Hope among the Embers

31 Dec

Author’s note: This blog was written in response to yesterday’s writing prompt challenge on A Writer’s Path: Ten Quote Tuesday, in which we were to write about “A human cage, built without a lock.” It’s a great writer’s site–very inspiring.

Hope among the Embers

My shelter sits on the edge of the Sea of Fear. I have all I need here.

I’ve been building this place for nearly 50 years, and I’ve stocked it well.

The floor is warm, lined with newspaper clippings and childhood essays with large, red A-plus marks scrawled across the top. The yellowed by-lines on some of the articles whisper my maiden name. I re-read the stories now and cringe at my poor grammar and worldly naiveté. Still, I keep them because of the accolades from teachers and publishers; their sparks ignited a fire that still burns in the shelter’s camp stove.

The shelter beams were fashioned over many years through friendships and mentorships. I run my fingers along the loving, encouraging messages engraved throughout in scrawling gnarled script. “I love your writing.” “Don’t ever give up.” “If you ever write a book, I’ll certainly read it.” Each beam is treasured. Some can never be replaced.

I’ve fortified the walls with tools of the trade. I’ve joined writers’ groups, taken tutorials, purchased How-To books, attended online seminars, and traveled to conferences. I’ve taken more notes and saved more useful files than I’ll ever be able to read, even if I knew where they’re stored on this blasted computer. Still, it gives me peace to know they’re there—if I ever need them.

Photographs pasted on the walls chronicle 40 years of growth and maturity, depicting victories over mind and body. Swimming across the Sakonnet River. Gaffing trees. Rappelling. The first time I fired Expert at the shooting range. Periods of extreme grief. The love of a good man. Raising two boys. Unspeakable joy. Jobs of increasing significance. Walking away from the last job to write. Writing a book. Rewriting the book. Rewriting the book.

Firelight from the camp stove illuminates the open front door and the sea beyond. I sit with my belongings and watch the water’s ripples kiss the shore. Hemmingway, Poe, Harper Lee, Erma Bombeck, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Orson Scott Card, Maya Angelou, Nicholas Sparks. My tables, my chairs, my blankets, my friends. Nestled here, I’m safe and I’m happy, but I’m not content.

There’s something out there, across the water, and it is good. My raft bobs at the pier, like hope ready to burst. It’s big enough to carry me and my shelter, and everything in it. But the sea is so vast. I don’t know what creatures lurk in its depths, or whether a storm sits on the horizon, preparing even now to churn the waters into a frenzy. If that happened, I’d lose everything. I look across the sea, and wonder…

Enough for today. I reach up and pull the shelter door closed, then snuggle against the cold with Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Drowsily, I listen to him whisper from across the years:

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. 
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.” 

The fire in the camp stove has been refueled. Tomorrow, I will try again.


Or perhaps it’s a sea of endless possibility…?

19 Responses to “Hope among the Embers”

  1. calensariel January 1, 2015 at 12:07 am #

    Good heavens. So visual I could imagine being there. Very beautiful.

  2. Priceless Joy January 1, 2015 at 12:35 am #

    Very nice! I enjoyed reading this. 🙂

  3. D. Wallace Peach January 1, 2015 at 12:45 am #

    That’s beautiful. I can’t wait to read more.

  4. Kathleen Grunden January 1, 2015 at 1:20 am #

    Wow! You are such an amazing writer. Thank you for your courage and imagination and thank God for this gift He has given you.

  5. ehbates January 1, 2015 at 3:10 am #

    Beautifully expressed!

  6. Aimer Boyz January 1, 2015 at 5:19 am #


  7. Willa Fitzsimmons January 1, 2015 at 7:46 am #

    Again the tears come as I read yet another of your inspirational posts. Happy New Year Rosemarie Fitzsimmons. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and dreams with so many!

    • sklase January 1, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

      I enjoyed this story.

  8. tchistorygal January 1, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    Gorgeous writing. I can identify, but couldn’t have painted the picture with the beautiful strokes and colors you used. 🙂

  9. epvalaerjr January 1, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Your cabin tells the rich story, of your life, your works and your hopes for the future. I loved the way you tackled this exercise and know you will keep on writing-it enriches us!

    • pjoy93 January 1, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

      Thank you, everyone. Your comments and support are so uplifting and encouraging — I will treasure them. Love A Writer’s Path — what an incredible outlet for all writers. Cheers and best wishes to all for publication in 2015!

  10. milliethom January 1, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    Beautiful writing with lovely images. I really love your writing style.

  11. 04ling January 1, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    Profound and right on target.

  12. bonniemanning January 2, 2015 at 2:40 am #

    What an amazing writer you are!

    • pjoy93 January 2, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

      Thank you. 🙂 I’ve read your post also. Nice work!

  13. KikiNelson January 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm #


  14. Christina Cummings January 3, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    Thank you for inviting me to share. Your style is familiar and warm, yet challenging. I hope to read it more in the coming year!

    • pjoy93 January 3, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

      Thank you so much Christina. I hope you stop by often. It’s going to be a great year! 🙂


  1. Writing Prompt Highlight: Embers | A Writer's Path - December 31, 2014

    […] a short story written by A Portrait Writer, created for this writing prompt in Ten Quote Tuesday […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: