Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)
TITLE: Karyn and Missus M
By Sara Harricharan
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While the Lederbrook resort had many things to offer, Karyn wasn’t interested in playing lacrosse or learning how to knit. Thankfully, her new guardians, Aunt Beatrice from her mother’s side and Uncle Henry were too preoccupied to obsess over their newest charge. In the wake of her parents untimely death, Karyn discovered that her heart ached in tandem with her head. It was easier to deal with the pain in her head, than her heart, so Karyn asked questions, everywhere she went.
“How long does it take to get to Heaven?”
“Why aren’t library books color coded?”
“How come granola bars aren’t sticky?”
These important questions found their way to attic door of Mrs. Matilda Somersen, resident senior. Missus M, as she preferred to be called, discovered Karyn one night, standing outside the attic door during one of her sleepwalking trips.
Worried of the unhealthy habit and unable to ignore such a lost expression, Missus M invited Karyn in for a round of lukewarm cocoa and ginger snap cookies. Over this late night treat, Karyn sniffled her way through the retelling of her nightmare-losing her parents again-in a dream.
Missus M put her dentures back in and explained how to operate the ancient microwave. Both wearing plastic safety goggles, they waited for the sweet liquid to reheat. When the excitement was over, stale marshmallows transformed the newly heated cocoa, while Missus M painstakingly thumbed through the biggest Bible Karyn had ever seen for answers to her questions.
This was the first of countless trips to the mystery woman in the attic and the lonely child called Kayrn. There were no stupid questions in the cozy, knit-covered attic. Missus M listened patiently and nodded in all the right places while sharing special handkerchiefs from her private stash.
“Crying is a luxury.” She patted Karyn’s thin shoulder. “The Good Lord gave us tears so we could be sad and then be over with it.” Her scarred face slowly twisted into a smile. “But you know what He does with those tears?”
Karyn honked into the silken square. “W-what?”
“Collects ‘em of course!” Missus M chuckled. “Turns ‘em into bright, sparkly things.”
“Faw-wee bust?” Karyn mumbled, exchanging a handkerchief for a fresh one.
“Oh, honey, God doesn’t quite use fairy dust.” The speckled forehead wrinkled deeper in thought. “Think of it as prayer dust.”
“Pwayer d-dust?” The sniffles were fading.
“Uh-huh. When we cry, sometimes we pray. Maybe not at the same time, but we pray, right? Those tears are collected and they change, from sorrow and sadness into new things. The kind of things God wants us to have, but He’s got to teach us something too, so guess what He does?”
“What?” The tears had fled and Karyn’s curiosity was restarted.
“He grinds ‘em up and pours ‘em back out.”
Karyn gasped, robin-egg blue eyes turning round.
“And guess what? It slips into our life and it sparkles, lighting up the dark places n’ such, before settling in the corners of our hearts. As long as our heart-lamps are burnin’ for Him, it’ll sparkle. But it’s so bright, it hurts to look at it. That’s how we remember the sadness where it came from and we learn.”
“From being sad?” Karyn crumpled the half-dry handkerchief in her hand.
“Yes, love. There is always something we can learn from somewhere and the more things we learn, the more we know, yes?”
“Soon, you won’t have to ask so many questions.”
“Uh-huh. Things change and when it does, then you get to help other people answer some of their questions.”
“But what if I still don’t know?” Karyn reached over and tugged the flowered curtains open, nearly toppling from her perch on the bed.
“Then we know who to ask, don’t we?” Missus M tugged the end of the quilted bedspread. “Tuck it ‘round your shoulders, it’s freezing by the window.”
“Then why’d you put the bed here?”
“So I can look out the window and watch God whisper.”
“Shh! Look carefully in the moonlight. When He works at night, He whispers…”
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