While driving my youngest daughter to her soccer practice, I received a phone call. My daughter looked at the phone and said it was our vet. I told her to just let it ring because I figured I knew what they were calling about and that I wasn’t too happy with this vet anyway and that I was going to look around for a new one. The phone stopped ringing, and in a few minutes, we heard the message ding sound. The phone rang again, and it was the vet again. I sighed and told my daughter to give me the phone. I answered the phone, and the woman on the other end said that this was the vet’s office and that our dog, Holliday, had run away and was at a house near the next town. I said “What?” She said that a man called her and told her that Holliday was at his house and that the vet’s number was on his tag and that is how the vet’s office was able to contact us. I did not even realize that Holliday was gone! He rarely leaves the property, but we don’t always see him because he roams around our 35 acres or hangs out under one of our broken- down cars on the property. I did not see him when we left for soccer practice, but neither was I looking for him. I was so shocked. For Holliday to leave and go that far seemed incredible to me. I told the vet I was driving and could she please text me the contact information. She did, and I called up the gentlemen. He said, yes, the dog was there and had nipped at his mother when she came home. I asked him how Holliday had treated him, as Holliday does not like men, and he said that Holliday had also tried to be surly toward him when he came home, but that he made friends with Holliday and that everything was ok. I told him that Holliday had probably been trying to protect his own property from him. I asked him where Holliday was now, and he said that Holliday was on his front porch hanging out with his dogs. The gentlemen offered to drive Holliday home as he was going out anyway. We went over directions, and I discovered that he did not live near the next town really, but that his address had the name of the next town. Around here, the post office might give your address the city name of the closest city even though you are a several miles away from it. When we first moved here, the post office asked us which city we wanted for our address – the city to the south or the one to the north. I had chosen the one to the south as I figured that the post office to the south would be the one we would be most likely to drive past on our way home from errands and etc. Anyway, this gentleman’s address was for the city to the north, but he actually lives straight west of us behind the bluffs. So, Holliday did not travel as far as I thought. As it turns out, the gentleman is the nephew of another neighbor who also lives just over the bluff and with whom we have had other dog dealings. This uncle’s daughter owned a renegade black lab named Roscoe who, for a season, made his way over the bluffs quite frequently to visit Holliday. At first, we were enamored by Roscoe. But we soon discovered he was a pushy dog, literally, and a dog who would not go away. I took pity on him one cold night and let him stay in our garage, giving him supper that night and breakfast in the morning. That was his in, and thereafter, when Roscoe came trotting over the bluffs to visit, he would stay around for a while, and then he and Holliday would start off west toward the bluffs through our pasture to do who knows what and go who knows where. Then we would holler for Holliday to come back. He always did. We learned to put Holliday in the garage when we saw the black form of Roscoe trotting down from the bluffs toward our house. Occasionally, Roscoe brought a friend, then it was double trouble. We learned to keep Holliday in from these bad friends. After a while, Roscoe and company would get the hint that we were not letting Holliday out to play, and they would head back west again to do their mischief somewhere else. We had not seen Roscoe for many, many months, but when I heard that the gentleman who had Holliday was Roscoe’s owner’s nephew, the mystery of why Holliday would be across the bluffs made sense to me. But the gentleman said that he believed that Roscoe had passed some time ago. Well, perhaps it was his own dogs who were enticing Holliday? Who knew. The gentlemen said that Holliday had been there since morning. I was suspicious that perhaps he had been there all night, because, sometimes at night, I hear a dog barking in the distance and wondered if perhaps Holliday had wandered off toward that fellow dog sound in the dark. I apologized to the gentleman for any trouble caused by Holliday and thanked him for his trouble in getting Holliday back to us. I told him that I was not at home, but that my two sons would be there. We hung up, and I proceeded to call my eldest son, Tim, to tell him that a man was going to be coming to our property to drop off Holliday. Since none of us knew that Holliday was even gone, I felt that I should explain to Tim what would seem to be a very strange thing – here was a man whom Tim did not know, dropping off Holliday, whom Tim did not know was missing. I was also worried that the man would walk up to our house and ring the doorbell, because