By Amanda Tero (Written in 2005, age fourteen)
This was my first short story, written as a school assignment (after I post all three parts, I'll share my original "Afterword" which explains a little more). It was fun to read again after all of these years. I can detect some immaturity of my thought-process at fourteen but the story was fun to read nonetheless.
Read Part One HERE and Part Two HERE
My stomach seemed to flip as Carla and I wandered slowly out of the old mill. The door closed behind us and I felt a sudden urge to go back to where my family was.
Why did this have to happen? Why did I ever follow that girl? Who is she anyway? What is going to happen to us now? I questioned myself, bewildered.
Suddenly, Carla grabbed my arm. “Look!” she exclaimed excitedly. “Aunt Lora!”
My eyes followed where she was pointing and I sighed with relief. Mom stood talking to a lady next to one of the cabins. I tried to hurry to Mom, but my ankle prevented it.
“Oh, there you are Salina. I was wondering what took you two away. You left before Dad could tell us about this old-fashioned town.”
“We-we found it though.” I stuttered, not believing my ears. An old-fashioned town! This must be where the girl came from…and went to. I wonder if I can find her yet.
“You two may walk around if you’d like.” Mom said, interrupting my trail of thought.
“That’s…fine. I mean--at least, I will, if Carla doesn’t mind.” I said, scoping out the area.
“I’ll go.” Carla added quickly.
I forced myself to breathe deeply. My ankle began to throb as I walked quickly down the main street. I was looking only for one person—the girl.
I looked around at all the different cabins and all the people who seemed to have stepped out of the past. They began to spin around before my eyes and my head began to feel light. I grabbed Carla’s arm for support.
“You’re going too fast Sal.” Carla scolded gently. “You shouldn’t be so impatient to find her.”
“I know, but I want to find her.” I stated stubbornly.
Carla sighed and continued slowly, which forced me to slow down too. The cabins looked endless. Time seemed to stand still as we pressed on.
Carla stopped abruptly. She silently tipped her head towards a cabin several yards away. Children flocked in front of it. I stared at the cabin, trying to sort one child from another. Surely our mystery girl would be with all the others.
Carla stood up straighter. I could tell her patience was wearing thin.
“Let’s go.” I started off at a brisk pace but slowed to a regular walk within two seconds as my ankle protested.
Finally we were at the edge of the group of children. They were sitting in a circle, tossing a ball to and fro. I noticed a tall lady holding a baby. Her dress was similar to that of our mystery girl’s. She saw us and walked forward, wearing a bright smile.
“Hello young ladies. How may I help you?” Her voice was soft and friendly.
“W-e-l-l…” my confidence suddenly vanished and my voice sounded small and squeaky.
Carla came to my rescue. “We were just looking for a girl about Sal’s height.” She said, pointing to me. “Her dress is like yours.”
“Oh!” The lady’s face broke once again into a radiant smile. “That’s Alyssa. She’s in the cabin. If you wait a moment, I’ll get her for you.”
With a swish of the many layered skirts, she had gone into the cabin. As the cabin door opened again, the lady came out, followed by our mystery girl.
“Here she is.” The lady said cheerfully. “Alyssa, don’t worry about your applesauce, I’ll take care of it.”
Alyssa nodded as the lady went back into the cabin. She looked up at us then her gaze fell to the ground.
“Hello Alyssa.” My voice sounded calmer than my frazzled mind really was. “I suppose we should formerly introduce ourselves. I’m Sal and this is Carla, my cousin.
Alyssa’s eyes glanced at us shyly then dropped again.
I took a deep breath. “And—well, um…” Why do I want to talk to her? I looked helplessly at Carla trying to signal to her.
Carla took my hint, and asked, “What were you doing in the mill?”
I felt my temper start to rise. “Can you speak or not?” As soon as the question left my mouth, I regretted it. Lord, forgive me. I breathed quietly.
“Yes.” Alyssa’s voice was barely audible as a soft pink flush spread over her cheeks.
Carla glared at me warningly, then gently asked. “Alyssa, what do you do here?”
Alyssa glanced up at Carla. “Feed cows and housework.” She replied, her voice gaining confidence.
“Where’s the barn?” Carla encouraged.
Alyssa pointed to her right—opposite of the mill.
“But—“ I began. Carla glared at me again and I bit my lip.
“Do you like the stream?” Carla asked.
Alyssa nodded, her face now flaming.
Lord, put the right words in my mouth. I prayed. “Well, it seems you’re familiar with this place. Could you show me your favorite place?”
Alyssa looked shyly at me. “I’d rather not.” She looked back at Carla, then, changing her mind, she nodded and started walking.
I skipped a little to catch up. My ankle gave way. A moan escaped my mouth as I landed on the ground, clutching at my ankle Alyssa spun around, her eyes wide. “Is it sprained?” She knelt down next to me.
“I’m fine.” I said.
“No, don’t walk.” Alyssa ordered as she gently examined my ankle. “It’s just a twist. Try to walk slowly, take your time, and—and…” her shyness suddenly returned.
I nodded and smiled. “Thanks!” With Carla’s and Alyssa’s help, I was back on my feet.
“How do you know about sprains?” I asked.
“Dad’s a doctor,” Alyssa answered.
We walked in silence. I looked ahead at the small forest then at Alyssa. Her shyness seemed to reach out to me suddenly. I took a deep breath. “Alyssa, I’m sorry about getting mad at you.”
Alyssa nodded. “That’s okay.”
Another uncomfortable silence passed. “I—um, have to apologize too…” Alyssa’s voice shook. I looked at her, puzzled. “Well, I was…spying on you.”
“On ME?” I gasped.
Alyssa nodded. “Your family—I was wondering—well, are you Christians?”
A smile broke out on my face. “Yes, we are.”
Alyssa sighed. “I was hoping so. You probably didn’t know I was.” Her face turned crimson. “I didn’t act like it.”
Carla smiled. “Alyssa, we all have times that we don’t act like Christians. The important thing is to be sure that our relationship with God is right.”
Alyssa nodded. “Yes, you’re right.”
“But we must try to follow God’s Word, and if we do that, then Christ will show through us.” Carla continued.
“I wasn’t exactly acting like one either.” I laughed a little. “I suppose God has a handful here if we aren’t trying our best.” I grew more serious. “Maybe we can help each other out.”
Both Carla and Alyssa nodded.
“I know! We can start writing to keep each other accountable.” Carla suggested.
I looked at Alyssa, with my face questioning her opinion. She beamed at me and I grinned back.
We were all deep in thought as Alyssa once again took lead, guiding us to her favorite spot.
She’s a nice girl after all. I thought, Dear Lord, I’m sorry for jumping to conclusions, please forgive me. And help me to live more for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. I followed Alyssa over the hilly land, with my spirits soaring.
My original "afterword" at fourteen
“Shadows of the Past” is not actually an original idea, but an assignment for school. Mom had found a free course online full of assignments for writers. The first was “Why I Write”, a paper on…why I write! That was alright, but not really what I thought of when “fun” and “writing” were put together.
Then came this assignment! And it sure came! The edited version of the assignment basically said, “You and your family went for a picnic next to a stream. You see a strange girl in a long flowing dress and wonder why she is there.” It also had certain requirements. For example, one was the yellow checked blanket that was spread on the ground in Part One.
So, I sat down and wrote…and wrote. It turned out being my very first “short story” that I had ever written (my stories are always long!), being about five pages. I was excited. I thought up several different titles for my work that ran along the line of “past”. “Shadows of the Past” was the only hit. So, “Shadows of the Past” it became.
After I turned in my assignment to be graded, I found out one slight problem, the assignment was, “write a paragraph…!"