Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: The Thaw
By Lewis Campbell
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You can count on it. There will be a blizzard on the Grand Prairie in late March. After the wheat is sprouting. And the oats are planted, old man winter pulls one more prank to remind farmers that he is still there.
It started today. When Tom got out to feed his animals, the wind was straight out of the north. The way it stung Tom's face said it came from the North Pole. By noon several inches of snow had fallen.
It was time to get ready for bad weather. Animals were sheltered. Machinery was parked in the sheds. By the time the whit countryside was dark, a lone farmer retreated to the farmhouse that had been his monastery for the last two years, since God took Debby.
Debby had been Tom's reason to live for four years. When Janie, her mother was killed in a car wreak, Miss Deb, as everyone new her, kept her daddy going.
That is until the day Tom's cell phone rang, It was Debby's third grade teacher. His daughter was ill and needed to go home. When Tom picked the youngster up, it was obvious what needed to be done. A fast trip brought them to the hospital. The feverish, almost delirious child was handed to an alarmed nurse, who instantly started bathing her to get fever down. Four hours later a Doctor aroused the father dosing by Debby's bed. He stammered hesitantly to tell Tom that his daughter was gone
Part of tom died too. He quit church. He never went to the Junction Café, where he and Debbie went most nights for supper. He didn't go anywhere accept occasionally to the Farmers Supply. He sat alone and ate soup, chili or sandwiches while he watched wrestling on TV like he was doing tonight.
A knock on the door Awakened Tom, What fool would be out on a night like this? The man in jeans and a mackinaw introduced himself a Gabe. He had an errand to run for his boss and had slid off the road. Could Tom pull him out?
Gabe was invited in and given a cup of coffee. He was offered a bowl of chili but refused.
Gabe was in a hurry. The "Big Boss" had told him about a little girl in their youth choir. The little girl used to be the happiest most outgoing member of the choir, but lately, she only sat by herself in her blue velvet dress and white stockings and stared off into space. Occasionally a tear ran down her cheek. The Big Boss had finally found out the problem. She was worried because her daddy was sad.
Gabe had to find the girl's daddy and tell him that the girl and her mother were fine. She was working really hard to learn a special song to sing for daddy when he joined them.
Gabe's cup was empty. Tom went to refill it. When he returned, Gabe was gone. That was strange. He walked to the door. It was locked from the inside.
Tom peered credulously out into the night. The snowing had stopped. A full moon was out. There was not a single track in the snow. What is happening? Had he gone crazy? Was this a bad dream? Who was Gabe? Where did he go?
Then a picture popped into his mind. He wanted to braid his daughter's hair one last time Debby was laying there lifelessly serene in the blue dress he bought for her, and white stockings a clerk suggested.
Could it be? Was Gabe, Gabriel? Was he the lonely daddy, "the Big Boss" wanted to get the message?
Tom lost track of time. Hot tears trickled down his leathery cheeks. Tears that had refused to flow because the pain was too deep.
When Tom regained his composure, the Sun was coming up, Bright and clear. Daffodils were popping up in the yard. Across the road, wheat was turning the ground from white to green as the snow melted. Winter was over. The thaw was starting.
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