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The Woman on the Mountaintop - Response to a Writing Challenge

Shauna's preferred genre is fiction. She particularly enjoys rising to a challenge posed by fellow artists.

Meeting Billybuc’s Writing Challenge

Sometimes we need a trigger to set our creativity on fire. Picture prompts do that for me and billybuc fires me up more than anyone has to date. This is my response to his most recent challenge.

the-woman-on-the-mountaintop-writing-challenge
The Blue Ridge Mountains of Ashville, North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Ashville, North Carolina

The Woman on the Mountaintop

Once I realized I was on the mountaintop I could breathe again. I don’t know how I got here or what sent me to my refuge. All I know is this time it was different. I knew it when I took inventory of my aching body. My jeans were torn. My hair was full of displaced Earth and gravel. And I was bleeding.

But it doesn't matter. I’m in my happy place. This is where I belong.

This is where I go to find peace. Lord knows our world is ravaged with anything but, but I have my special place and this is it. When I’m atop the Blue Ridge mountains, I’m close to God. I hear the wind as the birds swirl and sway in their dance below the clouds. I smell the evergreens. I smell the Earth. I feel my soul.

Not many people think about their souls. They’re too busy building their empires and pushing their children into the mindsets that will achieve their selfish long-forgotten rites of passage, in an effort to ease their own guilt.

There’s nothing as free as inhaling the sounds of nature and breathing its life. Yes, I meant to say ‘inhaling the sounds of nature’. You see, until you’re up here intaking fresh air, listening to the sounds of trees swaying in the breeze, comingled with birdsong, you cannot fathom the ultimate beauty of life that I inhale when I’m here.

One More Cup of Coffee (To The Valley Below)

In The Valley Below

“This just in: A woman was beaten to death in front of a homeless shelter in Ashville, North Carolina. Our reporters have discovered that her name is Sheila McIntyre. We have not been able to locate her family and request the help of our viewers.

“From what we have determined, Sheila was known for advocating for the homeless even though she was homeless herself. She’d give up her space in a shelter for others who needed the room; those who had children, those who were immobile, and those who just needed a safe place to rest for the night.

“Sadly, her body was found behind a dumpster close to the shelter. We pray for her and reach out to you for any information you may be able to give regarding the murder of Sheila McIntyre.”

Before the news hit the airwaves, people gathered around Sheila’s body. Homeless folks, local proprietors, and the curious formed a semi-circle around her frail, beaten frame. One lone soul started softly singing, Kumbaya. Soon, the neighborhood was filled with a cacophony of voices. “Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya. Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya”.

As the melody rose, Sheila’s wounds healed. The stronger the voices became, the less pain she felt until she was once again at one with the peace of the mountaintops.

Sheila Reflects

I remember when I first found this spot. I was about six. I’d run up here to get away from hearing my parents argue. Then one day they died on their way to pick me up from a birthday party. Everyone felt sorry for me, but I felt guilty because I was always praying that something would make them stop fussing. But not that. No, I never wished for that!

I remember running out of our yard and going as high as I could. That’s when I learned to climb to the mountaintops of the Blue Ridge. I kept going and going until my pain fell away. I saw something new and miraculous up here and it’s been my go-to place ever since. It’s my haven, my home.

I don’t know why I never found a comfortable foster home or why I wasn’t the right fit. It really doesn’t matter now. I’ve always preferred to be alone anyway. Nobody sees what I see or feels what I feel.

That advertising job I had, well, it paid me well. But something was missing. Money and connections didn’t do it for me. The fancy house was more a headache than anything. I wasn’t happy, plain and simple.

Scroll to Continue

One day I decided to take my fucitol pill and leave the life of comfort behind. After all, I wasn’t happy hob-knobbing with superficial people. I just didn’t fit in. That lifestyle tore me up and tore me apart.

I was worth more than the torment that life gave me.

From there I don’t remember how I became homeless. I didn’t care. The people I met sleeping under overpasses and camping in the woods taught me more about life and what’s important than I’d learned while trying to make something of myself.

Myself. Hmmm. That’s what is all comes down to. I’m only me when I’m on the mountaintops. Here I’m free. Here I can breathe. Here I don’t have to please anyone. I don’t have to pretend. I’m the ‘me’ that God intended me to be.

Looking out over the Blue Ridge from Sheila's vantage point

Looking out over the Blue Ridge from Sheila's vantage point

The Legend of the Woman on the Mountaintop

Sheila’s story has been passed down for generations. Countless children, hikers, and tourists have climbed the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Ashville in an attempt to feel her spirit and perhaps get a glimpse of her, for it is said that once you reach the top, you can smell her scent, absorb her love of life, and be transformed.

If you look carefully, you’ll see her flying the wings of eagles and see her image mixed with the mist that so often envelopes the peaks.

Many have tried and failed. The journey has to come from within. No one knows exactly on which mountaintop she found freedom, but legend says once you find it, she will reach out to you if you believe. If you love. If you’re not selfish and if you wish to seek peace within yourself.