when Holliday hears the doorbell, no matter if he is in the house or outside, he goes crazy and has been known to bite the person ringing the doorbell even if the person who is ringing the doorbell is standing right next to him. Now, about a week ago, my eldest daughter had put her cell phone in the bottom of a bag she was using for church, and in that bag her water bottle was lying down sideways and leaked water all over everything, including her cell phone. We had tried all kinds of remedies to dry out the phone, including putting it in a container of rice, but to no avail. Since she needed a phone for her travels back and forth to work, she began to borrow her little sister’s phone. On the day we received the call regarding Holliday, I was, like I said, driving my daughter, who is this younger sister, to her soccer practice. Since during her soccer practice I needed to go the bank, I wanted her to have a phone, so she had borrowed her brother’s phone and left her ipod with him. Now her ipod can make and receive calls, but only via internet, which we have at the house, so that is why we took her brother’s phone and left her ipod with him. She had instructed him on how to use the phone before we left. So, when I tried to call him to let him know that a strange man was coming to drop off Holliday, I was frustrated that I couldn’t reach him. I tried and tried and tried, but to no avail. We were almost at soccer practice, and I was getting frantic because I knew that the gentlemen did not live that far away and would be at our house soon. My phone rang, and hoping it was my son, I was disappointed to see that it was not he, but a good friend of mine. Out of habit and stress, I picked up the call knowing that I really didn’t have time to talk to her. I hurriedly explained to her what was going on with Holliday. She knows Holliday and is a dog girl, so she completely understood. After I finished with my frantic story, I asked how she was doing, feeling bad, because I was wondering if she was calling me because of some trouble. She said that she was fine but that she was in the hospital with a friend who broke her wrist. I tried to focus on that situation enough to show that I cared, which I really did, but I had to get back to the Holliday problem. Jan was gracious and let me go. I phoned the gentlemen who was returning Holliday and was relieved that I had caught him just as he had gotten to our driveway. I told him to just let Holliday out and not to ring the doorbell because Holliday might bite him if he did. Whew. I think I covered all the bases. I dropped my daughter off at soccer and drove to the bank. On the way to the bank, my husband called me, and I told him I was on my way to the bank. He said he was calling me to see if I had remembered to go to the bank. Ha. I gave him a brief (unlike this account) rundown on Holliday. I was still pretty flustered when I arrived at the bank drive-through, and I know I said some things to the teller that made no sense at all, and when I thought about it later, I could almost see myself trying to explain to him about our crazy dog. Maybe he would have understood. After soccer, my daughter and I went grocery shopping. When we returned home, I discovered that Holliday had not stayed around after our neighbor had dropped him off, but had run away again, and that my son, indeed, never knew that Holliday had been gone in the first place, that Holliday had been brought back, and that he had run away again.
Dear Reader, this is a short story I wrote several months ago for a writing assignment. We were to take a real live event and reproduce it in the science fiction genre. This was my first attempt ever at sci fi. The next week’s assignment was to take the same story and re-write it for an older audience. I have posted the revised story, “The Fish Landing Net” already in “Mrs. Agnew’s Corner” but thought you might enjoy reading the original story. Hang on to your seat!!! And if you haven’t read the revised story and would like to, you might want to have a tissue box nearby – but, hopefully, you will want to cheer as well!!
The Landing Net
He was afraid. In his mind, all was almost dark. His thoughts were heavily blanketed by possessive shadows, preventing an acknowledgment of the bright morning winter sun that gaily lit up the ensconced snow – snow that for months had been laying claim to the job of healing rough edges of old, wooden fencing and rusty, forsaken plows. Cold gusts of wind pushed past his pale cheeks, through his hair, and into the warmth of the shed’s interior as he hesitated in its threshold. His left hand clutched the cold, aluminum pole of the landing net, his right hand the pouch of life-giving pellets the winged creatures loved so much. Was today the day? He had tried so many times before. Though he knew courage was gained by facing fears, and not by fleeing them, the many unsuccessful attempts to battle the beast had not removed from him total and absolute fear. Fear reigned. Yes. But because of the fishing net, he had always felt within himself the very smallest hope of hope. With each failed attempt, however, even this very miniscule hope was fading into mortality, leaving him more afraid than ever.
