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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: Chloe
~1st Place


When Adam took me home as his bride, I trembled with anticipation. His descriptions of his mother took my breath away: Angelic beauty with skin as fair as the morning mist and perfumed with the essence of roses. A voice that makes waterfalls stop short of their destination and birds sing in response. A smile that moves clouds aside to let the sun and moon give forth their light.

I was in awe, and I hadn’t even met her yet. I sighed just thinking about how he called her his princess. We were going to live with her; nothing could have made me happier.

“And this is my mother, Chloe.” I heard the words when Adam introduced us, but I didn’t comprehend them.

Surely not, I thought as reality set in. The woman before me quickly ran her hands through her stringy brown hair that resembled a bird’s nest tied up with a scarf. A childhood bout with chicken pox had left moon craters on her cheeks. Her shy smile revealed a broken tooth on one side.

I blinked back tears of disappointment that she mistook for joy, for she enveloped me in a gentle hug and said she was happy to finally meet me, too. She had just come in from removing feathers from scalded chickens, and the smell did take my breath away. In fact, it sent me into a panic. But when I looked into her eyes, I saw what my precious husband had seen all his life. Love. Boundless, unconditional, God-fearing love.

Chloe's love for me saved my marriage. Adam didn’t know I had never cooked in all my life. He didn’t know I had never dusted or cleaned. Gardens grew and took care of themselves, just like animals…so I thought. I’d never been around either. He didn’t know, and because of my mother-in-law, he never found out.

It was a rainy day, in more ways than one, when she found me crying in the kitchen. I was to cook supper that night. She set aside the eggs she had gathered, and donned a clean apron. She slipped another one over my head and tied it in the back. Without a word, she got out her worn cookbook and took me through the steps of making chicken and dumplings. Adam took one bite and said they were as good as his mother’s. When she smiled her shy smile, I looked up to see the sun shining through the window.

The next morning, I eagerly set out to help her in the garden. She took one look at my silk dress and sandals and led me back into the house. With that sweet smile, she handed me work clothes and garden boots. Before she put a hoe into my hands, she took a scarf from her pocket and tied up my hair. By the time we were done weeding, my messy hair would have made any bird envious. When Adam kissed my dirt-smudged face later, he said I was a princess, just like his mom. Chloe's complexion glowed. I'd never seen her look so beautiful.

A year later, the sound of someone praying drew me to the barn. The voice flowed as free as the waterfall on the hillside and had a lilt to it, like the nightingales that sang at dusk. Chloe knelt beside a mare that Adam had given to me as a gift. It was her first foal and a difficult labor. When a wet and slimy colt made its way into this world and stood on wobbly legs, Chloe threw her bloodied arms around me and thanked God for the miracle of life. I stood in the middle of the stall and breathed in the scent of roses as she patted my burgeoning tummy. I couldn’t wait for my son to be born and get to know his amazing grandma.

I miss her. She walks the streets of heaven now, where angels are taken with her true beauty. I sigh just thinking about it, which reminds me of the letter I received from my new daughter-in-law. I take it out and carefully unfold it. Once more, I skip to the last lines, “You sound like such a princess; I can’t wait to meet you.”

