“Use it or lose it,” A short story.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Use It or Lose It.”

Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence: “I thought we’d never come back from that one.”


Fulfilling dreams especially bucket list dreams can be extremely heart warming and enchanting.

One of Howard’s life long dreams was to hike the Appalachian trail and when he settled into retirement, he began planning his long-awaited list of  dreams in the form of a bucket-list. Howard spent a year preparing, training and purchasing the necessary equipment he needed, for six months on the trail.

On the first day of Howard’s long awaited hike, he began at the trail’s head in Georgia and within two days, he realized how physically difficult his dream hike would be to attain.

Several days later while hiking in North Carolina he called home to check in with his wife of 47 years to tell her where he was and how he was doing. When he did not reach her by telephone, he became extremely concerned fearing the worst. He called his neighbor Peter and Marsha Winston who have been his neighbors for twenty years, to see if they have seen his wife.

Howard began to panic when Marsha, answered the phone hearing his voice, she began crying uncontrollably. With dread and fear swelling within his voice, he repeatedly asked Marsha what was wrong and when he did not receive any response from her, Howard began to cry. Suddenly, Peter, Marsha’s husband, took the phone from her and asked Howard to sit down, I have to tell you something Howard.

Peter explained, Howard’s wife confided in Marsha, that she was leaving him and two days ago, she packed up the car, along with a small moving truck and move out of their home.

Howard was slightly relieved yet devastated, and speechless for several moments. Suddenly, Howard thanked Peter for passing on the information to him and hung up the phone.

Howard spent the next several hours sitting against a tree crying and contemplating what had gone wrong in his marriage, causing his beloved wife to leave him while he was attempting to hike the Appalachian Trail.


Howard hiked for another day mostly in a depressed mental haze and eventually gave up on his dream in the mountains of North Carolina where he caught a ride from a Appalachian Trail worker, who drove him to catch a bus home to Connecticut.

Once home, Peter picked him up at the bus depot, however as soon as he arrived home, the local sheriff’s deputy served Howard with a notice of divorce from his wife.

During the next twelve months, Howard began counseling and within a year, his divorce was finalized he decided to attempt his dream of hiking Appalachian trail.

Howard began again at the trail head in Georgia to start again, and he quickly found the hiked helped him heal emotionally from his divorce. He stopped at a favorite hiker site called, Mountain Crossings, also known as the Walasi-Yi, Interpretive Center, where he spent the night.

When he awoke the following morning he walked over to the center to get a cup of coffee. He was browsing the store and read an old tattered note on the bulletin board stating. “Letter for Howard, see the Manager”

Howard identified himself to the clerk who called the manager. The manager walked from his rear office and asked Howard to follow him back into his office

The manager began to unlock his combination safe and retrieved a white envelope address to Howard. The letter had Howard’s home address but no return address, but, Howard quickly realized his ex-wife’s and writing.

Howard, took the white envelope, and immediately noticed an object inside. When he opened the letter, he found his ex-wife’s wedding ring. He took it out looking at it for a moment.

The manager said. “I was beginning to believe no one would come back for that one.” Howard had taking the large diamond ring out and was staring at the $60,000.00 three-Karat, flawless, diamond ring, and replied.

I did not come back for this,” handing the envelope and ring to the manager, telling him to, give it to your wife, and walked out of the office.

Howard continued on to fulfill his dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail.



8 responses to ““Use it or lose it,” A short story.”

  1. What can you say. So sad but at the same time, you see the redemption in progress.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Can’t get that link to work.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So moving. I can relate and would love to know more about Howard’s journey. I understand it’s not necessary, because there is plenty of value and satisfaction in knowing he picked up the trail again and that it helped him heal. Still, this short story could sure be turned into something much bigger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you JoAnne, I have ideas about the development of the Howard Character, however I’m going to submit the short story for review.
      I’m experiencing a creative painting or coloring artist desires, after recently coloring during a creative writing class. Your Angle with baby painting is inspirational. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That painting was intended just for practice on a piece of scrap wood. It amazes me how each painting can take on a life of it’s own. I have not written much fiction at all, but I hear characters can be like that too. Enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Same trail, different attitude. I’m not sure if I was in Howard’s hiking boots I would have been so “generous”. But then again I don’t know the ex.

    The trail has always been on my bucket list. Did an overnight with my son many years ago, spent many day hikes on it and hunted on sections of the trail. Not going to happen now. Too much water under the bridge and the support structure is in need of repair or replacement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Living in Northern VA, I hiked the AT on several occasions and a lot with my Scout troop. I plan to section hike the AT over the next couple of years. The volunteers do great work on the trail to maintain its upkeep.

      Liked by 1 person

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