A Picture is Worth A 1,000 Words: The Meeting Place

Do any of y’all remember when I used to write “A picture is worth a 1,000 words” posts? The idea was to find a random picture on Pinterest, and then set my timer and see how fast I could come up with a thousand-word story inspirited from said picture. The purpose was to help me learn to write short stories and to practice my coming-up-with-ideas skills. Plus, the story had to be exactly a thousand words, so that made the challenge more…challenging. (By the way, no brainstorming is allowed before starting the timer. That means I find the picture, like how it looks, copy it, and promptly start the timer.)
Well. I haven’t written any of those stories for a long time, a fact that became all too clear to me when I sat down to write one this morning. The story that plopped into my head was rather trite and cliché, but hey, I’ll get better as I continue practicing. 
I’m posting my story from today, even though it’s not stellar, so I can look back after I’m back in practice with these stories, and see the difference. (You can read previous “A picutre’s worth a 1,000 words” posts herehere, here, and here.) And, if any of y’all want to be a part of the challenge, you can join up and post your story (just leave a comment with the link), or you can share it with me at aidylewoh@gmail.com.
Date: 8-24-16 
Time: 26:49
Hardest Part: All of it, I’m out of practice
Title: The Meeting Place
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I stared at the bench, my breath coming in puffs of whiteness. This was the spot. These were the street lamps. The trees. The hedge of bushes. Cold seeped in through the multiple layers I had piled on, yet I didn’t mind it. The shocking weather lent an air of disbelief to the world around me, as if it, too, believed that tonight was merely a fairy tale, a figment of my all too overactive of an imagination. 
Leaning closer, I could see that some tracks had been made in the snow in front of the bench, although doubtlessly not recently. The wind was blowing with strong gusts and would have completely covered them if much time had passed. I looked back at my own tracks leading through the knee-high white fluffiness. The energy I had exerted making my way to our meeting place was far less than I’d spent arguing with myself for the last three days, trying to decide if I should come or not. 
And now that I’d taken the leap and come? Well, perhaps she wouldn’t show after all. Maybe I would have to turn and trudge my way back to the street car. Maybe I would get lost in the drifts and have to build myself an igloo. Maybe this episode really was a dream and before long I’d be waking up in my cozy room, snuggled under the covers, having left my windows open, hence the cold I was feeling. 
Stomping my feet to keep the blood moving, I surveyed the bench, tilting my head first one way, then the other. I could always displace the mounds of snow it was buried under and sit down while I waited. Or I could turn around and leave. I’d done my duty. I’d kept my promise. I’d come and with time to spare, but did she show? No. And it shouldn’t have been a surprise. It wasn’t a surprise. She’d been leaving me in the cold for as long as I could remember. Still, it hurt. The rejection fell over me in little freezing particles, much like the snow was doing at the moment. 
Most people don’t get to choose their families. They don’t choose their parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. And they most certainly don’t choose their siblings. But I had. And sometimes I wondered if that was the reason I struggled so much. 
Although we’d been adopted by different families, I had insisted my sister and I never forget each other. When the rest of the bonds I had felt to my former world dissipated in the erosion of time, I held firmly to the ideal that one day we would meet up again, that we would stay together. Our visits were infrequent and proceeded each time by my excited anticipation, then followed by heartbroken tears as I came to the realization that I wasn’t needed. My sister got along fine without me. She had melted and melded into her family in a way that seemed perfectly natural. It hurt to know she’d moved on, that she’d found a new life, a new world, one in which I didn’t fit. 
You’ve got to make an effort, Lilly. My sister’s words were the same each visit. They love you, you love them. They’re your family and you need to start acting like it. There was a time when she even refused to visit me for several years. Finally my begging and pleading had gotten to her, and I’d found comfort in knowing I was among my real flesh and blood. 
Then we’d had a falling out. I finally had had enough of her mincing and bossing. She’d declared me immature. I’d declared her un-loyal. She’d declared me a girl who could only look backward, I declared her someone who professed to be too good for her roots. And the argument had gone on. When we left, it was without a backward glance. My last words were that she could move on with life. I would never try and see her again. She was dead to me, as if we really weren’t blood sisters after all. As if we hadn’t had the same beginning in life. 
That was when we were sixteen. Her bitter accusations stayed with me for two years, haunting my memory, making me angry. Then I had learned to let go. Not only to the anger, but to the past. She had been right after all. We lived different lives. Our blood wasn’t enough to keep us connected forever. There were times when I even pondered the possibility of her planning out the fight so we’d have a falling out and I would finally move on with life. The thought, while painful, did have merit. After all, she’d finally succeeded in forcing me to stop using her as the crutch she’d been in my life. 
Standing under the stinging coldness, my thoughts chased each other around and around. It had taken me nearly three years to finally admit that she was right. That our argument might have been for the best after all. And of course that’s when she contacted me. Her first initiation at reaching out to me. And it turned my finally-in-order world back into a land of chaos. I was scared of the reaction I would face when I finally saw her again, hence the reason I had nearly been absent. But I was here now, and she wasn’t. 
“Lilly?” The voice was soft. 
I swallowed hard and turned toward the voice. 
“You came.” 
“Of course.”
Reaching out, she wrapped her arms around me. “I was wrong.” 
I returned the hug then stepped back. “Wrong?” 
“Family is important.” 
I sucked in an icy breath. 
“Adopted and blood family.” 
I gave a simple nod. 
“Can you forgive me? Be my sister once again?”
I nodded. 
“I missed you during the last four years.” My sister smiled at me. 
And the cold didn’t feel so cold any more. 

