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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)

TITLE: Hidden Treasures
By julie wood



“Live long and prosper!” A green-blooded Vulcan hand fans before her face, two pairs of parallel fingers divided in a V. She grins. Like many people with autism, she relates to Mr. Spock—but not so much as to Data, the gentle android struggling to make sense of the human world around him….

Wait. That’s not what she’s supposed to be focusing on now. Think prosperity.

The image of a golden-toned android with soft eyes is replaced by that of a crimson-jowled preacher, pacing his platform and flashing glitter-rings as he bellows from his TV world about name it and claim it….She shrinks away, not caring to claim anything he holds out to her. Jewels are too sharp-edged and stock options too confusing, and besides his booming bark-voice hurts her ears.

Think prosperity.

Images shift, splinter, scatter across her mind as she struggles to focus upon the abstract theme of her prompt. No tidy drawers of ideas are packed within her brain, organized or labeled 123 or ABC. Her thoughts are a jumbled chaos, much like the paper-snowflecked chaos of her room. Her order lies in the soothing left-right rhythms of her walks, in stooping periodically to rescue the grassy parkway from a dented pop can here, a squashed cigarette packet there….She likes the pop cans best, because she gets to toss those into her red recycling bin and to therefore briefly feel productive. I would make a good bag lady, she thinks and grins again.

What can someone like her make of a word like prosperity? Not a word anyone would likely connect with her, as they watch her collect trash while she lopes her dreamy way along the street. Policemen often stop her and ask her if she’s homeless. Strangers offer her sacks of their used clothes and sometimes rides. She usually declines; clothes for her hold little interest, and she understands it is not safe to accept rides from strangers. Besides, a ride would throw her perfect timing off. She needs to reach the nursing home at exactly nine a.m., in time to read the Bible to her bedridden friend Sarah. And thirty minutes later, to collect her other friends and push them into the dining room for Bingo. That’s on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Tuesdays and Fridays there is hymn-singing while rhythmically strumming her guitar, raising her soft voice in praise to her Creator and in tandem with her special friends.

She shivers with delight at the dawning of each day, when her Lord calls her to do her very small things with great love. Once she felt ashamed because she couldn’t learn how to count change or drive a car, because she’d never worked a real job for pay like other people. The world outside her hidden realm of books and thoughts and dreams moves a bit too fast for her, everything too bright and loud and sharp-edged and confusing. The treasures of that world prove too complex to her mind—for despite her college degree, her grasp of paradox and metaphysical ideas, she’s learned over the years that she’ll remain a lifelong child.

But now she can rejoice in the many blessings showered over her every day. Her treasures are the rhythms of her music and her walks, the calling out of numbers and letters during Bingo, the delicately structured patterns of her days that nevertheless bring her surprises. Her treasures are the beaming faces of her friends as they thank her for a cup of coffee or a white stuffed bunny dredged up from her bag of Bingo prizes. Her treasures are the shell necklace that smiling Verna drapes about her neck while she sings. The note of appreciation Eleanor presses secretly into her palm. The Valentine from Clarence, her friend with Down syndrome, who has printed crookedly with his rainbow-colored markers: I AM LOVE YOU.

She grins at this image as she lets the pop cans in her fists drop from her grimy palms and clatter into her red recycling bin. She happily slips back into her house. She’s ready now to write about prosperity…her kind, granted by her Lord as He gently guides her through her hidden world.

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This article has been read 830 times
Member Comments
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Lynda Schultz 05/18/06
Very well done. I am not expert on autism, but thank you for the insight into that world.
Valerie Routhieaux05/21/06
Thank you. Very well written, with great insight.
Helen Paynter05/21/06
WOnderful. I was going to cut and poste my favourite bit into this comment - but I couldn't choose. Really talented writing. I do hope this places.
Pat Guy 05/22/06
'I would make a good bag lady, she thinks and grins again.' Perfect!

Beautiful and articulate. Very well done! Loved this insight.
Jan Ackerson 05/22/06
This is very well done, and as a teacher who has worked with autistic students, you have done very well with the autistic POV. I wonder if it'd have even more impact if your wrote it in the 1st person--you could really bring us right into the mind of an autistic person. Just a thought; this is beautifully written.
lynn rodgers05/23/06
"Clarence, her friend with Down syndrome, who has printed crookedly with his rainbow-colored markers: I AM LOVE YOU." tehe reminds me of a girl at my church with downs. wonderful story
dub W05/24/06
This story is very special, well written, insightful, and heartfelt. Thank you for posting this.
Anita Neuman05/24/06
Fabulous entry! I've worked with autistic adults and I think you've done an excellent job of capturing the thought pattern and emotions. This is really great work!
david perez12/18/06
I believe those worlds really are there seeping out through the seems. Thanks for letting us in to this one.