The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:57 am Thursday, February 1, 2018

“A Land Beyond the Sea”

Part 3

By Linda Barnette

Finally, we made it to a place called North Carolina.  Although some of the travelers decided to stop in the flatlands, my family headed for the distant mountains because we had been told the hills would remind us of Scotland.

One evening a group of Indians (we had heard about them.) rode into our camp. They were yelling and screaming like they were going to kill us all, but the one who was wearing feathers on his head grabbed me and put me up on his horse. Everyone was very frightened but did not try to shoot them because they had me! I cried and screamed to no avail. They carried me off into the night. I was terrified I might never see my kinfolks again.

Their village was much different than the village where I was from across the sea and the ones I had seen in this new world. The houses were made of clay and twigs and were larger than you would think, and several people lived together in one house. But the chief and his wife Fawn lived by themselves, and after I was captured, I lived with them.They had no children, so I was the only child in their house.  Obviously, I did not understand their language, but what they called me sounded like “Flaming Hair.” Years later I would discover that they chose me because of my bright red hair!

The men were hunters and farmers who raised beans, corn, and squash and also hunted for game. We had quite a variety of meat such as turkey, deer, elk, and small animals like rabbits.  Since their village was close to a mountain stream, they caught fish fairly often.  Almost everything was cooked over an open fire, which reminded me of how my mother and grandmother cooked our food.

They dressed strangely, I thought, in animal hides and wore shoes called “moccasins.”  Their heads were shaved except for a scalplock, which they wore long. The warriors painted their faces and bodies, and in the evenings they would play the drums and do strange dances around the fire. Their sounds were nothing like my grandfather’s dulcimer. How I longed to hear it again.

Fawn was very pretty, with long black hair and a kind face.  She showed me many things like different wildflowers and herbs she used both in her cooking and making various kinds of medicines.  I often went with her to gather them.  She was kind and reminded me of my own mum even though mine had hair the color of copper, not the long black hair like Fawn.

One of the best parts of this time was that I became friends with an Indian boy who was almost my age, just a little older.  His name was Black Arrow. We played together almost every day.  He showed me how to shoot a slingshot and to spear a fish in the water.  One day when we were at the river looking for fish, I heard sounds that reminded me of my grandfather playing his dulcimer, but I knew it couldn’t be him and stopped thinking about it.

Black Arrow taught me many things about the Indian way of life.  I loved hearing about the Great Spirit, which was like our God.  I had learned about God and Jesus back home but had not realized that other people had different religions.  He explained it like this: “The Great Spirit is the chief of all the other gods, such as the spirits of the winds, trees, birds, and other animals.”  According to him, everything had spirits, and the Great Spirit took care of the Indian people.  When the older men smoked their long pipe, they were connecting in a way with the Great Spirit. He said that all things and all people were connected somehow.

He told me other stories about the Indians, but my favorite one was the legend of the white deer.  At an earlier time in their history, there was starvation and hunger and famine among their tribe. The corn that they relied on got some sort of disease and did not produce ears; the beans also died because of the lack of rain.  So all they had to eat was squash and whatever other game or fish that the hunters could catch.  Game was scarce also because of the drought, and the animals had all moved further up the mountains in search of food and water. One day the hunting party spotted a few deer grazing in the woods and were preparing their arrows to shoot then when suddenly a group of other Indians appeared and started to shoot first.  Almost immediately a large snow-white doe stood in front of them and scared the other hunters away. So the white deer became a legend among the people and protected them from time to time when there were great hardships.

Even though the new people were very kind and nice to me, I continued to miss my family and dreamed of seeing them again one day.  I missed them so much—their Bible reading and storytelling, cooking, clothing, and, most of all, their beautiful music.  I cried myself to sleep many nights thinking about them.

Sometimes I thought I could hear my grandfather playing some of our Scottish ballads, but I finally decided that that was not possible, and I tried to think of other things.

“Golden Dreams”

By Julie Terry Cartner

Lacing the last skate, I step onto the glistening ice.

Gliding smoothly to the center, I nod,

Like a princess, curtsying to my fervent fans,

And then the music starts.

Closing my eyes for a split second,

I allow myself to feel the sonorous music,

To incorporate it into my soul.

And then I begin.

No hesitation for me, I stretch into my first jump,

A triple salchow followed by a double axel.

I dip, I swirl, I turn, I spin,

My movements sure, my edges sharp.

I need not think, the sequence so ingrained,

My muscle memory.

Slow glides, sharp turns, soaring jumps,

A patchwork of frigid ice, shining blades and frostbitten air.

Then the music crescendos to a close

As I complete my final move

A triple lutz followed by a Bielman spin

And I take my final bow.

Roaring silence,

Then thundering applause quiets my mind.

I’ve done it – completed a clean program!

The ice, littered with fragrant roses and cuddly teddy bears

My heart pounding, my breath laboring, but

My soul – singing with soundless joy.

Blowing a kiss to my mother,

I slowly skate to the edge of the ice,

Sit down on the log under the leafless trees,

Warm my hands over the crackling, driftwood fire,

And dream big dreams.

“The Grandfather Clock”

By Beth Carter

As a young girl, my family often visited my maternal grandparents. My grandfather was a Methodist minister who moved often to serve in a variety of churches, so my grandparents lived in many different houses. I can remember the Asheville parsonage I visited as a very young child. Its halls were long and dark, and it had a very steep stairway that led up three flights. I remember my grandmother braiding my long hair and the trouble she had in combing out all the tangles I would acquire during a day of hard play. The backyard was a beautiful green hill sloping down to a cool mountain stream. I would spend days searching for slimy salamanders under the smoothed rocks. At night when I was all alone, I snuggled deep into the feather bed listening to the hours tick away from the grandfather clock downstairs. It would often stir me from a deep sleep with its hourly chime.

