My Poetic Path

My journey…shared in poems, prose and photos.

The Gift







The Gift (shorter version/contest entry)

“Better days ahead”                        

Her mom had often spoken those words. 

For two years Carrie had mourned her passing. 


Carrie’s own dad had tragically died at the young age of 43. From that day, loneliness and lack of confidence had been her mother’s downfall. The biggest downer of all: Cliff, the man she would eventually marry. Carrie had been just 10. 


Any semblance of a normal home life died with her mother; when Carrie was 16. John, Carrie’s brother was leaving home. He hated Cliff and felt it was “his turn” at 21, to move out. He urged Carrie to do the same. But where would she go, what would she do for money? She had been working for the past year, saving to go back to school. 


Cliff’s new hobby was hitting the bottle, hard. He returned home late at night, sometimes alone, sometimes not. Carrie lay awake in her locked bedroom. By day often skipping work, he ranted. It was high time she started to pay for her keep.


Nestled in a jewelry case that her mother had given Carrie’s on her 16th birthday, an envelope.  Carrie had only found it recently; accidentally clicking a latch that opened a secret compartment in the bottom of the large antique box. A long letter from her mother asking for understanding and forgiveness. Inside the violet pages: 5, $1000 bills.


Ascending the escalator she looked for Gate A5. An old school friend had offered her a place to stay.  


Better days ahead.



 The Gift (longer version)

“Better days ahead”
A phrase she remembered well from her childhood. Her mom had often spoken those words, especially when things were going from bad to worse. And that had been the case, more often than not.
How she missed her mother. Her lovely face; her kind if sometimes misguided ways. For two years, Carrie had been left to mourn her passing. Left with a step-father who had never taken to her. Her mother’s choices questionable in terms of the men she had been involved with after her first husband, Carrie’s dad had tragically died at the young age of 43 of a massive heart attack.
Loneliness and lack of confidence had been her mother’s downfall. And the biggest downer of all had been Cliff, the man she would eventually marry. Overpowering in his ways and large in stature, he had been a looming and forbidding presence to Carrie, a young girl of 10 at the time.
Her mother’s vision clouded it seemed to his dark side, preferring to dwell on his good income and ability to provide the lifestyle that had been accustomed to for all the years before. Her mother had been left with little in the bank and no life insurance after Carrie’s father had died. The comforts of a nice house and all the trimmings would soon be gone, her mother told her, again and again.
Enter Cliff and exit happiness from Carrie’s small, young world.
After her mom died when Carrie was just 16, the cushion of any semblence normal home life was gone. John, Carrie’s older brother was leaving home. He had never liked Cliff and felt it was “his turn” at 21, to move out and move on. He urged Carrie to do the same. But where would she go, what would she do for money? She had been working for the past year, saving to go back to university. If she had to add rent, food and utilities to her list of expenses, returning to school would be even further delayed.
She tried to make peace with living a little longer with Cliff. After all, he had never physically harmed or attacked her in any way up to that point. It was his eyes though that she could never reconcile with. Dark and sinister, without the warmth and kindness that she desperately needed, even more so now.
The days turned into weeks, the weeks into months. Cliff’s new hobby was hitting the bottle, hard. He stopped working on a regular basis and began to expect more from Carrie. It was high time she started to do her share, pitch in, pay for groceries and beer. What did she need to go to college for? He had done alright with only a high school education, hadn’t he? Working as a carpenter had been good enough to pay for the house they lived in and all the clothes and conveniences. Why not focus on finding a husband rather than an education and career?
The arguments went back and forth. The nights became louder. Cliff coming back drunk, knocking into furniture while Carrie lay in bed; the bedroom door locked. Frightening nonetheless. Sometimes, a woman would accompany Cliff home. In the morning, the smell of cheap perfume would still permeate the air. What would her mom have thought of her beloved Cliff now?
Carrie wished so much that her mom was still with her. Together, they would have found a way out of this. Why did she have to leave Carrie. Never had she felt so abandoned and alone.
On Christmas Day she could no longer tolerate Cliff’s presence. He had wanted her to stay home and cook a traditional dinner. Invite your brother for the day if you want, I don’t care. Ask that crazy aunt of yours to join us. Carrie had other plans. Before it was too late for her, before Cliff decided to make her his new “hobby or toy” she would escape. She had miraculously found the answer she needed. The plan was underway.
Nestled in a treasured jewelry box that her mother had given her on Carrie’s 16th birthday was an envelope.  Carrie had only found it recently, accidentally clicking a tiny latch that opened up a secret compartment in the bottom of the large wooden box. A long, loving letter from her mother was enclosed. Asking Carrie for her understanding and forgiveness. And wrapped inside the violet pages, 5- $1000 bills. Perhaps a part of the small inheritance she had received when Carrie’s beloved Gran had died. At the time, her mother had kept this secret from Cliff and for that Carrie would be ever-grateful.
 Her mom’s last gift to her. Unexpected and found when Carrie needed it most.
Ascending the airport escalator she scanned the direction arrows leading to Departure Gate A5. A new life awaited in another state. An old school friend had offered her a place to stay until she got on her feet.  She would make a life for herself far, far away from Cliff and all the losses of the past years.  
Yes, there would be better days ahead….

PS: The first, shorter version above was my entry for: The Clarity of Night “Ascension” contest. The second, longer version was the first draft I wrote and then edited to conform to the 250 word count allowed for this contest.

Hope you enjoy them both.    🙂

There’s still time to enter Jason’s contest. Check out the details and entries posted to date at: The Clarity of Night.


