Short Story Contest Submission: Amanda Hendrick – The Man And The Swamp

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Her is the second submission for the Short Story Contest. You can vote for your favourite story after all submissions were posted. More to come!

The Man and the Swamp

By Amanda Hendrick

We all know how arguments begin; they start very small with a word or a phrase, not meant to bite the way it does. And then a few words later you are both drowning, unable to tell up from down, in an argument neither one of you wanted to be in. People as with most other things, often come in sets, sets of two. The beginning of this story is no different. And these two people were currently drowning.

They pillaged and plundered and screamed and yelled, until what they were saying no longer sounded like words. The man hissed and the woman returned his fire. The man yelled out insults, but this time the woman spoke louder and words emerged, “You should leave, just leave. Come back in a week, or don’t come back at all. 7 days- no more no less or I will be gone. And you will never see me again.”

The man in a huff stormed from their home. His anger propelled him forward for three days. He would never go back. He spent those three days stomping and slamming doors everywhere he went. He spent three days with his fists clenched and his jaw tight. He spent three days bellowing instead of speaking. He spent three days scaring off any one kind or nice with one look from his dark anger filled eyes.

Then on the fourth day, he sat down and like a puff of smoke the anger left him. The next three days he spent in sorrow and self-doubt. Was he good enough? Should he go back? Would they work out? Was it even worth it to keep trying? He spent three days with his hand rubbing his forehead. He spent three days with tears just almost forming in his eyes. He spent three days slightly hunched over as if the weight of the world had just been placed there. He spent three days forming a new furrow in-between his brow. Should he go back?

On the seventh day he awoke with a start and instead of sorrow he felt something warm growing in his chest. Of course it had always been there, but the heat of his anger had disguised its warmth, and then the cooling off of his sorrow had made the warmth seem natural. Of course he would go home. This warm feeling that he felt deep inside himself was love. He spent the day filled with the passion of love and the contentment one can only feel when they recognize a soul mate. He spent this day moving with sure-footedness and dedication. Nothing would hold him back from his love. He would return today, beg for forgiveness and enjoy every fight and laugh with this woman he loved.

It is often when we are closest to our goals that we make our big mistakes. The man was nearing the woman and their home when he came across a swamp and a very tall man.

The very tall man looked him over and spoke in a voice not very different from his own, if only a little deeper. “Right on the other side of this swamp is your home”

The man began to panic, it was almost sunset on the seventh day, he had to get home today. “I cannot cross a swamp I will sink! I have to get home”

“This swamp” the very tall man said, “is hard at the bottom.”

The man looked at the swamp. He knew he would not get home in time going around the swamp. Filled with determination the man stepped one booted foot into the muddy waters and began to cross. Several feet in, the man began to sink. No, no, he thought as he felt the swamp water slosh against his chest. He kept walking; maybe if he walked fast enough he would get to the other side. So he walked on. He regretted the time he had spent in anger and in sorrow- time wasted, when he could have been with the one he loved. As he felt the swamp water rise to brush at his chin- he turned to the tall man and said, “You told me the swamp had a hard bottom”

The very tall man looked at him for a moment, “It is hard, at the bottom.”

The man looked at the very tall man as he felt swamp water enter his mouth. Then, he turned towards his home and his woman and his happiness and walked on.

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