The Sinkhole…

 

The Sinkhole…
(A short-short story from a collection of memories from the author’s childhood)
The summer of 1943, my family became the proud owners of a “newer” icebox; the old one became rusty with the tiny leaks that allowed water to escape. A block of ice bought from the regular Saturday trip to town wrapped in burlap kept to ice cool all week, by Saturday morning the burlap wrap, which southerners called a “toe sack” lay in a lump of water. My grandpa and the one old mule we owned pulled the old rusty icebox to a sinkhole in the pasture. The ever-sinking hole was round as big as a house, the walls slanted toward a bottom that provided an ever-ending change throughout the year.

As children, my sister Billie Wayne and I knew not to go near the sinkhole, that it may sink into the earth and we would never be seen again. Of course neither of us we afraid of it! It was also the summer that my ten-year-old sister convinced me that she had a new place for me to play; excited I ran with her into the pasture and jumped right into the sinkhole. My only sibling always played her never-ending spiteful tricks on me; with the promise of playing “train”, she the conductor and me the passenger, she shoved me into the old icebox and shut the door. I could hear her laughter as she ran out of the sinkhole.

One would have thought that my grandfather would have turned the old icebox face down, but he dumped it, watched it slide into the hole and rode away; it landed on its back with door exposed. He was my daddy’s’ father, the one who ran off leaving him and his mother when he was just a boy. It was our mother who forced my daddy to have him come see us, she taught my sister to call him Papa, in time I would only refer to him as Mr. Johnson.

I do not want say that my sister shut me in the icebox on purpose, but as the years went by I did wonder if her constant tricks, comments and bossiness was in wanting to be an only child had anything to do with it? Of course, my mother wanted her to be the only child as well.  As a family, we had established our pattern for family life…my mother would always have Billie with her and tell me to run along with my daddy while she and Billie planned their day. Daddy tried to remember how long I had been gone, he begin to calling my name, even getting the old dog “Buster” to look for me.

Mother tried to reassure him that I was out in the woods somewhere; Billie Wayne continued cutting cookie dough without saying anything. My grandfather got on the old mule and headed into the nearby sugar cane field knowing that I sometimes stole a bit of sugar cane to suck on. Yes, at barely four years old I would play in the fields and woods, a wild child so to speak.

The grandpa was moving slowly hoping I would hear them calling my name when he thought of the old icebox. It never entered his mind that he might kill that old mule by running him so fast in the hot Alabama sun, but he jumped off his back, sliding down into the sinkhole. When he jerked open the door that I was blue, he hollered for my daddy while blowing into my mouth; now who would have known that he knew CPR. He didn’t he just wanted to get air into my lungs.

Daddy saw grandpa riding across the pasture toward the sink hole; he knew instantly that something was wrong he had never seen the old mule move so fast. Daddy rode across the pasture on Red, the big roan quarter horse hooves pounding the earth, Buster barked, it would seem even the animals knew that a threatening cloud had settled over the old Hamilton Place, the farm my daddy worked.

Daddy jumped into the sinkhole pulling me from my granddaddy’s arms, he climbed back upon Red leaving grandpa behind, and he rode to the gully where we went for water. Coming out of a big boulder was a stream of cold water, almost as if it had been frozen and was melting; it flowed into a rock where time had formed a bowl before it lapped into a small creek.

Daddy ran tossing me into the ice-cold water, there is no explanation for what he did but the cold water shocked me into breathing. I would like to think that both God and Nature had a hand in keeping me alive that day through the hands of my daddy.

When daddy carried me into the house the first question my mother asks had I been swimming in the Pool’s catfish pond again. Daddy told her what happen, while daddy placed me on the bed my sister and I shared; mother continued to chastise me for playing in the sinkhole.

“You have got to stop running the woods and pastures, you should try to be a lady; more like your sister” She looked toward my sister with a pride.

I raised my head off the pillow long enough to see Billie Wayne smiling and when no one was looking she stuck her tongue out at me!

Billie Wayne passed away in 2009 at the age of seventy-six years old; we had become sisters and friends only the last thirteen years of her life. I maintained the relationship until she stops speaking in 2006; it took be those thirteen years to find out that she had never changed.

 

©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

 

The Cost of Freedom…

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Ancestors have served in the military for more than 150 years, all served their respective states with pride. Even though the Civil War was for many reasons both good and bad, all were still soldiers with many giving their lives for their beliefs. Although the poem written at the bottom of this narrative are in fact my mother’s brothers; these boys served in WW I and the Korean War.  The ancestors are Murphree, Roberts, White,  and Vest; members of these families have served in American Revolutionary War, Cherokee–American Wars, Creek War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict. I also want to honor my son and say thank you for  your service in the United States Air Force.

The Cost of Freedom

Standing in what looked like a sea of white as a warm afternoon breeze touched their bronzed faces three young men rode home in an old wagon through fields of cotton unaware that their youth would soon be forgotten.

