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A Moment of Clarity - 24-Hour Short Story Contest Entry

Story ID:5370
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
Year:2009
Person:Simeon
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I was entered in the Writers Weekly 24-Hour short story contest this weekend. I received my topic
and word count yesterday and submitted my entry
with 30 minutes left in the deadline,

Here is the topic I received.

TODAY'S TOPIC!

~~~~~

Weeks of obsessive tending and gentle turning ensured a blue
ribbon for his biggest pumpkin next weekend. His chest puffed
with impending pride as he fantasized about the envious stares of
the other town folk, especially that pretty, stuck-up woman next
door, who always looked through him, not at him.

The cold wind started again and he shivered, watching the sky
darken too quickly. As bright, painted leaves rained on his crop,
he instinctively turned his head toward an infant's cry. At the
top of the hill, under the old Maple, his stuck-up neighbor was
shielding a bundle from the wind, fumbling with her blouse...

~~~~~

WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 1,000
words. (Your story's title is *not* included in the word count.
We use MSWord's word count function to determine the final word
count in submissions.)

Here's my entry:

A Moment of Clarity

Weeks of obsessive tending and gentle turning ensured a blue ribbon for his
biggest pumpkin next weekend. Simeon’s chest puffed with impending pride as he
fantasized about the envious stares of the other town folk, especially that pretty, stuck-up
woman next door, who always looked through him, not at him.

Secretly he admired Elizabeth, but was upset with her complete lack of interest in
him. He often saw her head above the high fence in her back yard, probably working in
her garden, but he couldn’t be sure. The fence was solid. He was curious, but refraned
from looking over the top for fear she’d see him, which would give her more reason to be
snooty and spread rumors about the strange farmer boy next door.

A week later, Simeon stood proudly by his pumpkin, which weighed in at four
hundred and seventy-eight pounds. No other pumpkin on display was even close to the
size of his. He was a sure winner.

He turned toward a commotion at the entrance to the barn. Several men struggled
with a cart which carried something huge covered with a tarp. Simeon watched with
apprehension as they turned down the aisle where the pumpkins were displayed. They
pushed their cargo passed Simeon and stopped near the end of the row. His fear was
realized when the tarp was removed and the biggest pumpkin he had ever seen was hefted
by a dozen men from the cart and placed on the scales. Those gathered around gasped
and then applauded.

After the pumpkin was placed on display, Simeon strolled over and stared in
shock at the tag: Weight: 567 Lbs. – Owner: E. H.

“E. H.? Who’s E. H.?” he wondered.

“Hello, Simeon.” He turned and stared at his neighbor, Elizabeth Hannah.

“Elizabeth?” he stuttered. “You grew this? Is this what you were working on
in your backyard all summer?”

Elizabeth smiled. “Yes, I did.” Her green eyes sparkled with pride. “And yes
this is what I worked on.”

“I didn’t know you were interested … He paused. “I didn’t know you liked to
grow pumpkins.”

“It’s something I got interested in after watching you year-after-year.”

“You noticed?”

“Of course, you silly boy.”

He blushed. His dream of winning this year was forgotten. Something more
important was at hand. “I’m surprised. This is some pumpkin, Elizabeth.” He lifted
his hat and scratched his head.

“Yours is big too, Sim.”

Sim? Did she just call him “Sim”? Only his departed mother had ever called him
that. “Yup! It is, but it looks like you beat me by close to a hundred pounds.”


***********************

The cold wind started again and he shivered, watching the sky darken too quickly.
As bright, painted leaves rained on his crop, he instinctively turned his head toward an
infant's cry. At the top of the hill, under the old Maple, his former stuck-up neighbor was
shielding a bundle from the wind, fumbling with her blouse. Simeon watched her nurse
their son.

After learning Elizabeth did notice him and that she also enjoyed the challenge of
growing large pumpkins, his attitude toward her changed. He learned she wasn’t snooty;
she was just shy. They became friends. Love bloomed. Now they were a family.

***********************

“Dad!” his son called. “Dad!”

Simeon was pulled from his memories. He turned and stared at the strangely
familiar man who called out. “Dad, it’s time to go.”

Simeon struggled to remember who this man was. His gaze fell upon a white-
haired lady who stood at the man’s side. She smiled at him. Simeon’s mind cleared.
Confusion, his constant companion, was momentarily gone. On elderly legs, he hobbled
closer. His gnarled hands shook as he cupped the woman’s face. “Ellie? Is that you?”

Her still clear green eyes stared back at him. They filled with tears. A bright
smile lit up her face. “Sim!” She choked on her words. “Sim, I love you.” She reached
out and held him in her frail arms.

Simeon rested his gray head against hers. “Where have you been?” He sobbed.
“I’ve missed you so much.”

“I’ve been here, Sim. I’ve been here all along.”

***********************

Simeon sat in his wheel chair and stared into the past. Alzheimer’s had done
its damage. The ceremony around him was a blur of confusion. A cold wind ruffled his
white hair. His son tucked a blanket around him. “Are you warm enough, Dad?’ Simeon
continued to stare into his own world.

His son left Simeon’s side, approached the opening of the grave, and placed a
single red rose on his mother’s casket. “Mom,” he whispered. “You got your wish. You
wanted dad to recognize you one more time before the cancer took you away.” He paused
to gain control of his grief. “You were right to take dad to the old farm. It gave him one
rare moment of clarity. Now you can rest in peace.”

Michael T. Smith
Word Count: 818