Contest #168 winner 🏆

96 comments

Coming of Age Fiction Historical Fiction

SOUTHBOUND


by David M. Sweet


Doralea looked out the window of the southbound train. Mid-October leaves dappled the Kentucky hillsides in fiery oranges and burning reds, dull yellows and rusty browns with a few evergreens peaking through the canopies. Colors were made even more vivid by the morning sun and clear, blue sky. Flaxen sedge grass along with green tangles of weeds, brambles, and even a few autumn flowers blurred together as she shifted her gaze downward toward the edges of fields and fence rows speeding by next to the railroad bed. They were somewhere between Cincinnati and London, finally going home. Her young husband, having recently returned from the War in the Pacific a year after the Japanese surrender, slumped next to her, snoring. He was somewhat unshaven with his Navy jumper wrinkled and unbuttoned, his tie undone. A silver flask with the initials 'JB' inscribed in a flourish of calligraphy peeked from the inside of the jumper pocket. Her curiosity was piqued because those were not his initials. He had cocked his white sailor's hat over his eyes. She huddled under his dark, navy peacoat. She wore a plain, beige cotton dress and scuffed matching pumps that had seen several seasons of wear. The coat completely covered her small form. At seventeen she was still quite petite, not even five feet tall, so she was able to curl up into a small ball under the woolen peacoat. She had forgotten how cold autumn mornings could be. Her breath fogged up a small section of the window. She tentatively reached one arm from under the coat to quickly scribe a happy face and her initials, MDJ, on the window with her index finger. Mrs. Doralea Jackson, she thought. She quickly tucked her arm back under the coat.


She loved riding the train. She adored the mournful cry of the steam whistle, the rhythmic clacking of the wheels on the rails, the way the cars undulated up-and-down and side-to-side, giving the conductor, and anyone else walking the aisles, comical movements. Unfortunately, none of her outings on the rails had ended happily so far. She was hopeful this one would be different.


Her first trip had been with her mama and five brothers to Indiana five years ago to live with her dad. Richard Hood was a small man with a poor constitution. He had not been able to find steady work in London. Almost no deep mines operated in the county. Though many areas of the country had started to see brighter days ahead at the end of the depression, Eastern Kentucky still lagged behind. For the United States, war was still a few months away. For the last ten years, her dad had left home several times, traveling throughout Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Indianapolis to find some factory work here and there, but layoffs were common. He finally landed a steady job with the Hobart M. Cable Piano Company in La Porte, Indiana. His family had remained in Kentucky. He sometimes came home for Christmas. The family had grown to seven children, and even though Annie, the oldest, had recently married, six children was too much for Adeline to handle on her own. Richard tried to keep himself afloat in Indiana, but couldn't manage himself and his family in Kentucky. The family would have to move. Doralea, the second oldest and twelve-years-old, would take her first train ride North. 


She had grown up within sight of the L&N Railroad. It ran down Mill Street near the old house. Her uncle owned it, and they had been fortunate to live there, but it was time to leave it behind for now.


"Doralea! Denver wandered off again. 

Go find him. Hurry up, we're going to miss the train!"


Adeline, already exhausted, wrestled two small suitcases that held all they could take with them. The family had relied upon Richard's meager wages for the last several months. They also depended upon the kindness of family, but that time had now come and gone. She once lived with Richard in Cincinnati a few years ago and hated being so far from home and family every minute she was away. Annie and Doralea were the only children at the time. They left the girls behind with her sister. Adeline begged Richard to go back home, eventually taking it upon herself to return because she didn't want to give birth to her third child away from family. 


"Mama, I got him and Stanton." Doralea walked around the corner of the house balancing the toddler on her hip and holding Stanton by the hand."Now, Harold, hold Cliff's hand. You all stay close to me and mama. We get to ride the big choo-choo today!"


They made their way down cold streets to the depot. February winds cut deeply, and flurries scattered in the early morning air. Blue patches of sky peeked through low, grey clouds. Adeline managed to herd her gaggle to the depot and onto the northbound train.


