Adventure Fiction Inspirational

What Have I Done?

She never used credit cards and generally paid in cash. Her monthly retirement and pension payments were automatically sent to her bank account. It was an ordeal to send someone to the bank to withdraw the money she would need for the next few weeks.

Since her illness worsened, she was forced to account for trips to the doctor, medicine, and other medical payments. She was tired, and now the hospital was forcing everyone to pay electronically. Unfortunately, she had no ATM card, credit card, or internet access. 

She was connected by proxy since her retirement came electronically to the bank. She was connected by proxy since her retirement came electronically to the bank. Every way was considered to be independent. She began doing odd jobs to barter for food and services. 

Her goal was to be free of all forms of money. She transferred all of her utilities into family members' names. The rent was still in her name, but she paid in cash. Soon, the grocery store no longer accepted cash, and she was forced to give another person money to buy her food. 

Finally, medical needs could only be purchased through any means but cash. The only thing left to do was to move to the country, far away from the need for contact with people. Her family had a cabin near a river in the southern part of the state. She could live off of the land and catch fish from the river. Unfortunately, her medical condition was becoming worse. There was no time to transition.

Suddenly, she loaded her small green car and headed south without warning. She had enough provisions for a few weeks. She was counting on the store near the cabin to help her since everyone around was kin. It would take time to plant and grow what she needed. Water, food, and clothes that's all she needed, or at least she thought. 

"Oh, my." "What about candles, flashlights, or kerosene?" she thought.

It had been twenty years since she saw the cabin, and her trip quickly became a walk of blind faith. "What would it be like?" she thought. She has not heard from certain relatives for three or four years.

After several hours she stops for gas and a restroom break. The gas station charges twice as much to use cash. They need help to get rid of it quickly, so they charge more. When she returns to her car, she finds the windows in the back broken and the rice and beans gone. But the trunk of the car remained intact.

Rather than call the police or report the break-in, she veered back onto the highway, went as fast as she could, and descended on Scrap City just as the sunset. It looked like a ghost town as the sidewalks were rolled up to signal the end of the business day. Then she took the ten-mile drive out Eleven Mile road to the fork. 

The car stalled as she took the sharp right down the dusty road leading to the cabin. It was close by, but she suddenly became nauseous. Oh, no, the road was washed out from recent flooding, and she would have to walk the last half-mile. 

She removed only what she could carry from the car and trudged through the forest until she began to heave and throw up. 

"If I could just get to the cabin, all would be well," she thought. After nearly twenty minutes, she forced herself up and meandered through the woods as the light of day passed. She didn't own a cell phone, so she couldn't call for help and had no light source. She had no way to start a fire or any other heat source, for that matter.

Now, she feels something pulling on her from behind. Oh, wait! She's stuck to a thorny vine. What's that? More vines. There are so many that she quickly becomes entangled. Then, she finds herself tripping around in the dark and falls into the brier patch. She groans and tries to break free, and then a light appears. She looks all around, and the light is coming from the brier patch. 

Then, a voice calls out, "Mama?" "Mama, is that you?" "Come on in; we have been waiting for you."

"Son?" "Is that you?" 

"Yeah, you must be trapped in them briers." "We will come and pluck you free."

The boys come to free their mama from her entanglement and take her up to the cabin. But, the cabin is different from what it used to be since the briers have overgrown the place. 

"We got here in time to get a fire going."

"Yeah, I am afraid we only have this one varmint to eat," the other brother said.

"We are off the grid now, all of us." "Mama, we sold all we had and gave the money away," said the youngest son. "Now we can all be one happy family."

"Oh, what have I done?" the mom asked. I just wanted to come out here and live out my last days." "You all have families and jobs and responsibilities." "Besides, you have no firearms, tools, or supplies." "How will we live?" "We can't stay here since this place is almost fallen in, and my car's engine is locked up." What have we done?"

The fire blazes higher and brighter until mama realizes that the brier patch and the old wooden cabin have become one massive lump. The wood from the cabin is the fuel for the fire that is now blazing before the family of three.