There was a time when they were three babies crawling at their mothers feet waiting patiently for warm sweet milk and tea cakes luxuries in their world, a poor mans’ treat.

Their mother insisted they go to school and discover their own dreams she vowed at their birth that her children would not break their backs or sell their souls working as poor farmers in the cotton fields planting, hoeing and picking the south’s white gold.

Eighteen, nineteen and twenty years old, they had never known anything but working the red southern soil day after day sacrificing their mothers’ dream for very little pay.

Threadbare overalls shirtless and shoeless they stopped at the dirt road leading to the farm they called home knowing that this way of life was quickly to end their decisions saddened their father broke their mothers’ heart leaving it so crushed that it would never mend.

They reached a nearby creek at setting sun sipped on moonshine laughed had one last day of fun then left for home. It was no more than a shack but supper always a feast for kings then they crawled into cornhusk beds it was a hard life but a life where they knew that they belonged.

Then one winter day it all changed as proud Americans that wore their pride like armor there was no question they would answer the call, not only for them but also for us all.

It was early morning when their father stood quietly drawing on his old pipe under the old oak tree thinking of the warmth of the coming spring while their mother sat in her rocking chair afraid of what the future would bring.

One by one they walk out the door childish faces broad smiles shinny shoes starched uniforms. Three young men proudly walked down the old dirt road that day no one knew when or if they would ever return but these young men knew it was to defend freedom an endowment blessed with the day they were born.

Mother and father held each other as they slowly walked into their home and closed the door while their three young sons walked away straight and tall ready to fight a war in a land they did not know on a faraway shore.

The window of their house proudly displayed three gold stars the days gradually turned into years their mothers’ heart had stopped beating death had finally stopped her tears. Their father grew old as he walked fallow land alone with his life consumed by his many fears.

Then one day as he stood beneath the oak tree drawing in the smoke from his old pipe while thoughts begin to drift back on his life. He wondered where it had gone but knowing that their mother at last is happy that her young sons were finally coming home.

He stared down the road as three shadowy figures grew closer would he recognize them he could not even remember how long it had been. Their youth was gone their smiles were drawn the war returned his sons now three broken and scarred old men.

 

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Ann Johnson-Murphree

 

Black Feathered Angels…

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Black Feathered Angels…

I have enough memories from the past to last me for the rest of my life. My unstinted memory will not bury them so deep that I cannot bring them to the surface in a moment’s notice.

In the deep recesses of my mind, I see a small country church, a chorus of crows; the splashing sounds of the brook running through the Birch trees. The wind caressing the colossal row of Oaks in the field. All memories from my early days.

I see death, going down a road moving away from the weathered house of worship, a wagon pulled by six black horses, followed by black feathered angels. No longer will the water beneath the Birch taste fresh and cool, nor will the winds surrounding the Oaks embrace warm flesh.

I relive a sad memory, my great-grandmother’s heart has been silenced, and the rocker on the porch stilled, no hand wave’s goodbye anymore. In a cobwebbed corner of the room where she slept, the sun shines through a cloudy window, as the image of tattered curtains dance in a nearby mirror. Everyone we love soon leaves us.

Sitting on the steps of that old weathered church, I have but one memory and that childhood is dead.

 

©2018elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

 

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Is the man we believe to be God untrue?

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AUTHORS NOTE: 40 writers wrote the Bible over a span of 1500 years. Unlike other religious writings, the Bible reads as a factual news account of real events, places, people, and dialogue. Historians and archaeologists have repeatedly confirmed its authenticity. Using the writers’ own writing styles and personalities, God shows us who he is and what it is like to know him. There is one central message consistently carried by all 40 writers of the Bible: God, who created us all, desires a relationship with us. He calls us to know him and trust him. The Bible not only inspires us, it explains life and God to us. It does not answer all the questions we might have, but enough of them. It shows us how to live with purpose and compassion. How to relate to others. It encourages us to rely on God for strength, direction, and enjoy his love for us. The Bible also tells us how we can have eternal life. Multiple categories of evidence support the historical accuracy of the Bible as well as its claim to divine authorship.
Nonetheless, as a person who questions many things in life, I believe in God, I do not fear him; I should have no fear if he is my father. I believe many of the things written in the Bible, I also question many of the things. If the Bible had forty authors, as a writer myself I do not believe that the many translations over 1500 years can remain consistent to the original. We all need something to believe in, first believe in you.

***

Is the man we believe to be God untrue?

Did he create the patterns of the world, humans, animals, plants, trees and with his care the world evolved, it grew. Did he smile upon us, even in our defiling times? Through unspoken words, did he create beauty with his colorful art, with only a thought did this come from his loving heart?

Is “He” with us in thought during our times of fear and suffering, if we call unto him does he hear? Is he a myth, a creation of the imagination? Does he forgive for all offences, or is it us that created him through thought and wanting senses? The Bible, a book we are told to believe and understand. Yet, forty authors wrote this book down through the ages, was it written to control the masses, or was it God’s creation. Did “He” put the thoughts in their minds when they begin to write, or did they create this man like a character in a book, his words, and his look?

