I'll have to hurry since I'm running late and will want to go eat breakfast soon. The answer to last weeks "Who Am I?" was TIME! Good job, Abigail and EMC.:)
This week was very full. My aunt (Dad's youngest sister) and her fiancee came down from PA for a visit. They arrived Sunday evening and didn't leave until yesterday morning. So, I didn't get any writing done at all! We did get a new front porch roof built.:) So, I was thinking of what to post this morning, and I decided that I'd just post the story I sent in to the writing class contest. I don't think it will win, but you can read it anyway. This is the 7th version. The first was in my book which most of you have read. What do you think of this version?
The evening sun was nearing the horizon as Alan McLean, attired in his Scottish garb with kilt, bray and sporran, climbed the hill to the cliffs overlooking the sea. His face wore a look of pain as he stopped near the edge and gazed about. It was harder than he thought it would be, this saying good-bye. Softly he began playing his much loved bagpipes which he carried over his shoulder. The notes wandered here and there as though unsure of how to find expression, growing louder with each moment, full of an unspoken yearning as they settled into “Amazing Grace” and filled the still air.
As he played the familiar tune, Alan’s thoughts drifted back over the years. Leaving Scotland and settling here in Nova Scotia, Canada had been difficult, but the family had been together. Now he would be leaving for war, alone. Already Britain, France, Canada and others were fighting the German nation. And it all started, he recalled, with an archduke being killed. Part of Alan longed to stay at home fishing with his father and brother, but he knew the very freedoms they enjoyed were being threatened. That was why he had signed up to fight.
He continued playing as he gazed out over the waters which reflected the sun’s evening glories. The sudden realization that tonight was his last night to stand here caused him to pause in the midst of the song and then begin a new one. As the haunting melody of “Auld Lang Syne” floated out over the water, the cliff, the trees, Alan tried to fix the image of the place in his mind. It had grown so dear to him. Pouring his very soul into every note, they swirled and dipped around him revealing the pain in his heart.
Tomorrow all this would be beyond his sight. He dared not turn and look down the hill where the McLean home stood. The very thought of not seeing his brother, not feeling the kisses of his mother nor the handclasps of his father brought the tears to his eyes. Would he have the courage to say good-bye?
His heart felt like lead and the notes from his pipes began to falter and break. Choking back the sob that rose in his throat, Alan tried to continue playing, but somehow the notes, which usually came so readily, refused to come. His shoulders began to shake and the tears to stream down his cheeks.
“Och, my hame! My faither an’ maither, I cannae leave ye! My hert isna at war--!” Sobs shook his tall form, and he covered his face with his hand.
All at once, the sounds of another piper continuing the broken song floated to his ears. Alan swallowed hard. He knew who it was but didn’t turn to welcome his father as he approached the cliff. Closing his eyes momentarily, Alan drew a long shaky breath and glanced beside him. Nothing was lacking in his father’s attire as a proud Scotsman.
The very sight seemed to inspire Alan, for he began once more to play. Though he began softly, he couldn’t remain so, and soon the two pipers were sending the remainder of the song out on the wings of the evening breeze.
Then Mr. McLean spoke. “Aye lad,” his strong voice was clear as he placed a hard, rough hand on his eldest son’s shoulder. “We’ll ne’er be foregettin’ ye. Donnae ye ken that?” Scanning the young face before him, he saw the traces of tears and rightly guessed the cause.
Alan replied in a voice not quite steady, “Aye.”
“Then donnae break yer mither’s hert with sic dreeful songs,” Mr. McLean chided gently. “Her een are upon ye frae oor hame, an’ it’s sair her hert will be if ye’re gang far to war wi’ out singin’ oor favorite hymn. Be ye able to sing?”
There was a moment of silence. Alan gazed out over the waters. Straightening his shoulders he looked his father in the face. “Aye, wi’ David I am.” The words were clear and steady.
Turning to gaze resolutely towards the McLean home, he watched his mother and brother climbing the hill towards him and burst into a lively march on his pipes. The sun was a flaming ball of fire, casting a golden light to tinge the purple and pink clouds. In the east, one or two stars were bravely peeking out of the dusky sky.
All was hushed now. Even the pounding waves seemed subdued. In the expanse above, an eagle hung motionless, waiting. After kissing his mother, Alan gripped his brother’s hand, looking deeply into his eyes. David gazed back and a smile of brotherly love flashed between them. Mr. McLean had begun the melody. Full and touching floated the skirl of the pipes, only hushing its strength when Alan’s rich tenor and David’s perfect harmony began, blended as never before.
“I am far frae my hame, an’ I’m weary aften whiles,
For the longed-for hame-bringin’, an’ my Faither’s welcome smiles.
An’ I’ll ne’er be fu’ content, until my een do see
The Gowden gates o’ heav’n an’ my ain country.”
As verse followed verse, the sun sank lower until the McLean family was left silhouetted against the glowing clouds of the western sky. There they remained until the last echoes of the hauntingly sweet notes had died away to be remembered in their hearts in the years to come.
A thrill ran through Alan’s frame, and he gazed at his father. Whatever this war held for him, or for these dear ones waiting at home, they would be united again. If not here on earth, than in “oor ain countrie.” This was not a last farewell. One day they would be together again.
“Aye,” Alan spoke aloud as his mother slipped her hand through his arm, “though mony years may pass before we see one another, someday we’ll a’ be in a countrie whaur we’ll ne’re part nae mair!”
I'll find out the winners on Nov. 4th.