I just happened to come upon this one morning while reading the local newspaper while eating breakfast and was in search of something interesting to read and thought eh what the hell, I’ll see how this goes and what comes from it. I’m not at all expecting to be published, this was just something to do for fun. Take a read if you’d like. Thanks!
“Take away the art of writing from this world, and you will probably take away its glory.”
— Francois René de Chateaubriand
We tend to agree with Monsieur de Chateaubriand. And as is our custom this time of year, we aim to inspire some glorious writing with our annual Writing Challenge. Two winners will receive a ticket each to the Sanibel Island Writer’s Conference Nov. 5-8.
Using this photo as a starting point for your creative process, we’d like you to come up with a narrative work of fiction of 1,500 words or less. Florida Weekly will accept your original stories in Word format or pasted into the body of an email until midnight, Saturday, Aug. 29. There will be more photo prompts in the months to come. Email them to writing@floridaweekly. com and we will print the best submissions on these very pages. No “snail mail” copies will be accepted. Be sure to include your name, address and contact information with your submission. The earlier we receive your submission, the better your shot at being printed. For more information on the Sanibel Island Writers Conference, visit fgcu.edu/siwc.
Thanks for writing, and good luck.
Below is my submission:
It was one of the many railway tunnels that I’d slept in that summer in the countryside of France. The Red Train runs through it every few hours and so I had to keep moving or I would be hit. I’d found myself living on the streets once I’d lost my job and had traveled so far into France and decided not to go home and face the shame that I’d been feeling. I had told my family that I wanted to live abroad and that once I’d had my fill of the country, I would make my way home to them. That was about four months ago. Yes, it’s true that I was doing fairly well thus far with my little job at a local grocery mart as a courtesy clerk of sorts, but once they found out I was an illegal alien and did not have the proper paperwork to stay any longer in the country, my boss at the store had told me he wouldn’t turn me in, but that he couldn’t employ me for any longer. I moved out of the little house where I had been paying to rent a room from an elderly woman. She wasn’t the sweetest and when I’d told her I’d lost my crummy job at the store, she told me to get my things out by the next day at noon. Not that I’d brought much with me, but man was that a shock to my world. I never even dreamed that I would be living on the streets in France. This beautiful country had been so good to me, and yet I suppose it was mostly my fault that I hadn’t really planned this out all that well. I searched out shelter and knew of a local railway nearby. I went straight away since the summer heat was pounding down anywhere the sun cast it’s rays upon the pavement. I couldn’t find a better shelter than this currently. I was moving from tunnel to tunnel so that I wouldn’t be found. I’d spend my days working on coming up with some form of plan to get a job again. It’s true that the laws regarding immigrants were frightening and I just was not prepared to head back home with my “tail between my legs”. My parents had thought this whole trip was a bad idea from the beginning and I just felt I had to do this for myself. I saved up a couple hundred dollars and came out this way with next to nothing with me but my wallet and some clothes and my passport. I was initially only supposed to stay for the two weeks that were allotted tourists to stay in the country normally, but I called from my hostel I’d been staying at after just three days to my parent’s home to let them know that I had found a job and decided to stay a while longer for the summer. They really had no way to argue with me being so far away, but they warned me about holding on to my money and told me that this wasn’t too bright seeing as my passport was only good for the two weeks as a tourist. I wasn’t about to let them tell me what to do. My parents had been good to me yes, and put me through college, but they only paid for my schooling if I went and received the ridiculous nursing degree they wanted me to get. From the first day I was born, they pushed me and pushed me to attend medical school for they were both physicians and had a local medical practice that they ran together. They truly were quite a dynamic duo together and had some of the highest ratings in our area for their profession. I never wanted to be a doctor. They knew this. I never felt like someone who could spend my days treating the ill. Pushing me as they always did and being such wonderful role models as they were, I promised them that I would commit myself to at least going to nursing school if nothing more. This seemed to satisfy them somewhat and so I received my certifications and became a nurse. This naturally grew boring to me and I wanted to go on some form of adventure. This summer was going to be the one. Yet, here I was, sleeping most of my days away in this lonely, cool, dry tunnel out in the countryside of France. It was a wondrous place honestly. The placards on each tunnel fascinated me and I had learned much of the history of my current home. Moving from tunnel to tunnel and getting to know these tracks was so fulfilling compared to my life back home with my ridiculing medical whiz parents that I simply found this life so much more relaxing and just was not ready to find my way home. And so I roamed on across the countryside in search of more tunnels that lay undiscovered and not slept in by myself. What made inhabiting these tunnels so grand? Why did I find myself fancying being something of a hobo or vagabond or vagrant in this land so thrilling? Perhaps it was because I was an alien in this foreign land. Perhaps it was because I was so far from home and so far from my medical past and my judgmental parents. Or perhaps it was even simply being a migrant. Moving about like an animal in the wild with no rules and no laws to hold me back. This lifestyle that had come to me was just one of the many splendors in my life right now. These trains making their way across the countryside were just like me except for one major difference. The trains speeding through the tunnels were doing a job and their job was to transport the people of the countryside from one place to another. My job was simply to wander aimlessly or so it seemed. The thing was, I did not see it that way. I felt as though my purpose was to bring life to these tunnels. The bricks and cement that lined them felt my warmth and felt me living in them like blood runs through veins and arteries. Unlike the giant masses of painted red metal, metal that would screech on by at times carrying people straight through them, I was there to care for the tunnels and to be their friend. They had no one to show them love and in this I felt I had a purpose and a meaning to my life here. I was a friend to the tunnels. I had no idea whether I had been the first friend to these particular tunnels on this railway line, but once thing was for sure, they were deserted apart from myself and to me this meant something very important to me. The breeze blowing through the tunnel I was currently in helped me believe this even further to my core.
Was I ever going to go home? Of course. I simply wanted to enjoy my life as a free spirit. A spirit that could move about as it pleased like a ghost out of the past that would wander endlessly and be passionate about doing so. Did I miss home? Sure I did. I missed my parents as well. I’m sure I would return and end up working for them at their medical practice and help them with their dreams as well as come up with my very own as well and eventually figure out what it was that I really wanted to do with my life and what sort of schooling I could go into where I could be more enthralled with in life and find some sort of passion and fire for where I could be happy for the majority of my life. Like every responsible adult should. Right? I just wanted to keep going in these tunnels and letting the thoughts flow endlessly about being there for the tunnels and bring life to something that was once so very lifeless, cold and sooty. I felt for the tunnels and they felt for me too. Maybe in some ways we were alike in this way. Cold and empty and in need of someone to bring life to us. Was I to find something in life that would fill my soul up in this manner? To be sure, I would have to leave the tunnels and seek such a thing out. Not today, and not tomorrow, but definitely soon. Definitely soon I would leave my tunnels in the beautiful France countryside. But not now.