The offbeat cadence of the winged creatures reached the cold, red ears of the boy. He gripped the handle of the landing net firmly, crunched onto the snow, and into the healing sunlight. The landing net was his hope. That’s what they said. If only he knew how to use it. He had asked, “How?” several times, but they always said, “If we tell you, it won’t work. You have to figure it out for yourself.”
As the boy began to unwillingly trod the well-worn path toward his destination on this cold, winter morning, his fear was paralyzing, and his gait became slow-motion. Sighting the enclosure of the winged creatures with his wary eyes, he noticed with disconcertment that the path to it appeared to be shorter than usual. Heightening this new uncertainty, the clouds above in the flat blue winter sky began to rush beyond him as if to get to the other side of the world as quickly as possible. Then the snow-cloaked fencing bordering the path began tearing past him in a parallel race to some distant finish line behind him. Underneath his booted feet, the snow-covered ground sped as if to compete with the fencing. Even all the barnyard animal voices were in fast-forward.
It was hard for the boy to process what he had to do. He had never experienced this sensation of rushing before and decided it must be his nerves. Nerves or not, there was no time to try to analyze once again how he should use the landing net. There was almost no time to be afraid. Because suddenly, all was still. All was quiet. And he was there, at the enclosure, panting, and out of breath – as if he had been racing.
The winged creatures, six of them, stood waiting, calmly, for their food. But where was the seventh? The beast? Did the boy really arrive so quickly this time that the beast did not know he was there? Or was his speed of arrival just the illusion it seemed to be?
The light of the sun reflected off the winged creatures’ enclosure and found the landing net pole, making it glow. The boy began to distribute the life-giving pellets. He watched as each winged creature came forward to partake. Though their feathers were of muted browns and subtle reds, the composition was a warm richness that the boy had always admired.
Then it happened. And as always, it happened without warning. Out of nowhere, the beast, vibrant in iridescent green, bright blue, shinning red, and blinding white, with outstretched wings, a thrusting sharp beak and threatening claws, rushed at the boy in a violent fury. Without thinking, the boy raised the landing net and stabbed it into the air toward the beast. As the beast continued speeding toward its target with hurtful purpose, the boy was amazed to see that not only the pole of the outstretched landing net glowed brightly, but that the ring and the netting, as well, scattered out powerful, sharp luminosities. A split second later, all coalesced into a single laser beam of almost blinding orange that found the beady eyes of the colorful, rushing beast. As if hitting an invisible wall, the destruction-bound bird slammed backward and to the ground. The boy stood stunned, breathing hard, still holding the landing net out like a sword. The conquered bird lay still, breathing steadily, but not making a sound. Then, slowly, with a great adjustment of wings and feathers, the rooster righted itself. The boy, unsure of its intentions, brandished the landing net again, and the bird responded by hopping back two feet. Almost completely sure that the beast was subdued and under his control, the boy waved the landing net a few more times at the bird. At each movement, the now humble bird moved farther away. When the winged creature found himself at what he thought was a safe distance, he began to casually preen himself as if he had no concerns in the world.
Turning to the curious and slightly startled hens, the boy finished the work of the morning, gathering eggs and filling up the water container. As he headed back toward the shed through the bright, snow-covered barnyard, the fresh winter breeze invigorated his sure steps.
Here at Mrs. Agnew’s Corner, you will find short stories, poems or prose that are not necessarily spiritual in nature, but just pieces I would like to share with you. Why the title “Mrs. Agnew’s Corner”? Mrs. Agnew was my fourth grade teacher who first inspired me to write.
The following short story was the fulfillment of a writing assignment for Chamber’s College, Greeley, Colorado. The assignment was to revise a short story (fantasy/science fiction style) we had written the week before (see The Landing Net) and write it for an audience of a different age group. ( A fish landing net is what you use to scoop up – or land – a fish after you have caught it.)
