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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: Where the River Flows
By Jen Davis


Kate walked into her son’s room and snatched pieces of crumbled paper scattered on the floor. Emptiness filled the space and reality settled over her like a lead blanket. Her breath caught, and tears she hadn’t even known were there came pouring out.

A single plaque remained on the wall, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” And God had too. The night before baseball tryouts his freshman year of high school, her son had fractured his ankle. He was devastated, but once his ankle healed he’d taken up tennis and eventually won a full scholarship to the college of his choice.

Last night, Kate and her husband had come home late after hours of driving. They had spent the last two days helping their son move into his university apartment for his first year of college.

Just nine months ago their daughter had moved halfway across the country. Although they’d promised not to let the miles grow between them, lately it seemed as if they had.

Kate took her morning coffee outside and sat on the patio. The words from the plaque repeated in her mind. “When God closes a door…” She knew the most important door of her life had slammed shut.

God, I need you to open a window in my life.

Setting her coffee aside, her eyes fell upon a pile of river rocks arranged in the nearby landscape, a bittersweet memory of years past brought fresh tears.

The back door popped open, startling her. Balancing a plate of blueberry muffins in one hand and a coffee cup in the other, her husband pulled the door shut with his little finger.

Placing the muffins between them, he noticed her tears. “Why are you crying?”

“I was just remembering when the kids collected those rocks for me at the river.”

“You mean when they argued over who had found the nicest, biggest rock for their mother’s garden?” He laughed.

“Those days are gone, Steve. For twenty-four years we’ve raised our children, but last night we came home to an empty nest.”

He squeezed her hand. “Honey, how about if we head out to the cabin for the weekend? We could use a change of scenery.”

Longing for the serenity of tranquil waters, Kate quickly agreed. Just before noon, they pulled up to the cabin.

While Steve unloaded the car, Kate traipsed across the flagstone path and took the steps to the cabin door. Inside, she pulled back the curtains and opened the windows. The fresh breeze chased out the stagnant air as if to shoo an unwelcome visitor.

Steve dropped their bags onto the floor. “Come on, let’s grab our poles and go catch some dinner.”

They hiked the short trek down the hill to the river, carrying and their gear between them.

Standing at the river’s edge, Kate surveyed the landscape. “Gosh, this place is beautiful. Every time we come here, I always feel as if I’m seeing it for the very first time.”

“In a way we are. The river and all its life are always changing.” Steve set his gear on the sandy soil.

“I don’t remember ever seeing the river this wide before or the water moving so quickly.”

“Neither do I,” Steve said, “but a lot of storms have passed through this way lately.”

She stared deep into the clear spring-fed river. “Sort of like our lives, huh?”

“Yeah,” he said.

She leaned her head against his shoulder and whispered, “Where the river flows, everything will live.” *

The familiar scripture resonated between them.

“Remember how we’ve always said we would live here one day. We could do that now, you know.”

She searched his face, considering his proposal when something caught her eye at the top of the hill. Through the trees she could see their cabin, the white curtains billowing through the open windows, flapping excitedly as if to catch her attention, as if to answer yes.

She broke out in a grin. “How about after we catch some fish, we collect some river rocks for that garden I’ve always wanted to plant off the front porch.”

He attached a lure to her leader and teased in a childlike voice, reminiscent of their children all those years before. “I bet I can find the biggest, bestest one.”

Kate pulled back and cast out her line. Reeling it in, she gave him a sideways glance then shook her head. “And I thought I’d raised all my children.”

*Eze 47:9

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/08/06
Woo hoo, I love the ending here, and you've got some great figurative language in several places that makes this a really appealing story. And yes, I can relate, too...the empty nest is not always such a bad thing. Good job!
Kaylee Blake 09/09/06
Wonderful! Really good storytelling. An all around great entry! The ending was so cute and sweet. Awesome writing, keep up the good work!
Sharlyn Guthrie09/09/06
I love the tenderness and playfulness expressed between husband and wife. What a great story!
Joanne Sher 09/11/06
Really enjoyed this, Jen - especially the ending!! Wonderful job with the dialogue especially!
Donna Powers 09/11/06
This is lovely. I can imagine this scenario all too well. Nicely done!
Cheryl Harrison09/13/06
What a tender story. I enjoyed reading this. I especially liked the last line! Blessings.
david perez12/20/06
Sometimes dreams are there for the taking, if we can simply accept them. I like the playful(natural-feeling) of Kate and Steve. The landscape surrounding the cabin was also well drawn, and the lead in to the ending quote was a smooth rhythm.