"My Own Little Corner" is one of the July Writing Challenge entries that was chosen to be a featured story.
“Welcome to Crosby! The Friendliest Town in Texas.” At least that’s what the old, rickety sign that welcomes visitors from near and far to our small, East Texas town says. To a complete stranger, this statement would seem like nothing but the truth. With charming smiles, cheery dispositions, and good ole southern hospitality, the people of Crosby make living in the middle of nowhere look like a five star vacation. Personally, I don’t buy their enthusiasm, and, given the chance, I would show every single outsider 99 reasons not to live here — and the sign is definitely one of them.
I’ve lived in Crosby all of my life. My dad’s a cattle rancher. He owns one of the biggest cattle ranches this side of the Cherokee River. When he’s not stressing about his herd, you can find him at the local bar drinking himself to stupidity. My mom, on the other hand, is a classy southern woman who spends the majority of her time receiving and creating the latest town gossip. Her biggest concern in life is who will be crowned Daisy Queen at the Flower Festival this year. Ever since I could walk, her dream has been for me to follow in her footsteps as a successful pageant queen; however, everyone in Crosby, including my mother, will tell you that I am not pageant material. I’m different…and that utterly scares them.
In my 18 years of living in this town, I have become well acquainted with its relentless gossip, secrets, and lies. Unfortunately and inevitably, I have been the topic of all of the above more than once. According to a whisper, I was once pregnant because I apparently gained too much weight for a girl my age. Another whisper led to the assumption that I had a crack addiction since I was too skinny. I’ve been labeled a prude, whore, and self-righteous bitch all at the same time. Oh, I can’t forget the endearing name given to me by my affectionate classmates: “Hagley.” My name is Hadley Elizabeth Ross, and I am none of these things. I am simply a target for the bored and cruel environment around me. I am a daisy in a field of weeds. I am an outsider of a close-knit group. I am a prisoner in an inescapable hell. Even though my misfortune seems unavoidable, there’s one place in Crosby where all my problems seem to fade away, if only for an hour.
On the outskirts of town, a dirt road sits nestled behind the branches of pine trees and overgrown brush. Not very many people know it exists because, like Crosby itself, you have to be looking for it to realize it’s there. I found it one day on a walk while I was trying to clear my head. I’m definitely not the type of person who wanders down mysterious pathways alone for the thrill of adventure. I’ve seen the movies. I know how this will end, but I couldn’t help myself. Something was beaconing me toward the road like a long lost friend, and before I knew it, I was standing at the end of the path in complete awe of what was in front of me.
Before my eyes was a giant clearing filled with wildflowers. Every color imaginable grew out of the ground as the sunshine danced on the gleaming petals. Nearby, a rushing stream could be heard echoing in the wind, leaving a sense of calm across the meadow. Every now and then, a cloud would pass by in the sky and smile upon this canvas of hues and sounds. In the middle of this picture perfect scene stood a rickety, old barn. The once red walls had been washed to a weather-beaten brown by the rains of spring. The wood panelings and beams that held the structure together appeared to be one termite bite away from complete destruction. Despite it’s terrifying looks, the inside of the barn was warm, comforting, and peaceful.
I found a cozy nook in the corner where the sun sneaks in through the cracks of the rotting boards. Here, I sit in the safety of the hay and get lost in books, writing, and, the most dangerous of them all, my mind.
It’s my own little corner of the world, and the possibilities are endless. In my own little corner, I am an aspiring writer taking in the sites and smells of New York City. In my own little corner, I am attending university in a tiny, coastal town, constantly battered by the winds of the North Sea. In my own little corner, I am accepted and loved by everyone around me. In my own little corner, my parents are different, and every now and then, they take the time to ask my how I’m doing. In my own little corner, I have wings and, like a bird, I can escape this worthless town and everyone in it. In my own little corner, I am beautiful and confident and poised. In my own little world, I can be whoever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want.
It’s been six months since I found the barn. To be honest, nothing in my life has changed. My parents haven’t started caring. My classmates refuse to accept me for who I am. Rumors will continue to circulate about me, but I don’t care. I have found a home. A place where my imagination can run wild without the judgments of others. Somewhere I can feel free and weightless. I can be myself in my most innocent form. I can rest in the peace of nature and wonder how the rest of mankind can take it for granted. I can appreciate the calm after the storm. The barn gives me all these things and so much more, and when the sun goes down, I can make my way back into the real world with enough energy and happiness in my being to withstand the trials and tribulations of the day to come. All the while I’m counting down the days, hours, minutes, seconds until I can return to the barn: my own little corner of the world.