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

TITLE: THE BOX
By Nanci Rubin
05/04/10


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Joniís girlhood home had lain in convalescence long enough. She and her husband, Mike had agreed to take the house after her mom went into an assisted living facility. Two weeks of cleaning and deciding what to do next had placed her here in the attic. The spider webs hung down from the rafters like spun pearls, and the air was hot, heavy and oppressive. Joniís movements were slow and she felt as if she were walking through knee-deep mire. The attic had that dusty, musty smell that some antique shops have, the kind that can hand you history in a hankie. She stretched her arms over her head and sighed. Her red curls clung to her forehead and neck as she shoved boxes aside in a veiled attempt to clean the attic.

Joni climbed over more boxes, a dress form, and Christmas wreaths and then she saw it! Sitting in the front corner of the attic was an old leather trunk. She opened it and found two scarves, old sweaters, gloves, and buried beneath the clothes was a red velvet box tied with black satin ribbon. As she untied the ribbon, her fingers tingled with excitement, as though electrically charged. Opening the box she saw inside a hand written manuscript, the writing cursive and flowing like liquid. The paper had become brittle, but still a lingering aroma of lavender hinted at the hands that had formed the letters upon these pages.

Joni began to carefully read through the pages, as minutes fell around her in clumps, like cut hair. She read of small tragedies, the hairline fractures of a marriage and then she discovered that the author was her great-grandmother, Kathleen OíNeal. Kate, as she had been called, had spread her life upon these pages like peanut butter on toast and the words hummed like wasps inside Joniís head.

Time was suspended like clothes hung on a clothesline. Joni wept as she read of Kateís depression after a miscarriage, and how Kate had felt as though her baby had been erased like a misspelled word and the emptiness that she had experienced from that loss. Joni understood the loss of a miscarriage as she, also, had miscarried her baby six months earlier. The shifting light from the attic fan revealed that the morning has been swept aside like crumbs from a tablecloth.

Joni carefully placed the manuscript back into the red velvet box and descended the attic stairs one rung at a time. She went into the kitchen and poured a tall glass of sweetened iced tea and headed for the coolness of the den. She lifted the brittle pages and began to read more of Kateís life, the birth of her grandmother, the death of names she had heard at family reunions, but what touched her the most, was the book behind the book

On the pages that followed, Kate had written in tight letters, like embroidery stitches, her prayers to God. Her praise and love that she had had for the Lord were poured out like water thrown from a window. Joni could see Godís hand working in the tapestry of her great-grandmotherís life. The hairline fractures of Kateís soul God. Himself, had healed. He had blessed her with long life, a full quiver and peace that had passed all human understanding.

Joniís tears slid slowly down her cheeks, like butter melting in the sun. She was awed by the similarities of Kateís and her life. Through her tears she opened her red leather-bound prayer journal and read praise that could have been penned by her great-grandmother.


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This article has been read 348 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/07/10
What a treasure that was!

I wonder if you have perhaps too many metaphors and similes. They're dandy literary devices, but a few sprinkled delicately in an story of this length are plenty.

This was a tender story, written sweetly.
AnneRene' Capp 05/07/10
You had me sitting right beside you! Jan put it well, this is sweet and tender. Liked your descriptions too.
Mildred Sheldon05/08/10
What a tender trip down memory lane. I agree with Jan. She knows the ins and outs of writing. I loved this. Thank you and God bless.
Joanna Stricker05/08/10
I enjoyed the illusion to a faith heritage. God encourages us by showing that He loves us by weaving His design--long before we live out our own days. I held my breath a bit with the fragile pages of the journal--good descriptions!