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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: Sweet Love-birds
By Michelle Burkhardt


The four hour drive back home from Pittsburgh University was long and quiet. Lisa and Bill had just dropped off their youngest son, Michael, to start his freshman year. Once Bill unlocked the door, to what now seemed like their oversized house, Lisa couldn’t help but feel extremely anxious. She had heard about the “empty-nest-syndrome,” yet, she had never dreamed it would affect her the minute she walked through the doorway.

“Would you like a glass of iced tea?” she asked Bill.

Picking up the daily newspaper, while walking out of the kitchen, he muttered, “Sure.”

Lisa could tell that Bill was oblivious to her feelings. How on earth were they going to reconnect with each other? The last 25 years, of a 30 year marriage, had been focused on their children? They had fallen into such a routine of being a mother and a father that becoming husband and wife seemed impossible.

Bill did not even look up when Lisa placed the refreshing glass of home-brewed iced tea by the side of his chair.


“You are welcome,” she sighed, as she sat down in her soft leather, reading chair. Reaching for her Bible on the end table, she hoped God would help her through her intense feelings of loneliness and despair.

Her hands opened the delicate pages of her Lord’s words, while she silently prayed, half begging, for guidance. Her eyes were immediately drawn to read, "Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:18) She looked over at Bill with his bifocals sitting on the bridge of his nose. He was so engrossed in the sports section that he was completely unaware of her stare. The “truth” was she did not know Bill, the man, anymore and God was telling her she needed to share that with her husband.

Nervously shifting in her chair, Lisa asked, “Bill, would you mind putting the newspaper down, I would like to talk.”

Looking over his glasses, while folding the newspaper in half, he asked with a concerned tone, “What’s on your mind?”

“We have been married for 30 years and all four of our children are gone and living their own lives. Our house is empty, and I’m scared that our marriage will be too.” Her salt-filled tears slid down her rosy cheeks. “I feel that we don’t know each other anymore. What are we going to do?”

“Lisa,” Bill reached over and gently covered her delicate hand with his long rugged fingers. “I loved you the minute I saw you and I will love you till the day I die. Let’s go for a walk, it is a gorgeous day. Then, I say we get dressed up for an evening out on the town. We may have an empty nest, but this old bird is not flying south, just yet. I agree that it will take time for us to learn to adjust to our new lifestyle; however, in the mean time, we can start to do things together to focus on our marriage. You just wait and see how fast we become an older, but wiser pair of sweet, love-birds.” Bill winked

Walking hand and hand, Lisa’s heart was filled with hope. She looked up towards the velvety blue sky and praised God for answering her prayer so quickly.

Reaching down to retrieve a precious dandelion, Bill placed it above Lisa’s ear. “A beautiful weed for my gorgeous wife, whose love, is like this weed that has entwined and surrounded my heart with her sunshine... forever.” Leaning into her, his lips softly brushed her forehead.

The familiar butterfly feeling tickled the pit of her stomach and made her feel as giddy as a teenager. Lisa knew her empty nest, with God’s help, was going to be a nest full of love!

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Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood04/26/07
I really enjoyed this story! I can relate to it, as our older daughter will be leaving for college this coming fall.

Wonderfully vivid descriptions--I could feel with the wife and also clearly see her husband, especially his "long rugged fingers" and the bifocals on the end of his nose!

In paragraph 4, the sentence that begins with "The last 25 years..." is not a question and should end with a period.

I loved the way the husband tucked that dandelion behind his wife's ear and suggested a walk!
Debbie Roome 04/28/07
Lovely story and a nice approach. So often we expect people to guess our feelings. One tip - don't forget to use contractions in your dialogue to make it read more naturally. For eg, You are welcome is normally spoken as you're welcome.
Jacquelyn Horne04/30/07
Very good story. Romantic and very well told. Good job.
Denise Pienaar05/02/07
A very common problem. If only more couples had such open lines of communication!