The Daily Prompt 2016 : The Second-Hand Hero

The Prompt from: The Daily Prompt 2016 by J. C. Cauthon

Take the following words, and use them in a short story or poem:

new, subtract, amused, escape, second-hand

The Second-Hand Hero by Sojourner McConnell

I woke up this morning in the mood for something new. I had known right away what it had to be. So I grabbed my checkbook and began to subtract the debits from my checking account. To assure I had the funds for my mid week escape. When I wake up in this type of mood, there is no other place that cures what ails me like, Susan’s Second-Hand Rose. That store amused me like no other. There were vintage clothing and shoes. I have always loved a good nineteen forties Dress.

It made me happy to dress like an actress in some of my favorite movies. The Egg and I, My Favorite Wife, I remember Mama. Oh, I do love a good nineteen forties movie. I loved wearing a dress that made me feel like Irene Dunn. Sure, I looked nothing like her. I for sure don’t speak like her. I am a country girl from Alabama with straight blond hair. I couldn’t pass for the beautiful Irene Dunn, if I tried. But I sure feel like her when I am in one of those dresses.

But today, I wasn’t interested in those dresses, or Irene Dunn. Today I wanted to find a well loved book. One that had been read by a sensible woman from the middle of last century. I wanted to fall in love with a man that had caused another woman’s heart to flutter in her chest right after the Second World War.

But not just any man. He had to be one of those handsome young men that felt the call to arms. A man that had enlisted with vim and vigor. A man that had written to his family regularly telling them of his love of God and country. A man that had stood up bravely on the shores of Normandy. A man that had loved deeply and was now afraid he would never love like that again.

I knew that he had come from a farming community somewhere in middle America. A man that would come home a little different than when he left. A little wiser, a little jaded and perhaps a little broken.  I  needed to find this man and mainly I needed to read his story.

Today, I needed to be the woman that saw him as he returned home, a hero. The woman that saw him as the only man she could love. The  woman that could acclimate him back to civilian life. The woman that made him able to love again. The woman that made him feel unafraid of loud clashes of thunder and vivid lightning. The woman that made him whole again.

Today, I needed to be that woman. I wanted to read myself into her words and see myself in her clothes, wearing her sturdy shoes. I wanted to read myself in her actions. I needed to be the woman that had sacrificed her own sleep to make sure that he was able to sleep through the night again. Today I needed to be the woman that loved that soldier.

I had only been inside the shop for a moment when I was approached by the owner. Susan always greeted me with a smile and called me by name, today was no different.

She asked, Lillian, what are you  looking for today, I have several nice dresses that I  just acquired.

I shook my head and told her “today I had something else in mind.”
I walked to the back wall where the second-hand books were stacked neatly on the floor to ceiling bookcase. I began to cull through the books hoping to find what I needed so desperately.

There were plenty of books on that large oak shelf that were about the war. The hard surfaces faded and the corners curled, but I did not find what I was seeking. I brought over the footstool that Susan kept for short people like me, to reach the higher shelves. I climbed up the first rung. There I was able to see what treasures were housed just above my head.

The faded greens and grays with the occasional pale orange and blood red bindings were a delight for my eyes. My nose was also twitching with excitement at the aroma of those books, some almost one hundred years old. My fingers felt thick with the ages old dust and oil of other people’s hands. Yet, I was in heaven. I had slid my fingers over every title written on the side panel of each and every book. Then I saw something that made my heart flutter. I took in a deep breath and smiled.

The title was Come Home My Darling by Dorothy Napier, the cover was deep blue and the letters were embossed. My fingers traced over the letters and I pulled it off of the shelf. I did not even step off the stool, I simply opened the book and read.

The train pulled into the station and the soldiers began to cover the cement platform like ants marching in green wool. Men in all manner of military garb stood shoulder to shoulder, duffel bags on their backs and nervous grimaces on their faces. Every eye was shifting back and forth as they looked desperately for familiar faces. One by one the grimaces became smiles when they found there was someone that loved them waiting at the station.

I watched hoping to find the one face that would respond to my smile. I wanted to be there when he came home, his welcoming wife. If he is not on this train, I will be here for the next, and the next. I will be here to welcome him home. No matter how many smiles I have to muster.