Among many that want to control the heart, wants us to believe, do these many authors also want to deceive? These preachers of the Book, do they speak to free souls from sin, do they take pearls, rubies, silver and gold telling us it will ease our pain. Do they preach and beg for riches; are all their efforts only for gain? They desire the tender that many will leave in the offering tray in order to receive God’s blessing must we pay? Oh preacher advance your flawed hand, your smiles, your tears, are you, yourself engulfed in fear?

These words are not to offend the Christian way, or remove the Holiest of Books, to disbelieve, nor sanctify a learned way. The scars of battle, must we try to be valiant and hold the spirit up to the highest aspiration. Must we have a religious heart or a caged spirit deep within our chest that holds you to the highest purpose in life? First love yourself; therefore, you are what you believe. You are responsible for the pains you suffer, it does not come from forces unseen, shock or fear, live within your own strength and goodness and is it possible that hell is no doubt the things we must face while walking upon this earth.

Yes, upon yourself depend; be responsible for your own passion, your own tears. Do not believe “He” takes what he wants and leaves us in fear; believe in yourself and be responsible for wiping away your own tears. If it is your desire to believe that you will someday walk upon a different plane, that there is a world waiting where love is like a constant burning flame. If this belief makes your heart fly, your spirits soar, to see your love one waiting on that Heavenly Shore. If you want to believe then you have nothing to fear, the life you are leading is up to you, yet, there are times when one must ask the question, is the man we believe to be God untrue?

 

©2018.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

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Life’s Seasons…

 

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Black Wing Dragonfly by Elizabeth Ann- Watercolor-2010

 

 

Life’s Seasons…

Making yourself live without contact with others,

you are doomed. Like the flowers of summer

without human contact, the soul may cease to bloom.
Time and stillness may be an important need; to

reject sharing life with others, may be the greatest

form of greed. Purpose has its seasons, life follows

a well-planned path; your journey has a reason.
Clearing the mind and restoring the spirit will smooth

any rutted road; listen, there is a plan of how your life

should unfold. You may be on the right path today; the

journey may seem rough, the essence and energy of your

spirit will find the true way.
“Gratefulness, awareness and God’s grace is woven within

the fabric of your being for a reason. Devote today to

discovering your true self create your own season.”

 

©2018.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

Misery’s Problems…

 

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Misery’s Problems…

 
Misery has sent many souls Hell. They condemn

themselves; a mournful cry comes from their place

of unrest. They cry for what they wanted in life and

did not get, they could not be satisfied with what they

had, misery prevailed. They have helped destroy the

earth.
In the beginning there was cold, unceasing and

relentless rain, there seem to be a mutation of the earth

as the decades went forward with minds unchanged.

Days were heavy with hail, turbid waters mixed with

cold and snow, fiery had a tight hold on the waters that

covered the earth, still many humans could not see the

doom and darkness upon the earth.
Their souls are putrid, the soil of the earth is foul, above

them the ravens swarm in and out of the acid sky, the

beast of the earth roams follow grounds. Each of those

misery humans fell to the ground gathering handfuls of

soil casting it into the hollows of the earth. They now

know that gluttonous greed will bring rancid air and their

belly’s growl like the beast of the night with hunger.
There are many who tried to save Earth, they toiled in the

dead ground and prayed for blessings, they watch the

writhing shadows of misery, it was too late. Everyone hungry,

cold, uncomforted, everyone will die for the mistakes of few.

The waters both salty and fresh began to dry, cracks became

vast and deep. The land was soft and filled with bugs and worms.

The air clogged their lungs they cried and they prayed it was

too late. Those who did not believe that one day we would destroy

the Earth now became sinful spirits living in irrevocable doom.
There are those that believed the earth was being destroyed,

there are those who tried to find a resolve for these worldwide

conditions. To those that did not believe the earth was dying,

became accusers living in great pain. Warnings from the sinners

were no more than strange words, there is no way that we can

reach perfection on earth, it is too late. It is not too late to resolve

misery’s problems, we must cease our downward path and heal

mother Earth.

 

 

©elizabethannjohnsonmurphree.2018

 

The Certainties of Life…

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The Certainties of Life…

 

Life is an uncertain race where

most people do no more than run

in place, there can be happiness,

sadness, and around every corner

a surprise; yet hope blooms.

Life is what one must create within

their allotted space, or sit on the

sidelines and wait leaving their

journey to fate.

 
Life is not all joy floating upon the

winds of time; there are rights and

wrongs; and unknown quandaries,

setbacks, and living means moving

forward. Life quickly passes, fair and

cloudy days, laughter and tears, and

then the warmth of the sun subsides

ones fears.

 
Life may mean walking in the valleys

of despair until fate starts an upward

climb, living with happiness, or grief;

always trust the heart and mind.

 
Life lived in harmony with others,

loving, caring and expectations met;

seeds of livelihood sown, repentance

locked away for God to judge; we strive

and labor until we pass on.

 

 

 

©2018.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree