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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

TITLE: Always Hope
By john garner


It was a gorgeous day, the kind that could make you forget for a time. There was a chill in the spring air but I decided to put the top down and bring blankets and hot chocolate to keep us warm. A drive out to the country would certainly do us a world of good since being cooped up for weeks grinding away over case after case. It had been six months since the tragedy last September but there was still a sense of urgency to help the victims’ families cope with their grief. Jenny and I watched the foreboding skyline shrink away, trying to believe that we could erase the nightmare at least temporarily.
Finally, the doomsday reality faded in the distance and in every direction there were blue skies, rolling hills and trees beginning to come alive. Our eyes met for a moment and we had to smile at the peaceful feeling that surrounded us as if the fog had lifted and she spoke for the first time since leaving Manhattan.
“Thanks, Michael, you don’t know what this means to me to get away like this. I don’t want to go back, ever.”
“My feelings exactly and thanks for coming along. It won’t be much longer and I think you’ll really like this place.”
“You’re so mysterious, can you give me a hint where we’re going?”
“Okay, let’s see. There’s a ride in the country over rolling hills, through the trees and fields of green grass and wind having its way with your hair, feeling the exilleration of freedom and suspense at the same time.”
“I mean after we get there, silly.”
“You’ll see. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. You warm enough?”
“Warm as a bug in a rug. Want some hot chocolate?”
“Sounds good but let me pull over. We can take a break for a while.”
“Wow, Michael, this place is like Heaven, so beautiful.”
“Let’s take a stroll while we drink.”
We could see a gravel road winding over a hill to a cabin up ahead surrounded by trees. A split rail fence seemed to go on forever encompassing the pasture where the morning dew glistened and a cool breeze chilled the air. The hot chocolate took the chill off as we leaned on the fence taking it all in with nowhere to be, no schedule to keep, when once again our eyes met and Jenny sighed.
“I guess we need to get going, I can’t wait to see the surprise.”
“No hurry, let’s take a walk through the pasture and see what’s over that hill.”
“Do you think we should?”
“Nobody’ll care, besides we need the exercise.”
“Well, okay. But something seems to be missing here, like horses or cows?”
“I’ll race you to that oak tree at the top of the hill and we’ll see.”
“Okay, last one there is a rotten egg! Go!”
It was no match. Before I could get started she was half way there. She could really move. I was bushed and had to catch my breath but Jenny was hardly winded and wandered ahead. I was startled when she let out a squeal.
“Michael, look! A beautiful stallion, he’s amazing.”
“Be careful, he looks skittish.”
“Don’t be silly. He’s coming right to me. Look at the strength in his legs and how his coat shines.”
“Jenny, don’t you think we should go?”
“Oh, let’s stay a little longer. Can we?”
“Why don’t you get on, he seems to like you?”
“Are you sure? Well, okay, why not?”
I helped her up and she seemed to become part of him as they trotted over the hillside and back. I’d never seen anything like it. Then she looked at me sadly and began to dismount.
“We have to leave, don’t we?”
“Well, if you want to, but if you’d like to stay here we could. You see, Jenny, this is your surprise and it is all yours if you would honor me by becoming my wife.”
She stood speechless and tried to clear her head as if she was dizzy.
“I’m serious, Jenny, see that cabin down by the stream? It’s yours if you’ll have me and his name is Jenny’s Pride. He’s won several thorough races in Kentucky. Let’s go check out the cabin.”
“Wait! Do you really mean…? Oh, Michael, you’re crazy. Me, too! Yes, Yes, Yes! Let’s go!”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/16/07
Very romantic, almost idyllic, lovely to read.

You story was very dialogue-heavy, and I sometimes lost track of the speakers. A few descriptive phrases every so often might help to orient us. Also helpful would be spaces between paragraphs--tricky on FaithWriters, but an extra "enter" should do the trick.

A nice story for fans of romance.
Dee Yoder 09/19/07
I like the characters in this romantic tale. I did have a little bit of trouble keeping the dialog straight, also. More spaces as Jan suggested will polish this nice story and make it shine!
A good romance.