I’d like to start off this post by giving a HUGE thanks to Loren for hosting CWWC! In fact, without CWWC, I probably wouldn’t ever have tried writing at all! 😮 When I decided to participate in the first CWWC, I had no clue on how to write and I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. Well guess what- I could! Now writing is one of my favorite things to do. 🙂 Thank you, Loren! 😀
Now for my very LAST story! *sniff* *sniff*
Loren, I used:
Yep, I used EVERY SINGLE prompt from ALL THE CHALLENGES!! *pant* *pant* GO KEEPERS! XD
WARNING: This story is 2,576 words long. And I wrote it all today. 😮 *falls over* So, if it’s not my best work, I’m sorry about that! I was in a HUGE hurry to get this in on time. 🙂
My parents named me Freedom.
When I was born, whispers of war were in the air. Our colonies wanted nothing more than to be free from British rule. My parents gave me a strong, proud name, hoping that it would be a good omen. That soon, the colonies would be free from Britain forever.
Mother died of malaria. My father was killed in battle not long after I was born.
I’m beginning to wonder if their dream of freedom will ever come true.
I shake my head hard to clear my mind. I can’t be thinking such things. Of course the war will end. Of course we will be free.
The broom in my hands slides over the smooth wood floor with a swish. Little clouds of dust fill the air as I move around the room, my mind wandering while my hands work. As I sweep the dust away, Elias sits in his rocking chair, his eyes glued to the newspaper in his hands. The chair creaks as he rocks slowly back and forth.
“Hey, Freedom?” He looks up at me cautiously. “I’ve been thinkin’.”
I nod and try to ignore the way my hands are suddenly sweating. He motions for me to sit down. I sink into the chair across from him, my fingers tapping nervously in my lap. I have a bad feeling that I know what’s coming. “What is it?”
He gazes intently at me with a strange gleam in his eyes.
“I want to join the army.”
The broom slides from my hands and clatters to the floor. I stare at him in shock, my heart pounding. I knew he would say that. Yet it still makes my head swim. He can’t leave me. My voice is trembling and uneven as I whisper, “You’ll be killed, Elias. Just like Father.”
He shakes his head. “I’ll be fine, Freedom. You’re almost fifteen now. You’ll be okay, won’t you?”
I want to grab his hand and never let him go. I want to cry and beg him not to leave. But he looks so hopeful. I know what he wants me to say. I take a deep breath and close my eyes.
“I’ll be fine.”
He looks so grateful as he squeezes my hand. “Thank you.”
I can’t sleep that night. The thought of Elias leaving makes me toss and turn for hours. When I finally drift off, I dream that I’m riding a purple dragon as I’m chased by British soldiers wearing dark cloaks. They hunt me relentlessly, their cold laughs ringing out into the night.
I wake up shaking. The rest of the night passes slowly as I gaze up at the ceiling and worry.
The next morning, I wake up to hear soft knocking. I pull on a dress and hurry into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. When I open the door, I’m surprised to see my best friend, Miriam.
Her tearstained face is a sure sign something’s wrong. I take her hand. “What’s the matter?”
She grips my fingers tightly. “Oh, Freedom. Father joined the army, and we’re going with him. We leave tonight.”
I can’t stop the gasp that escapes my throat. “You’re… leaving?”
She nods miserably. “I’ll miss you.”
I twist my hair around my fingers and fight back tears. “Elias is leaving to fight. Without you… I’ll be alone.” She hooks her arm through mine, her blue eyes wide. “I’m so sorry.”
Miriam and I take a walk through town together for the last time. We remember with sad smiles when we used to sit on the front steps of the stores and pretend we were at school. Miriam would be the teacher, and I would be her student.
That seems so long ago. The day passes slowly, with neither of us wanting to say goodbye. We wander through the woods, remembering when we used to pretend the trees were a faerie forest. We would make tiny houses with twigs and leaves, hoping the faeries would come.
Finally, we hear Miriam’s mother calling for her. I wrap my arms around my friend. “Goodbye, Miriam.” She hugs me back. “Goodbye, Freedom.”
She takes off running towards her house. I wave until I can’t see her anymore.
As the sun sinks low in the sky, I walk slowly back home, my throat burning. I’m dreading tomorrow morning- that’s when Elias leaves. I don’t think I can bear another goodbye.