Doralea was elated about her first train ride. Up close, the blue and vanilla L&N passenger cars seemed almost magical. She spent many evenings after supper watching trains pass their house in the gloaming, dull yellow lights of the passenger cars revealing shadows through the windows. Who were they? Where were they going? Why were they on the trains? So many questions. 


"Look, Harold, there's our house!" Doralea pointed excitedly. The boys smashed their faces against the windows. It was an amazing experience to see it from this side. The house looked smaller somehow. She was now one of the shadows in the train and could finally answer some of those many questions she had asked herself so many times. They left London behind, and soon Kentucky. When the boys finally settled down, she watched the icy world pass outside. Winter clouds gathered again creating a monochromatic panorama. Patches of snow clung to frozen ground along fields and forests, the snow nearest the tracks made dull and grey by coal soot from many passing steam engines. Rusted leaves clung stubbornly to oaks. The only real color in the landscape were from evergreens and occasional mistletoe hanging high in the skeletal arms of bare trees. Fogging up the window with her breath, she slowly traced her initials onto the cold glass: "DH."


The most amazing moments of the trip had been crossing the long iron bridge into Cincinnati. Doralea had imagined big cities, but this was like something out of a storybook: paved streets everywhere with so many cars and people! Mama had hated living here; however, Doralea could imagine herself in a fancy dress on the arm of a handsome young man going to the movies and out to eat in a nice restaurant. She wanted to live here.


Reality quickly beset her. She spent most of her trip to La Porte helping her mama wrangle the boys, especially when they changed trains. She kept a close eye on them in bigger stations and crowded depots. The boys wanted to constantly run up and down aisles and hang from the backs of seats. Over the course of the more than 400-miles, Cliff threw up three times, Stanton sang nonsense at the top of his voice, Harold randomly pulled her hair and made stupid faces at her, and Denver cried off-and–on the whole trip. Her mama spanked all of them at least twice, which Doralea didn't find fair since she was trying her best to help. By the time they reached La Porte, she noticed bruises starting to show on her mama's legs and feet where they had stepped on her so many times. As the train pulled into the station, the large red sandstone clock tower of the La Porte courthouse gleamed in the late afternoon sun. The city was near The Great Lakes and not far from Chicago. Perhaps bigger adventures awaited, especially since it wouldn't be long until Doralea was a teenager. 


Her dad met them at the depot. He was much thinner and paler than the last time she had seen him. His light brown hair wisped in the cold breeze. His worn woolen coat seemed to swallow him. He grabbed the suitcases and turned toward town. His words were harsh and few as they made their way to the tiny apartment. Most conversation was kept between her parents. They spoke in low tones where Doralea couldn't hear. Mama carried the baby. Doralea wrangled the rest. The apartment was tiny and cramped, but they would make due.


Fortunately or unfortunately, they wouldn't make due long. In March, her dad, caught in a spring rain storm on his way from work, soon became extremely ill and missed two weeks of work. Mama tried to get a job cleaning houses, but no one would hire someone they didn't trust from out of town. Her dad lost his job because he missed too many shifts. They would be taking the train back to Kentucky. 


"Doralea? Doralea, honey. Are you okay?" Her husband's deep, rich voice broke her reverie.


"Yes, just drowsy."


"We're almost home. I've been thinking. Once I get my next paycheck, we'll be right back on the rails, and we'll take The Flamingo to Jacksonville. I owe you a proper honeymoon."


"I would love that."


"I need to stretch my legs. You want something to eat? I need coffee."


"No. I'm okay."


Denvil Jackson straightened his uniform and made his way down the isle. She heard a man call him "Lefty." She couldn't hear their conversation. Obviously someone he knew from London. After speaking briefly, the two men exited toward the dining car. Doralea stared at the countryside drifting along as the train continued southward. She worried about the upcoming reunion with her dad. 


