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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)

TITLE: Shades of Gray
By debora spadafora


The sun is setting on the horizon on this beautiful evening as I sit here watching the waves wash up on the beach. It’s so peaceful and refreshing to taste the salt from the sprays as I listen to the birds hovering overhead. The fog is creeping in and as I sit here squinting to see beyond the fog, I find it very difficult to recapture the beauty now engulfed by this wonder of nature. I sat there transfixed as if in a trance hypnotized by the wonder of it all. Then a strange thing happened, it finally clicked --- this is my life as seen through shades of gray.

The phenomenon is so real I can almost feel it. As I try to piece my life together in an effort to better understand myself, I realize I must return to the rising of the sun so many years ago in order to penetrate this deep fog, which like the mist is now overwhelming me.

Last night I stumbled quite by accident on a little book of poetry written by Pam, a young girl of 12 and through her eyes I tried to relive those years once lost but not forgotten.

She reminded me so much of myself, it is not hard to understand the pain she felt or the happiness and love she so longingly sought at a time when pain was an everyday occurrence and happiness and love, a school girl’s fantasy.

We grew up in the same small country where all we could depend on was the comfort of a good loving family and the closeness of a few chosen friends. Apart from that, we were surrounded by hunger and strife that comes with living in a third world country run by a dictator.

We cried many a tear for the friends we lost in what seemed to be a never-ending battle for freedom and we grew up very fast with life as a cruel teacher. Yet, our hopes were high as we lived that fantasy of someday finding our happiness at the end of our elusive rainbow.

The struggle continued and the days grew longer. Time meant only one thing – a chance to dream but like everything else, dreams come to an end and you must once again awaken to the harsh realities of life as it is. We watched our friends come and go – some moved on to greener pastures – some killed in a senseless battle of political rivalry and prejudice, yet still we clung to our hopes.

As I look deep into the fog I can picture that little girl crouched in a corner, her ears covered with shivering hands as she tried to block out the cruel sounds of rioting and fighting outside her window. The curfew was in effect now and no one was allowed outside. Fear alone riveted her to the floor where she sits wondering when and how it will all end. It was when she decided she had to do something to help her younger brothers and sisters and sought help from her local priest.
At church that night with her priest’s help she asked god to show her a way. “I know you’re busy Lord, what with all this fighting and hatred, but I need your help. Please help me find a way out to a better life for my sisters and brothers”.

A few days later a letter was delivered to her mom from her sister in Canada. It was an invitation for Pam to move to Canada to go to school. Papers and permits were arranged and with her parents’ blessings she said goodbye to her siblings with the understanding she would pave the way for them to join her later. Excitedly, she kissed her parents goodbye and left to forge a new life for herself.

When she arrived in Canada the first thing she did was ask her aunt to take her to the nearest church. She knelt in this new and beautiful church and with tears streaming down her cheeks thanked god for this gift. She promised him she would pay this forward by helping her siblings and anyone else she could along the way.

That was over 30 years ago and during this time she kept her promise. She became successful and now enjoys a peaceful life with her brothers and sisters and their families sharing hopes and dreams that were once only seen through shades of gray.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 06/04/09
Introspective and moody--I like that.

There were a few places where your writing could be tightened up. For example, you wrote I sat there transfixed as if in a trance hypnotized by the wonder of it all. This could be shortened to I sat there, transfixed by the wonder of it all. Something to look at when you give your writing a second (or even thrid!) self-edit.

With a bit of refinement, your writing has the potential to be excellent.
Fay Ternan06/04/09
Is the writer Pam? I hope so.
Phee Paradise 06/05/09
Your descriptions of your life, and Pam's, moved me. I think it would have been a little more powerful if you had told it as just your story, not two people's.
diana kay06/06/09
Some good descriptions here especially of the fog but I understood more of Pams story than the writer. I think it would have fitted better into the previuos theme of Dark and light especialy as you mention grey a few times. Bitter and sweet are not clear here.I wonder what the country was you were now in and the one Pam and the writer had been brought up in?