A wheel turns and gets one places. We have wheels in our minds and wheels on our modes of transportation — cars, trucks, trains. To be strong, a wheel needs a hub. Just like a community is strongest at the core. From that strength, a community can reach out through the spokes and inform the wheel.
This week, writers explored community hubs. How do they work? Who do they serve? The resulting compilation is a validation of the importance of a hub to community.
The following stories are based on the January 27, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about how a community reaches out.
Bittersweet Memories by Christina Rose
The worst type of loss imaginable. Only in their arms a few short days, a lifetime of memories to be cherished in bittersweet agony.
They rallied. Friends, family, complete strangers who heard. Bake sales and car washes. Mom and Pop shops donating proceeds earned.
The raw, piercing heartbreak a connection even an outsider could relate to. I couldn’t fathom their pain, simple words of comfort insignificant, monetary donations seemingly futile in the grand scheme.
Years later, the community still remembers. Keeping his memory alive the greatest honor. The love of loss still a visceral reminder of what really matters.
Snow Removal by Larry LaForge
Ed was blown away. “Holy cow! It never snows like that around here.”
Edna looked nervously at the steep driveway. “What’ll we do?”
Ed grabbed his shovel but hesitated as he stared at the thick white covering. “There’s no way. We’ll just have to wait for it to melt.”
An hour later everything changed.
Six neighbors converged with flat shovels to scrape the snowy driveway. A path was cleared before they were even noticed.
“Where you going?” Edna asked as Ed retrieved his shovel.
“To join them at the Wilkins’ yard.”
Edna reached for her overcoat. “Wait for me!”
Family by Ula Humienik
“I was buying flowers from the flower sellers by Cloth Hall and noticed a girl sitting on a stool facing the Church. I approached to see what she was doing and there was Basia. Painting,” Milena said.
“And we talked about art, but that was it,” Basia added. “We met again by chance at the Wyspanski Museum.”
“It was love at first sight.” Milena giggled.
“Yes it was.”
Lukas looked at Milena, studying her. She could feel her cheeks getting warm. His eyes were the same color blue as Basia’s.
“What kind of art do you make?” he asked.
Communal Riots by Ruchira Khanna
“So tonight the members of apartment C-1,2,3 will be on guard until 9am” Mr. Doshi commanded then peeped through the rim of his glasses while looking at them, “Any Questions?”
The three gentlemen nodded their heads from left to right denying.
“The following members from apartment D-1,2,3 will be on guard from 9am until 3 pm” he announced while looking at those men, who nodded in assertiveness.
Communal riots had made communities all over the town unite to keep themselves safe from unstable minded people who had gone berserk over a political issue and were going about slaying people and insanely raiding homes.
Diverse and Casual People and Togetherness by Carol Campbell
“Don’t enter the house yet!”, I bellowed at the other community volunteers gathered to help a family who had lost their modest home to fire. It had started in the middle of the night and the family had almost been trapped. Our diverse community is very together so we watch out for each other. The Franklin family had called the firefighters immediately. Now, every one of us was in one way or another, pitching in. One was providing hospitality, one an extra car and others too, in every way they needed. We citizens are the hub of our community.
Neighbourhood Watch by Sherri Matthews
“Did you hear the racket last night?” asked Dee as she handed Jean a mug of tea.
“Did I? Sirens and all sorts, saw the police outside Mary’s place, woke me up. What happened?”
“A break-in I heard, according to Eric next door. Caught the sod, some young drug addict, but poor Mary’s in hospital with the shock of it…”
“That’s awful. Things are getting bad around here…”
“I heard about this Neighbourhood Watch thing, maybe we should join?”
One month later, they held their first meeting at Dee’s house, and Mary felt safer than she had in weeks.
Rural Neighbours by Ann Edall-Robson
They radio says move to higher ground. Take refuge and register at the school. Neither are possible. The road is washed out. The river crested hours ago. Trees ripped from the ground, devastation everywhere.
Thankful for the neighbours that came to the rescue. The ones who changed out their swather blades for the massive buckets. They traveled on land immersed in water. Not missing a farm or home. Gathering friends, neighbours and strangers in the buckets and cabs of their huge machinery; depositing them at the school before continuing on their quest to bring others to town and safety.
Community Adjudication by Charli Mills
“String ‘em up,” one of the returning gold-miners shouted. Others laughed.
Ben, the grizzled trader who’d been buffalo hunting with the Pawnee since 1846 shook his shaggy head. “Now that ain’t fair. A man deserves due process.”
Cobb agreed. The old frontiersman understood democracy better than did most of these farmers who liked the idea of wielding deadly force over miscreants. Cobb stood and towered over them all. “Gentlemen, I wrote a proclamation to our Territorial Governor to petition for our right to adjudicate minor crimes.”
“But we won’t be hanging anyone in our community,” he added.
A Community of Two by Jeanne Lombardo
Mrs. James McClure. Lucy McClure. Is that who I am? I hardly know. Look at me! Living in a dirt house. My only music the godforsaken wind. The space outside my door maddening in its infinitude. I wish I’d never heard of Kansas! But they say there’s another woman on these plains. I’ve walked hours to see if it’s true. And Lord above, it is! We look at each other across the mean, trodden yard. We daren’t breathe. Then we break. Fall into each others’ arms. Laughter and sobs leap from our throats. Oh, neighbor, how sweet the name!
They Reached Out by Sarrah J Woods
They always reached out to me.
First with hugs and diaper changes in the nursery.
Then snacks and flannel boards in children’s church.