The Fish Landing Net
He was unsure. His mind was occupied in the effort to remember. This possessive mental exercise prevented acknowledgment of the morning winter sun that brightly lit up the ensconced snow – snow that for months had been laying claim to the job of healing rough edges of old wooden fencing and rusty, forsaken plows. The shed doorway framed his stooped figure, and icy winds pressed past his pale, worn checks and into the warmth of the building’s interior. He clutched the cold, aluminum pole of the landing net in his left hand, and in his right hand, he held the pouch of life-giving pellets the winged creatures loved so much. Was today the day? He had tried to remember so many times before, almost to the point of exhaustion. These unsuccessful attempts to engage in and win the battle against the two beasts had removed from him almost total hope. But because of the landing net, he had always possessed the very smallest hope of hope that he could conquer at least one of the beasts. With each failed attempt, however, he was tempted to let his very miniscule hope fade into mortality as everything else that was dear to him had done.
The offbeat cadence of the winged creatures came to him in muffled tones through his knitted cap – a love-labor of his now deceased wife. As always, but in particular this morning, the muted sounds also brought to him some distant and faint blurry memory. He gripped the handle of the landing net, crunched carefully onto the snow and into the healing sunlight. The landing net was his hope. He did know that. If only he could remember how to use it. It was a monster of a problem. Several times in the past, the answer had almost come to him; but like a star that only sparkles when not directly gazed upon, the answer fled away from under his scrutiny.
In his slow-motion gait, the old man began to trod the well-worn path. The distance between the shed and the enclosure of the winged creatures seemed infinite – as usual. But this morning, odd things began to disturb the routine trek. The audience of clouds in the winter blue sky rushed above him as if to get to the other side of the world as quickly as it could. The snow-cloaked fencing that flanked his path also tore past in a parallel race to some distant finish line behind him. Underneath his booted feet, the snow-covered ground sped as if to compete with the fencing, bringing the old man to his destination with amazing speed. Even all the barnyard animal voices were in fast forward. And the old man’s cap now had no power to muffle their chorus.
These sensations!! He had experienced this before!!! The muting wall that held back his memory was being splintered blow-by-blow. Piercing, golden swords of light thrust through and awakened the mind of old man. The landing net! Yes!! And one beast was conquered!! But suddenly, all was still. All was quiet. And he was there, at the enclosure, panting, and out of breath – as if HE had been somehow racing. The winged creatures, six of them, stood waiting, calmly, for their food. But where was the seventh? The second beast? Did the stooped man really arrive so quickly this time that the beast did not know he was there? Or was his speed of arrival just the illusion it seemed to be?
Sunlight reflected off the winged creatures’ enclosure and found the landing net pole, giving it that remembered glow. The man reached into the pouch with his gnarled but steady hand and began to distribute the life-giving pellets. He watched as each winged creature came forward to partake. Though their feathers were of muted browns and subtle reds, the composition was a warm richness that the man had always admired.
Then it happened. And as always, it happened without warning. Out of nowhere, the second beast, vibrant in iridescent green, bright blue, shining red, and blinding white, with outstretched wings, a sharp thrusting beak and threatening claws, rushed at the old man in a violent fury. With re-claimed authority, the man raised the landing net and stabbed it into the air toward the beast. As the beast continued speeding toward its target with hurtful purpose, the man was pleased to see that, once again, not only the pole of the outstretched landing net glowed brightly, but that the ring and netting, as well, scattered out powerful, sharp luminosities. A split second later, all coalesced into a single laser beam of almost blinding orange that found the beady eyes of the colorful, rushing beast. As if hitting an invisible wall, the destruction-bound bird slammed backward and to the ground. The man stood still, confident, holding the landing net out like a sword. The conquered beast lay still, breathing steadily, but not making a sound. Then, slowly, with a great adjustment of wings and feathers, the rooster righted itself. The man brandished the landing net again, and the bird responded by hopping back two feet. To seal the beast’s total submission, the man threateningly flourished the landing net a few more times. At each flash of the landing net, the now humble bird moved farther away. When the winged creature found himself at what he thought was a safe distance, he began to casually preen himself as if he had no concerns in the world.
Turning toward the curious and slightly startled hens, the old man finished the work of the morning, gathering eggs and filling up the water container. As he headed back to the shed through the bright, snow-covered barnyard, the fresh winter breeze invigorated his sure mind.