The morning comes too soon.
Elias helps me prepare breakfast as usual. As we eat, he clears his throat and breaks the tense silence. “I need to tell you something.” He gestures to the front door, where he’s installed every chain and lock he could find. “Whatever you do, if the British come, do not let them in.” He emphasizes his words with flaming eyes. “There’s no telling what they’ll do to you.”
I nod and push my bowl away as my stomach churns. I’m not hungry anymore.
After we eat, Elias disappears into his room and comes back out with Father’s rifle on his shoulder. I bite my lip and watch as he slides on his boots and jacket.
I follow him onto the porch. We stare at each other for a moment before my voice cracks and I squeeze him tightly. “I- I’ll miss you.” He hugs me with strong arms. “I’ll miss you, too. He tugs my hair with a sad smile. “Goodbye, little sister.”
I stand on the porch and watch him as he becomes smaller and smaller in the morning light. When he has disappeared from sight, I hurry inside and lock the door.
I’m on my own.
The days pass slowly now. I wake up shivering each morning- winter has arrived. Snow falls thick in the lonely town. Only a few of the shopkeepers and villagers remain. They visit often with food and news. In return, I read them a story. I’m the only girl in town that can read. My father collected books- they were his pride and joy. The villagers are fascinated by the stories held in the pages, from wild fantasy to thrilling mystery.
I’m grateful for my books, but they can’t stop the pang that never leaves my heart. I miss Elias more each day as I do the chores in silence, wishing for someone to talk to. Sometimes I’ll borrow a newspaper from the storekeeper and read news about the war. I still have hope that someday, the fighting will end. Then Elias can come home again.
Spring comes. I wake early on the first day of spring and smile to see the snow is melting. I pull a cloak over my shoulders and hurry outside to enjoy the warmth of the morning. Warm rays of sunshine wash over my face, making me smile as I walk to the store for the weekly newspaper.
I love the smell of the fresh paper. I smooth it in my hands as I hurry home to read it. I toss off my cloak as soon as I reach home and sink into my rocking chair. The bold headline catches my eye and I lean closer.
SEVERAL AMERICAN SOLDIERS MISSING IN ACTION, HUNDREDS MORE KILLED
My heart skips a beat as the rest of the world melts away. My eyes run down the list of missing men.
His name is on the list.
The words echo in the silent room, yet my ears are deaf to the sound. My vision goes blurry as hot anger wells up inside of me. He told me he wouldn’t leave me. I shred the newspaper with trembling hands and toss the pieces into the fire. As they crumble into ashes, hot tears slide down my cheeks. I hate him.
Fear soon overcomes my anger. I stare blankly at his empty rocking chair, deep sobs making my body tremble. He could be wounded, or… dead.
The horrible image of his tombstone suddenly fills my mind.
Here lies Elias Barnett, a brave and-
I clutch my head with a strangled gasp. I wish I could tear the picture from my mind. He can’t be dead. He told me that he’d be okay. I have a sudden urge to be a brave hero like in my books. I want to search until I find my brother. I want to bring him home and never let him leave again.
Yet my fear creates a border I dare not cross. I’m not big or strong enough to find him. I just have to sit here at home and wait.
I leap suddenly from my chair and grab the broom, needing something to do. I sweep the floor with vigorous strokes as I repeat the words in my head. He’ll be okay. He’ll be okay.
The day winds on slowly. I scrub and sweep until my back aches and my hands are raw. I make supper in an exhausted daze before stumbling to bed. I sink into my pillow and drift off to sleep, images of Elias’s smiling face filling my dreams.
It’s the middle of the night when my eyes fly suddenly open. I blink, confused. Why did I wake up?
Suddenly I realize. Someone’s knocking at the door.
I leap out of bed. It is Elias?
I dash into the kitchen as the pounding becomes harder. I’m about to unlock the door and throw it open when a deep voice shouts from outside. “Open up!”
My heart leaps into my throat.
The door trembles with the blows. “Open up, I said!” I back away from the trembling door with a pounding heart. Maybe I can stall the soldiers.
I take a deep breath. “W-who is it?”
The voice becomes impatient. “You know who we are, miss. Now open up.”
I remember what Elias told me. His voice echoes in my mind.
“Whatever you do, do not let the British in.”