Short Story: A Picture is worth 1,000 Words

I haven’t written a short story in a long time. A couple years ago I was in the habit of doing what I called “A picture is worth a 1,000 words” stories, which is where I choose a random picture then time myself to see how long it took from the first moment I saw the picture until I had written a short story that was exactly 1,000 words about the picture. 
It’s a great exercise for me as an author so when my wonderful friend suggested I write a short story for my blog post today, I jumped at the chance. I convinced her to pick out a picture for me, then I set my stop watch, looked at the picture, wrote the story and did a quick edit on it. It is exactly 1,000 words long.
From the time I first saw the picture until it was in the condition you see below was:
31 minutes and 20 seconds. 
I hope y’all enjoy! 
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It shouldn’t have surprised me after all we’d been through, but somehow it still did. I took a deep breath, willing myself to have the courage. It didn’t work. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” I tried to keep my voice calm, but even I could hear it’s frayed edges. 
“You’re not scared, are you?” Kallie’s eyebrows lifted slowly as if she was assessing my mood. 
“I’m not sure that I would call it fear,” I tried backpedaling. “I just think it’s a really good idea to check all of our options and make sure we settle on the right one before we plunge ahead and, you know, take the dive.” I cringed at how my brain worked in puns even when it was stressed out. 
“You do realize that we’ve been working toward this moment for the last three months, right?” Kallie sighed and ran a hand through her tangled blonde curls. “I thought you had decided to follow the map until the end.” 
“That’s before I realized that the map was leading us straight into water.” I shuddered. “We  have absolutely no clue what could be down there.” I pulled my sweater more securely around my shoulders. “We’ve already dealt with so much because of this map and I’m not sure if it’s worth it any more.” 
The sigh that blew from Kallie’s lips was filled with frustration. “I’ll do it alone if I have it.” 
“You can’t do that.” I echoed her sigh with one of my own. “The instructions clearly state that there needs to be two of us.” 
“And if you’re backing out than what am I supposed to do?”
“I didn’t say I was backing out.” 
“You didn’t?” Kallie’s sarcastic tone of voice reminded me of when we were little girls and she would hang around bossing me just because she was the older of the sisters. 
“I’ll do it.” The words came out of my mouth before I had even thought them through. 
“Lets go then.” 
I held up a finger. “I’ll do it, on one condition.” 
“You’re a little safety-lover, aren’t you?” Kallie dropped her backpack and reached up and massaged her shoulders. 
“Which is a good thing if you recall correctly.” There had been three times since we’d started out pursuing the treasure that the map promised that my overthinking and cautiousness had saved us. 
“Yes, it is a good thing most of the time, but really, just because you have a fear of swimming shouldn’t make our whole quest suffer.” 
I had to concede, she did have a point. I rubbed my hand over my face, trying to erase the fear that was building up. I thought of when we had received the map in a letter from our grandparents. It had been exciting at the time but neither of us had been ready to tackle the huge journey it would send us on. We’d prepared for several months, snatching every spare moment we could while keeping up with the rest of our lives, then when our grandparents sent us another letter telling us it was now or never, we had took deep breaths and plunged into the escapade. 
The last several months had been full of weekend trips, late night figuring and adventures we’d never even dreamed of as we spent our time finagling our lives around following the treasure. 
“Are you ready yet?” Kallie’s voice broke into my memories.
“We have no clue if it’s safe or not.” As much as I enjoyed the hunt and hanging out with my sister, I was ready for life to go back to normal.
“I can tell by looking at you that you’re ready to give up.” Kallie’s voice was filled with accusation. 
“We can’t spend the rest of our lives doing this.”
“We still have our lives, this is something we’ve been doing on the side.”
“Come on, getting over your fear of the water will be good.” Kallie started down the steps; holding my hand tightly, she pulled me along with her. 
The fear I had felt up on shore got stronger each step we took. I gasped for breath, trying not to let my phobia get the best of me. I hated water. 
“What if this is just another clue?”
“You can’t give into your fear.” Kallie addressed my real question. 
When we reached the last step before the staircase entered the water Kallie slipped her arm around my shoulder. “Facing our fears makes us stronger.” 
I bit my lip and then dipped my toes into the water. It wasn’t as cold as the air promised it would be. Deep breath. I continued the decent, Kallie at my side, until the water was waist deep. Then shoulder deep. Filling our lungs with air we continued a few more steps and then bumped into something solid. If I hadn’t been under water I would have screamed. 
A moment later I opened my eyes to find that we were in a hallway of sorts the door was quickly closing behind us.
“What in the world?” Kallie and I slowly ventured forward, eyes widening with each step. 
“An under water passage way?” There were drains on the floor that the water we had let in with us was swirling down. We reached another door and opened it, then gasped in delight. “This is it! This is the treasure!” Kallie threw her arms around me then twirled me around in a big circle. 
We were standing in a huge, beautiful and elaborate room that was filled with books of every size and description and plush chairs to sit on while reading them. Lights had been flickering on since we had come through the door and soon the whole room was sparkling with beauty. 
“This is a far better treasure than I had ever dreamed of.” I felt a huge grin slip over my face as my fear I had harbored during the last stage of the journey melted away.