Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms. Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support!
Autumn blew on the breeze as trees waved in a sea of reds, oranges, yellows, and lingering greens. Breathing in the refreshing, earthy smells of a beautiful October morning, Greta Maxwell savored this season. Soon the wind would bring a biting, icy chill, but for now, the world seemed perfect. This was her favorite time of year, and it made her sentimental as she longed for the people she loved.
Her eyes grew misty as she remembered her husband’s favorite line about the bitter cold air of deep winter. “It smells like Canada out there,” he would say, breathing the crisp air into his lungs. Oh, how she missed him. He would return one day. For now, she relied on her own gumption and wits to make it through the days. She never regretted choosing him above all other men, even with the prolonged separations they endured, and she knew their chance meeting had changed the course of her life. He saved her, and that wasn’t something Greta was used to. She’d always been one to save herself.
Her brother’s absence also caused tears to well in her eyes. Yes, it was her choice to leave their homeland of Germany, but weekly phone calls with him just weren’t enough on some days. This was one of those days. Memories flooded back, and she found herself lost in those long-ago days of childhood. In some ways, their youth was commonplace, yet it had its extraordinary moments. The two remained remarkably close regardless of the distance. Truly, no one understood her more than her brother did.
He’s the only person who can relate to what drives me to be who I am today.
She loaded her vehicle and pulled away from her hideaway set deep in the woods. Greta was a hermit in many ways. Bad experiences with strangers—and some family members—as a young girl created scars, and those scars resulted in her desire to live as far away from others as possible.
As with many who suffered abuse as a child, she carried a distrust of people in general. The best way to avoid trouble, in her mind, was to avoid the public once she was safely tucked back into her home each night. She was kind and caring, but none of her distant neighbors knew her well, and she wanted to keep it that way. No one was welcome at her house unless invited, and few were invited.
Ironically, at work, everyone described her as a “people person.” She loved to make others laugh and she eased their burdens when possible. People turned to Greta for moral support when they felt down. Somehow, she empathized with them, no matter their struggle. A heart like that was born of survival. She’d suffered hardships few knew of. Greta refused to make herself the center of conversations. No, she was there to give aid and comfort to others. She fiercely guarded her own sadness and worries.
For several years, as long as anyone could remember, she taught literature at a school in the neighboring county. Watching fine writing impact young minds was one of the most rewarding aspects of her job, and she was quite attached to her school. Coworkers asked from time to time why she wouldn’t move closer to work. Others asked why she didn’t find a job closer to her home. That was nonsense as far as Greta was concerned.
If I love my job, and I love where I live, why would I want to make a change?
Her lengthy commute gave her time to prepare for the day ahead in the mornings and to unwind from a stressful day in the evenings. What was time anyway? She’d learned to become patient, especially with her husband away for so long, and if she was to be alone for now, why not enjoy the sights she encountered during her drive? On this October morning, the miles disappeared behind her, and she thought about the profession she chose.
Oh, how she loved teaching, even if it had changed—for the worse, in her opinion. Being a teacher was simple in her early days of education. Back then, a teacher focused on not only the content but on inspiring her students. Now the world complicated her passion. Too many rules, too much reliance on technology, and too much dependence on test scores had practically ruined the joy of teaching. Yes, negligent parents and lazy students played a part in the downfall of modern-day education. Greta understood that some families failed to foster healthy childhoods. She dealt with the unruly children—those who simply wanted someone to care. Greta relished her time spent with her students. To her, teaching was always about the children. Besides, no matter how many generations passed, children were full of energy, and being around them kept her young.
On this morning, she knew what her school expected of her. Every Tuesday, Greta arrived with platters of tasty treats. People for miles around talked about the fine desserts she created. Some asked her to open her own bakery, but Greta had her reasons for declining.
“How ever did you know how to make these?” Margaret Humphrey stuffed another gooey bite into her mouth. Greta barely had time to set the platter on the table in the teacher’s workroom before Margaret grabbed a handful.
“Oh, I learned how to bake as a young girl back in Germany. It was expected of me.”
“Well, you know I’m a big fan of your desserts. I always admire people who carry on family traditions.”
Greta simply smiled. It wasn’t worth getting into the backstory of her baking skills.
It’s enough to know they enjoy my goodies.
Greta didn’t leave her students out, either. No, she made sure every child had a delicious snack during each class. She was pretty sure some of the upper-classmen took two or three of her electives classes for that very reason. Double- and triple-dipping her pastries was okay as far as Greta was concerned. It made the children happy, and if it got them to take more literature courses, then all the better.
Greta baked for one reason only: She believed in turning bad experiences into positives. For her, baking was designed to bring joy. No one needed to know the price of those recipes.
That night she arrived at her eccentric little home in the woods. People whispered about its unusual architecture, but Greta ignored their comments. The design had a purpose. It reminded her of that house years ago that shaped who she became. Some people run from their ghosts. Others embrace them. Greta chose to embrace hers.
At exactly eight o’clock, as the flames in her fireplace flickered and shadows danced on the walls, Greta called her beloved brother in Stuttgart.
“Ah, my dear Gretel. How I have looked forward to your call.”
Please visit Caroline on her blog: https://carolinegiammancowrites.home.blog/