They’ll be here soon. I tuck a strand of hair into my scarf…

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Member Comments
Member Date
Ann Renae Hair05/15/08
What a precious story. Such a wonderful example of true beauty. Great job taking us through a long time span in few words! Beauty, full circle...from one generation to the next. Loved it!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/15/08
This is a wonderfully told story. I loved the description and the progression of seeing beauty from the inside out, and how it continues with your narrator.
Joy Faire Stewart05/17/08
What a beautiful story, message and writing style. Loved it!
Sharlyn Guthrie05/17/08
Lovely in every way! Your sords and descriptions just flow. I like how you tied in the ending with the scarf.
Joanne Sher 05/17/08
Beautiful storytelling and descriptions, and incredible characterizations. This is absolutely a masterful entry.
Laury Hubrich 05/18/08
Oh! Wonderful! This is wonderful! This was a delight to read!
Glynis Becker05/18/08
Beautiful descriptions and I love that everything comes full circle.
Jan Ackerson 05/18/08
Mid, this is gorgeous!
Mariane Holbrook 05/18/08
How utterly beautiful! The dil was a willing student. I have to wonder what Chloe would have done if she hadn't been eager to learn, but I already know. What a character study!
LaNaye Perkins05/18/08
What a beautiful testiment to true beauty. This was so well written, and it blessed my heart. Well done my friend.
Debbie Roome 05/18/08
This is simple but so precious. Love the lessons wrapped up in the story.
Betty Castleberry05/18/08
Beautifully written with awesome descriptions. What a lovely way to remind us we need to see real beauty, and not just what's on the outside. I loved this!
Yvonne Blake 05/19/08
Your message is so true! It's a person's character that determines how beautiful they really are.
I was hoping for a little more dialogue and showing, instead of the telling of an interesting story.
Good descriptions and interesting setting, although I never did quite figure out when or where it could be. I suppose this could be set in any time or culture.
Good writing, as usual.
Debbie Wistrom05/19/08
Your words are a soothing balm. My hard heart needed those soft and tender words today, thanks!
Lynda Schultz 05/19/08
Delightful. How wonderful to have a mother-in-law to become like rather than one to avoid being like.
Peter Stone05/21/08
Absolutely beautiful. I love the way you show us the natural reaction based on the mother-in-law's appearance, and then delve deeper by seeing her heart and love. So good to see such a touching relationship develop, and the ending was great, as life's generational cycle continues.
Beckie Stewart05/21/08
Wow, that gave me chills. That was great. Loved it.
Benjamin Graber05/21/08
This is beautiful, Mid! I really like the picture of Chloe welcoming her new daughterinto the family with the same unconditional love she gave her son...
Dee Yoder 05/21/08
Beautiful example of a mother-in-law! I especially like the image of her being a true princess inside first, which radiates to the outside through the eyes of those who love her.
Lyn Churchyard05/21/08
As always you have entranced me with your story. This was warm, delightful and full of love. Just plain beautiful!
Janice Cartwright05/21/08
This whole story glows and radiates a message of what true beauty is all about. From beginning to end it sings. Absolutely lovely!
Sara Harricharan 05/21/08
What a neat character! I loved the descriptions and the easy, light tone to this wonderfully realistic piece. I liked Chloe, especially her love that just brimmed and blossomed over to her new DIL. The ending of course-sweet! ^_^
Cheri Hardaway 05/21/08
Left me with a sigh... beautiful. I love the way love transforms what we see, what the MC saw. And His love is unending. Great job! Many blessings, Cheri
Aaron Morrow05/21/08
What a beautiful and powerful story Mid! Truly extraordinary, the transitions were flawless.
Thanks for sharing!
Joshua Janoski05/21/08
This story is beautiful. I loved the mother-in-law. I wish all of them were like her.

This is one of my favorites in masters this week. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but something about it just really touched my heart while I was reading it.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Mid. I hope it places high. :)
Peter Stone05/22/08
Well done, Mid! Well deserved.
Chely Roach05/22/08
Incredible, Mid...I loved this. Congratulations.
Chrissi Dunn05/22/08
A well deserved win. You described this lady in such a beautiful way, and I loved your ending too.
terri tiffany05/22/08
Congrats Mid!! I loved the way you developed this story! Wonderful!!
Joshua Janoski05/22/08
I knew there was something about this story that was special. A very well deserving first place win! :)
Betsy Markman05/22/08
Truly wonderful! I wish I could have known Chloe. May the Lord make me more like that!
Debbie Wistrom05/22/08
Steve Uppendahl05/22/08
I know it's just one more yellow box to add to your staggering total--but, WOW! You rock, Mid. There are few stories out there that just demand applause when you're done reading it--Chloe is one of them. Well done.
Sunny Shell05/22/08
LauraLee Shaw05/22/08
Congratulations, Mid!!!! This is awesome! Love to see the Lord refreshing you in this way while you have been so busy refreshing others this week! SO happy for you!!!!
That was beautiful. Definitely worthy of first place.
Catrina Bradley 05/22/08
This MIL reminded me so much of my own beautiful mother. Congratulations on a job SO well done. :)
Dianne Janak05/23/08
What a wonderful example of a Godly woman. I loved her tenderness towards her new DIL, and how she mentored her quietly and lovingly. This was a winner for sure. Congrats!
Sheri Gordon05/23/08
Congratulations, Mid, on your 1st place. This is absolutely beautiful.
Lollie Hofer05/26/08
This was a beautifully told story written in a loving voice. The calm and peaceful pace worked well. I loved that the legacy continued with the next generation. Congratulations!
Beth LaBuff 05/28/08
A beautiful story -- beautifully written. Congrats on a well-deserved 1st place.
Chun-yen Stillman03/19/09
Just read your story this morning. Is it true? Or is it an ideal scenario beautifully portrayed? Self-less love for the good of others; hidden sacrifices well received. Even the daughter-in-law would have needed to be humble enough to accept that help in that life style. Your writing is like a beautiful song.