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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)

TITLE: A Garden Party
By Shari Armstrong


“Ugh.” Steph shook the dirt from her hands and looked around her. “What a mess.”

Tom whistled as he continued to move branches and other debris that was scattered around the yard into a pile near a large garbage can. “It could have been worse.”

”How? We just buy this house, and then we get hit with tornado force winds and hail. Look around us. We spent days getting this garden to look perfect for the house warming party, and now it’s trashed.” She held up a flower that had been lying on top of the ground, with its roots showing.

“Dear, we could have lost the house. I could have lost… you. If you’d been outside working when that freak storm hit, that huge branch would have landed not just on the flower bed, but you, as well.”

”I guess you’re right…”

”I know I’m right.”

”I should be happy that neither of us were hurt, and the house wasn’t damaged more than it was. A few shingles to replace and it’s as good as new.”

”Exactly. A few plants to replace, a yard to clean up, some hard work, and things will be back to normal. You’ll see.” He hugged his wife, kissed her and said, “Now, let’s clean up and grab something to eat in town.”

* * * * *

*What are all those cars doing along the road?”

Tom shrugged. “Maybe there’s a party at one of the neighbor’s house.”

”Um… we have no neighbors for miles. We moved to the country so we wouldn’t be so crowded.” She pulled a cell phone from her purse. “Maybe there was an accident and we should call the police?”

”I don’t think this looks like an accident.” He pulled into their driveway and parked the car. “Ok, now that is weird. There’s a light on in our backyard. Stay here. I’ll check it out.”

“Oh, no you don’t.” She climbed out of the truck. “I’m coming with you.”

As they walked into the backyard, they saw about a dozen people setting in plants, trimming bushes and cleaning up the mess they hadn’t finished earlier.


“What? What’s going on?” Steph looked at the smiling faces of her parents, family and friends from church.

Her mother moved next to her. “When your father and I heard that you had a little storm damage, we decided to throw you a surprise garden party. We each brought some plants from our own gardens, some cuttings. Rachel even brought you one of her prize rose bushes.”

Tom wandered around shaking his head.

Her mom stood beside her, arm around her shoulders. “So, do you like it?”

Steph hugged her mom. ”I couldn’t be happier. It’s lovely. Thanks all of you. I wish I had something to give you. The cupboard is pretty empty.”

“Not to worry. We have that covered.” She pulled a tablecloth of a long table that sat by the garage, to reveal a buffet of fruits, veggies and snacks. “Welcome home, kids.”

Mark stood next to his new bride. “And a happy home, it is, with neighbors like you.”

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This article has been read 1011 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 07/23/07
A great reminder of what is REALLY important. Enjoyed this!
Dee Yoder 07/23/07
The dialog is so easy going and natural. It was a pleasure to read this lovely story!
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/25/07
I enjoyed the garden party with its strong sense of family and neighbors and "happy" ending.
Joanney Uthe07/25/07
Awesome example of neighborly love. I think there is a change of name near the end. Great job.
Shari Armstrong 07/25/07
LOL - yeah - I did change the character name and missed that one - good eye!
Sara Harricharan 07/25/07
What a lovely surprise! Nothing can let you know how much people care than when they unexpectedly pop in and help you when you're way deeper into something else. Nice job. I found a typo though and the ending was a little confusing, Mark and Tom are the same person, right?
LaNaye Perkins07/25/07
Such a sweet story of people reaching out to help one another in a time of need. Great writing!
Betty Castleberry07/25/07
This is what loving your neighbor is all about. It's actions, not words, just as you've written here. I enjoyed this.
Kristen Hester07/25/07
This is a very sweet story. If something like that happended to me, I would be very HAPPY for the help. Thanks for reminding us that God often uses what seems like a bad situaion to bless us.
Catrina Bradley 07/25/07
A sweet, simple story, that I just fell into. Good job of "showing" us about the tornado, not telling in the beginning. Your writing style is very comfortable. I enjoyed this!