Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Search Engine (10/06/11)
By Cheryl von Drehle
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First selection: memory. The search engine rapidly scans through hundreds of paths forged during past the 24 hours. It leaves intact those memories that touched Melanie’s awareness today. The wafting scent from a lilac bush transported her back to the bedside of her mother, who still managed drops of lilac perfume on her pulses just hours preceding her last breath. Children tussling over a swing in the park tugged a smile onto Melanie’s face as she longed for the uncomplicated conflicts of childhood.
Melanie sighs contentedly in her sleep and shifts her pillow.
Memories not so pleasant are scrutinized more deeply but left intact to prick and teach. Melanie hurried past angry words between two lovers, wincing over the memory of petty squabbles with her last boyfriend. Scarring memories are sorted and moved to more protected spots for later education. The forlorn youngster on the apartment stoop, invisible to the gaggle of kids jostling by, is a replicate of Melanie’s lonely childhood. Other damaging memories that did not rise to consciousness are tagged for healing and swept into the nether.
As the search engine continues its work, a flash dream sets Melanie adrift on the ocean. She watches vaguely familiar strangers disappear as a wave engulfs her sinking raft. She briefly wonders how she can simultaneously feel both terror and detachment. Then she coughs in her sleep, moans, and rolls onto her back.
Next search scans for conscience. This has been a difficult day for Melanie. She spent most of her time at her bookkeeping job surfing the internet instead of balancing the accounts. When she got home after work her next door neighbor Janie was waiting for her, sobbing that she and her boyfriend broke up for the fourth time this month. She begged Mel to accompany her to the Beanpunk Café for a quick latte. Instead of being honest with Janie, Melanie mumbled a lame excuse about her messy apartment.
Melanie considered soothing her conscience by actually cleaning her apartment. But she got distracted by the trashy romance novel she had thrown into her grocery cart on a whim last Saturday. After reading for two hours she was too tired to engage in her usual nighttime practice of reading Psalms before bed.
Spirit.com tags these pictures to activate early in the morning for Melanie’s consideration: ignore and repeat or use and grow. Melanie stirs restlessly, then rolls back to her side and opens one eye. She fumbles at the nightstand until she locates the backlight button on her alarm clock, but drifts back into sleep before the time registers.
Final pre-dawn scan: desires. This search also yields mixed results. Melanie is deceiving herself into believing her angst will subside once she lands her next boyfriend. She craves the intimacy of close friendships but isolates herself in fear. She loathes her job and yearns to use her degree in Fine Arts to add purpose to her life. But her self-focused desires obscure the potential satisfaction of serving others with her gifts. Such knowledge is too wonderful for her to grasp right now, too lofty for her to attain until these searches work together for her ultimate good.
The search engine has completed its nightly routine. It quietly shuts down as Melanie rouses from anxious dreams of worms squirreling through her brain, disturbing those last few seconds before consciousness resurfaces. Her eyes flutter open, blink away the sleep and focus on her nightstand. As her vision clears she sees her Bible there. She picks it up and starts reading where she left off two nights ago: Psalm 139.
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