Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Car Trip (07/18/05)
TITLE: A Bastket of Dandelions
By Kristopher Cox
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“Finally,” he sighed, releasing a small part of his nervousness with his breath. Travis, eyeing the last patch to plunder, pulled his car to the grassy shoulder as it gave a long continuous squeak to a slow stop. Putting the car in park, Travis opened the door and slowly stepped out to gaze upon his new discovery. He studied the patch thoroughly and tenderly picked the three best specimens. Returning to his car with the last of his treasures, he placed the three yellow dandelions along with their new companions brimming the straw basket. “One thousand two hundred and ninety-eight.” With a nod of satisfaction, Travis started his car and drove off in the same direction as before.
His destination was only a few miles down the road but it was these last miles that had always been the toughest leg in the trip for Travis. His heart began to drive faster even though his car was steadily decreasing in speed. The palms of his hands seeped moister as if there were natural springs under the pores of his skin. Travis just shook his head to fight back the tears and the anxiety. No matter how many years he drove down this road to deliver his offering, May 21st would continually haunt him.
As he crested the last hill, he spotted on the left shoulder a middle-aged man dressed in a yellow polo shirt and kakis in front of a black full-sized family car parked next to three wooden, miniature crosses, which were faded and scarred from nature’s elements. He yielded his car to park beside the lone vehicle. As he opened the car door with his left hand, he carefully cradled the basket of dandelion buds with his right and respectfully stepped out of the car. With his head lowered, he walked towards man who was standing silently in front of the crosses. Without taking his eyes off the crosses, the man cuts the silence, “I see that you have quite a few more dandelion buds this year.”
Travis gently bobs his head and simply replies “Yes sir.”
The man looks at the basket and asks, “How many?”
Travis pauses and solemnly speaks “One thousand two hundred and ninety-eight.”
“My family will appreciate that,” says the man while he ceremoniously takes the basket from Travis arms and sprinkles all 1,298 dandelion buds over the crosses. “My wife loved dandelions. She preferred them over roses, daisies, or any type of flower. I never could understand it. I used to tell her that it was only a weed and it was considered a worthless nuisance.
The yellow shirted man hid his head in his hands while his tears dripped to water the dandelions below. Travis could do nothing but stand frozen while tears rolled off his face to help moisten the yellow pedals along side the hurting ex-family man. “That’s what I thought of you, Travis,” the man said while glaring his red, watery eyes at him, “A weed! A purposeless, waste-of-life weed!” The man waited a moment to regain control of his anger in order to continue, “But I knew what my wife would have said, ‘Well what the rest of the world sees as a weed, I see as sun-shiny flower’. That’s why I did not press charges against you when you killed my family. I knew that my wife would not have wanted you to waste your life in prison for manslaughter charges of driving while intoxicated when you could be doing so much more.” The man scratched his head, “One thousand two hundred and ninety-eight. That’s how many people have gotten to know Christ from your testimony?”
All Travis could do was bob his head and quietly say, “Yes, sir.”
“Well, then I guess this tragedy can even become a ‘sun-shiny flower’.” Then the man just simply got in his car and drove off.
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