Story Time

Each new day in our lives begins on a fresh clean piece of white paper, a new tale waiting to be told.


Filed under: STORY — Marilyn Denny Thomas @ 12:51 pm

(Excerpt from CAPE FEAR CONNIPTIONS, the second in the Sisters Together Forever Series and my newest book! Out just in time for Christmas shopping!)

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One October in the not so distant past, Jules decided to join the ancient Israelites and hosted a celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles on her lovely seven-acre property in the country. She prepared a beautiful sukkah in a grape arbor, and we bravely set up our tents here and there and everywhere. Not until the first pain in my weak bladder did I realize what an unintelligent thing I had done. That first pain came about an hour or so after the rain started while I slept serenely on my extremely comfortable air mattress. When I could contain myself no longer, I rolled off the air mattress to go to the bathroom which was yards away in Jules’s house. Splat! I landed in at least two inches of water that had filled the floor of my nice little tent. Soaking wet, in pain, and deeply regretting my decision to rough it like the ancient Israelites, I trekked back and forth to the house the remainder of the night.

During one of those miserable treks, I suddenly recalled that the Israelites’ bathroom facilities were commanded by Moses to be situated outside the camp, meaning all the old ladies and pregnant women had a serious problem back then. I figured the children were not potty trained until they were old enough to go outside the camp by themselves. I vowed that the next time anyone brought up the idea of camping out I would pretend not to listen, and so far, it’s worked.


Barbed in the Holler October 18, 2011

Filed under: STORY — Marilyn Denny Thomas @ 2:54 pm

Moonlight in the Holler

This little misadventure took place during a weekend trip to Jonesborough, TN, to attend the International Storytelling Festival with three of my friends–Christmas, Suzanne and Rabbit. I realize my friends have strange names but you should meet them and then you would understand.  The festival as well as the oldest town in Tennessee—decorated with hundreds of hay bales, pumpkins, corn stalks and chrysanthemums—turned out to be purely delightful. However, due to my being the wimp of the crowd and Rabbit’s need to study, she and I left Suzanne and Christmas in town one late afternoon and headed back to the house in the holler to rest my weary body.

As we turned and twisted through the pretty streets and set the GPS for Malone Holler, we recalled the need for breakfast supplies for the next two days. For future reference, let me warn you that the lady in my GPS does not know that Jonesborough boasts a large and modern Food City within one quarter mile from the school yard in which we parked. She thinks the closest grocery store is at least three miles away. So much for modern technology.

She also pays no attention whatsoever to the fact that one’s vehicle is in a parking lot and gives directions from the road outside the parking lot. We didn’t know she didn’t know that so Rabbit and I, led by Lucy Arnez in the GPS, circled Food City a few times before we decided we were not getting anywhere and then ignored Lucy like the plague. It’s amazing what one learns about an area when one is lost. Fortunately, I find getting lost an interesting activity and Rabbit joined in like the cool trooper she is.

Eventually, we invited Lucy to join in our search for our lovely house in the holler and just before dusk, we turned up the narrow path between horse and sheep pastures that led to friend Ellen’s amazing Serta Sleeper mattress. By this time, my body was screaming for a bed as well as the ice pack I had left at home in eastern North Carolina.

Malone Holler Lane is interesting in that it is firstly a narrow paved road which soon becomes an even narrower path and then, way up the mountain into the holler, the way changes to an extremely narrow gravel path. At that point, one’s vehicle tilts, front up and back down and the motor says something that sounds like, “I don’t want to do this.” Thankfully, my Honda van boasted a little extra horsepower which encouraged it, and us, to continue on up the mountain…howbeit slowly.

Now, just before we reached Ellen’s house (which sets atop an extra hill just for additional fun), I caught sight of a flock of plump white sheep nibbling peacefully in the back pasture to my left. I yelled to Rabbit, “Oh, look at the pretty sheep!”

“Where?” Rabbit turned her head this way and that and saw no sheep. That was due to the fact that now that the van was on a roll, it had moved on up the path a few feet where the woods blocked the view of the sheep. I must make an interjection here. The beautiful sunny day was close to the state of twilight, at least up in the holler. But I did so want Rabbit to see the sheep so I suggested that we drive around the narrow curve just past Ellen’s house in hopes that the sheep might be more visible. However, as we rounded the curve moving at about one mile per hour, the path ahead was filled with people who looked as if they were having a party beside two pickup trucks. Obviously, we could not go that way.

