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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Pastor (11/30/06)

TITLE: A Purple Kind of Love


“Pastor Sanders, it’s come to our attention that a room in the parsonage has been painted purple. Is this true?” Mrs. Graves, the head of the building committee, led the inquisition.

Mark exhaled sharply through his nose. It sure didn’t take the “Grave Widow” long to pounce. He hadn’t discovered it himself until last night. Did she “just happen to smell the fumes while she was passing by?”

Don’t be petty with her, he admonished himself—this was Ann’s fault.

“Yes, it’s true and I apologize.”

“Don’t misunderstand us—we want your family to feel at home. . . ” The other two members of the committee nodded vigorously.

Mark, I feel as if I am a guest in my own home. I can’t landscape; I can’t get a dishwasher and these white walls make me feel like a transient.

“. . . and when you asked us if you could paint the bedrooms, I—we said yes.”

“She said we could paint it neutral or light? Etta doesn’t want neutral or light—she loves purple.”

He had hoped to surprise Ann when he had arrived at the house last night, ahead of schedule. Her wide eyes, red face and shaky embrace told him he had, indeed, attained his goal.

Mom came for an impromptu visit and I mentioned Etta wanting her room painted and I explained the situation with the paint color. We went to the store and the clerk showed us the spectrum of purples. Believe or not—this is a light shade. I mean look, (and she reached in her purse for color samples) this is a dark purple—what we have in that room doesn’t begin to come near this shade.

“The paint is not as dark as it seems at first glance,” Mark told the committee.

Kevin, the maintenance man, spoke up: “You all used latex paint, I’m assumin’—there shouldn’t be no problem repaintin’ later.” Mrs. Graves turned her head sharply as if wondering from where on earth that voice had come.

Mark, it’s just paint. And you keep saying “purple” but it’s really more of a lavender.

That’s not the point, Ann. When we moved here, they gave us parameters and we accepted them. The point is I went to bat for you about something I don’t think is important—wall color. The point is that we broke their trust and you broke mine by waiting until I was at a conference to bring in the big guns—meaning your mother—to give you the boldness to do something you knew was wrong.

What difference does the color make? That woman just likes control. And I did not need my mother to do this. And I’m not repainting that room—until we move!
Sometimes I think you care more about pleasing your congregation than pleasing us. We are not going to do anything to destroy this house. We need you to stand up for us, Mark.

“Thanks, Kevin, but we’ll take care of the painting. Before I go, though, I would like to bring up the issue of the dishwasher. You know Ann enjoys having gatherings for you and making meals when there is a need? Well, she needs a dishwasher to make that load a little easier—no pun intended. I’ll pay for it.”

“A dishwasher?” Mrs. Grave’s nose wrinkled. “You know there isn’t room and what about the water bill? No, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“I can take out a cabinet and it don’t raise the bill none. I’ll put it in for your Missus.” Kevin said.

“I agree and that makes it a majority.” This came from Mr. Pike, the third committee member and a man of few words.

Mark unlocked the front door where only paint fumes greeted him. His eyes flickered to note left on the counter.

Dear Mark,

I’ve gone with Etta to Mom and Dad’s.

This “paint issue” has really upset me and caused me to re-evaluate our relationship. After much prayer, I see that my first allegiance, on this earth, has to be by your side. I know you’ve had a hard time building trust with this congregation after what the last pastor put them through, and I should not have undermined that. If you go into Etta’s room, you will see evidence of my sorrow.

Etta and I love you more than purple.


P.S. Mom’s birthday dinner starts at six.

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This article has been read 1092 times
Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood12/07/06
I loved this story--both the unusual title and the opening line drew me in. Great dialogue! The characters really came alive.
Joanne Sher 12/10/06
Your title drew me in, and your story kept me here! Great dialogue - it definitely felt completely authentic. Nice job!
Donna Powers 12/10/06
I also loved the title and the characters seemed real to me, too. This pastor seemed like a real person to me. What a shame to have to fight over such "little" things but I know these are real issues in some places. Very good job writing an enjoyable story.
Amy Michelle Wiley 12/10/07
I can't believe there weren't more comments on this. Fun story! I love the title.