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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)

TITLE: Lighting Up Christmas
By Karuna Barla


With Christmas just 20 days away, Jenna bustled in office trying to finish her last assignment, before she’d leave on her much awaited vacation. Her wedding on 23rd, then her first Christmas as Mrs. Jenna McIntire and then she’d be in Hawaii for honeymoon.

On her drive home, Jenna reminisced her first meeting with Evan last Christmas and when Evan proposed six months ago she was so prepared to be his bride. Yet, she wasn’t prepared for the out-of-control truck heading towards her. Jenna’s car swerved as she tried to prevent a head on collision and rammed the concrete wall along the highway.

Jenna cringed in pain. Her face hurt. The impact was near fatal. Everyone was amazed and grateful she had made it. Family surrounded her, after her operation. Her only working eye, followed the movements in the room. It sought the one she really wanted to see, her fiancé. He wasn’t there. He’s probably busy with preparations for the wedding, she thought, consoling herself.

In three days everything had changed. Jenna could move a few fingers, though she still needed practice, walking with her artificial legs as the feelings hadn’t returned to her stumps. The wedding had been called off indefinitely and Evan wasn’t returning. Jenna sulked and drifted away from the problem, as always. She had nothing to look forward to this Christmas, just like every other Christmas in her life.

“Hi Jenna, would you like to start practicing your walk today?”, asked Beth, her nurse. Jenna had refused for a week now, in spite of the doctor’s confidence in her and the fact that she was a fast healer.

She reasoned her plight with Beth. Clearly explaining there was no one desiring to see her walk, except her family-her foster parents. They had cared for her with all their love, knowing Jenna had always longed for her biological parents who had abandoned her.

Beth wasn’t giving in today. She attached the equipment on a reluctant Jenna and promised, it would be worth trying. Jenna knew Beth meant well. She had always brought uplifting words, every time Jenna was downcast. She agreed.

Before long, a grudging and trudging Jenna, appeared on the corridor. Beth kept her engaged in conversation so Jenna wouldn’t slip into sulking.

In a few rounds around the corridor, Jenna had gotten good at her walk and walked intermittently, without pushing all her weight on Beth.

“I knew you’d do well, Jenna. I am proud of you. Now I‘d like you to meet someone”


“You’ll see. ”

Making acquaintance was the last thing on Jenna’s mind. It always came with so many questions she had to answer about herself. It forced her to go over her unpleasant life.

Beth knocked on a door and entered on consent from a happy voice.

There sat on the hospital bed a frail little ten year old. She looked pretty even in the gown and crazy network of wires and tubes that connected to her. After Jenna had her shortest introduction, she was whisked away into a presentation of love and laughter , from Rose.

Soon Rose proposed her plan on celebrating Christmas at the hospital. She spoke with such enthusiasm and detail, from decorations to drama, Jenna almost didn’t know when she gladly accepted her position as secret-Santa organizer, one who makes sure everyone was paired up for receiving gifts.
Christmas drew near. The hospital livened up, under the supervision of the little harbinger of joy. Rose herself wasn’t doing so well and had sworn in, nurse Beth and the doctors not to let a word out.

On pre-Christmas week the secret-Santa were to do something for their receiver everyday until Christmas, finishing with their final gift on Christmas day. Jenna was the only one who’s secret-Santa seemed absent. In the meanwhile, Rose had been moved to the I.C.U.

Christmas came. Celebrations had been planned for the whole day. Rose had requested Jenna to supervise on her behalf and make sure everyone enjoyed, exactly as she would. She wasn’t well enough to join the celebrations. Jenna kept her word, though she longed to be with Rose.

While at her post, Beth brought a note for Jenna, which read “Dear Jenna, This Christmas I bring you the gift of light, so you can light up the world. Love Secret-Santa”

She knew the handwriting, and couldn’t withhold her tears, when Beth whispered, “She’s given you her eyes.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 10/31/08
I enjoyed this piece. There were a few rough spots in the narration and I had to go back and read it twice. This is a creative, emotion-filled story.
Marlene Austin11/04/08
Good plot, well laid out and carried through. Would have liked to have seen more of the friendship which developed between the two main characters. Nice story. :)