Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
Tonight, the air felt thick with moisture and melancholy, but thankfully the gnats were scarce. He didn’t need distractions while deciding his son's future.
Soon Dan was passing “The Briar Patch,” where Mrs. Matheson waved to him from her porch swing. Here was an accurately name property. The Matheson boys were always into something. Last week, one of them had placed a “Do Not Enter—Funeral In Progress” sign at the entrance to the town’s only shopping center, causing a city-sized traffic jam.
Dan returned Mrs. Matheson’s wave. “Evening,” he called, and settled back on his own problems.
Five minutes later, the Krump’s dog began its barking cycle on the far side of the hollow, but it carried into Dan’s thoughts, so when he finally came upon the mountain laurel, he wasn’t yet decided. He perched himself on an outcropping of limestone just off the road, from where he could look across at his favorite house. It was something to behold—now—after she had worked her magic.
Before was a different story. It had been built in the 70’s, by builders, who he imagined had grown up in the heart of the 60’s, for the structure seemed free, under no architectural style obligations. The house was longer than it was tall, only the middle section had an upper story. On the left spun a red brick turret, connected to the rest of the dwelling through a breezeway of exposed beams. The center section of the house was composed of a series of sharp eaves decorated with gingerbread. There was a flat-roofed garage, on the right, attached via a solarium. To Dan, it looked like what you would get if you mixed Lincoln Logs with Legos, with a dollhouse kit.
Everyone had called her crazy for wanting it.
Sitting there, in the growing darkness, Dan wondered again at the transformation. Who would’ve guessed it could be so simple? She hadn’t bulldozed whole sections as others predicted. She had merely changed the covering, by asking his crew to apply buttery-yellow stucco to everything that wasn’t glass or trim, and to erect a low, wrought iron border on top of the garage, where she planted an extensive potted flower garden.
And voila! An exotic Mediterranean villa.
A touch of breeze nudged Dan. It was getting late. The aged sign, hanging from a post next to the oversized and rusty mailbox, creaked. He remembered when, so long ago, she had asked him to etch, “Perspicacity” onto it.
He had wanted to ask what it meant.
The name, in fact, had caused talk in the country store at the end of the road.
“She’s an overeducated city mouse.”
“I think she meant “Perspiration.”
“I don’t think it’s even a word.”
It was a word. He had looked it up. It meant the ability to discern the potential in something or someone instead of only what met the eye.
She had that gift.
Dan was pushing himself off the rock, when he saw her loop around the house and head down the drive.
He waved; “Hey,” he called.
“Hey, yourself; I thought you’d gotten lost.”
He smiled and strode toward her. They met on the driveway, joining hands. “I love our home, you know,” he said.
“I know,” she said.
“I love you and the life we’ve had.”
“You could have married anyone.”
“Same goes for you.”
“Not really. Most girls don’t have your ability.”
She raised an eyebrow.
He said, “It occurs to me that God is the perspicacious sort.”
“I love you,” she said, laughing. They took a few steps on the gravel. “Have you decided? Are you handing the reigns to Aaron?”
“Some will call me foolish—maybe you’re finally rubbing off on me,” he said. “But my instinct says he’s ready and capable. He kissed her hand. “Besides, we have a sign to live up to.”
Author’s Note: My thanks to Marilyn Cadle, an antique dealer and dried flower expert, who introduced me to the whole notion of “perspicacity.”
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