The few years after returning to London from La Porte, her dad worked sparingly. They received monthly commodities. Her mama took any job she could and was still there for the children. Once Doralea turned fifteen she started working as a waitress at a local diner, The Hob-Nob. That's where life really began to change just over two years ago.


Denvil strolled in one day near dinner time. Doralea had briefly dated his brother, Charlie, but her dad put a swift end to the relationship. Richard Hood didn't care for the Jackson family. They were rough. They didn't go to church. Their daddy played banjo at barn dances. Denvil's grandfather, a known gambler and rounder, had been killed by a train on Manchester Street on his way to a poker game a few years ago. Cards weren't even allowed in the Hood household, even if used to play Old Maid or Slapjack. Cards were a sin, as was cussing and drinking, which the Jackson's were also notorious for doing. In fact, Denvil seemed a little tipsy when he entered The Hob-Nob that fateful day. He was handsome, though. 


"How about a little coffee, Doralea?"


"Sure. You want anything else?"


"Just to talk to you would be fine."


Doralea covered her mouth with her right hand, hiding her smile. She was self-conscious about her front teeth. Kids at school often made fun of her. 


"Denvil, I'm workin' and my daddy don't really want me talkin' to boys, especially you Jacksons." She couldn't agree to go out with him even if she wanted to, and she really wanted to.


Denvil grinned. "Now listen Doralea, I ain't Charlie—"


"No, you're worse," she quipped. "I'll be right back with your coffee."


Stunned and slack-jawed, he stared at her as she defiantly walked away. He didn't expect this. She was usually quiet and non-combative. He wouldn't give up, putting on his best smile when she returned.


"Why don't you go out with me before I ship off to war?"


"Why, you can't run off to war. You're only sixteen."


"My mama said she doesn't remember what year I was born; it could've been 1925 that would make me eighteen."


"My daddy was right, all you boys do is lie. I don't think you should go, I hear it won't last much longer."


"Too late. I've already joined the Navy."


"Lord, why? You ain't never even seen the ocean."


"Old Man Buckhart told me all about the ocean. I want to see it. I've even dreamed about it. I'd rather do that than be a ground-pounder."


"Well, here's your coffee. I'll ask my daddy to see if I can go out with you."


"Don't do that! He'll never let you. Just meet me at The Reda for a matinee on Saturday."


"I'll think about it. Besides, I can't stand here and talk to you. I'll get in trouble."


Doralea stepped to another table, her heart pounding. She couldn't turn around to show him just how happy she was. 


That day began their lives together. She didn't ask her dad; she met Denvil at The Reda that Saturday. The secret of dating Denvil was difficult to keep from her dad, but she managed it. Denvil joined the Navy, and when he returned from basic training, they snuck off to Jellico, Tennessee to get married. He left two days later. She continued to work at The Hob-Nob, and his brother Charlie would sometimes bring her money from Denvil's paycheck. The rest went to his family. Because her dad had been so sick, the money she made helped her family. This was the arrangement until Denvil wanted her to join him in Philadelphia. He was coming home in a few weeks, and they would need an apartment there while he looked for work. He didn't want to return to Kentucky. Her next train journey would be to Philadelphia. 


That summer had been eventful with the war ending, but agonizing because she couldn't allow her dad to know her secret. While she managed to keep it from him, her mama knew but didn't say anything because Richard's health worsened. Doralea postponed the inevitable until the night before leaving.


"Daddy, I know I should've told you about me and Denvil Jackson, but I knew how it would be. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have had extra money this summer."


Richard narrowed his eyes. "And I guess we'll have even less now."


"Harold just started a job. That'll help."


"You just go on and stay at Annie's tonight. Go on. Don't come back."


And with those words he walked into his bedroom and closed the door.


