Here is one of the five finalists for the Write It Your Way August competition. Read it now (and the other finalists) and vote by October 1 to help us pick a winner. The theme for this Write It Your Way competition was "New Beginnings" and entrants were allowed to take that theme in any direction they liked.Click here for a list of upcoming Writer's Digest writing competitions.
Hot, heavy air filled Debbie’s lungs and weighed her down. It was a typical August night in Michigan. She wondered if this was how her mother felt when she left. Did she have any doubts?
At times, she thought the night breezes whispered to her. Did her mother leave messages in the wind? Debbie listened intently but she could never quite make out the words.
This was the first time Debbie had ventured onto the dark road in twenty-two years. The dirt was soft and felt cool between her toes. The white stones, embedded into the road, glistened as if they were her beacons to safety.
The slight breeze stirred Debbie’s white nightgown. It jarred vague memories, fleeting flashes, of her mother’s gown cascading around her legs as she glided away from the house. It was the only time her mother seemed to come to life. She walked with purpose, following the beaming white stones to her safe haven.
“You’ll be back. You always crawl back!” Debbie’s father stood in the doorway, waiting for a response.
Her mother sped up, her nightgown fluttering as if she was an injured dove trying to take flight. The tops of the trees swayed, pointing her down the mysterious path. Her mother’s long blond hair faded into the mist as she passed the last tree that was visible through Debbie’s bedroom window. Then her mother was gone.
Debbie’s mother had threatened to leave many times, wandering off for hours then reappearing, her feet covered with black dirt. No one bothered to ask what made her unhappy. The moods breezed in and out as she did. No one questioned if she would come back. Before that night, she had always come back.
Debbie often wondered what could have been so terrible to make a woman leave her children behind. As she advanced into adulthood, she started questioning all her own choices. She saw her mother looking back at her in the mirror. Debbie wondered how she ended up in the same place.
Like her mother, Debbie had married the first man who looked her way. Her husband let Debbie raise the children while he continued to enjoy his life as if he didn’t have any obligations. He said Debbie couldn’t let anyone love her so he had to find it elsewhere. He threw the word “crazy” at her like a dagger. Her father’s voice was in the house again.
Her mother’s warnings of discontent rang in her ears. “Being a mother isn’t enough. My dreams died when you were born. When you have kids, you won’t be able to do anything.”
Debbie’s mother had thrown her moccasins in the ditch the night she left. She always claimed they pinched her feet and suffocated her. The shoes, protected under rocks and dead tree limbs, were waiting to whisk Debbie away.
Debbie put on her mother’s shoes and took a few steps down the road. She paused, wondering if she should follow her mother’s path.
As she took another step, her mother’s shoes slipped off her feet. Weathered and plain, they didn’t seem as menacing as her mother claimed. They didn’t suffocate her. Debbie laughed through a stream of tears. She pitched the shoes into the woods. They were just an old pair of shoes that didn’t fit.
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