I sighed. Yes, in my hand was the book that had called me here. Here was the woman I needed to read about. I would wait with her on that crowded platform, waiting for him, our hero, to come home. I had found exactly what I needed. I took that blue hardback book to Susan. I paid in a hurry, ready to escape to my own home, to my own bed. To read the second-hand book that had so urgently called to me today, to meet my second-hand hero.


Story A Day: Day 4: Panic

This is day 4 of the Story a Day Challenge. Each day we receive a different prompt.

The Prompt today:

Write a story in the first person

Here is a very unusual item from me.  A first person story.  I hope you enjoy.

  Panic by Sojourner McConnell


I could feel the difference the moment I opened my eyes.  The light was filtered so I realized right away that it was very early in the morning.  I am a bit of a night owl, so I don’t always see daybreak.  This morning, however, I did.  I knew something was off kilter.  There was an aroma in the air.  A scent I wasn’t able to understand. I found it hard to breathe and I did not want to move my arms and legs. I wanted to stay in this curled position and go right back to sleep. My heart was fluttering in my chest; I had awoken to the feeling of cold, hard, panic.

Something was drawing me to get up. A thought, ever so fleeting, insisted that I leave this warm cocoon of blankets and pillows. I resisted as long as I could before I hurled myself out of bed. Adrenaline was pumping through my body and mind.

I sped down the hallway to the kitchenette. It was there, I became aware that I was not alone.  There were two cups of steaming coffee on the old red linoleum table which had once been my grandmothers.  I looked at those steaming cups, my mind awhirl but that explained the smell. I was nervously wondering who had placed them there. They were not my cups. They were completely foreign to me.

Why two cups of coffee would be left unattended on the table made no sense to my hyper vigilant mind, knowing I live in an apartment alone.  Totally puzzled at the mysterious cups I fought back the panic.  There was an uncomfortable fear niggling at my brain.

I quietly slid open the kitchen drawer that held a mish mash of odds and ends.  My hands quickly felt what I was searching for. I pulled out my grandmother’s old wooden rolling pin.

Without looking I clasp either end with both hands and began to silently creep down the hall and toward the back of the apartment.  The second bedroom that I rarely enter, beckoned with the door standing ajar. Not too far open. Just open enough to send bolts of electric fear shooting through my body.

I remembered locking my door before turning off all the lights and retiring last night. Yet, I knew there was someone in my apartment. There is someone hiding in my guest bedroom.

I brought the rolling pin high in the air. I wanted to have that momentum to stop whoever was threatening my security.  With the toe of my shoe I pushed the door, opening it just enough to see into the room.  I could see the chest of drawers against the far wall. I could see the mirror that hung over it. I used that mirror to aid me in my attack.  I was staring so intently into that mirror; I did not know when I first heard the sounds.  Those strange sounds, yes I had become quite aware of them by now.  A grinding, whirring sound that filled the room that by all accounts should be empty.

Gritting my teeth and tightly gripping the rolling pin I ventured in.  The first thing I noticed was the window. The single window was completely naked and flung wide open. Open and allowing a breeze and those odd whirring sounds to pour in.

My heart was pounding as I crept toward that open window.  Then a gloved hand appeared clutching the windows sill.  Seeing that large black glove sent chills right through me.

What happened next was so surprising to me I almost screamed.  A face peered in, looking directly into my eyes.  A face half covered by the outside casing, a face that I couldn’t make out through my squinting eyes.  Eyes that I had attempted to close tightly in order to scream.

Then I heard it, a voice.  I heard the clear baritone voice that called me by my name.

“What?” I sputtered “Who the?”  I was muttering to myself shaking like a sign in a storm.  Unclenching my eyes, I took a deep breath, still holding the wooden rolling pin over my head like a club.

“Kimberly. Hey… Kim… it’s just me.  Calm down.  I told you I would fix the screen next time I was in town. Remember?”

“Daddy? Oh my God, Dad… That was months ago!”

Dropping onto the bed, I looked up at him still shaking. All I could say was, “You scared the life out of me!”

Dad being Dad had the nerve to ask… “Did you see I brought Coffee?”