During that Golden Hour of the next morning, Doralea stood alone on the depot platform. The world seemed so bright. Lustrous green leaves glowed in windless trees. Jarflies released their energy in vibrato to the rising sun. She stared into the bold sky, its blue saturation gradually fading to white along the horizons. Staring soon became too painful. She prayed. Her prayers seemed reflected rather than penetrating that vast depth. Suddenly remembering her dad's eyes, also impenetrable, she closed her eyes against it all and stepped onto the northbound train. When the train passed their house on Mill Street she saw her dad sitting in his chair on the porch. Stanton sat on the porch edge swinging his feet and petting his little brown dog. When her dad saw the passenger cars, he stood up and walked unsteadily inside the house. Warm tears wet her cheeks. 


That happened over a year ago. A recent letter from her mama explained that her dad now struggled with tuberculosis. She managed to talk Denvil into this trip home. It had been a tough year. The tears returned. She knew no one when she moved to Philadelphia. Denvil had given her the name of a friend's wife who had neither been helpful nor friendly. She waitressed in a small restaurant, and when she wasn't at work, she was home. Alone. She even felt that way after her husband returned from overseas. Denvil's drinking worsened. There would be times she wouldn't see him for two or three days until he drunkenly stumbled into their apartment. She issued an ultimatum: she was going home with or without him. He relented.


She began recognizing landmarks. They were near Mount Vernon. London would be the next stop. Denvil returned from the dining car. He had been drinking. 


"Don't talk to me." She pulled the peacoat tighter around her. 


She watched the last few miles of autumnal landscape unfold. When the train passed the house on Mill Street, no one was outside. She and Denvil would be staying with his family until they could leave for Florida on The Flamingo, which she felt guilty about now. She must see her dad first.


Entering the family's small house, her brothers, so happy to see Doralea, crowded around. Denver hugged her longest. Her mama had supper on the table. Her dad was in his bedroom. She could hear the strangling coughs.


"He wants to talk to Denvil," Adeline said, her face expressionless.


Denvil entered the bedroom and closed the door. Doralea sat at the table, but couldn't eat. Her brothers had a million questions, which she tried to answer but the only voice she longed to hear was her dad's. 


After a while, Denvil exited the bedroom. He was not happy. "Get your things. Let's go."


Doralea warily approached the bedroom. Her dad stood there in faded pajamas with a Bible in one hand and a bloody handkerchief in the other. His eyes were sunken, his face ghostly. He suddenly unleashed wracking coughs. She waited for him to finish.


"I love you, Daddy–"


"Don't call me 'Daddy.' You ain't no daughter of mine." 


He slowly closed the door in her face. She listened to his coughing as he climbed back into bed, bedsprings straining as he attempted to make himself comfortable.


They left in the gathering dusk. Denvil carried his duffle bag and her suitcase. As the young couple made their way across town, they heard mournful cries of a steam train continuing its trek southbound toward sunnier shores.


October 21, 2022 13:56

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96 comments

Nancy Pack
16:06 Oct 21, 2022

Beautifully written. I can feel the sadness of Doralea as she longs to reunite with her father, only to be turned away.

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David Sweet
01:14 Oct 29, 2022

Thank you so much for your support. You certainly understand the characters and their struggles. I appreciate your comments and friendship we have shared for most of our lives.

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Tamara Shaffer
04:41 Oct 31, 2022

I'm happy for you that you won this contest and your poignant. story was appreciated. I would agree with much of what Claire Sally Roos had to say (would add that you were missing a comma following "Tennessee"). The "due" jumped out at me; I'm pretty certain it's "do." The first paragraph was a bit long and could have been divided. Though heavily laden with description, you do it so well. (I wrote one with the same problem, and I had to edit out some of it to get it published.) The theme of the train ride was genius, and your characters were...

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David Sweet
11:56 Oct 31, 2022

Thank you. I hope I have captured the essence of the people I am trying to portray. I also appreciate the editing advice. I have gone back through my original and have corrected grammatical errors. I also expanded the story based upon critiques. I am hoping to write an anthology based on this time and place. Glad to have a fellow Kentuckian on board.

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David Wybrow
06:39 Mar 26, 2023

At the time the story is set, 'make due' could well have been acceptable, even though it now seems like an error.

