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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Janie Fiction:The Woman in the Holler (265* d) RE: Fiction:The Woman in the Holler 26 Mar 18

A tall, dark-blonde young man with deeply blue eyes under startling black lashes turned slowly, his eyes surveying the rather desolate acres of the popular ATV park from the mound of rubble on which he stood. The green forested hills and mountain rills that once were here were gone. Even so, here and there hardy cedar and sumac saplings poked up, and tenacious weeds were establishing footholds. Up in the sun where the rubble was fine and dirt-like, mullein was just starting to send up what would become tall flower stalks, and coltsfoot covered a steep clay bank. Both well established but originally invasive plants from Europe. The same could be said for his ancestors. Over to the left, a mountaintop spring had managed to seep its way to the surface once again. A person with imagination, which he had, could see they were witnessing the rebirth of a mountain stream - at least if nothing else happened unnatural to the land over the next 50-100 years.

The old family graveyard had apparently been bulldozed and/or blasted to smithereens several years ago - assuming, of course, he was in or near the right spot. No way to be sure, given the gaps in the family oral history. He did know he was at least in the vicinity, having definitely located the foundations of the old house much further down the holler where the fill from the mountaintop mine had not reached except to diminish the flow of the creek and kill off most of the creek-dwelling fauna.

The fading leaves of daffodils, a few old apple trees and a blooming, old lilac shrub had helped him know where to look to find the stone outline of the old place. From there he had climbed, at first able to follow the remnants of the old creek before it disappeared under the thousands, maybe millions of tons of tailings from the played out surface mine at what had once been the top of the ridge behind the house.

Late the previous afternoon, near the top of the now truncated ridge, he had marked his location with his GPS, then turned back and retraced his steps while he still had daylight to do so. He wasn't a nostalgic person, but did have a sense of family obligation, plus liked a bit of an outdoor challenge. He had spent the night in a bivy sack near the lilac bush and had been surprised and pleased to have the company of an old tomcat that had appeared out of nowhere. Now, at midday on the rented ATV, he figured he was as near as he was likely to be able to figure to get to where his mom's people were buried. He reached into a side pocket of the backpack he had strapped onto the back of the 4 wheeler and pulled out the mason jar of ashes, dumped them without much ceremony onto the scree, watching as some of the ashes were carried away by the light wind, and as the rest sifted down among the rocks and boulders.

He had 2 days before he needed to be back in North Carolina for work, and since he had spent his scarce money to rent the ATV and had never had the experience before, decided to enjoy the rest of his time. Machines really weren't his thing, but always up for trying something new. One last look at the wisps of ashes still carried on the breeze, one more glance at the ground, a quick text to his girlfriend and his aunt, and off he for a thrill ride. He'd done his duty. May as well have some fun.

Very low, under the sound of the ATV engine, he caught what may have been the sound of a flute.

The End.

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