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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)

TITLE: Winter-Painted Roses
By Ada Nett


The sign on the Salvation Army store window read “Free Coats”. Below the sign, on the side walk, were boxes filled with winter coats . Old Jake parked his rusty three-wheeled grocery cart on the edge of the sidewalk. He got in the back of the long line of street people who were waiting to get a coat.. By the time Old Jake finally got to the give-away box there were only light jackets and sweaters left. He picked out a gray windbreaker and slipped it on over his dirty green-shirt. He’d found the t-shirt in a dumpster. Ironically, the shirt had a picture of the earth on the front with a slogan reading “Treat The Earth Well…Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Think Green.

With frozen fingers Old Jake tried to zip up the jacket but he couldn‘t. The zipper was broken. He bent back over the box trying to find another jacket. The Salvation Army attendant gave Jake a hard look and said irritably “Sir only one item per person…move on along now“. Old Joe humbly nodded his head and made his way back to his grocery cart . He pulled the jacket around tightly and tucked it into the top of his pants. Slowly he ambled away pushing his shopping cart down the

As night had fallen so had the temperature. Old Jake found his way into the city park and maneuvered his shopping cart behind a wooden bench. The only items in Old Jake’s cart were a tattered blue blanket and one of those tourist cedar boxes with a picture of Myrtle Beach pasted on the top. The box didn't have a lock but it was tied shut by a piece of old string. Old Jake reached down and caressed the wooden box. Then almost reverently he picked it up and set it on the bench.

Next, Old Jake took the blanket out of his cart. He wrapped it around his bone- thin body and picked up his box. Old Jake lay down on the park bench and curled himself around the box . He lay there shivering until he finally drifted off to sleep.

As he lay there sleeping on the cold park bench the icy wind swooped down and grabbed Old Jake’s blanket. The arctic blast unfurled the blanket and sailed away with it across the park. A solitary soft white snowflake drifted down and settled on the box wrapped in Old Jake’s arms. It was soon followed by dozens more until Old Jake was once again covered by a blanket, only this one was white.

Old Jake never woke up. He was curled around his Myrtle Beach box dreaming. In Jake’s dream it was a crisp winter night. Jake and Edna were walking in the snow. Edna loved the snow. It made her happy. She was beautiful that night. The winter wind had painted roses on her cheeks and her eyes sparkled just like the diamond on the ring Jake carried in his pocket. He dreamed of that night when he’d asked Edna to be his bride and they‘d danced outside together as the snowflakes fell from the sky all around them.

None of the sorrow of the later years touched Jake’s sacred dream. Not the pain of his inability to conceive a child with his beloved Edna. Nor the heartbreak that came when they’d lost the farm and had to move to the city and find work in a factory. He didn’t dream of losing his factory job or when he and Edna were evicted from their apartment and began living on the streets. Nor did he dream of the raw grief that tore his heart out when Edna became sick and died. He didn’t dream about the generosity of a local church who paid to have Edna’s remains cremated .

The wind whipped up again and like a thief stole Old Jake’s box from his hands. The box clattered on the sidewalk and broke open .Edna’s ashes were set free from the box and at the same moment Jake‘s spirit broke free from his tired-worn body. For a moment Jake’s spirit swirled and danced in the snowflakes with Edna’s mortal remains dancing beside him. Suddenly the beauty of the snow-laden night was overwhelmed by the glorious radiance of the Lamb. Jesus Himself, stood waiting to greet Jake and welcome him into eternity. Standing right behind Jesus was a beautiful smiling young woman with winter-painted roses on her cheeks, diamonds in her eyes and snowflakes in her hair.

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This article has been read 709 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Nancy Tilson08/20/09
What an amazingly beautiful entry. You wrapped it all up as tightly as Jake's resolve to hold to his beloved's memory.
Thank you for sharing this delightful story.
Joanne Cordaro08/20/09
So touching!
Jackie Wilson08/20/09
Beautiful, sweet and touching.
Alan Zimmerman08/22/09
Your story is very descriptive. I liked the phrase "The winter wind had painted roses on her cheeks" and I enjoyed the image of Jake's spirit and Edna's ashes dancing in the snowflakes. Nicely done.
Colin Nielsen08/22/09
Man, if this is not the winner, the I'm not here. Perfect story. Great visuals. A little repitition in there but the power of the writing easily hides the word wastage.
Expand it and make it a little leaner and I'm sure you'd sell this piece easilty
Karen Pourbabaee 08/22/09
Magical story skillfully told!
Cherie B.08/24/09
'For a moment Jake’s spirit swirled and danced in the snowflakes with Edna’s mortal remains dancing beside him.' !!
This is beautiful, it made me immensly happy for Jake.
I truly enjoyed your piece. Well done!
Beth LaBuff 08/24/09
I like your title in relation to what is describes in this winter story. Your last descriptive paragraph was exceptional. I like your creative out-of-the box approach!
Mona Purvis08/24/09
You have a knack for pulling heartstrings; this story is evidence of it. Homeless people are something I can never get used to. The Myrtle Beach box was a nice touch.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/24/09
I liked very much the visuals you painted in your story, as well as the hopeful ending.
Colin Swann08/25/09
Wow! this piece is pregnant with interest and description - absolutely loved it. Thanks
Catrina Bradley 08/25/09
Oh wow, I love this one. Excellent descriptions, and it carries an emotional impact. Super job!
william price08/25/09
What a sad, yet beautifully told tale. Some great images; the dance of the spirit and ashes was WAY memorable. There were a few speed bumps here and there that can easily be cleaned up, but the story telling and imagery are excellent. You cannot teach that. I hope you keep writing. I would like to read more. You're going to be very good at this. God bless.
Deborah Engle 08/26/09
Wow! Amazing, story and written so perfectly. Very touching story.
Chris Janzen08/26/09
Absolutely beautiful!! It brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderfully precious story of true love. The last paragraph was incredible...great imagery and word choices. Excellent job!
Chris Janzen08/27/09
Oh I am SO glad this piece won first place! A heart felt congratulations to you on a very well deserved win! This story was so touching and beautiful and very well written. I am thrilled for you! Great job!!!
Eliza Evans 08/27/09
Congratulations, Cathy!! Well deserved. :) Keep writing!
william price08/27/09
Congratulations Cathy! Like I said, You're good at this. Keep up the good work.
God bless.
Ada Nett08/28/09
WOW! Am I ever surprised! Thank you all for such encouraging comments.
Loren T. Lowery08/31/09
Just had a chance to read this today. I'm so pleased it placed so high. I really enjoy your writings and like the others have said...keep it up and see you in Masters soon, I'm sure. Loren