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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)

TITLE: Letting Go
By marcella franseen


Carrie placed the large brown canvas suitcase on her bed. As she unzipped and lifted the top, she was hit with the smell of mildew and gardenia perfume. This had been her mother’s suitcase. The smell of that cheap gardenia perfume caused a new wave of emotion to rush over her. She fought the tears welling in her eyes as she walked over to the dresser and began placing her clothes in the bag.

It had only been one week since the funeral, but her mother had made sure everything would be ready. That’s the kind of person she was. She had spent her whole life preparing Carrie for hers. Even at the end, when the cancer was claiming its final and ultimate victory, she was the strongest woman Carrie had ever known.

Carrie placed her last item in the bag and zipped it closed. Then, she took a deep breath and walked into her mother’s room. She knew exactly which dresser to go to, and which drawer to open. There on top, was the manila envelope. Carrie picked it up, ran her hands over it, and then held it to her chest. She didn’t open it…she didn’t need to. She knew what was inside. There was roughly eighteen thousand dollars-all the money her mother had scraped and saved over the years-for the day she and Carrie would leave Paradise, CA for a “fresh start.” Carrie had lived in Paradise her whole life. Her mother left her father when Carrie was only six. He was an alcoholic. Carrie didn’t remember much about those years, but she had one haunting memory of hiding in her bedroom closet, head buried in her knees…shouts, curses, and the sound of breaking glass on the other side of the door. It wasn’t long after that when her mother picked her up early from kindergarten, car packed full, and they moved into a mobile home park. It was there she spent the next 13 years. She never saw her father again. As far as she knew, he never came looking.

Carrie heaved the suitcase into the trunk of her car. She slammed the door closed, leaned against the back of the car, and looked up at the sky. “This is it, Momma,” she said out loud. “This is our fresh start. I’m leaving this town and going to follow my dreams. I’m doing it for both of us, Momma. I love you.”

As she pulled out of the mobile home park, she looked in the rearview mirror for one last glance at the trailer where she and her mother had lived, laughed, grown, and loved. She felt a weight lift off her shoulders and hope set in her heart.

There were many thoughts passing through her head as she finally drove through the city limits of Paradise, CA. But one thought spoke the loudest…“Life is going to be good, this side of Paradise.”

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This article has been read 428 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kathleen Langridge07/23/11
Easily identifiable story. Strong character portrayal, even the mother who had died. I hope Carrie does well. =)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/23/11
This brought tears to my eyes. After my mom died I hungered for her scent.One day I ironed my dad's shirts and put them into the closet I sniffed Mom's clothes and couldn't smell her anymore.It was such a hard day, but like your MC I know I'll see her in Paradise.
Laury Hubrich 07/23/11
Very nice job setting up the scene and letting us get to know your MC. There is so much hope here. Great job!
Eliza Evans 07/23/11
Brave woman, that mother. I think Carrie is going to be okay.
Try to use up all your allotted words so you can flesh out your characters and story as much as possible. :)
I like the scene of packing the car and looking up at the sky.
"I’m doing it for both of us,
Momma" What a wonderful line.
Edy T Johnson 07/25/11
You sure don't write like a 'beginner!' I think you did a good job expressing the thoughts and emotions of a young woman leaving her old life behind. Letting go is not an easy thing to do, for sure.
diana kay07/26/11
what a lovely story... i agree with the comments this has good title, bang on theme and a beginning middle and end, suspense and brilliant plot dont think you are in the right level here.:-) need to move on up
Hiram Claudio07/26/11
This was a very moving story. I found cheering and hoping for the MC at the end as she drove off. A true story of hope covered in the realities of life we all face. Well done!