turned out okay and the marriage to my ‘big city’ wife was the best thing that ever happened to me. She’s my counter point, my sole support system. She’s been by my side every step of the way, as we’ve waded through the slush pile of corporate life and lies. We’ve built a decent future for ourselves and our two children. They love their school, and our apartment building has a mediocre park accessible without even having to cross a busy street. But, after this week, and returning to my roots for the first time in so many years, my eyes have been very widely opened.
“Nathan! What in God’s name are you doing in that water?!”
I chuckle at the sound of my wife’s panicked voice behind me. So do our little’s, though their humorous noises are muffled, likely by the sleeves of their coats.
“It’s not funny,” she snorts before hosing Ben and Bethany down with what sounds like an entire can of bug spray. “What if your father gets bit by some flesh eating water beast or something?”
I wiggle my toes so that they’ll sink further into wetness. They’re starting to numb. I bend over and give my pant legs a few more rolls up my calves before taking a step deeper. Just as the water engulfs my ankles I spot a crawdad.
I used to catch these by the buckets full. My sister and I would throw them into a giant pot of boiling water, and then eat the tails. We’d pretend that we were at some fancy five star restaurant, dipping lobster in the most expensive bowls of butter. I can still picture her mud-smeared face sporting the proudest grin possible as she’d a bite and then twirl around in her favorite hand-stitched tutu that Mom made on her fifth birthday. A pinch of guilt flips my stomach at the memory. I wasn’t even there to help her care for our parents in their last days, and now after the accident I’m all that’s left.
I watch the little water critter for a few moments, it’s pinchers peeking out from beneath a rock, and I listen to my kids gather rocks to see who can stack the most without them crashing to the ground. I let the reality of life and death sink in, and I give my feet another wiggle. I wish I wouldn’t have abandon them, only coming home upon the sudden unexpected death of my sister. She came to visit us on several occasions, but not once did we come here.
I take in another long breath, the pinch of air stinging my lungs. My kids giggle, challenging one another to a duel. They love it here, and have pleaded with us to stay forever. I suppose the freedom and quiet of it all has them mesmerized. The thought of such a reality hadn’t crossed my mind until this very moment. What if…
“Kimmie,” I call over my shoulder. “Come ‘er, I wanna’ show you something!”
“Are you shitting me? If you think I’m getting close enough for you to push me in that death trap of a water-body then you really have lost your mind.”
I lift my opened palms in surrender and laugh. “You have my word.”
I lean forward and oh so slowly lower my hand into the water, inching my thumb and pointer toward the pinchers at my feet. In a swift motion, almost ninja-like, I snap it into my grasp. The shell is secured in my fingers, just behind it’s little arm-pit like extensions rendering it unable to pinch my flesh. When I pull it from the water, Kimmie gasps.
Her face is adorable, like an excited yet frightened puppy with lifted brows and eyes as wide as saucers. The diamond on her ring catches a glimmer as the sun hits it just right. Her hands are clenched over her mouth in some shotty attempt to stop a squeal in its tracks. I use my free hand brush a long brunette curl behind her shoulder, before pulling her hands away from her face to reveal the pinkish hugh of her cold cheeks.
She looks over her shoulder at our busy kids like we’re harboring a secret and whispers. “What should we do with it?”
My smile nearly consumes my face, as the possibilities trickle into mind. Maybe the quiet country life is just what this little family of mine needs. There is no doubt in my mind that I should have brought them here sooner. Most importantly, what if springing a forever stay proposition after playing a trick on our kids with a scary crawdad is just around the corner??
Thank you so much for reading my little challenge story! Here is the photo I choose, and to write it I’ll nominate (no preasure lol):
Karen Dowdall, at Pen and Paper
Chris, The Story Reading Ape
Good luck (participating) nominees, here’s your photo to write!!!