Then games, catchy songs, Bible memory contests, and church camp.
Then emotional youth group retreats, prayer huddles, advice, and tissues.
Then awards, leadership opportunities, intense worship services, and missions trips.
By this point it was clear my community had successfully worked together to create something: me.
When I finally struggled to break free, they reached out again: with rebukes, warnings about Hell, and, in my nightmares, stones thrown at me.
They were powerful.
But I escaped.
Belonging by Norah Colvin
He waited quietly as yet another teacher heard his life story; a story without hope of redemption or the expectation of a happy ending. With each familiar incriminating snippet, “more schools than years”, “single parent”, “transient”, “neglect and abuse”, he’d instinctively glance towards the teacher. Instead of the usual furrowed brow and flat-mouthed grimace, he found sparkling eyes and a turned-up smile. He peered into the room. When the children saw him looking, they waved him in. He hesitated. Then the teacher said, “Welcome to our class, David. We’ve been waiting to meet you. Come and join us.”
In Their Shoes by Deborah Lee
People saw the shoes. Many signed the petition, most just kept walking. But hundreds, thousands, saw.
In Westlake Square, more than 3,000 pairs of shoes, to make it real, how many people are without shelter in this city. How many kids’ shoes.
Jane Doe is here, too. She signed the petition. Mostly she’s here for the free hot dog and coke.
Demonstration over, the organizers give the shoes away to those who need them. Jane shakes her head no, thank you, she has shoes. She has a home too, so to speak. Unheated and illegal, but it’s shelter.
Squabble Creek by Pete Fanning
A hawk sailed over us, his outstretched wings washed amber in the late sun. “Mom, they can’t actually move a cemetery. They’ll have it re-fenced, right?”
Mom shrugged. “Oh sure, and who doesn’t love some old gravestones beside a Mega More Super Store?”
Dad called her an idealist. But as my gaze wandered to our bikes, leaning on the sagging split-rail fence along the dusty two-track path, I thought it was actually quite simple. I caught Mom staring. When she smiled a small fire ignited in her eyes.
“Starting to see why I write those letters to the editor?”
Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
The high notes battered my rib cage, a bird struggling to break free. How I admired them. How I envied them. Even the one who turned the page a beat behind the rest.
At the interval, I queued for tea between two of them. Blushing, like they were film stars, I confessed I was impressed.
“You should join us,” they said.
I shook my head. “Can’t read music. Can’t hold a tune.”
“Nonsense,” they said. “Everyone can sing.”
If I could stand among them, my voice mingling with theirs. Soaring to the vaulted ceiling. Like a flock of songbirds.
Healthcare Delivery by Paula Moyer
Jean sat dazed while the IV cranked a repetitive rhythm. Preterm labor was stopped, bur next came four weeks of bedrest.
How? she wondered. With Chuck’s job and a three-year-old with asthma, how?
Once home, a visiting nurse came twice a week. Sally, a neighbor, brought Lydia home from daycare three days a week. The first day, Jean taught Sally how to give Lydia her nebulizer. Another friend from church covered the remaining two days.
Cards. Phone calls. Hot dishes. Visits. Every day something.
With bedrest and friends, Jean, Chuck and Lydia made it. Nola came right on time.
Special Delivery by Jules Paige
Some pregnancies are planned. Others clearly are not. And
of course to say the weather is unpredictable is just a pure
understatement of the facts. So before they started naming
blizzards…well it was the one of 1996, his pager went off.
There wasn’t anyway the volunteer firefighter was going to
get to the station, but the address in distress was just up the
The neighbor with the snowblower cleared the drive. Two
plows and two ambulances circled the block, stopped by
her door and took her to the hospital. Two days later her
healthy baby boy arrived!
The CCR Committee by Pat Cummings
“First agenda item: Winnie Collin’s place.” Peter’s tone was grim. “We have covenants and restrictions in this community. Winnie agreed to them, but lately her trash bins are left out, her garden’s full of weeds… And far too many cars are parked outside.”
Jennifer raised a timid hand; new members were not expected to speak. “You know Winnie is in terminal home care, right? Those cars belong to caregivers and nurses and visiting family.”
“Right!” Peter harrumphed. “So… Who here is going to weed her garden? And who can commit to take care of Winnie’s trash bins every week?”
Rallying Round by Geoff Le Pard
Bad luck comes in threes. Overnight rain, a burst water main and a blocked drain. Hansa’s cafe flooded. The mess, the stench, when Mary arrived were dreadful. Hansa sat on a chair, stoney-faced. ‘This will take forever. I’m not sure I have the energy.’
It wasn’t a one man job. ‘You call the insurers. Leave this to me.’
‘Go. Now.’ Once alone Mary called Rupert her half-brother. ‘You remember the posse you organised to clear Dad’s garden last summer? I need them for a friend?’ Mary explained the problem.
‘On it now. Put the kettle on.’
The Firmament #5 by Sacha Black
Brightly coloured prayer flags looped around enormous columns in the temple corridors.
Entering another chamber, a chorus of ‘Om mani padme hum,’ was coming from a hundred Tibetan monks.
“How the hell are we going to find one specific monk in here, Luke?” I whispered.
He shrugged and broke left to investigate. Instead I chose to sit cross legged and face the front row of monks. Reverberations filled my body. I leant in to check if the monk in was really entranced. His eyes shot open. I flew back.
“What the…How do you know my name?”
Recommended essay from our community:
The Groundhog Day Blizzard of 1916 by Kate Spencer