Author: Geraldine

I am a freelance writer, poet, artisan, avid book/product reviewer and award-winning cookbook author. I recently published the second volume of my new vegetarian cookbook series: The Groovy Green Kitchen (Volume 2): Simply, Super, Supper Soups and my inspirational, pro-active and fun book/eBook, all about aging well: Laughing AT the Grim Reaper! Gems of Wisdom for Aging Well. I am also the author of: The Groovy Green Kitchen (Volume 1): Weeknight Veggie Slow Cooker. Third Chapter, Second Chance (a mid-life romance). Not Just for Vegetarians: Delicious Homestyle Cooking, the Meatless Way and the poetry collections: Haiku Reflections: The Four Seasons (Volumes I, II and III) and My Poetic Path. These titles are available at all the Amazon sites. When I'm not writing or creating new recipes, I love to knit and crochet; usually with some "help" from feline friend, the yarn-loving Mr. Cheddar! 🐱 With Blogger, I also host my new author's site: Geraldine Helen Hartman and my product review blog: My Real Life Reviews. I hope you will visit often and enjoy all of my sites.😂 Thanks so much for stopping by. Wishing You a Happy Week and Namaste!

21 thoughts on “The Gift

  1. you know when i read your contest entry I could really imagine her life with Cliff… and now when I read the longer one, I realize my imagination didnt fail me.
    Am just wondering how tough it was to cut the longer one to 250 words. But you managed it wonderfully. Those remaining words made the trick and gave the reader everything he/she needed to see through the words to the story of Carrie’s life.

    Good luck in contest 🙂

  2. Hi Geraldine – thanks for visiting my blog. I enjoyed this story on Jason’s Clarity of Night Blog – I like the longer version even better. Good for you.

  3. Good story, and good for Carrie!!

  4. I like both versions, they do read differently, though I like the long version better because of the extra thoughts and details

    good luck!

  5. Ah, freedom. I like this very much, Geraldine.

  6. Great story, G! Good luck in the contest!

  7. I simply loved the original draft!It must have been a real task to re-shape it into just 250 words and yet convey the essence.

    Keep up the great work 🙂

  8. Great job, G! It’s funny how a picture strikes different thoughts with different people. The picture made me think of something different, but I can really see your story, too.

  9. I’m glad I got to read the uncut version…though you cut it perfectly to fit the 250 word limit. I really like seeing more detail into Carrie’s life and getting to know her a little better. Great story either length. 🙂

  10. A very nice story representing the downfalls of life but a future of rising possibilities with the essence of hope.

  11. Hi Lena, Welcome to MPP! It was quite difficult to “chop” out all those words but at the same time, I enjoyed the process of making the short version work as well. Thank you so much for your kind words.

    Hi Abigail, Welcome and thanks so much!

    Hi Sandy, Glad you enjoyed the read Sandy.

    Hi Lissa, With no word count to think about, I certainly was able to add more details. Thanks L.

    Hi Sandy C, It is always a great subject to incorporate into a story. Always uplifting I think.

    Hi M, Thanks friend!

    Hi Sameera, Welcome and thanks for your lovely comments, here at at the Clarity of Night.

    Hi Beth, That’s what is so exciting I think, about Jason’s contests. How we all see the same pic so differently. Are you still sending in an entry, I hope so.

    Hi Ruinwen, Ah, you are so nice. Thanks dear R.

    A sincere “good luck” to all the entrants. No matter who wins, we are all winners just by being there. There is true joy for me to be there, meeting so many kindred spirits. G 🙂

  12. Hi Gemma, Your comment “snuck” in LOL while I was typing mine, thanks so much dear G. Hope you are entering a story too. Hugs, G

  13. wow. the one written for contest was grt. and now tht i read the original draft, its like a movie. very well narrated!

  14. What I wouldn’t give to find a box full of thousand dollar bills. There was a feeling of someone looking out for Carrie in this. Her gift was more than the tangible gift of the money. I like how you used the escalator as her path to freedom. Very nice!

  15. Delightful! This sort of story is just what I like to read…the “better days ahead” with the sadness at the BEGINNING of the story!
    You’re writing is excellent….good luck with the contest!

  16. Hi Anil, Welcome to MPP and thanks so much for your wonderful words!

    Hi Selma, Me too dear S, me too. 😉 I hear ya!

    Hi Sallee, Good to see you S! You are so kind.

    Do keep watching Jason’s blog for new entries. There’s some great work to enjoy over there. And don’t forget the reader’s choice awards too.

    Hugs, G

  17. Both versions read well! I liked that the short version didn’t lose any of the flavor of the longer one. Carrie’s mother made what I consider the worst mistake possible, marrying someone who doesn’t love your children.

  18. An excellent short story . It’s going to be hard to top this one.

  19. hello g… thank you for the headz up short story contest.. it is an excellent exercise and the stories are great!!!…. can only imagine how hard it would be to shorten a story…. don’t know where i would start…. tho i like both…. love is a mystery don’t you think…

  20. Great job of condensing from 856 words to 250! Wow! (Yes, I did count them. 🙂 )

    I liked the longer version too because it builds more on the characters and the circumstances, but I find the shorter version much sharper, more poignant. Well done, Geraldine!

  21. Hi Carrie, Good point there re: remarriage and children. So very true.

    Hi Joe, Thanks sweetie! 😉

    Hi Pie, Love is what it’s all about, what makes the world go round, what makes it all worthwhile…Thanks for your kind words.

    Hi Vesper, Welcome and thanks so much. It was quite a task going from 856 to 250 words. I’m glad so many readers think I did a good job of this.

    Thanks for your continued support, most appreciated, G

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