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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Drip (04/25/13)

By Pauline Carruthers



Still dripping history, the ancient renovated stone house stood like a landmark above the new town of Freshlands. It’s oversized front entrance, now split to form two individual front doors, reflected perfectly the personalities of its occupants. Poppy Upbeat’s gleaming scarlet lacquered front door opened to immediately reveal ultra modern, open plan, minimalist living accommodation. Polished wooden flooring glowed beneath low backed matching sofas and haphazardly placed almost ground level side tables. Whilst behind the solid looking, low key brown varnish of Larry Downside’s door, lurked the dependability of ‘don’t show the scuff marks’ carpet and solid chunky fitments. A gilt edged mirror hung ‘placed’ over an antique iron fireplace. The only thing that linked them together was that each had an identical alabaster jar; Poppy’s standing amidst a confusion of colourful knick knacks that sat on her quirky Ikea cabinet and Larry’s standing sedately to attention in the middle of his ‘wise buy, last a lifetime’ solid oak chest.

Each weekday morning would see them making their way together down the hill to the town where they worked. Larry to his job in the local Solicitors office, walking briskly in his thick soled black lace-up shoes, sober grey suit buttoned neatly over pin striped shirt, briefcase swinging loosely from his hand. Poppy teetered beside him on her red stilettos, yellow calf length skirt swirling beneath loose orange jacket, designer handbag dripping from her arm. She graced the reception desk in one of the local hotels, generously soliciting help and information to make the guests feel ‘at home‘.
Sunday was always ’church day’ and Poppy Upbeats lovely soprano voice could be heard singing like an angel in the immediate vicinity. She was a popular girl, exuberant and chatty, radiating happiness in spasms like a light bulb going on and off, never lacking a Sunday lunch or dinner invitation. Whereas Larry Downside had a voice like a frog, and though his personality had the stillness of a millpond he dripped dependability and there was an air of mystery about him. Larry was quiet and shy, awkward in company, not the sort to liven up a party as Poppy did.

Both were regular participants in the Wednesday evening prayer meeting that was held in the church, Poppy’s high bubbling voice holding the attention of all as she prayed and praised, words trilling from her shiny pink lips like drips of crystal water from a fountain. Larry Downside’s prayers were more sedate and stumbling, like a trickle from a furred up tap. He was hesitant, slurring the words, letting them drip into the air as he struggled to translate heartfelt thoughts into sounds that hung in the quietness, as if they had never been uttered.

It was on a Wednesday evening that a massive explosion ripped in slow motion across the skyline above the town, hurling ancient stone and two individual front doors into space, before settling in a pile of rubble on the ground. There was nothing left of the old renovated house that had stood like a landmark over Freelands, except for two alabaster jars that had rolled down the hill towards the town. One had cracked apart, spilling its contents as it rolled; huge superficial tears that gushed like a sudden leak from a water pipe, before being absorbed into oblivion beneath the ground. The other came to rest just outside the old oak doors of the church, its lid opening slightly to release little rainbows of fragrance, held in crystal tears of compassion and a myriad of prayers, that seeped in the evening mist
like radiant drips of love over an unsuspecting little town.

The church door opened slowly and Poppy Upbeat and Larry Downside emerged, their eyes drawn up towards the hill, where smoke and flames and billows of dust replaced the ancient old stone house that had been their homes. In unison they looked down at the open alabaster jar that lay on the ground at their feet, dripping out its hidden treasure. Eye to eye they fixed each other with a searching gaze, before the one whose jar lay open at their feet, stretched out a hand to retrieve it.

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This article has been read 330 times
Member Comments
Member Date
dub W05/07/13
Interesting narrative, reminiscent of 18th. Century Russian literature in style. The over emphasis on descriptive phrases made it somewhat difficult to ingest, however the soft story was enjoyable, though the ending troubling.
Yvonne Blake 05/07/13
Good character descriptions. I know the topic was "Drip," but the word was a bit overused. Once or twice would have sufficed. I know the ending had a meaning, but I had trouble understanding the symbolism.
Interesting story.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/07/13
I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of these two characters. You did a nice job of developing them. The way you started with the house intrigued me and pulled me in.

You need a good proofreader or perhaps a good website to review some of the punctuation rules. For example: gilt-edged and heavy-soled should have hyphens. Solicitor's office should have an apostrophe while It's actually means it is not the possessive form of it.

Those are little things that a challenge buddy or a critique group could help you with. Don't be afraid to ask some of the older members if they would be willing to proof your story for you.

I like the different and fresh take on the topic. I thought it was quite clever. I wish you could have gone into a bit more about the ending and the jars. My mind went to all kinds of things. I think I finally settled that maybe they were an urn with a loved-one's ashes or perhaps they were something deeper like a bit of their personalities. I know it's hard to get everything into 750 words, but I wanted to keep reading (which is a good sign) Perhaps if you had trimmed some of the descriptions of the houses and furnishings, you may have been able to add some more to the end.

Either way though, I thought you did a great job and I can only see you getting better and better as it is definitely clear that you have a gift for story-telling.