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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)

TITLE: Words of Wisdom
By cheryl schoenberger


“Mom, you were such a pack rat, “I reflected squinting to canvas the dimly lit room strewn with boxes of memory triggers in every nook and cranny.

“I know there is a light in here somewhere,” I thought as I felt for the dangling rusty chain with the forty watt bulb attached.

Something scurried in the far left corner behind the old hat boxes as the attic illuminated.

“Oh no, that doesn’t sound good. I don’t even want to know what that was.”

“Look at all this stuff I need to sort through and decide what stays and what goes,” I thought as I stared at the mile high piles of boxes, all neatly labeled with the contents written on top with a black marker.

“So much needs to be done before I can sell this house. Like usual my brothers are out of town or busy, and wouldn’t even dream of helping me with this.”

Hours past, as box after box was opened and my emotions cycled from happy tears, to laughter, to uncontrollable sobbing, as I relived the fragmented moments of time.

Old photos of my Mom on St. Charles Bridge and by the Eiffel tower, at costume parties, magnets from every place she had travelled to, ticket stubs from concerts, and relics from St. Joseph’s altar; all little pieces to the puzzle of her life. The list goes on and on, with each item yelling out for its story to be told.

I worked my way to the left corner of the room, where the scurrying noise had occurred hours earlier, and carefully opened the last box with squinted eyes, afraid of what might jump out.

The box was filled with pens, paper, and paper clips, and at the very bottom, a large manila folder overstuffed with paper, held in place by rubber bands.

Inside the worn folder were 500 pages of a manuscript, titled: “Follow Your Heart,” by Carol Patterson.

“I can’t believe this, my Mom was a writer and I never knew it. She had always encouraged me to write, I just never had the time to pursue it. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it was just I had my plate full most of my life, with my Dad’s terminal illness followed by my Mom’s, three children and a full time job to boot.”

All my joints began complaining at the same time as I stood up, which prompted me to call it quits for the evening.

As I scoped out the progress of the attic project from an upright position, I realized that I had not discarded a single item. It had finally happened, after years of resisting, I had become my mother.

Downstairs sprawled across my mother’s old worn plaid sofa with a cup of hot green tea, I began to sift through the manuscript.

My eyes swelled with tears as I read the dedication page. This book is dedicated to my loving daughter, who always does so much for others and not enough for herself.

I turned the page to continue reading the now blurry print, when I discovered a handwritten letter nestled in the first chapter.

My Dear Christie,

By now you have found my unfinished manuscript that I packed away for safekeeping. Before you read it, let me tell you a little about it. The main character is a beautiful, divorced, middle- aged woman that has a compassionate soul and spends all her time helping others. She never seems to find the time to live for herself.
Does she sound familiar?

Honey my manuscript just needs a final chapter.

My last request is for you to finish it. I have enclosed the name of a publisher that is interested in reading it.

Please pray on it and think carefully how you would like this manuscript to end. Life is short, baby, please live each day to the fullest making the most of your time left here.

With all my love,

Goose bumps chilled me to the bone as I read chapter after chapter of my life in her manuscript.

Over the weekend, I typed with fiery one hundred pages, and rushed it to the publisher on my way to the airport.

Waiting to board a plane to Italy for a desperately needed vacation, I thought, “I love you Mom, thanks for always being there when I needed you.”

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This article has been read 472 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/07/10
Your really tapped into your readers' emotions with this bittersweet story!

The "waiting publisher" bit seems perhaps a bit unlikely. What if she hadn't found the MS for years? And there were a few errors in writing mechanics that could be edited a bit.

I really like the emotional healing at your conclusion.

AnneRene' Capp05/07/10
I bet my goose bumps are bigger than yours! :)....Seriously, this is an absolutely great story. You left me wanting to read that book!
stanley Bednarz05/07/10
Great story line. Watch out for overused phrases, that have been used so often in writing they have lost a certain fresh appeal. "Chilled to the bone...," etc..
Mildred Sheldon05/08/10
What a beautiful story. Thank God for Kleenex. Funny how we turn into our mothers as we age. You did an outstanding job with this weeks challenge. Keep writing and God bless.
Joanna Stricker05/08/10
I liked that her mother had left her a legacy. We've been in many attics this week with the challenge and this is the first I've read where the mother told her daughter's story--nicely done.
Christine Ramey05/12/10
Your manuscript story sounds so much like my life. I cried all the way through it. It reminded me of my life and how I began to write. Not in all of the same ways but nevertheless that is what Faithwriters is all about! Thanks for sharing. Great job!