Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Anniversary (04/11/05)
By Linda Watson Owen
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“Well, the price is right anyway!” Carrie blurted out even though she knew no one was anywhere near to hear her. Pushing open the reluctant wooden door, she stepped carefully into the gray stillness. Long silent floorboards now creaked beneath her feet as she moved toward the center of the room. Turning slowly, Carrie took in the full view. Abandoned chairs, a sunken sofa, tattered rugs, and newspapers no longer new were mere shadows of the life that had been here before.
“Humph!” Carrie declared with her hands planted firmly on her hips. Then in a voice resounding with determination that far outweighed her slight frame she added, “Get ready you old dump ‘cause Carrie Powers is here to stay!”
The next morning found Carrie in high gear as she swept, dusted, tossed and washed until enough surface area was unearthed to call the place almost healthy. This busyness was the exact antidote to keep her mind from being victimized by memories of what her body and mind together had endured in the too near past. Her ex husband’s face, hands and voice were still too clear. If she could she would have buried those images in all the dust and dirt she had just shoveled out of the house.
Evening found Carrie in an exhausted heap on the old, but now much less dusty sofa. With tiredness eroding her emotional stamina, she finally broke down and wept. As the first tears flowed down her cheeks and onto her trembling arms, she made the conscious decision to just give in, and, at last, Carrie cried the deep gut wrenching cry of one who knows release. Carrie’s sobs and groaning echoed through the little house, her little house, and as the swell subsided she finally drifted into sleep.
Under the third day’s soothing patter of rain, Carrie casually riffled through some of the belongings she had brought with her from her other life. Her escape had been so rushed and sudden that now, as she looked at the jumble she chuckled and shook her head. What on earth had ever possessed her to bring three shoelaces? She didn’t even have shoes that needed two. And an old cell phone? What was she thinking? Carrie gave the dead thing a toss. Then her eyes fell on a hastily packed Bible. Its cover was cracked with age, but not from use, not her use anyway. She slowly drew her fingers over the indentations that spelled out H-o-l-y. The weight and scent of the book in her hands pulled her back in time to a day when she was just a child. Carrie could hear her mother’s soft voice humming the plaintive tune, “Jesus loves me… this I know…. for the Bible… tells me so.” Carrie instinctively pulled the book closer, rocking gently, easing into the memory.
Moments passed, and Carrie began to thumb through the fragile pages. Once again, her mother seemed near as she recognized the familiar handwriting in the margins. “Oh, Mom,” Carrie smiled, “you not only prayed to Jesus, you were His pen pal!” Then Carrie sighed, “How did you do it, Mom? How did you stay so close to God?”
The rain continued its soft song outside. The small fire that Carrie had coaxed into life in the stove warmed the otherwise damp room, and Carrie’s little house seemed almost cozy, drafty windows and all. Turning a page in her mother’s Bible, Carrie’s eyes fell on a clearly written date, April 17, 1984, followed by the words, “I pray today that my Carrie grows to love and trust you, Jesus. Draw her to you. Free her from fear, and let her see through your eyes. Love her through me always, and show her the way home.” Carrie sat stunned as the words sank into her mind and heart, the words her mother had written on the very day that Carrie had left home twenty long years ago. Carrie looked down at her watch which now glittered in the emerging sunshine. It was April 17, and deep in the sunshine of her soul she knew she’d found home.
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