   The second home I remember was in Hickory and had a beautiful tree covered yard. Each tree had a carpet of moss around its large roots. My sister and I would dig up the moss to make soft beds for our dolls. During one visit, my younger sister became very sick and was rushed to the hospital. I recall sitting on the oversized couch with my grandmother feeling afraid and helpless. The grandfather clock calmed and comforted me with its steady beat and when it chimed its sweet tone.

   The next home my grandparents moved to was on a very busy street in Charlotte. The church was large and intimidating for a small child, but it had an incredibly equipped playground out back. My sisters and I had to climb through a window in the garage and shimmy down an old tire to reach the ground below. On each visit to this wonderful home, I would enter my grandmother’s kitchen to the aromas of Brunswick stew and spoonbread. I knew there would always be egg custard in cups just out of my reach in the cupboard. This was my favorite of all the houses my grandparents inhabited. The attic was equipped with a cozy window seat which I sat on for hours reading Nancy Drew novels until the room was so dark I could no longer see the print. The house had a secret staircase that led nowhere. This became my hiding place, used to escape the company of others. My grandparents placed the clock in the beautifully furnished living room which housed all the unique items collected from the many foreign countries they visited. We were not permitted to touch these priceless collectibles; however, I spent hours admiring them from an adequate distance. The grandfather clock was always there to keep me company with its rhythm.

    When my grandparents moved back to the mountains they lived in Brevard, a small rural community. I would awake to the cool crisp-smelling mountain air. I would walk out onto the porch and inhale with gusto before sitting down to my grandmother’s abundant breakfast table. I recall my family gathering in front of the fireplace following a Thanksgiving feast to watch a day filled with football games. Christmas day was a whirlwind of laughter and present opening, the den filled to capacity with family. The grandfather clock was in its corner unnoticed until my grandfather blessed our meal. Following the close of prayer, the clock made its presence known by appropriately chiming the noontime hour.

   My grandparents, now retired are once again living in Asheville on top of their mountain, overlooking the city below. I am no longer a little girl, but life continues to be a journey which includes visits to their home. I continue to enter their home in awe of the love and joy that surrounds me there. Today my grandparents continue to make me feel that I am of most importance to them and that they expect great things from me. They have set an example by their lives together and their witness to others. The old clock seems at peace located in the center of the home.

   My grandparents are planning one final move to a retirement home. Unfortunately, my visits are not as frequent as I would like them to be, but I know that I am in their thoughts and prayers. This provides me with incredible peace. I know that their new home will always be filled with love and memories which I will remember with each chime of that old faithful grandfather clock.

“Letter to My Niece”

By N. R. Tucker

When I was in middle school, as you are now, my alarm sounded at 6:30. Mom was my alarm. I dressed quickly and ate the hot breakfast that waited for me. If I was ready by 7:30, Mom dropped me off at school on her way to work. Otherwise, I walked. Although it was less than a couple of miles, motivation was high, and I never missed my ride.

My classes included math, English, geography, history, P.E./health, and band. Once a week we had a short Bible lesson. My last class of the day was band. All band students walked across the field from the middle school to the high school. I loved band and enjoyed the flute much more than the piano lessons I took throughout grade school.

After school, I walked home and always checked at the Post Office to see if Dad was ready to leave work. Sometimes I waited for him and got a ride the rest of the way. On Tuesdays, I walked to the church for choir practice, and Dad picked me up after, so I wouldn’t be late for dinner.

At home, I indulged in thirty minutes of Dark Shadows, a supernatural soap opera set in the New England area. It aired Monday through Friday every week. Dark Shadows and Star Trek (the original), were my favorite TV shows, and I was allowed to watch both. My love of science fiction and fantasy started early.

After homework and dinner, I would read. Our only TV accessed four stations thanks to the antennae. If sports or news were available, that’s what was on, except for Sunday night. After evening church services, Dad made bacon and egg sandwiches (the only time he cooked), and we watched Bonanza, a western.

Reading was a big part of my life, and I frequented the public library. Even then, I read a couple of books at a time in addition to the assigned reading for school. When the teacher told us to read quietly, I was a happy student.

Summers were filled with long bike rides with my friends. Daily chores complete, we took off with instructions to be home before the street lights came on. At least that was my rule. I grew up on Main Street which had street lights. My friends who lived in the country had to be home before dark. It was a time of freedom when our bikes took us on grand adventures.

Talking on the phone held no appeal, especially since my best friend lived on a party line. A party line was used to attach a group of homes to the same phone line. Each home had a different ring, but there was nothing to keep someone in another house on the same line from listening in.

Although as a child I longed for exotic places and amazing quests, I have lovely memories of my childhood. I hope you can say the same when you’re my age.

“Miss You”

By Stephanie Dean

There’s never been a moment I miss you more,

I stare at young pictures of you, spread on my floor.

Reading your letters, written straight from your heart,

Too soon you left this world, with no choice but to part.

Such sweet words, authentically penned to paper,

Its no wonder, it was to you, our mother showed favor.

A talented writer, with articulation, you wrote so well,

Sharing your journey, in a way only you could tell.

The history of your navigation, it does gently compel me,

To read each letter, from which a vision I then see.

Of a young sailor, sending love, while far away at sea,

Doing his duty, preserving freedom for you and me.

The words on the pages, they chronicle a year,

Of one man’s life, who my heart holds so dear.