A COWARD'S HAVEN

Submitted into Contest #135 in response to: Set your story in a town full of cowards.... view prompt

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Drama Mystery Fiction

     My grandfather had told me a story of how he had lost his way in life during the war and became a wanderer before stumbling into a town that wasn’t on the map. The town was called BRAVERY. The craziest thing was that while he was there, he found out that this was a small town full of cowards and only for cowards. I know... the irony of it all.

He said that after a short time he was able to escape the grip he felt the town had on him and the force that brought him there . One night he just upped and left the same way he came in, he never told me what happened in that town, but I was able to figure it out what he found after my own adventure.

         He had kept the GPS coordinates of this town that no one else seemed to know about or the way to. He saved them for me his favorite little scared grandson who he always described to my father as, one without a heart. It doesn’t seem like a loving thing for a grandfather to say but it was so true. He never said it to my face, but I had heard it several times. My grandfather could see this of me even at my earlier age. It was as though he had seen himself in me.

         The coordinates had pinpointed and brought me to the exact place of the road that led to the road that led to BRAVERY. So, I followed them and went here. I had left my car on the outskirts of town and started to walk through it. It was a small country town, and I could see fear on the faces of those that looked at me, a stranger. I knew it was the look of fear because I had seen it so many times on my own face when it was staring back at me from a mirror. Looking back now , I realize that what they feared in a stranger may have probably just been that strangers first come with an unknown fear and they knew that someone’s fear, can sometimes turn out to be, a danger to others.

         The day I arrived, there were only a few people on the street and I saw that the mere sound of a car backfiring sent some of them to the ground as they screamed, like cowards. Yet I felt at ease among them, and they seemed to accept me without knowing me and began to ignore me. I was like a pre-paid member of the Coward Club, and they sensed it.

         The sign at the entrance of the town had said …population 2010 one of many. I assumed that meant one of many towns of cowards with locations only known to each other. Kept secret out of fear of being found and having to again face the hopes and fears of the world, the ones that most of the world lived through every day and survived.

         At the time I didn’t know the reason I pursued this journey I just went, but now I know it was because I had to find myself, my heart and where I belonged. I didn’t like feeling as though I was a coward but I really was but I also wasn’t about to end up staying in this town filled with cowards. I was going to leave just like my grandfather who left, rejoined the army, fought in the war, and became a hero with medals and all. The residents told me that they had banished to this town or thought they were.

          I ate at the diner, went to meetings, and talked to as many of the 2000 I could. They said the town was named BRAVERY because they believed that everyone there had found their way there though some kind of supernatural sense and that they were either going to find themselves and their hearts or end up staying there as cowards for one reason or another

         It was all unbelievable at first, but it was real and in this town they all felt like they belonged and were accepted for who they were. Their own fears had eased into becoming a norm that was no longer noticed but the more I spent in that town among the truly scared who walked the streets or sat at their kitchen tables with permanent faces of fear, I began to wonder if there was really something unseen that had summoned them to this town of cowards. To separate them from the rest of the world, like cutting out a cancer that you didn’t want to spread.

         They were there and just like I had thought, they chose to stay and stay the same way as they came. They couldn’t help it but the longer I stayed among them, it became clear, I couldn’t and wasn’t going to. Especially after what I experienced one early evening as I laid in the bed relaxing.

          I felt a sudden awakening of my true self, and I began to realize that there was a difference between me and them. This enlightening thought hit me like a bolt of lightning that seemed to be accompanied by a loud clap of thunder. Yes, I suddenly knew that there was nothing wrong with fearing something or even having fear…its how you handled it that counted. Some were going to shake and fold when they faced with it, others were going to have it, face it and handle it.

         They are the ones that go on to do what they must do like…go over the hill to meet the enemy, go into a burning building to save a life, run towards gunfire when others are running away ….and more. I wanted to be like that, and I know now that deep inside, I always was.

         I got up out of the bed I was lying in, packed my bags like my grandfather had done after he had found himself. I then said goodbye to those I saw and passed, to those that could summon enough nerve to shake the fear of looking directly into my eyes or anybody else’s, with the eyes they knew, I or somebody else would know, were filled with envy. This was not where I belonged!  

          I got the overwhelming feeling that I was now free of the fear, that I thought I feared. Again, I was leaving just like my hero grandfather did. There wasn’t going to be anyone now and I hope never in the future from my family , that will ever have a permanent address in this town or the ones like it that are also called BRAVERY. Unless…it was a town filled with the BRAVE.

March 03, 2022 16:31

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