If Sheila were to tell it, she’d say her story is not legend. It’s truth.

Open yourself to love and life and you’ll know the freedom Sheila McIntyre found at the top of the mountains.

Absorb the spirit of the woman on the mountaintop. Absorb the pain and the strength of character that encouraged her to climb mountains in order to find salvation. Learn from her selfless giving to others. Understand that you could find yourself high on the hog one day and groveling for sustenance on the next.

How will you handle it?

What kind of legacy will you leave behind when you leave this Earth?

Embrace and share the story of the woman on the mountaintop with every human you encounter. Share the love. Share the spirit and spread the freedom of the soul.

She’s calling to you. Do you hear her? Will you listen? Will you follow her to learn the truth? Thousands have tried but few have succeeded. Let go. Close your eyes. Seek your soul and you just may find her. You just may find yourself.



This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Shauna L Bowling

Comments

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on August 03, 2015:

Shyron, thanx for the read and the shares. I find picture prompts inspiring.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on August 03, 2015:

Joyette, thank you for your comment. Sorry I'm just now seeing it! I'm not familiar with the song you refer to; I'll have to look it up on You Tube.

I'm glad you enjoyed my story and it made you think. That's always a good thing.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on August 02, 2015:

This is beautiful Shauna, this is life for sure.

Thumb-up UABI and shared

Joyette Helen Fabien from Dominica on July 03, 2015:

An absolutely beautiful story, bravewarrior! We all need to find our mountain and have that mountain top experience. Voted Beautiful.

The song 'God on the Mountain ' was playing in my head while I read the story. "The God on the Mountain is still God in the Valley" so even while we search for that peace experience on the mountain top we must also try for that peace to remain with us in the valleys.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on March 28, 2015:

Jennifer, I'm so pleased this story had that effect on you. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment!

Jennifer C on March 27, 2015:

Shauna, I was taken somewhere else that I really needed to be, while lost in your beautiful masterpiece. Thank You!

Such an intelligent and gifted writer.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on March 14, 2015:

I'm glad you enjoyed this, Sheila. This morning, as I was having my coffee on the front porch, the air came alive with the sounds of birds beginning their day. I just love that!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on March 14, 2015:

This is just wonderful! I can relate to how she felt. I "inhale" nature when I go walking in the woods. I love to be outside watching the deer and listening to the birds and the wind in the trees. You did a wonderful job here! Up and awesome!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 28, 2014:

Thanx, Deb!

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on November 27, 2014:

I like it, Sha. You did very well with this challenge.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 22, 2014:

Thank you KoffeKlatch! Florida's not too sunny today, is it? I live here, too. It's been drizzling all day and is cool enough to wear warm clothes.

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on November 22, 2014:

I would say that you were more that up to the challenge. Awesome and up.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 20, 2014:

Thank you Flourish. That's quite a compliment!

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 19, 2014:

Wow, Sha! This was terrific -- I think your best piece of work so far. I love the direction that you took it. Very well done!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 19, 2014:

Thanx, Linda. Your comment has put a smile on my face!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on November 19, 2014:

Wow! Way to go Sha! You rocked the mountain top challenge! :)

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 18, 2014:

Thank you again, Shanmarie!

Shannon Henry from Texas on November 18, 2014:

True! And by the way, love the creative way you changed voices.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 18, 2014:

Thank you, Shanmarie. If you consider Sheila lived forever with nature in the mountains, and became a legend, it's not so heartbreaking after all.

Thanx for stopping by!

Shannon Henry from Texas on November 18, 2014:

Heartbreaking, but beautiful!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 13, 2014:

Suhail, what a beautiful comment! I couldn't ask for anything more. Maybe you'll remember this story the next time you hike the Blue Ridge.

Thank you so much for reading!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on November 13, 2014:

I have hiked a lot on Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to enjoy reality of nature, but this story shook me up with its powerful message, Shauna.

Thank you for writing and opening my eyes up to a reality of different kind.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 10, 2014:

Thank you, Eddy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Eiddwen from Wales on November 10, 2014:

A wonderful story indeed Sha and one for me to vote up and share. Great work my friend.

Eddy.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 09, 2014:

Dianna, it's been a while since I accepted a writing challenge. This one spoke to me. I'm happy you enjoyed my story.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 09, 2014:

Thank you, Susan!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 09, 2014:

Audrey, you have no idea how much I appreciate your comment. You've started this rainy Sunday morning off with a ray of sunshine. Thank you so much!

Dianna Mendez on November 09, 2014:

This is so beautiful and inspiring. You really took this challenge and made it soar!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on November 09, 2014:

Awesome awesome, beautiful, interesting story!

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on November 08, 2014:

Oh Sha, you are a master with words. I appreciate your story and the unveiling parts of you throughout, the brave warrior. You write as if you are composing a symphony. Astoundingly beautiful. A pleasure to read. Votes across and sharing.

