Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)
TITLE: Flowers in the Autumn Mist
By Wayne Harris
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Her novel, “Flowers in the Autumn Mist”, was ready for the publisher. Reaching over for a chilled, freshly squeezed glass of orange juice, she read aloud the romantic first line. “He reminded me of the colorful autumn leaves on my grandmother’s oak tree.”
Expertly crafted words drew her in. Time passed unnoticed. The sun silently dropped behind the horizon. Tears, like moist flower petals, rested on her cheeks. They erupted from her soul by the time she reached page 101.
“How could I?” she mumbled. “How could I let him die?” She felt remorse at writing William H. Daniel’s death into the book. She had written,“When Daniel’s heart stopped, my life ceased to have meaning.”
The telephone rang. The machine answered. “Deborah, pick up,” said the high-pitched feminine voice of her good friend Chelsea Dill.
She ignored the call. Everything was on hold. Dishes, pots, pans and silverware looked like robotic beings with stretched-out arms piled on all sides of the sink.
For two days she wore the same pajamas, Pooh Bear bedroom slippers and thick pink socks. Her silky hair, usually combed straight, had a chaotic look. She did not care about impressing anyone.
A pencil-scratched note on the coffee table beside her bed said it all. The two words were “Year Thirty-Seven.”
She had jotted it down upon receipt of the manuscript from the editor. It meant nothing to most. It meant everything to her.
It meant almost thirty-seven years of encouragement from her late husband, Sid Denny. In the previous year she had read the first draft to him in the hospital. He forced a smile the day she read the first line. Smiling was difficult because his cancer-riddled body was swiftly taking him away from her.
He was 70. She was 60. “I love every page of it,” he told her. “And I mean it.”
She wished that he could be with her now to read the final draft.
Two days passed as she read, imbibed, inhaled and squeezed the love from each word. “It’s my book, Sid,” she declared. “It’s the one the Lord gave us. I cannot believe it took so long to write. I feel you with me as I read it. You are alive in my book. I miss you.”
Noon of the third day closed in as she came to the final page. She cried, and sobbed, and kissed the final page of her novel. “We did it, Sid. And, oh, how it glorifies our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, my darling. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for helping me to finish this wonderful work. Thank you for being God’s husband for me.”
She gently closed the manuscript. Holding it toward the sky, she said, “Lord, I dedicate this to Your glory. Thank You for the gift of writing. Thank You for being my lamp and light. It is all here. I dedicate it to You.”
She opened the final page of the final chapter. Her eyes dashed from line to line. She paused at the concluding sentence. She read aloud, “With an aging heart that had experienced so much of God’s love and joy, she breathed her final breath on earth.”
Deborah Denny, with her manuscript on one side and Bible on the other, pressed her head into her pillow. The wrinkles across her face seemed molded into a smile. Her silvery hair looked like tentacles reaching across the pillow.
Sid’s framed picture rested face down against her chest. “It has been a most wonderful day, darling,” she whispered. Her eyelids grew heavy. Then, they fell shut.
The next morning her daughter, Millie, found her. The peace that surpasses all understanding had rested in her face. Millie sensed instantly that her mother had gone to be with the Lord.
It was in the middle of October that Deborah Denny died. A few days after the funeral, Millie stood in front of the grave and wept. It was a foggy day. Millie placed a bouquet of roses across her mother’s grave. She turned to walk away, and then realized something beautiful and unique about those flowers.
She whispered, “Mother, I hope you can see this. Can you? You have flowers in the autumn mist?”
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