The Official Writing Challenge
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Thank you for such a beautiful story! I'd been reading entries for a while and..well, nothing shook me, nothing moved me, and I was like.. yawning; then this piece came along and I shed a tear, swallowed a lump, and my emotions came alive. Thanks! It had a great message, written with realism, and I truly enjoyed my day in your garden...good job.
A beautiful story, to be sure ... easy to read, flowing, and beautifully written! Nice job! :)
What a moving tale, sensitively told! I liked the detail of Mrs Hostettler's appearance, which made her seem suitably far removed from the child's world.
You make her garden into a metaphor for her world, a world that the child has no interest in visiting, not even for a moment. We can all identify with this - we all must have made excuses at one time or another to avoid having to visit some person's world.
I would make only two suggestions, if I may: change the word 'world' into 'garden' in the last but one paragraph, and then make that the LAST paragraph.
We don't need the expanded, overt explanation of what happened to the child that weekend. We were there, experiencing it with him. You have SHOWN us, so you spoil it by then TELLING us.

The sentence 'I needed to learn how to walk in someone else's world for a while' is also TELLING us, which is why I have suggested changing 'world' to 'garden'. Then you keep it within the story's realm, within the realm of the metaphor which has so vividly SHOWN us this gently tragic sequence of events and the effect they had on the child. If, instead of 'world', he says he needs to learn to walk in someone else's GARDEN, he is SHOWING us clearly how much he has learned because he knows now that for that moment, for that invitation, Mrs Hostettler's garden WAS her world. And it's a super line to end the story.
It's a fact, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, we add a line or two too many to our stories. I was a preacher, and I was as guilty as anybody of saying 'And finally' two, or even three, times. Classic!
Very well done.
A very touching story. I agree with the above comment that you could eliminate the last paragraph. The paragraph before would bring this piece to a nice conclusion. You might also consider using dialogue and more show instead of tell in the paragraph beginning "The woman hugged me..." Thanks for sharing this wonderful message!
Actually I would keep the last sentence and make it my lead, with a little variation. I think it sums up your message well, and would have drawn in to the story better.