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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)

TITLE: In the Orange Sherbet Light
By Sally Hanan
~1st Place


Aunt Dot lifted her shaky hand to her bifocals, lowered them to her nose, and squinted in my direction.

I cupped my fingers around my mouth and shouted again, “I LOVE this book!” She smiled—one of those fizzy drink kind of smiles that pops tiny bubbles of air to the lips over seconds of time. Then she went back to reading.

The fire’s flames started to slumber. Tiny rippling snores trickled through the warm air to my ears. Dot was asleep. We’d been sitting in our lush armchairs for hours, and my rear was starting to protest. I lifted the bookmark from the arm of the chair and lodged it deep between the pages, as per Aunt Dot’s training.

Taking off my own reading glasses, I glanced over at Dot. At 85, she was a marvelous mystery to all who met her, especially her doctor. She had survived the death of two husbands and a child, and suffered from some bone disease she couldn’t pronounce. Maybe knowing death so intimately was why she reached out to me, maybe not. I’ll never truly figure out why she did it.

She’d invited me over for a glass of lemonade after Dad’s funeral. I left Mom lying in her bed, her back to the door. Dot greeted me with an all-encompassing hug that managed to make me feel loved, understood and special all in one touch. “Call me Aunt Dot,” she’d said. We sat in her living-room eating ginger snaps and drinking cocoa. Even then, there was no need for talk. She brought me a pile of old hardback books, sat them like a treasure chest onto the cushion beside me, and opened the top one. Her voice didn’t crackle back then.

“’Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place…’” I was hooked.

We travelled through many places that year and all those since. Avonlea, Robinson Crusoe’s island, Sunnybrook Farm, under the sea, all the way to China. We were somewhere in Europe when Mom died, and Dot gave me another one of those hugs and said that she wanted to adopt me, just like Rachel Lynde adopted Anne. I cried and gave her a shaky smile and that was that.

I made it through high school, falling asleep most nights with a book on my chest and my mind elsewhere. I survived college. I did the whole marriage, kids, retirement thing.

And so here I was, aged 61, coming to the end of our monthly fireside get-together. I walked softly to Dot’s sleeping side and lifted the glasses off her face. The orange sherbet light fluttered over her crinkled countenance, highlighting her laughter lines, accentuating her warmth. I bookmarked her page, set the tale on the floor, and leaned forward to kiss her forehead.

“Eh?” Her eyes opened. I hopped backwards.

A grin burst onto her face. “Hello Sweetie. Did you say something?”

“Yes…no…um, well…you know, Dot..." I paused to find the perfect words but couldn't. "Just...thank-you.”

She kneaded her eyes with her bony knuckles. “For what, child.”

My own were beginning to fill up. “For everything.”

Dot patted my hand. “Silly girl.” For some reason, that made me cry more. She heaved her body forward, stretched out her arms to her walker, and I helped her to her feet. She hoisted the frame in tiny lifts to face me. Her eyes used their laser power to capture mine, to make sure that not one word was missed.

“Sweetie, having you in my life has been the biggest blessing God could ever give a woman. Don’t go thanking me. You’ve brought me joy.” She leaned forward against the edge of her metal support and gave me one of those hugs.

I cried and gave her a shaky smile and that was that.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 04/24/08
What a lovely relationship - how completely tender and sweet. Just beautiful.
Sheri Gordon04/24/08
What a beautiful tribute. I love the phrases you used. Wonderful writing.
Laury Hubrich 04/26/08
Wonderful! Loved this. Loved seeing your introduction to great books, too.
Joshua Janoski04/27/08
A very sweet story. I loved your writing style. You have a great vocabulary of words that really makes this a joy to read. Thank you for sharing!
Jan Ackerson 04/27/08
Oh wow, lots to love here, not the least of which is Dot's (your) obvious love of literature. I wish there were more literature-lovers in the world!

The other thing I love is that you mangaged to cover decades in 750 words, but never once resorted to "telling". That's not easy to do!
Karen Wilber04/28/08
Ahhh, Anne of Green Gables. I loved the connection they shared through books: the stories, the shared memories, even the care of them.
Tessy Fuller04/28/08
My favorite paragraphy was the one where you recanted all the places you had visited through the books they had read. Very nicely done.
Debbie Wistrom04/29/08
Exquisite. I feel warmed to the heart after reading this. Thank you, thank you!
Willena Flewelling 04/29/08
What a beautiful tribute to a warm and wonderful relationship!
Chely Roach04/29/08
Simple gorgeous. Loved every word.
Sara Harricharan 04/30/08
Brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely scene and friendship between these two! I especially liked how they read books together and she read the books by herself too and the ending of course, was sweet. ^_^
Beth LaBuff 04/30/08
I love to "lose myself" in stories like this... so descriptive, with so many images. Excellent! I absolutely loved this.
Loren T. Lowery04/30/08
This is simply eloquent and heart warming. What a wonderful tribute to a lovely lady. You were able to catch the essence of both the niece and the aunt...thier need and love for one another. Your choice of words for descriptions is superb.
Dee Yoder 04/30/08
This is beautiful. Your descriptions brought this scene to life and the ensuing remebrances were just as rich in detail. Lovely!
Peter Stone05/01/08
Lovely, heart-warming tale of true friendship.
Peter Stone05/01/08
Awesome job with first place, too!
Sara Harricharan 05/01/08
***Congrats on your EC!***
Chrissi Dunn05/01/08
Congratulations! A lovely piece.
LauraLee Shaw05/01/08
Congratulations! This is a beautiful piece.
Mandy White05/01/08
Congratulations! This was a beautiful. Well deserved win!
Beth LaBuff 05/01/08
Congrats on 1st place!!!
Dee Yoder 05/01/08
Congratulations, Sally! A beautiful story.
Sheri Gordon05/01/08
Congratulations on your 1st place. This is beautiful writing.
Myrna Noyes05/01/08
I would like to add my CONGRATULATIONS on your First Place EC! This is a lovely story!
Jason Swiney05/01/08
Congratulations, simply a warm and wonderful. A well deserved 1st place.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge05/01/08
Congratulations on writing a story which I would have loved to live.
Celeste Duckworth05/01/08
I could read a book by you, I didn't want this one to be over and I aspire to write as well you do. Lovely mood and loved the way you describe in detail the way your Mom was when your father passed. "her back to the door." I felt your lostness right then and there. Thank you for a wonderful story and on your 1st place win.
Julia May05/01/08
I love Aunt Dot! This is a great story.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/01/08
This entry shines! Congratulations on placing first in this week's EC.
Helen Dowd05/07/08
A very lovely story! So well told and full of emotion. You were blessed to have an aunt like that. Thanks for sharing....Helen
Helen Dowd05/07/08
I forgot to say, Congratulations on winning. Your story deserved it....Helen