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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sewing (02/22/07)

TITLE: What You Wish For
By Sherrie Jackson


Knit & Stitch had been pleasantly cushioned by a sporting goods store and a pizza parlor for fifteen years in the Stratford-Avon Plaza. I used to go in for the simple cross-stitch patterns in their reliably revolving stock, back during college when I was game for anything that didn’t reek of hellfire and brimstone. Card nights and Plato also made the list. As did Rhoda reruns, strangely.

But what made the storefront so familiar to me was the guy who had once worked there. I had an undeniable and ill-fated crush on him, he of the faraway eyes and strong hands. I tried to pace my visits so he wouldn’t catch on. When I did go, there was much pacing up and down the aisles, straining for snatches of his enigmatic voice, and tons of lingering near products I never bought, like latch-hooking. I was confident that one day he would glance at the playful kittens or rose petal-strewn piano keys of my cross-stitch boxes and realize that I was his destiny.

Only when I was out of college did I come to understand the ridiculous ways in which my mind worked. His “faraway” gaze had a talent for never focusing on me. His voice was only enigmatic because he barely used it, even to ring me out. And had I allowed myself to think it through, I would have realized that all the cherubs in the world couldn’t take his mind off of the girlfriend he obviously had. I wasn’t even on his radar.

It’d be more laughable if I hadn’t always felt so lonely during those years. I always had friends but never anyone to call my own. When praying, my whispered voice kept asking for that someone; during Bible studies my thoughts drifted without guilt. It seemed as though the Lord had made me to be that person—the one you find at forty or fifty who’s never been married and has latched on to hobbies and pets to fill an unfillable void. The thought truly scared me. To live a life waiting for the stupid fairy tale to come true, only to pass each birthday wondering why the Lord had picked me to be alone.

I set my sights on that guy for over a year, waiting for the Lord to see I wasn’t kidding, waiting for Him to change His mind.

That was four years ago.

Now there is Jesse. He lets his hair grow long but it looks good on him, and fits his whole struggling-rock-star vibe. I go to see him when his band plays at the Music Café on Tuesdays; he meets me at the library on Thursdays for coffee and philosophy.

I didn’t meet him right away, of course. There was that interval where I stopped believing the fairy tale and delved into the nature of God and the plans He had for everyone, not just me. Jesse fit into this plan like the corner piece of a humble puzzle; he bolstered my faith, and I his.

When I mentioned wanting to cross-stitch a present for my great-aunt, Jesse worked his way into my evening. At Knit & Stitch, we spent a leisurely half-hour choosing a scene of a geisha by a tree.

I recognized the woman behind the counter, even though she didn’t remember me. “Can I ask you a question?” I said, grinning.

“Why, sure.”

“Whatever happened to the guy that used to work here about four, five years ago? Dark hair, kinda quiet…”

“You mean Troy.” The woman’s eyes grew wide and sad behind her glasses. “That poor boy. He got cancer, died last spring. Didn’t have any family or a wife.” She shook her head, sighing deeply. “Did you know him?”

I didn’t want to speak right then. Both Jesse and the woman waited. “No,” I finally choked out.

Jesse got the story in the parking lot. He sat on the hood of his car and watched me pace.

“What if God had answered my prayers?” I asked, more to myself than him. “What if He’d given me what I wanted, and then I lost him?” I stopped and faced Jesse, shuddering through a tremor of incredible sadness. “And why did he die alone?”

Jesse narrowed his eyes at me, but gently. “It was that guy’s time. That was his life.” He slid off the car and took my hands, standing closer to me than he ever had. His eyes were clear.

“But you are not alone.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
cindy yarger03/01/07
Good insights here. I enjoyed reading this.
Mo 03/02/07
Great job -- I could really see your characters.
Jacquelyn Horne03/03/07
Good love story (if I'm allowed to mention that here). Waiting for God's train is always better than chasing our own bus! You did a good job relating that here.
Michelle Burkhardt03/04/07
Goes to show that God knows best. I have often wonder myself why certain prayers were never answered. You did a good job giving that answer.
Donna Powers 03/05/07
This is a sweet story and a good lesson that God knows best what we need. Your characters are very clear and nicely written