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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)

TITLE: Petals of Patience
By Debbie Sickler


“That’s it, just like that. Good! Now hold your thumbs together and aim for the center. Press gently, but firmly, and start sinking a well.” Beth guided Alicia’s dainty hands through the smooth clay as it spun steadily on the wheel before her.

She’s doing well. I love working with kids that have talent! Beth mused as she used a sea sponge to dowse the project with more water.

“Ms. Nielson! Ms. Nielson! I need help!” Shawn. Again.

Now he on the other hand I could definitely do without! God, why won’t you just transfer Shawn to another class? He stresses me out every day and he never seems to catch on to a thing I show him! Lord, if he has to be in here, please give me patience to deal with him.

“What is it now Shawn?” She didn’t even try to hide her exasperation, as she trudged over to the mess, he called his workstation.

Destruction met Beth’s eyes the next morning as she raised the lid to the kiln. She picked up jagged remains of pottery that had shattered. A triangular piece of Cobalt Blue caught her eye. Shawn. He was the only one who used that color this week. How many times do I have to show him how to wedge his clay properly? He knows he can’t fire something with air pockets in it!

Beth took a step back and shook her head, her gaze locked onto the flower vase resting on her desk. God, I’ll give him until the last petal falls off that flower, then I’m done! I don’t know what else to do with that boy. She forced a happy face as the class filed into the room.

Shawn snapped the plastic bat into place with a mound of soft clay piled on it and sat at the wheel for his first lesson. Beth cringed with thoughts of him turning it on too high, causing slurry to fly. She took a deep breath as his foot depressed the accelerator. Her imaginings weren’t even close to the results.

She rolled her eyes and noticed the vase. It had been days since she made the vow about the last petal, but the flower still looked just as fresh. Okay God, I guess I’m supposed to still be patient, huh?

“Sorry, Ms. Nielson. Do you want to use my towel?” Shawn offered the damp rag so apologetically that Beth’s heart felt a new tenderness towards him-despite the face full of clay he’d just delivered her.

The semester wore on. Most of Beth’s students showed great improvement. Shawn still aggravated her tremendously sometimes, but these episodes were occurring with less frequency. When he did test her patience, she remembered her oath. She was dumbfounded every week when she changed the water in the vase. How is that flower still in perfect condition? It should have been wilted and in the trash bin long ago. It must be a God thing.

It was open house night and Beth had her room set up like a true art gallery. She placed the students’ pottery on velvety soft sheets of material draped over their workstations. Each project had an artist’s title card, carefully scribed in calligraphy, placed next to it. The parents and kids are gonna love this!

“Hello, everyone. Welcome! Please feel free to look around the room. Kids, show your parents what you’ve been working on and parents please feel free to ask any questions about grades, tools you see, etcetera.” Boy, that little speech sounded lame. I sounded just like my old teachers. Ech! Beth thought as she leaned against the edge of her desk and looked around the room. Great turn out at least!

“Ms. Nielson. It’s so nice to finally meet you.” An attractive woman with a boisterous smile approached Beth. As the two shook hands, the woman continued, “I’m Shawn’s mom. He talks about you so much. I hope his little crush hasn’t been too uncomfortable for you.”

“His crush?” That’s news to me.

“Yes, his crush. I assumed you knew. What with all the flowers and all.”

“Flowers?” What is this woman talking about?

“I own a flower shop, so I didn’t mind. He said yellow daffodils were your favorite. I tried to tell him that one a week was coming on too strong…”

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This article has been read 1437 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jillian Hill10/10/05
This was good. I can't help but chuckle each time I think about the end.
Marie G10/10/05
I enjoyed this story. It made me laugh.
B Brenton10/11/05
This was witty. I love it and I love you're style. So far my money's on you for a place!
Anita Neuman10/12/05
I love it, I love it, I love it! I can't believe you were able to cram so much story into such a tight word limitation. GREAT job! GREAT ending!!!
Tammy Johnson10/12/05
I echo the above comments. You definately have a knack! I liked the end - a funny one and not the typical sappy one. You'll be moving on up in no time!
Brandi Roberts10/12/05
This is a sweet story...what makes it all the more sweet for me is that Shawn is my husband's name and this sounds like something he'd do for me. :) Thanks for sharing!
Allison Egley 10/12/05
So cute! I love it. I may only be a college student in field experience, but I know how those students can be. :)
Linda Watson Owen10/12/05
Oh, what a delightful story! How perfectly charming and entertaining too!! So glad I read this tonight!!
Karen Ward10/12/05
I agree, charming, cute, entertaining and witty! Well done.
Julianne Jones10/13/05
I loved this! The ending, the portrayal of teacher-student relationships, the humour, everything! Well done! And I echo the others: I don't think you'll be in Beginners long.
Alexandra Wilkin10/13/05
This entry kept me smiling from start to finish. I enjoyed this very much. God bless.
Suzanne R10/13/05
What a fun piece. You must be a teacher? Delightful!
Jan Ackerson 10/13/05
Like Mary Poppins, this is "practically perfect in every way."
Pat Guy 10/13/05
Perfect title for a such a delightful entry! I really enjoyed this!
Shari Armstrong 10/13/05
LOL -this was great! :) wonderful story -didn't see the ending coming!
Laurie Glass 10/13/05
I enjoyed this and I was surprised at the ending as well. Nice job.
Donnah Cole10/13/05
Very entertaining! I didn't see the end coming either. Good lighthearted piece!
Cassie Memmer10/13/05
Unique and original! I really enjoyed reading this. Great ending too!
J. C. Lamont10/14/05
That was absolutely adorable. I loved it! Thanks.
Val Clark10/15/05
From one teacher, who loves to play with clay, to another, a very enjoyable read. Had to laugh at the end. Well done. Yeggy
Denise Stanford10/15/05
Fantastic Oh this is so good, realistic and heartwarming. So much on offer in so few words...a reminder that God has many wonderful ways... and things may not be quite what we think! I am surprised you are posting in Beginners!
Deborah Porter 10/17/05
Hi Debbie. I'm just popping in to give you a bit of encouragement and let you know that you ranked 6th in the Level 1 listings (so just one off receiving an award) and 17th overall. That's 17th out of 145 entries! So give yourself a pat on the back - you deserve it.

That unexpected ending made this a little treat of a read! Keep up the great work.

Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)
halvden johansen03/04/06
delightful!!! Cute and heartwarming.
Steve Clark03/06/06
Hey, Debby, Nice work. I can see why it is one of your favorites. The use of the flower was so well done, keeping us wondering and then throwing a curve at the the end. I thought the petals were going to drop when Shawn had finally learned how to be at peace. I liked your ending better.