Determination makes me clench my fists and throw back my shoulders. I raise my voice to a shout. “I can’t help you.”
The voices become angry and taunting. I dash into my bedroom and light a candle with trembling fingers. I glance up at my window- the only one in the house. I’ll have to break the glass to escape.
My heart beats wildly as I grab my pillow and fling it at the window with all my might.
The glass shatters with a sickening crunch. I tremble with fear as I crawl out the window and tumble to the ground into a heap of broken glass. I hear the front door crack and the soldier’s voices echoing in the empty house as I scramble to my feet and make my escape.
My feet pound on the rocky ground. I hurry through the town, wanting to stop and warn the others, yet fear drives me on. I pass the cemetery in a blur. The thought of Elias being buried there turns my fear into a torrent of sobs. I slow to a walk as the tears flow freely. I instinctively turn towards the woods, where Elias and I played when we were children. I know I’ll be safe there, where no one can find me.
The woods are dark. Something thin and white sliding through the trees makes me shudder. I grip my candle tightly, wishing my brother were here with me. The forest seems empty and haunted tonight.
I swallow my fear. It isn’t long before I find what I’m looking for- a small, bubbling creek. The water seems to glow as the moon shines down on it. I sink down next the water, remembering when Elias and I used to play here. We would jump and swim and splash in the water. We would pretend that the water was a secret passageway to another world.
Glowing fireflies fill the air and land on my face, bringing back another wave of memories. Elias used to help me catch the fireflies in jars. I would bring them home and use them as nightlights. I dip my hot feet in the cool water. All the memories that once seemed beautiful have gone sour. The bad memories well up in my mind, making hot tears drip down my cheeks. Elias and I were so close, before he left me.
My candle flame shivers and sways in a sudden breeze. I lay down and rest my head on the soft grass. I’m going to spend the night here, where I feel closest to Elias. I blow out my candle and close my eyes, remembering my brother. The soothing sound of water trickling soon lulls me to sleep.
When morning comes, the sunlight in my eyes awakens me. I groan and roll onto my side. I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to see what the thieving soldiers did to my home.
Then I remember Elias. If he comes home, I need to be there. If he comes home. The thought almost makes me want to lay here in the forest forever.
My desire to be there for Elias wins. I stumble to my feet and start towards home.
When I reach the house and step through the doorway, I stop dead in my tracks.
There’s nothing left.
The soldiers took everything. Anger flares up once more as I take in the scene. The rug my mother made is gone from the floor. Our fireplace is empty of wood. The furniture is stripped from every room. The kitchen is bare except for an iron stovepipe. And our rocking chairs- gone.
I notice bitterly that they left my broom in the corner. I clutch it in my hands and sweep away the soldier’s muddy footprints. I want to cry, but I don’t have any tears left.
Evening comes. I’ve payed visits to the other townspeople- they’re no worse off than I am. I’m not tired, and besides, my bed is gone. So I lean against the side of the house and gaze up at the stars. I used to love them. They were so beautiful as they glowed in the night sky. I always felt so free as I watched them sparkle.
Now, their cheerful brightness seems to mock me in my sorrow. As I gaze with stinging eyes at the sky, a sound hits my ears.
A light and merry tune comes wafting through the night air. I recognize the song. It’s what Elias often sings while he works.
I’m frozen, hardly daring to hope, when a tall figure comes round a bend in the road, whistling the music I heard. It’s hard to see his face in the dark. I squint as he strides closer.
He turns towards me with a grin. “Freedom!” I tear towards my brother and fling my arms around him. He spins me around and laughs. I lean back and take him in- he’s covered in dirt, and one of his shoes is gone.
But it’s him.
I don’t realize I’m crying until I hear his gentle voice.“What’s the matter?” I swallow hard and lean my head on his shoulder. “I-I thought you were dead.” He tugs my hair softly. “I’m fine, little sister.”
The stars don’t seem so mocking now. I lean against my brother as we walk home. It isn’t much of a home to come back to- but we have each other. And really? That’s all that matters.
KEEPERS WILL PREVAIL! Even if we don’t get first place, Keepers, you’ve all done amazingly well! So have all the teams! CWWC has been SO much fun. 😀
I hope you enjoyed my story! It’s almost midnight, so I’m gonna go to bed now. 😛