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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Work (07/27/06)

TITLE: No Chores Today
By Susan Lower


In the early hours of dawn the farmer rose to begin his day. The fresh aroma of hot coffee floated up the stairway. Quietly he walked down the hall slowly opening each door just a crack. The hint of a smile and a silent blessing behind his lips. His children were all sleeping in their beds. Even the littlest one nestled peacefully in her crib at the foot of his bed.

A plate full of eggs awaited him in the kitchen. His wife had risen at her usual hour to prepare for the day, but food was least on his mind or filling to his stomach. He ate only because she prepared it for him. Stepping out onto the front porch he sipped his steaming coffee. The scene before his eyes gashed his heart. There would be no ordinary chores this day. No morning milking of the cows for him to tend. Those of his herd that had survived were trucked to his nearest neighbor for care. There would be no fresh milk for cereal or bottles to mix. No, on this day there were no chores needing tended.

The farmer’s barn was no more than a crusty shell left hollow from the vicious flames of destructions only days before. In the early hours of morning like this one, he watched the fire trucks speed up his lane and crash through the wire fence. Hand in hand his wife led the children away to a safe distance from the leaping flames threatening to lick their house. He had lost his barn that day, a few of his cows, and his work. He bowed his head praising God for the blessing of his family.

A gentle hand touched his back. He looked up, the anguish in his eyes covered by shock. Dozers, tractors, trucks hauling cement blocks, and wagons filled with men paraded up the dirt lane. The procession came to a halt near the remains of the old barn. “Get that dozer in gear Charlie. Start clearing this place up. We’ve got a barn to build.” A man shouted from inside one of the trucks. Tears slipped down the face of the farmer’s wife. Men jumped from the wagons and the clean up began. The farmer stood speechless while the sun rose. Distant shouts of men filled the empty pastures. The farmer joined the work crew. Nearby families arrived by the hour.

While the men cleared away derbies the women prepared food. Children chased each other in the yard on the warm summer day. Cars lined the lane and down the road. Neighbors and men from everywhere in the county appeared at their doorstep with tools in hand. There were sore thumbs and scrapped knuckles tended during the day. A few splinters and a broken arm, but no one seemed to mind – the work went on.

By evening twilight the site was cleared. The walls of the new structure loomed in the mist of expecting stars. The foundation was laid with block. The sounds of pounding hammers, running saws, and diesel engines ceased. One by one the workmen disappeared to their homes. The farmer stood once more on the front porch of his house. “They will be back tomorrow.” His wife said wrapping her arms around him.

“They don’t have to; they have already done more than enough.”

She turned him with her hands on either side of his face. “We know all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28) She kissed him lovingly before leaving him to stand alone.

The farmer wept in relief lifting his face to the heavens.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Mo 08/04/06
Very nice. This makes me think of other victims of natural disasters -- and the help that hopefully comes.
Lynda Schultz 08/04/06
A wonderful tribute to community - something that isn't seen much anymore. Well done.
Helen Murray08/05/06
How totally beautiful. I wept too!
Ann FitzHenry08/05/06
Very good writing. I especially liked your first couple of paragraphs. Very compelling and interesting. I liked how everyone came together and helped in the end.
Helen Paynter08/10/06
Lovely piece. This is a subtle point, and not necessarily a criticism, but the 'feel' of the first paragraph and a half was quite idfferent to the 'feel' of the next part - it was quite a jar to realise that all was not well in this family. That may have been your intention, or it may not. Personally, I found it mildly distracting. A very subtle point, as I say, which indicates that I thought this was a strong piece of writing, and I don't think I'll be finding you in beginners for many more weeks!