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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: Not Seeing Is Believing
By c clemons


Jenna always began the day with her morning ritual. The clock radio would wake her with soothing music and she would do stretches right in bed. Stuffing her feet in her fuzzy slippers she would sit on the edge of the bed for a minute. Getting up was always the trickiest in the morning. Her equilibrium was never great in the mornings or in the dark, ‘vertigo’ the doctor said. The aroma from the automatic coffeemaker was drifting in to her as she headed a little wobbly to the shower.

After showering and doing her usual routine of toiletries, as she called it “putting her face on” she went into the kitchen. The coffee had brewed; she poured a cup as she slipped an English muffin into the toaster. As always she went to the door for the morning paper. As always the tenant down the hall would be reaching down to pick up his paper also. She only knew him as Mr. Cooper. Jenna had never met him officially, but had overheard his name at one of the tenant meetings. He rarely had guests and rarely went out.

“Who am I to talk? I rarely go anywhere and obviously he and I have the same morning routine, at least when we pick up our paper.” she thought. “I could at least say “Good Morning Mr. Cooper”, tomorrow I will.” she resolved. But in her heart of hearts she knew she would not, that might lead to a conversation and that would mean breaking her routine.

Life was a series of routines for Jenna, her mornings, work, where she shopped, parked everything. She needed these routines they made her feel safe. She placed her trust in sameness. Jenna did not like surprises, but somehow she knew there was something missing in her life.

That evening after going through her nightly ritual of watching television for an hour and reading for an hour it was time to turn in. After double-checking the windows and door, which was her custom, Jenna went to bed. Later she was dreaming of sitting in front a cozy fireplace when the smell of smoke invaded her nostrils. The knocking at her door fully aroused her from her sleep. She reached for the lamp on the nightstand but it would not turn on.

“What’s going on?” Jenna thought. The knocking became even more insistent. “Who is it? Jenna called out still trying to get her bearings, fear began creeping up her spine.

“It’s Mr. Cooper from down the hall, Miss, you have got to come now, something hit the building, electricity is out and a fire is somewhere. We have got to go now!”

Jenna tried to move fast but in the darkness she was unsteady but somehow she made it to the door. The hallway was very dark and she could barely see Mr. Cooper. She could hear others knocking on doors trying to rouse everyone to get them out.

“Come, this way.” Mr. Cooper said as he felt along the wall. “Follow me, we can do this if we just stay calm and don’t panic.”

Jenna felt anything but calm, it was dark, her head was spinning and she felt faint. But she did as she was told and followed Mr. Cooper as he led her and some of the others to the stairwell. The emergency lights were working but the smoke started stinging their eyes. Somehow she felt safe as long as she stayed behind Mr. Cooper.

“Everyone stay as low as possible and cover your mouth and noses with whatever you can.” he ordered.

He confidently led them down ten flights of stairs to the outside where they were met by fresh air and the fire department.

In the commotion Jenna lost sight of Mr. Cooper. She wanted to thank him for what he had done; he had virtually saved her life. She found him talking to a firefighter. As Jenna walked up she heard the firefighter commending him on how by remaining calm he probably saved several lives.

“I’m just glad that I was able to help.” said Mr. Cooper. “I learned a long time ago when I first lost my eyesight that all of my trust had to be in God, and He was then and now an all seeing God.”

Jenna stopped cold in her tracks. Her rituals had not been enough to save her but a blind man and his trust in God had.

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Awesome! I didn't realize that the woman was blind, so when that was revealed, it came off wonderfully. Plus, it makes sense for a blind person to behave as she did. Great story!
Laury Hubrich 09/22/07
Mr. Cooper was the one that was blind, right? Nice little story.
Joy Faire Stewart09/22/07
A blind man and his trust in God saved her. What a wonderful story and right on topic. Good job of writing!
Lynda Lee Schab 09/23/07
Nice surprise ending! I think it would also work well if it turned out that Jenna was blind. A few re-words here and there would do it (just a thought, anyway - to give you a different type of challenge :-)). I'll be honest and say I felt there was just a tad too much "telling" and not enough "showing," particularly in the beginning. But it came together nicely and your point was well made. All in all, a great entry for "calm."
Sheri Gordon09/23/07
This is a very nice, with a good ending.

There are a few punctuation issues, as well as tense changes, that need to be tightened up. Would be easy enough to fix with additional proofing.

I like the way you stressed the "routine". Good message.
Jacquelyn Horne09/26/07
Enjoyed this story. Makes you think!
Joanne Sher 09/28/07
Congratulations, Clarissa. Your entry has placed 10th in Level 2. The Lists for the Top 15 in each Level and the Top 40 overall are available in the Weekly Results and Highest Rankings forum of our Faithwriters Message Boards.