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Pat Ruhe
20:02 Oct 30, 2022

Great story, well written. I am planning on using this as a story for the Victoria Falls Literary Shorts Club. We read and discuss short stories on a weekly basis. I will present this story for our November 7th meeting. Can you give me some details about yourself so I can present you to the group as the author of this well written story. We have also presented other Reedsy authors from time to time. I have read your blog and have assembled some facts about you. Looking forward to any continuation of this story. Pat Ruhe ruheroy@aol.com

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David Sweet
22:03 Oct 30, 2022

I sent you a reply on email.

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Philip Ebuluofor
17:27 Oct 30, 2022

Congrats. Sad one. Poor father, poor husband. Happiness gone from both end. I feel the story impact.

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David Sweet
18:50 Oct 30, 2022

Thank you. It was difficult to tell this story at times. I appreciate your readership. Thanks for liking the story.

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Philip Ebuluofor
15:47 Oct 31, 2022

Welcome.

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David Sweet
18:50 Oct 30, 2022

Thank you. It was hard to tell this story. I appreciate your readership. Thanks for following me.

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Tom Ortega
05:03 Jan 05, 2023

Hi David I think your story is quite beautiful and it made me feel a little happier on this dark planet!

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David Sweet
13:50 Jan 05, 2023

Thank you very much for your kind words. I appreciate your support. Good luck with your New Year's resolutions. Change can be tough. Also, good luck with your writing. Keep plugging along at it each day.

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Katie Kanning
20:48 Nov 07, 2022

Hi David, I really enjoyed your story. I'm wondering if I can read it on my short story podcast, "Unpublished, not Unknown"? It's all about giving voice to indie authors and you'll be credited, of course. If you're interested, you can submit it here: unpublishednotunknown.com Looking forward to hearing from you!

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David Sweet
15:10 Nov 08, 2022

I think that could be really cool. I have made some edits, so I will send the edited version, which is a little longer. Let me know when you get it recorded.

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Katie Kanning
19:30 Nov 08, 2022

Will do! Thanks for submitting.

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Katie Kanning
23:34 Nov 14, 2022

Hi David, your episode is officially published! Find all the ways to listen here: unpublishednotunknown.com Thanks again, love the story :) -Katie

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David Sweet
00:16 Nov 15, 2022

Thanks so much! Can't wait to listen.

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David Sweet
17:45 Nov 15, 2022

Just listened to the podcast--lovely job! Thanks for giving this story a voice. I appreciate your interest in my work. Let me know if you would like to collaborate again sometime.

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Katie Kanning
02:17 Nov 17, 2022

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Feel free to submit any stories of yours to the same link above. Take care :)

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Suzanne Rossel
15:30 Oct 30, 2022

Well done! Feel the clenching of a circle, repeating and repeating.

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10:54 Oct 30, 2022

I really like the idea of this story as well as the fact that it's based in real life. "Write what you know," is more relevant than people realize sometimes. :) The concept is great, too, using the train as a bit of a metaphor or symbol of Doralea's life that never seems to come to rest, things are never really settled for her, that constant restlessness, plus the adventure element of a train ride that is also very nicely brought in. I'd love to see the finished result of the other stories you mention in the comments. It has the makings of ...

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David Sweet
12:43 Oct 30, 2022

Thank you for your very detailed and constructive feedback. I will work on these things going forward. I appreciate this very much.

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13:15 Oct 30, 2022

You're so welcome! I've had feedback like that many times in my journey and I know how helpful it was for me. I forgot to add, I love how authentic your story is. Super relatable. I really value that in any kind of art. You have great talent and potential! Happy writing! :)

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David Sweet
14:21 Oct 30, 2022

Thank you for your positive comments. I appreciate that you reached out to me. I don't want to become complacent with my writing. It's nice to have people on the journey with me.

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09:58 Oct 30, 2022

A family epic set in the 1930s and 40s. An interesting time period that you brought to life, and you described the family very deeply within a short story. As others said, instead of the current trend to write all action and suspense, you emphasized characters and descriptions, which makes it have the feel of a big classical novel . Well done and congrats on the win.

