Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: BOOK(S) - Begins January 4 / Ends January 11 (01/04/18)
TITLE: Like a Good Perfume
By Jude Harris
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“Goodbye, Mom. Goodbye, Dad.” Sophie whispered, then holding her grandma’s hand, she skipped around her as they headed back up the driveway to the house. She felt sad about her parents leaving, yet so grownup to be spending the summer with Mimi all by herself.
“Let’s do a selfie, Mimi! Smile!” Sophie pulled out her cell phone and leaned in next to her grandma on the porch steps, aiming it at their smiles.
“How do you get those photos in a photo album?” Mimi asked.
Sophie laughed, “It’s all in my cloud, Mimi. Don’t you have a cell phone too?”
“We don’t get reception up here on those things,” Mimi answered.
“Really?” Sophie was surprised. She ran from room to room and then all over the yard with her phone. “You’re right, Mimi. No reception,” she said tossing her phone down on the kitchen counter. “I was going to post pictures of the strawberry shortcake you made for lunch today! Now what?“ she asked exasperatedly. “And what happens if we have an emergency?” Mimi nodded at a large phone hanging on the kitchen wall. “What is that?” Sophie picked up the heavy earpiece and listened to the dial tone. “Huh! You can only use it in the kitchen though,” she said.
While Mimi sat at her desk and sorted mail, Sophie wandered off into the living room. “This might be a long summer,” she thought, looking out the big window at the rocky bay below. She unstacked a pile of board games on the coffee table, picked up shells and put one up to her ear to “hear the ocean” and then brushed her fingers across the books lined neatly on the shelves. She pulled one down and read the cover, “Little Women.” She turned the pages looking at the pictures, then put it back. She wanted to post her selfies.
“What am I going to do about my cell phone?” she called to Mimi in the kitchen. “Do you get reception in the village?”
“I don’t know about that stuff,” Mimi answered. “Can you come help me with dinner?” she added. They sat at the kitchen table, peeling potatoes, a late afternoon sun warming their backs as they worked. “You could read a book,” Mimi offered. “I can show you some of my favorites.”
Sophie sighed, "I guess," she muttered.
After dinner, they sat on the porch swing. “Tell me about when you were little, Mimi,” Sophie asked. Mimi smiled. She loved to tell stories, especially ones about her childhood. Sophie stroked her grandma’s hair as she listened to her tales of raising chickens on a farm. “You were so lucky, Mimi,” Sophie said.
The next morning Sophie pulled “Little Women” off the shelf again and settled in the hammock under the shade of a couple oak trees. She leafed through the pictures and then turned back to the beginning and read:
“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”
Intrigued, Sophie soon found herself traveling back in time, witnessing the joys and sorrows of the March family during the Civil War.
“Mimi, when did you read Little Women?” she asked later that afternoon, during a game of checkers.
“Oh, I’ve read it so many times I couldn’t say,” Mimi smiled at her.
“But which sister falls in love with Laurie, the boy next door?” Sophie wondered out loud.
“That’s the beauty of books,” Mimi said. “One can’t wait to see what happens as you turn the pages.” Mimi picked up an old book from the coffee table, “I love the feel of a book in my hands, love touching the pages as I turn them. Sometimes I just smell them, like a good perfume,” she chuckled.
Sophie rolled her eyes, “Mimi, you’re weird!”
As the summer passed, Sophie had pulled several books off the shelf to read, expanding her imagination by traveling in time, and to places, she’d never been. Mimi told her she was “broadening her perspectives.” Her cell phone lay forgotten in a dresser drawer.
One late summer day Sophie sat quietly with Mimi, browsing through books in the village library. One book gently resisted her attempt to open it. She held its fresh pages up to her face. “Smells new,” she thought, glancing at Mimi with a little grin, “like a good perfume.”
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