Friday, November 30, 2012

Award Winning Short Story!


I have won third place in the Best Short Story contest that was hosted on Ericka Szabo's blog. The story, Field of Grace, was written this summer for the Tasha Turner Virtual Blog Tour. Since writing this story I have expanded upon it to make into a film for my thesis project. I also plan to make it into a novel. So here it is folks. The story that won the award. FIELD OF GRACE!





“It all happened right here,” My father says as we climb upon the top of the picnic table. I stare out towards the farmer’s field. Nothing lies before me except cornfields and a small pond on my left with a few trees around it. This trip was a complete waste of time. Today’s Father’s Day. I had come home to Marion for my summer break from college. It hadn’t been a long trip home from Ohio State University. Fact was, I could have visited home more often. Marion didn’t lie very far from Columbus. It wasn’t like it would have taken me weeks or days to go home but I had grown up in the small town and wanted as far, away from there as possible! When you’re related to over half the people in the county the last place you want to be is in the county.

“I don’t see anything but rocks, trees, dirt and plants. Let’s go dad. I thought you wanted to go hiking somewhere special. All we’ve done is driven out of town, towards LaRue and asked a farmer if we could hike in his fields. I was expecting to go hiking at Mohican State Park not in some farmer’s back field!”

“Johnny, this is a special place. This is where it happened.”

“Where? What happened,” I asked totally annoyed at my father’s speculative answer. Why couldn’t he give me a straight answer?

“This is where our family line almost died in the summer of 1912.”

I looked at my dad with a curious face. Died? Alright I had to admit he had peaked up my curiosity. 

“1912, that would be my great, great grandparents,” I asked.

“Yes.” My father stood silent for a long moment. I really hated when he did that.

“Well, what happened,” I asked enthusiastically.

My father smiled and pointed towards an old dirt road covered with grass. “It happened right there.” The events laid before me as I saw the story happen before my eyes.

Twelve year old Stella McGavish peered out the window her father’s two benched Ford Model T. The large field full of people, cars, wagons and horses came into her view. The further her father drove the more the large white tent came into view. Woman and children ran along the field yelling, “The preacher and his family are here. They’re here! They’re here!” Deep in her heart she was grateful her parents had decided to leave her six brothers and two sisters at home. This was going to be a special day indeed! Just her and her parents bring the Lord’s message to the masses. “Ma,” Stella said leaning over the back of the front bench.

“Stella, sit back,” Mrs. McGavish said.

“Look at all the people! There’s so many you can’t see the grass!”

“The good Lord has provided, Stella. There’ll be plenty of sinners to join our flock,” Preacher McGavish answered with an Appalachian accent.

“Isn’t it exciting though. You said God called us out of the mountains of West Virginia to lead his people who live in Ohio back to him. Just look,” Stella beamed.

“Yes, baby girl. I am excited too,” her father answered with a disciplined look. “But let us not forget we are not here to celebrate we are here to do God’s will. This is the beginning of the tent revivals. There’ll be plenty of time to celebrate when the week is through.”

“Yes, sir,” Stella answered then leaned back in her chair.

The day had gone by so quickly. Her father had preached for three hours then they ate lunch. Lunch had been wonderful. One of the members from her father’s congregation had secured meat from the local grocer in Marion while the women had made the sides and dessert. Stella couldn’t remember the last time she had ever eaten so much food! But now she was beginning to think having so much to eat hadn’t been such a great idea. Stella slowly backed out of the tent, hoping not to cause much of a scene as her father was preaching. She clutched her arms over her stomach, grimaced and ran out of the tent. She fell to her knees and vomited. Tears ran down her eyes from the excruciating pain.

“Stella,” her mother’s voice beckoned from behind her.

“It hurts. I ate too much,” Stella cried.

“You’re not the only one sick.” Her mother said placing the back of her hand on her daughter’s cheek. 

“You are burning with fever.” Her mother lifted her up in her arms and ran inside the tent. Men and woman ran around the tent aiding those who were ill. When had so many become ill? Her mother laid her on the ground next to the sick men, women and children. Stella closed her eyes.
Rain trickled upon the top of the tent. A soft breeze gently blew inside. Stella turned her head, slowly opening her eyes. The grassy floor underneath the tent had been replaced by ailing bodies of men, women and children. Three adults moved from between the sick yet none of them was her father. Where was he?! She turned her right. Her mother lay beside her with her arm around Stella’s father. 

“Ma,” Stella called pushing her mother. Her mother never replied.


My father paused as he stared into nothing. “What happened? Stella had to live. She was my great great grandmother,” I said towards him anxiously awaiting his reply.

“She almost died too. The revival was an hour and a half away from town. When Stella had awakened one of the elders had already left to get the doctor in Marion. He never made it.”

“Why?”

“He got sick, had a car accident and died. But none of the congregation knew it. The people stayed in the tent for the night. Many of them grew worse but no one died. The following more the three remaining elders grew concerned so one of the men went to Marion. He found the accident on his way into town. When he saw the man was dead he continued on towards Marion. Later that morning, the doctor had arrived to the revival with plenty of help. When the town had heard of Pastor McGavish’s ailment and the others who were suffering they immediatly wanted to help him. So they loaded up their cars and wagons then followed the doctor out to the encampment. There they found twenty-seven men, woman and children all suffering from extreme food poisoning.”

“Food poisoning? How?”

“The grocer had sold them bad meat but they weren’t the only ones who had been ill from the meat. Many families in Marion had suffered from the same thing. It was a terrible case and some of the townspeople had died from it.”

“Stella’s mom?”

“She survived. It could have been much worse for everyone had the doctor never arrived when he did and with the help he had they were able to transport everyone to the hospital just in time. The event had affected everyone involved. The grocer felt bad about the meat. He never again contracted with the farmer who had sold it to him. He almost went out of business but after awhile the people forgave him. Pastor McGavish and his family had been outsiders in the community. They had faced many hardships because they were from another state. You see in Marion County its all about who you are related to and still is to this day. Don’t get me wrong, son. Our family is big and very protective of all our family members but we are good people. Pastor McGavish learned that. He saw the same people who had appeared cold-hearted to him and his family had mercy, love and kindness in their hearts. He began to have a greater appreciation for the people of his new hometown, Marion. And the people of Marion? Well, after the incident, little by little they began to open up to the new pastor. Pastor McGavish’s congregation grew so large they had to move out of home and build a church. It still stands today and even though its been generations since he was alive people still flock to his Methodist Church.”

“Seems to me it wasn’t the people who learned a lesson that day but Grandfather McGavish.”

“Indeed. He and the people learned to have a greater appreciation for the community they lived in, the neighbors around then and their own lives. It just goes to show you that when someone helps you they are showing mercy, compassion and love. We just have to open our own hearts to accept them for who they are. We can’t change someone into something they are not. We are all different and we should be grateful for that. What a boring place this world would be if we were all the same. With mercy, love and compassion for others we can change the world for the better. That is what everyone learned that day.”

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