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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: It's Time
By CJ Raney


Emily sat in her silver Camry looking up the long gravel driveway. Thinking back to that day she heard those harsh words, which have replayed in her mind ever since,“Leave! Now! I don’t want you to ever come back!”

Before that horrible day she had always felt safe and secure. Now in the aftermath, it’s been nothing but long, lonely nights crying herself to sleep. It’s been five miserable years since she had been here. Would she be able to go through with it?

There it was, the small, yellow house with white trim, just as she remembered it. Taking a deep breath, “I can’t do this. It’ll be too hard. What if I hear those same words?”

Emily noticed the old tire swing that hung from the big oak tree and the good memories starting to flash through her mind. “I have to do this. It’s the right thing to do.” She put the Camry in drive and started to creep up the driveway. Her heart started to beat rapidly and her palms became sweaty.

The car slowed to a stop in front of the old barn. She hadn’t even noticed that she had taken her foot off the gas pedal. As she looked at the barn, she smiled as a faded memory came to mind. Just as quick, the smile left as a tear slipped down her cheek. All the doubt and guilt seemed to fill her body. “I need to turn around. It’s too soon. It can never be the same.”

As she started to put the Camry in reverse, she heard the positive voice of her pastor, “You can do this. You have come so far.” Leaving the car in drive she continued on.

Pulling up to the front porch she noticed all the flower pots were empty. It looked so dark and dreary. She got out and leaned against the car door with a deep sigh. “I can do this.” She slowly stepped toward the front door.

With a shaky, timid hand she hesitated before pushing the doorbell. Emily stood there, wringing her hands together, as she anxiously waited. The door slowly opened. They stared at each other as awkward seconds passed.

He finally spoke with a small, crackling voice, “Emily, … It’s been awhile.”

“Hi, Dad.”

He opened the screen door and stepped back. “Do you want to come in?”

“Why don’t we sit out here on the porch?”

Emily noticed that the last few years had aged him as he slowly walked out. Emily found herself daydreaming of a happier time in this very spot. They found their familiar places, her on the swing and dad in his rocking chair. The silence between them was thick. They finally made eye contact as they both started to speak. “I’ve been…”

“You go first.” Emily said to her dad.

“No, go ahead.”

“It’s been very difficult these last few years, since mom’s death. I’ve wanted to call many times, but was afraid.”

Her dad hung his head, looking almost defeated.

“Dad, I forgive you.”

He reached over and grabbed her hand. His bright blue eyes were filled with tears. “I’ve been waiting a long time for you to come home, so I could apologize to you. I know you didn’t cause her mother’s death, it was an accident. I said some awful things to you while I was hurting. Blaming you, just because you were driving, was wrong. Emily, I love you so much!”

Emily climbed into her dad’s lap, they hugged and cried together. It was now time for the healing to begin.

“I think we need to plant some new flowers in mom’s clay pots.”

Dad looked at Emily and smiled, “Welcome home.”

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This article has been read 417 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/21/09
Stories of reconciliation always get to me. Thanks for writing this!
Joy Faire Stewart05/21/09
Just the right amount of conflict making your reader want answers. I enjoyed the details of the tire swing and flower pots. Great title, too.
Sharon Kane05/26/09
Powerful and emotive writing, and a very important issue.

I felt you took a bit too long getting her to the door, and ran out of words to tell what was really going on between father and daughter. The basic story was there, but it would have been nice to have more detail in the second half.

The flowerpots was the perfect way to end this! Nice job.