Love,

Audrey

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 08, 2014:

Thanx, Manatita. I'll try to get over there and check it out.

manatita44 from london on November 08, 2014:

No worries. I like it. It's 'cool.' Much love, Brave warrior.

P.S. I have a Hub called the Divine Warrior. A little long, but you might like it in your own spare time. If you have any.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 08, 2014:

Manatita, thank you for you wonderful comment. I may have been telling my own story in part. I little piece of me is in everything I write. I don't do it intentionally; it just turns out that way.

manatita44 from london on November 08, 2014:

I voted this up, awesome and beautiful, Brave warrior.

You tell a really touching story with Light, Love and clarity. Your writing style is like some exquisite poetry. I keep telling Bill that all good writers are also poets. I believe he now silently agrees. I captured this:

"I hear the wind as the birds swirl and sway in their dance below the clouds. I smell the evergreens. I smell the Earth. I feel my soul." - Brave warrior.

Immaculate, like the Virgin Herself. Were you telling part of your own story? Life is so full of many colours and intricate webs, like tapestries. Long live the Cosmos! Jai Love!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 07, 2014:

Rasma, I don't think anyone has told me my writing gave them the shivers. That's awesome!

Thank you for reading, sharing, and caring my friend!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on November 07, 2014:

Voted up and awesome. Now this was a truly inspirational story and it gave me the shivers. What wonderful thoughts and imagery it fills you with despite the tragedy. What she left behind was truly worthy. Passing this on.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 06, 2014:

Thank you, Shyron. I'm so glad you like this and find it worthy of sharing. Awesome!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on November 06, 2014:

Wow Shauna, a true free spirit. I love this, I especially love the saying “They’re too busy building their empires and pushing their children into the mindsets that will achieve their selfish long-forgotten rites of passage, in an effort to ease their own guilt.”

Voted –up UABI and shared

Blessings dear friend

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 04, 2014:

Thank you, Alicia. The message came through via happenstance. It wasn't intended, but when I write fiction my characters seem to take over for me.

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 04, 2014:

This is a wonderful and very creative story. I love the fact that the hub is both a great story and an article with an important social message.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 03, 2014:

That includes, you Mary. I hope you find your mountaintop too, if you haven't already. I'm glad you enjoyed my take on Bill's challenge. Thank you!

Mary Craig from New York on November 03, 2014:

Ditto to every wonderful word in every comment before mine! This is a folk tale to live through the ages. So much more to life than money and jobs....May you and every reader here find their mountain top!

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 03, 2014:

Chris, reading to the music is brilliant on your part. I'll have to try that and see what that does to the story. Thanx for your ongoing support. You're a gem!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 03, 2014:

Blessings to you for your beautiful comment, Gail. You just made my day!

Chris Rose on November 03, 2014:

Brilliant, Shauna.

Passionate. Persuasive. Perfect. If I weren't convinced already, I am now - but then you know I've always been convinced ;-)

I read it a second time along to the Kumbaya piece, magical :-)

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on November 02, 2014:

Dear Sha,

You hit it out of the ball park with this lyrical prose that speaks to the heart and soul of the reader. Stunning, breathtaking, moving, thought-provoking.

Bravo!!! Rated up across the board and sharing.

Sending a Mountain of Love Your Way,

Gail

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 02, 2014:

Rolly, it's nice to see you here. It sounds like you've found your mountaintop. More power to you for realizing you needed to make the climb to that peaceful place in your heart.

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on November 02, 2014:

Hi Bravewarrior... as always your writing challenges us to seek a higher understanding of the meaning of life and ourselves. Far to often in the past I accepted where I was, defeated. It was not until I changed my way of thinking did I grew. Thank you for sharing from the heart....

Hugs and blessings from Canada

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 02, 2014:

Colin, your words blow me away. I think I may try to do something with this short story. Enter a contest or try to get it published in a magazine. We'll see.

Thank you for stopping by. It's cold here today. Brrrr.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 02, 2014:

Kim, Sheila is happy. She's free on the mountaintop where she'll live for all eternity without stress, suppression or expectations. Thanx for seeing that. As one of my favorite fiction writers, your opinions are always respected and make me smile.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 02, 2014:

Mom, you always provide such wonderful insight and wisdom.

You know how much I respect billybuc. Shoot, he's become a household name! You're right. He pushes the right buttons for me. That's what makes him such a great mentor.

Thanx for reading, Mom. I love you and your mountain, too!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 02, 2014:

Thanx, Randi. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 02, 2014:

Ghost, you're the only one that has commented on the fucitol pill. Bravo, my friend! It's a pill I swallow quite often if I feel stress creeping in.

I'm glad this piece reminded you of your special place. It sounds like you have some peaceful memories.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on November 02, 2014:

Faith, I had no idea I was going to end this story with a message. Once the woman on the mountaintop started speaking to me, she took over.