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