Now, at that point Lucy and I had no choice but to back down the tiny gravel path although I did have a choice to forget the sheep and reverse the van only a few feet so as to then put the van in drive and jerk up the hill to Ellen’s house. Still, being a person who enjoys the enjoyment of others, I was determined that Rabbit should see those darn sheep. And so, after looking carefully in all rearview mirrors as well as the backup mirror Pete bought just for me, I continued to back a few more feet around the curve. All of a sudden, while Lucy was recalculating, Rabbit and I felt and heard a tiny little crunch.

I asked, “What was that?”

Rabbit stuck her head out her side window and replied, “It’s a barbed wire fence.”

“Ohhhh, poor Pete,” I groaned. Did I mention this was my fifth backup incident in the past few years?

But don’t forget that twilight falls fast in a holler and by now it was almost dark. That is my one and only excuse. I still couldn’t see the barbed wire in the backup mirror. The sheep were forgotten as I eased the van from the barbed wire while Lucy said with a rather devil-may-care attitude, “Unverified territory.” We crept up the hill to Ellen’s welcoming door. I opened my door, which was very difficult because the hill leaned to the passenger’s side, and said, “Oh, I hope it’s not bad,” as Rabbit jumped out and said, “It’s bad.” The bumper looked as if it had been cut in streaks with barbed wire which it had.

Now, like dear, wise Scarlett O’Hara, I said to Rabbit, “I’ll think about this tomorrow. Just let me get to the bed for a couple of hours before we have to go back to Jonesborough and collect Suzanne and Christmas.”

Rabbit retrieved the house key from her jean’s pocket while I looked about my picturesque surroundings, admiring everything in sight. The moon shone through the trees and the night breeze had just arrived to cool off the warm sunny day. Lucy and the wounded van were hiding around the corner where I couldn’t see them and all was well. That is, until I heard Rabbit say, “This key won’t open the door.”

Well, I did that thing all humans do and said, “Let me try it.” The key went into the lock but refused to turn. We set our bags down to think —groceries, remember?— and Rabbit came up with the idea that perhaps the key was to the front door of the house. While she traipsed around the house in the almost dark, I perched my weary body on the lone seating place on the deck, a bench with no back. Before she returned, my back had begged me to lie down on the bench thereby relieving the weight of gravity so I did.

My problem-solving friend had not solved our problem. The key may have been for the front door but we’d never know because the storm door was locked, too. Rabbit said the only thing to do was for her to walk up the mountain behind Ellen’s house to Ellen’s son’s house where Ellen was staying and ask for another key. I’m sure she took one look at me and knew I wasn’t going anywhere. After working through the anxiety of whether or not unfriendly dogs might come charging down the mountain as she got closer to the house, brave Rabbit scooted up the mountain.

I thought she would never come down. To this day, I don’t know what she was doing that entire time. It seemed like hours. I closed my eyes for quite a while but sleep did not come. The bench may have been half my width and hard as a rock, definitely not Ellen’s wonderful mattress. I got so bored and the moon looked so lovely shining through a leafless tree that I struggled to balance my body so that I could take pictures lying flat on my back. It was a bit difficult but I must say that I came home with a few awesome pictures of a harvest moon in the holler, peeping shyly through the trees.

Finally, Rabbit appeared and that’s another thing I don’t know. How she got down that hill without me seeing her. Anyway, the story was that our key actually was the key to the front door but we had locked the storm door from the inside of the house that morning making entry impossible. And so, Ellen would now drive through the holler and down the mountain after her son hoping to get another key so that we wouldn’t have to camp out which, had I been younger and less in pain, might have been an exciting adventure on such a lovely moonlit night in the holler.

Rabbit informed me that Ellen would be back in about twenty minutes or so if she could find her son. I wondered if I would be able to get up by then but I kept that concern to myself. My friend had done a good job of taking care of me and I was reluctant to cause her more concern. And so, we both took pictures of anything and everything until the wonderful sound of Ellen’s tires was heard coming up the driveway. Rabbit took off around the house to get the key while I struggled to get off the bench before anyone had the pleasure of watching me.

We had forty-five minutes to rest before joining Lucy in the van and driving back to Jonesborough to get our friends. Christmas and Suzanne may have never known about the barbed wire had we not told them but being the blabbermouths that we are, Rabbit and I could hardly wait. As for Pete, that was another story, one I might tell another day.