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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)

TITLE: Colors of the Mind
By Susan Storm Smith


"Memories, like the colors of my mind …" Barbara Streisand makes it sound so lovely, clouds of grandeur floating above the maze of life but for Sara James, remembering her name was difficult. Her mother had put pictures of a young girl, somebody's high school graduation, and other artifacts representing what she was told were her life. Slowly she took a picture of this young woman, held it next to her own face and looking directly into the bathroom mirror. They were twins.

"Tell me again what happened." Sara refrained from using the word "mom". This kind woman was apparently a friend who knew a lot about her, she just couldn't remember how or who she is.

Sara's mother patiently retold how she had fallen down a short stairway, hitting her head and losing consciousness, then the months of not being able to walk due to a bruised spinal cord. Then the most difficult conversation of every day—telling her daughter about the beautiful child she had been, favorite toys, boy friends, girl friends, siblings, about their house and school. Today was going to be different. Surely today God would allow the miracle to happen.

Sara listened to the story as if it was the first time she had heard the now memorized words of her mom. "After your junior year in high school, our family took a trip to Yellowstone Park. Do you remember trying to feed the bears and taking pictures of all the animals?" Hope filled her voice waiting for an acknowledgment. A pregnant pause of silent prayer, then slowly seeing a look she had not seen in months from her daughter's eyes.

Squinting into the full sunlight of a previously darkened mind, Sara heard vaguely familiar sounds. "Keep talking, keep talking".

Old Faithful, a geyser was another of your favorite places. You and your brother, Tim, walked all over the lodge area. That was the summer you started a really wonderful book of sketches of the trip. Do you remember? Look the sketch book is here in the corner, where you moved it."

Sara began to look critically at each sketch, an art dealer scanning the lines for a trace of imagination and genius. "Tim and dad went for a walk alone and didn't come back 'til dark and we thought they had got lost." Her voice trailed off, stopping like the paved path leading to the wilderness of tall pines and short grasses.

Encouraged with this crack of light from the black wall of despair, she prodded, "When they finally came through the cabin door …"

"Dad put his backpack on the table and said that he and Tim had been out in the woods looking for dinner." A laugh interrupted the story like the geyser, short bursts then long extended glee. The women bonded in a moment of miraculous memory. "Then Tim got into the pack and pulled out boxes of chicken and potato salad and in the other bag was soda." Another round of exclamation from the women rose upward to the heavens; joyful thanksgiving to Father God who had erupted Sara's memory at the perfect timing.

"Mom, do you remember how Old Faithful would send hot water every hour and you would sit with me waiting and waiting for it? I didn't want to miss a thing." Sara's words were coming quickly and congruently.

"Yes, Sara, I remember how you would look and look then look at your watch counting the minutes. Every once in a while you would get as close to the geyser as you could. I think you would have poked your head over the hole if you had been allowed." The two women, mother and daughter, looked at each other with the eyes of shared memory.

As Sarah continued the story without assistance, her mom's own memories took center stage in the colors of her mind—My beautiful daughter, our faithful God has given you the gushing geyser of life back to your waiting heart.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Murray07/17/08
And what an exciting memory that moment created! I think you could expand on the amazing feelings and drama of "that moment" which was so central to your story. The theme is terrific. I think you could develop it more.
Patty Wysong07/19/08
Wonderful story! It brought tears when she remembered--and the analogy of the geyser at the end was fabulous!