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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Billboard/Poster/Sign (any or all) (12/02/10)

TITLE: Business Hours
By Pamela Lake
12/05/10


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Iggy stood outside the clinic, looking up at the concrete stairs that led into the older brick building. The traffic was heavy and noisy. The smells of diesel from the buses and trucks rumbling by filled the air. In the distance a siren wailed its presence, though whether an ambulance or a cop car, she didn’t know. The day was frosty, the air snapping cold and she burrowed deeper into her down jacket. Her breath made moist plumes in the air and she felt for a moment each breath escaping her mouth represented every loss she had experienced in her brief 19 years of life. She played with the idea of holding her breath, of not exhaling ever again.

An elderly homeless woman rambled by, her face wrapped in two or three different scarves of rainbow colors, a dirty purple Vikings knit hat squashed down upon her head. Her graying hair, as dirty and oily as the hat she wore, straggled out and down her stadium coat. She slightly swayed like a listing ship cast loose on a wild sea suggesting the possibility of being pickled. While she lumbered by, Iggy could hear her mumbling furiously into her scarves, the words darkly muddled and making little sense. The woman stopped and turned toward Iggy, glaring at her with baleful eyes. She raised an arthritic finger, like a sage about to impart judicious wisdom and announced:

“They’re here.”

Abruptly, before Iggy could respond with what she felt would be a reasonable question (as in “Who?”), the old woman turned away and staggered down the sidewalk. She commenced her impassioned mutterings. There was nothing Iggy could pick up as recognizable in the English language (or any other language other than Klingon maybe).

She gripped the iron railing with her gloved hand, feeling the cold penetrate through the rough wool. Her appointment was at eleven o’clock and she still had fifteen minutes left. Her feet felt frozen to the ground and she felt despair welling up inside her as tears stung her eyes.

"No. Don’t think. Don’t go there. Move forward and up."

She lifted her foot up onto the first step, taking a deep breath and letting it out. What’s one more loss?

"There. Not so bad. You can do this."

She began her ascent up the stairs to the entrance of the building. The door had a sign with the clinic’s name on it and business hours listed underneath. Business hours? Is that what I’m doing? Business? A young couple passed her on the stairs and entered into the clinic. She came to the door and stopped. She reached her hand out to grasp the door handle and pull the door open when she noticed another woman standing to right of the stoop looking intently at her. Oh great, my day for crazies. This woman though was obviously not homeless. She appeared to be somewhere in her forties. Her hair was well-groomed and a light-brown with pale blond streaks throughout. She wore a fuchsia colored down jacket complete with matching dark pink winter boots and blue jeans. Her eyes were large and gentle, her brow creased with concern.

“I don’t mean to bother you but are you going into the clinic?” She spoke with an urgency that froze Iggy.

“Why? How is this your business?” Iggy heard the defensiveness thick in her voice; tension trickling down into her arms, chest and into her abdomen and legs. She felt rigid and fragile, like one wrong word or turn would shatter her into a thousand pieces.

“I think I know why you’re here. May I have just a moment of your time?”

Before Iggy could protest, the woman blurted, “Listen, what you are about to do you can never take back. It will be with you all your life and you will regret it always. This isn’t God’s heart for you.” Her voice was gentle and liquid.

“I…I don’t believe in God.” Great, she thought to herself, a Jesus freak. Thanks Universe, that’s really what I need right now.

“That’s okay. Because God loves you and he wants you to know no matter what choices you make here today, he loves you. I’ve been where you’re at now and I understand your fear and despair. May I pray for you?” She moved in closer and placed her hand on Iggy’s arm. Iggy looked at her, eyes welling with tears and nodded,

“Okay.”

The woman looked at Iggy and smiled. “This is God’s business.”


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This article has been read 458 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Christine Ramey12/09/10
Interesting ending, but compelling. Thanks for sharing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/10/10
This is a touching story. You did a great job describing Iggy. Oriole have loved it if there was more dialog from Iggy. She's such an interesting character I wanted to know more about her. Great job.
Verna Mull12/10/10
Very well done. Held my interest to the end.
Noel Mitaxa 12/10/10
I admire how you have combined the chills - of your setting; of the MC's mindset; of the message on the sign; of the coldness of the clinic - and then invited us into hope as you bring us to the close. Excellent work.
diana kay12/12/10
some great descriptive prose here and i really enjoyed the pictures you painted of the characters and the setting.
Amanda Brogan12/13/10
LOVE your descriptions of the surroundings and the thoughts swirling through Iggy's head. And how amazing that God sent someone to help her at the last minute! He is so great like that.

I like how you described the Christian woman's gentleness and compassion, and how she had been through the same situation. I think nothing resonates with someone more than when they can relate to us, when we are not so far above them, but only showing them how God brought us out of a rough place where they find themselves.

Awesomely done!