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Long Gone

Shane Vande Brake

She stood in the doorway of her quaint farmhouse, orange and pink hues reflected in her hair.  Sunsets danced more beautifully and palpably on the farm. She had escaped; she needed time alone; she had to find her voice. After years of writing pages of poetry and old-fashioned love letters, she still felt alone. She could accept that perhaps she never knew the man she had shared her life with over the past twenty years, but how could she herself have been swallowed up in the midst of it all? She picked up her pencil and tried to put her feelings into words. A different type of writer’s block seized her soul. She was drowning in the abyss of the horrifying realization that no matter what she did, the fact remained: she was a 49-year-old woman with thirty years of regret, longing for that which could never be. Discovering that missed opportunities would never rear their heads to give second chances, she was forced to accept the grim reality that the past could not be altered. The painstaking pencil marks steeped in eraser stains so common to old-school writers mirrored her attempt to blot out those events she determined never were and bolden those moments she wished had lasted longer.  


Her life took unwanted turns by her own choice. The naïve mind and lack of confidence of a bygone her simply weren’t capable of choosing otherwise. Now, older and wiser, she grieved what she could no longer attain. Awareness of another life that could have been hers stirred up a profound sadness that weighed down her heart like irretrievable loss. Belittling remarks repeated regularly gradually eroded her soul. The convincing lie that she was never enough ripped her apart until she was nothing but tiny shards heaped up in a pile on her dirty kitchen floor. Age had selfishly stolen the essence of who she was: a breathtaking slender reed standing tall in a pond of murk. Yet even so, the words of another gave her wings and her farm gifted her the strength to start anew.   


Tucked away in her sleeping porch, she thought of her muse. Solely connected through years of exchanged words, their correspondence was the chink of light in an existing dark reality. Her etiolated spirit spurned her to write, and her pain was released with every crossed t and dotted i. Her pencil became her painkiller, removing every ache as it found its way across the lined paper. Love breathed life, and the wind spoke solemn secrets that she kept hidden in her own little plot of land. The sun melted beyond the overgrown field and kissed her sunken cheeks, as she dreamt of a never-ending land with her heart open and a pencil perched on her porch, ready to take flight. 

Shane Vande Brake is a mother of three, middle school/high school administrator, and editor. Whenever possible, she is helping students with their writing as well as inspiring her own children to write well and write frequently. An avid reader, Shane seeks beauty and meaning in the written word. Having earned her Ph.D. in Spanish literature, her reading and writing are often bilingual. 

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