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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)

TITLE: The Bench
By Paula Titus


Christine stood in silence as she stared out the dining room window. Her gaze scanned the rolling hills, fruit trees, and the dead patch of land where the vegetable garden used to be. The grape vine had long since died, but the bench still stood under the shade tree at the far end of her Grandpa’s yard.

Christine was thirteen years old now and already longed for what once was. Her memories were pushed back once again when she heard her grandmother’s voice. “Dad, what are you doing?” Christine turned to see her grandmother headed toward her bedroom.

“Are you getting up Dad?” Margie, who always called her husband “dad” stood in the doorway of her bedroom and watched while her husband paced around his bed.

“There’s no plates on this truck.” Alonzo stated as a matter of fact.

“Dad, this isn’t your truck, it’s your bed – sit down here,” Margie patted the bed. “Do you want a cup of coffee?”

Christine watched the scene in bewilderment, not able to imagine how Grandpa could mistake his bed for a truck. However, she knew this sort of spectacle was just another spike in the coffin of her childhood memories.

“Grandma, why did he think it was a truck?”

“Well honey, he used to drive a truck for a living – he’s probably just dreaming about that.” Christine didn’t think Grandma disguised her apparent worry as well as she thought. Christine considered asking another question about Grandpa’s increasingly odd behavior. But she had been privy to enough of the adult conversations around the house to know whatever was causing Grandpa’s confusion; it wasn’t a normal thing, like a dream.

Christine left her Grandmother to begin making the coffee and stepped outside into the warm spring air. She walked to the old bench and sat down under the shade tree. The bench was wobbly now, and seemed much bigger when she was the only one sitting there. She looked toward the house and imagined what it was like only a few years ago, full of cousins, aunts, uncles, sitting around the kitchen table. Eating, talking, laughing, noises Christine longed to hear once again.

She knew Grandpa would probably never be able to sit with her again, here on the bench. No more stories or even the silence they shared, the silence of comfort, and contentment. Christine looked around the empty plot of land that once had a life of its own. All that was left were memories of a place were children ran and played in frivolity. Christine stood up, said goodbye to the bench, and goodbye to her childhood.

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This article has been read 653 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lauryn Abbott04/10/08
This is a beautiful and sad story. I think it captures the heart of the issue that a lot of grandchildren are experiencing as they watch their grandparents age and slip away.
Marie Hearty 04/10/08
A nice story of rememberance. It made me think back to my gandmother and how much I miss her.
Anne Linington04/10/08
I too enjoyed this read, thanks.
c clemons04/12/08
What a sad story. Sadder still that the MC did not display any knowledge of hope.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/12/08
"What a beautiful and touching story", my fingers type automatically as I cannot see because my eyes are brimming with tears. This is the sign of a good writer...to bring your reader to an emotion that evokes either laughter or tears. Great job - and told so beautifully! Kudos, with a standing ovation!
Joshua Janoski04/13/08
Wow. So filled with sad emotion. Even though I typically like a happy ending, the sad truth is that things often end this way in real life. I know it did for me when my grandfather died. I still drive by his old house on the golf course and long to go in one more time and see him and my grandmother sitting there at the kitchen table.

You said so much in so few words. Masterful writing. I hope to see you moving up to advanced real soon.
Patty Wysong04/16/08
What a passage for Christine. I think it's good that she sees what's going on around her, longs for the past, yet grows up enough to accept that it's past. Something everyone must do at some point. Well done.
Joanne Sher 04/18/08
Congratulations, Paula, on placing sixth in your level with this piece. Great work!