"Land sakes." "Why did you burn the wood from the cabin?"

"Mama, we had no choice."

"The land is overrun with briers, weeds, and underbrush." "The cabin was gone," said her youngest son.

"Oh my goodness, what have we done, my sons?"

"We thought this was what you wanted."

"That's right." "JD and I talked about it, and when we get things going, we will bring our families."

"My sons." "We have no way to get supplies, no communication, and now we have no shelter."

After a few hours, the three prepare their sleeping bags and blankets and let the fire burn down. Tomorrow is another day, and daylight will bring a fresh perspective. The temperature dropped as they slept through the night, and the rain began trickling down.

"Hey ya'll, wake up." "It's raining."

"Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the heavens opened up and said, ME, I'm through with you."

"What are we gonna do?" said BL.

"I'm hungry, and we gotta eat before we think."

Mom and JD look disgusted, and they walk towards the muddy road. BL keeps muttering around, oblivious to the fact he is now alone, and the rain is pouring down so hard that he is completely drenched.

Suddenly, a voice calls from far in the distance. It doesn't sound familiar. A light could be seen passing back and forth as the handler made their way to the spot where the fire was smoldering now. 

Mom and JD were on the road before they knew it, and the rain fell so fast that mom slipped into the mud, and soon JD landed in the opposing ditch. Mom cried and cried. JD was in pain and didn't realize he was several feet below the road. They were in a bind. Then, life began to flash before both of them when they could hear BL calling out.

"I don't understand." "They should be nearby." 

"Hey, BD." "Look there." said the tall would-be rescuer as he pointed to mama, covered in the mud beneath his feet.

Suddenly, as fast as the rain arrived, it stopped, and the sun shone down on the group gathered around the muddy family. Mr. Murphee had brought some people from Fish City up the road. 

"Mom, are you ok?" BD asked."

Mom is slowly raised to her feet when she says, "I am sorry I did this and got my boys involved." "Please forgive me."

She looks at Mr. Murphee and says, "I remember you." "You are that lawyer from over in McNamee."

"Yes, I used to practice over there, but I only have one client now." 

"Mom, Mr. Murphy was paid a large sum by cousin Elmira to ensure the land was kept in the family." "He has the deed to the land." "And that's not all."

"Mrs. Goodhope, you are the only one who came to the cabin after all these years." 


"Many years ago, many businesses in Scrap City and Fish City failed, and people moved away." Your cousin Elmira grew sick and made out a trust and, in her will, outlines the terms to dispose of this piece of property." 

"It's just a bunch of trees and briers on a mud bog."

"No." "Everyone thought it was worthless, but Elmira never told the family that it kept  many wealthy secrets."

"Mom, there are things we can sell or barter with when money is no good."

"Yes, you own a silver mine, a pine forest that can be sold for wood, an underground gas reserve, and the marsh or peat bog contains minerals you can swap and replenish."

"In other words, mom, you are wealthy."

"Yes, you do not have money, but all of that can get you what you need." "Elmira's only stipulation was it had to be a member of the family that was willing to live without cash and utilize the resources here in a wise a prudent manner."

Mom hugs BL, and they lift JD out of the ditch. They hug, and with the mud clinging to their every fiber, they smile and laugh.

"Well, I guess I did one thing right," said mom.

February 09, 2023 21:22

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Kevin V
00:55 Feb 16, 2023

Hi Joseph, This is my first critique here so I'm not sure of the protocols. To be honest, I really found this hard to follow. All the quotation marks in the dialogue made it hard for me to tell if the same person spoke or if multiple people spoke in the same paragraph? It certainly meets the criteria for the prompt. I might suggest looking at the formatting of the dialogue as only one person should be speaking in a paragraph, or each sentence shouldn't have opening and closing quotation marks. For instance: "I am sorry I got my kids invo...


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Bonnie Zel
02:59 Feb 14, 2023

Good for you, Mamma! I liked your surprise ending.


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