Darlene Foster's Blog

Home Fires

Posted on: November 4, 2017

Stevie Turner is running a month-long short-story contest on her blog. You may want to enter. Writing short stories is a good way to get inspired to write. Here is the link https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/novembers-share-your-short-story-competition/

Since we are getting close to November 11th, I thought this would be an appropriate entry.

Home Fires
By Darlene Foster

Carol tried not to think of him. It hurt too much. She never thought loneliness could be so painful. The farm chores kept her busy. She promised him she would look after the farm in his absence and keep it thriving. In a trance, she went through the day-to-day motions of feeding the kids, the livestock and herself.

The children stopped asking where their daddy was and when he was coming home. There had been no letter for months. The neighbours helped when they could, but they had lost two sons and reminded her of unpleasant things.
What did she know about farming? She was a city girl before she met John. Her parents begged her to move back to the city with them, but she had made a promise. She convinced herself if she stayed and kept the farm going, he would return.

The baby cried. Carol held her close, inhaling the sweet smell of baby powder. Poor little thing, she doesn’t even know her daddy. How could he leave me with three young children? He said he had to do his duty. Wasn´t his duty to me, the children and the farm?

Carol shook the thoughts from her head. She didn´t wish to be angry. Of course, he had to go. She was proud of him.

He looked so handsome in his uniform the day he left. She wanted to hold him one more time. Hold him and never let go. But with his buddies all around, he wouldn´t have liked that. She kissed him quickly, smiled and made her promise, “Don’t worry. I´ll look after the farm until you come home.”

The baby slept. Carol laid her in her cot. Did she look like her father? She wasn’t sure. She couldn´t quite remember what he looked like anymore. All the pictures of him were put away in a drawer, even their wedding picture. An unbearable pain pierced her heart every time she looked at them.

Some things she would never forget, like the way her body responded to his and how she felt safe and secure in his arms at night. With him there, nothing could hurt her. With him gone, everything hurt.

“Mom, Mom! Come quick. There’s a fire in the barn,” John Junior shouted as he ran into the house.

Carol sprang to action. She ran to the pump, picked up a bucket and filled it with water. She handed it to her son and said, “Quick! Pour this on the fire and come back for another.” She filled a second bucket.

She couldn´t let the barn burn down. It had to be standing when he came home. She had promised to look after things. Carol ran into the smoke-filled barn and dumped water on the smouldering hay. The smoke filled her lungs and made her eyes sting.

Grabbing a horse blanket, she beat the flames while the children brought buckets of water to douse the hay and wood floor. The flames died, but she kept beating and beating.

“Mommy! Mommy! You can stop now. The fire is gone.” Her daughter tugged at her sleeve.

She leaned back against the barn wall and slid to the floor, exhausted. Holding her head in her blackened hands, Carol sobbed, for the first time since she said goodbye to her husband.

Thanks for reading. The Amanda in New Mexico giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Melinda who won the package!


38 Responses to "Home Fires"

Lovely story Darlene… illustrating perfectly the uncertainty of those left behind to hold things together. xx

Thanks. I have often wondered what it would be like to be left to look after things while your man went off to war.

I agree, Sally. We do what we must, but try telling that to our emotions.

I have come to an arrangement with mine. xxxhugs

LOL – I’m still negotiating with mine.

You conjured up a vivid scene in my mind with that short story, Darlene. Was this a story you wrote for the competition, or one you had written before? It flows very well and I felt Carol’s pain. Excellent job.

I had written it before but just tweaked it a bit. Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it.

A beautiful short story, Darlene.

Thanks, Robbie. Every now and then I need to write an adult story!

Travelling through France so much as we do, we are never far from war graveyards: so very sad! The worst thing is how young most of these men were. Lest we forget. 😢

I felt that way when I was in Holland. Many of them were so young. What a waste.

I cry more at fiction than real life. This was a sweet tear-jerker.

Awe. Thanks for sharing that. I am glad it moved you.

Oh my goodness Darlene the story is heart wrenching. I wanted to sob on her behalf. Wonderful writing and it definitely shows your diversity of skill. Well done!

Thanks so much for your kind endorsement. Fortunately, our generation did not have to go through a world war so I can only imagine how a young mother would feel being left alone to run a farm.

This story grabbed my by the throat and touched my heart-strings. Wow! Thanks for the link to the contest. I will see what I can come up with, perhaps revising a blog post story.

I’m sure you will come up with something. You have so many good stories. Glad you liked mime.

A stirring short story, Darlene. Well-written and easy to visualize. Gave me chills ♥

Thanks for the feedback, Tina. Good to see it works. ❤

Very moving short story. Your story was so real for me. My 56-year-old brother, who lived with his wife on a farm, just passed in August. I think about Katie taking care of the animals and everything that has to be done.

So sorry to hear about the loss of your brother at such a young age. This is always a concern when living on a farm. It is very much a two-person business. Even as a child I used to worry about how mom would manage should something happen to dad. My heart goes out to your sister-in-law.

A beautifully written and poignant story that is sadly the reality for many families.

Through the ages too. Thanks for your kind words.

Thanks for taking part again this month Darlene.

My pleasure. I need to get out of Amanda’s world from time to time and this is a good excuse.

I so loved this Darlene and had tears in my eyes, by the time I finished reading.

This story seems to evoke emotions. I guess that means it works. Thanks for your feedback.

A beautiful short story Darlene. 🙂 Good luck with Stevie’s contest.

I read every word with tears in my eyes. I felt for that wife/mother/woman who is in so much pain. Beating out the pain/fear in her gut. Excellent story, Darlene.

I went to a celebration for Veteran’s Day last night. And, it is right and proper to salute the men and women serving and protecting our country. But, I think equal recognition should go to those left behind to tend the hearth and home.

I agree. It is not easy for those left behind. Thanks for your comment.

Thank you for sharing this story, Darlene. We all too easily forget the disruption caused to the lives of those left behind to ‘keep the home fires burning’.

Thanks for your comment, Frank. Those left behind suffered as well and often in silence. I can’t imagine how awful it would be, but I tried.

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