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David Sweet
12:46 Oct 30, 2022

Thanks for your honest thoughts.

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Jazmine Abuzaid
02:00 Oct 29, 2022

Congratulations on the win. I could feel the sadness and power of this story. cant wait to read more of your stories.

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David Sweet
02:11 Oct 29, 2022

Thank you. I appreciate your support. I hope you will enjoy the future stories as well.

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Canyu Wu
04:55 Feb 21, 2024

You write it very fantastic.

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David Sweet
12:35 Feb 21, 2024

Thank you very much!

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Rose Winters
19:51 Dec 31, 2023

What beautiful imagery! So nostalgic, heart-wrenching, and a very three-dimensional snapshot of the era and place. A rich piece, packed with nuance. Poignant and very believable. Bravo!

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David Sweet
20:33 Dec 31, 2023

Thank you. It's based on a true story my mom told me. I'm working on a series of stories based on family tales. On my Reedsy, "Cicero '59" and "Old Man Buckhart" feature some common characters, i.e. Doralea is the mother in "Cicero '59" and Denvil Jackson is a young teen in "Old Man Buckhart." Thanks for reading and for the compliment!

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Rose Winters
23:56 Dec 31, 2023

That is so cool! Love that you have a theme going!!

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Ferris Shaw
21:50 Nov 05, 2023

I honestly don't understand why Doralea's father reacts as he does. In real life I have a daughter who's eighteen, a little older than Doralea, and she is engaged to be married. In my case, she did everything the right way, found a wonderful young man, and will marry him with my blessing. But let's imagine that she hadn't. She got married, but to someone of whom I disapproved, because I felt that marrying him would blight her life. Well, would my disowning her make things better or worse? Obviously, worse. The man's reaction is just...

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David Sweet
01:07 Nov 06, 2023

The reason it IS so sad and maddening is because it is true. This is a story about my mother. The exchange that happened between these characters is what was described to me as the last exchange between my mother and her father in the late 1940s. They never spoke again. He died a short time later from TB. It was heart-rending to hear my mother tell it, although she told it as a matter-of-fact story. I knew it deserved to be told. I'm working on other stories about my parents. "Cicero '59" (another Reedsy story) takes place in the same uni...

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Ferris Shaw
21:05 Nov 06, 2023

Really? I am sorry for what your family went through. Like I said, I'm sure that in his mind your grandfather was doing the right thing...but it was so incredibly wrongheaded and counterproductive. I'm glad that your parents got through it and built a good life together.

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Glenda Toews
13:44 Jun 08, 2023

What a sweet but terribly sad story David. I loved the way your story road the train. Parallel, like the tracks...life is like that isn't it, time on the line. I wish all Dads would be dads and not jerks. Even on his deathbed...uggg, what a nasty legacy to leave. I'm a detail gal, and I loved how you dotted it within the sentences, allowing your words to breathe reality. Nicely done.

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David Sweet
14:43 Jun 08, 2023

Thank you so very much! This actually happened to my mom. They never reconciled. He died about two years after this incident from TB in 1947. I am lovingly trying to write about my parents. This story is about my mom, of course. My dad was not a nice man in his youth, but did manage to change. I came along when he was 40, by then he was mellowing out. I am the youngest of six. We (the siblings) talk about how we had different fathers in the same man. I was fortunate to have received the one he was as he mellowed in his later years. I cre...

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Glenda Toews
14:54 Jun 08, 2023

That's what stories are aren't they, a blink into the life of those we know. I envy you that you were able to hear your dad's stories, or perhaps smart enough to listen at a younger age. My sister and I were just talking about how we wished we had captured our dad's stories before he passed away, he led an extraordinary life but never spoke about it, and we were too timid to ask 20 years ago. If he were still here today I wouldn't have a problem pummeling him with questions... My dad was also a jerk when we were young and mellowed about 5 ye...

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David Sweet
19:48 Jun 08, 2023

My favorite part was the last scene. That was a story that mom related to me. She wasn't a person with many stories, but what she told was powerful. This was her last interaction with her dad. I hope it was as much a gut punch for the reader as it was for me to hear it and write it. My little mama (who passed in Nov. 2020 at age 92) was a tremendous woman. You'll get an inkling in "Cicero '59." When she finally did stand up to my dad it transformed his life completely, and as a consequence, all of our lives as sons and daughters. Dad was a...

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Glenda Toews
20:22 Jun 08, 2023

Well, as you read backwards you will see my characters in most stories, just in a different era, and situation...with the exception or The Lady and The Man..the others I've created to link into each other. ( personal challenge ) ... I like the softness of Patrick..but I love Jo and her sauciness..

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Glenda Toews
22:01 Jun 08, 2023

You nailed the ending, I was expecting reconciliation and the opposite was abrupt and shocking. Kick in the gut.

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Éan Bird
00:34 Apr 13, 2023

I know your setting personally...the steel lines, hillsides, and fiery autumn. Your imagery--both intimate and breathtaking--resonated; captured like cinematography. I can see why this piece won.

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David Sweet
02:17 Apr 13, 2023

Thank you very much. I usually have a specific picture in my head to start a story. I see it play out in my head Lome a movie. I try, many times unsuccessfully, to recreate those images in words as best as I can. These are real places to me and sometimes I feel words don't do enough. Thank you for reading and your kind words.

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Amanda Lieser
22:40 Nov 13, 2022

Hi David! Wow! I loved the way you captured the accents in this piece. I thought your dialogue was perfect like fresh churned butter. My heart was breaking for this character. My favorite part of this piece was when you talked about all of the MC’s dreams and hopes that filled her youth. Contrasted with the ending, of course. Congratulations on the win!

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David Sweet
00:43 Nov 14, 2022

Thank you! I grew up hearing and speaking this dialogue all of my life. It is a project dear to my heart. I appreciate your readership.

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22:57 Nov 09, 2022

Your story is amazing. May I introduce myself? My name is Brandon MacKenzie and I would like to tell you I like your story and would like to hire you for helping me write my book I’m going to publish. It’s untitled right now and I’m working with Simon&Schuster. The leading company of publishing services. If your interested please reply to my email: bmackenzie918@gmail.com or contact 207-731-4401. I can pay you good money if you could help me out and completing this book. It’s a survival story about being stranded in the desert after a rocksl...

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Calvin Kirby
01:35 Nov 07, 2022

Loved your story, David. I can't wait to discuss it in our literary shorts group tomorrow that Pat Ruhe is leading. Congratulations on the win.

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David Sweet
03:50 Nov 07, 2022

Thanks. I wish I could be there to discuss it with you. I appreciate that you are doing this. It means more to me than you may realize.

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Calvin Kirby
19:33 Nov 07, 2022

David, I am sorry I received this after our gathering today, or I would have invited you on the discussion. It was a very good discussion and everyone liked the story. Pat Ruhe will get in touch with you to give you feed back and ask some questions.

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David Sweet
14:29 Nov 07, 2022

I am genuinely curious about how the discussion goes today (hopefully favorable). Please.let everyone know that I am glad to answer any questions or provide commentary if wanted.

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Story Time
19:49 Nov 03, 2022

I started reading this when it first won the contest and decided I wanted to come back to it when I could fully absorb it. What a knockout. I really love the fearlessness you have when it comes to taking the story to uncomfortable places. Congratulations.

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David Sweet
01:38 Nov 04, 2022

Thanks so much for your kind words. Sometimes life is like that and writing takes us there. I appreciate your support.

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Arrey Edwards
18:59 Nov 03, 2022

Hi David, Would you be willing to let me narrate your story for a podcast idea I'm working on? You can contact me - arreyedwards at gmail dot com if you have any questions. I want to create an anthology show that showcases contest winners. Thanks and thank you for sharing such a great story. -Arrey

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