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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Inner Person (09/09/10)

TITLE: Treasure Within
By Charlotte Leonard


The flowers in Molly's planter looked like they were grateful that she was pulling them up. After a few frosts their leaves had darkened and the blooms were long spent, they looked like little dried up buttons. In their season they had provided a brilliant splash of color at her front door and the soft fragrance had delighted her as she went in and out of the house. There was no sign of their former glory and they seemed almost embarrassed to have ended up this way. Inside Molly felt like her flowers.

She was putting the last wheelbarrow load in the trash when she saw the mailman leaving. He flashed her a big toothy grin and waved merrily. Molly managed to flutter her hand in return, and sighing heavily she walked slowly to the mailbox. Lately she thought of her friendly postman as the “Messenger Of Doom”. Sure enough, there were two more bills and a flyer for a Back To School sale.

Inside the kids were up, dressed and clambering for her to hurry to get ready for the big shopping trip ahead. Molly tossed the new bills on top of the steadily growing stack of old bills that leered at her from the counter top.

She handed the sale flyer to Kaylee, her oldest, told her to see if there were any coupons and headed back to wash up.

In the old days she took each child to the mall separately, easier on the nerves if not on the pocketbook, but now gas was too high for three trips. She had planned for this expedition like a field marshal, studying prices, clipping coupons and waiting until the very last minute when the stores were anxious to rid themselves of excess merchandise and the clearance racks were at lowest markdown.

Outside the fitting room Molly thought about how proud she was of her children, they were adjusting to her strained finances and making due, pretty good for teenagers used to much better. Everything changed when Molly's job at the bank was cut and she was down-sized to an unemployment check. “Your real wealth is what's inside” she told them.

Kaylee would be a senior this year, goodness knows there is a lot of extra expense that comes with the last year of high school. She had a ton of friends and sometimes it seemed all her waking moments were spent texting. Morgan was a sophomore, very popular with the girls, and the family jock. He always had a heart melting smile and dreamed of becoming a coach. Nate was the youngest, still in mid-school he was the studious one, always did his homework and never complained when it was his turn to do the dishes. Good kids, she'd give them the world if she could.

The checkout clerk looked exhausted, she could hardly smile as she began to ring up their order. Molly looked away and prayed silently that there would be room on her credit card for all of this. She focused on a new mother trying to quiet her fussy baby but she couldn't quite tune out the electronic sounds the register made as the total climbed higher and higher. “That will be $270.12”, the tired clerk said as she reached for Molly's card. Well, that was lower than she had anticipated, maybe one of the kids had put something back. The card was accepted, they were good to go. Molly gave each of the kids a sack to carry and was glad to be headed home.

With the new purchases spread out on the table Molly began to check the receipt, she knew from experience that teenagers can change their minds so she always kept the proof of purchase handy in case of a return. “Wait a minute, something's wrong here”, she thought counting the jeans one more time. “No wonder it was less”, she said out loud, the clerk had failed to ring up Morgan's jeans. The single most expensive purchase, he had decided to forgo other things to have them, and they didn't get paid for. Molly looked at the price tag, it was $45.00.

Who would know if she kept them? She wasn't even sure she had that much left on her card, the kids probably didn't notice. The thoughts kept bombarding her mind. “Enough, already”, she said that out loud too as she put the jeans in the bag to return to the store.

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This article has been read 477 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mildred Sheldon09/16/10
I enjoyed this so much. In this day and age no matter the situation a child of our Lord will do the right thing. In that you find the greatest treasure of all. Great story.
Kate Oliver Webb 09/16/10
It's always how you live the "dailies" that make the difference in the lives of those who really know you and your "inner person." Your deterination to do the right thing shows that integrity shining through, which can't fail to make an impression on your kids. Well-told tale; I felt the same frustration as this mom, trying to make ends meet in a sad economy.
DK Landers09/16/10
I know from experience that the emotions your protagonist has over trying to make ends meet are authentic. What a temptation she was faced with, yet her "inner person" chose to reject doing the dishonest thing. Sometimes our greatest challenges are in everyday circumstances. Good writing!
Terri Schroeder09/16/10
I like the story a lot, it was well-written; and a situation that really does show what we are inside, when nobody can see. In one spot I think you may have meant to write 'make do' rather than 'make due'. In the last challenge, I made a few little mistakes and think it may have cost me placing in at least third place. I appreciated someone pointing them out to me so I'll proof read better next time. Good job otherwise!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/17/10
This is a great story. I had a similar experience and when I notified the store I was told to keep the item for my honesty. It always pays off in the long run to do the right thing. Great lesson.
Nancy Sullivan 09/17/10
You've written a story that so many of us can relate to.
Great, easy-reading style and the pefect ending. God Bless.
Sarah Heywood09/18/10
I really appreciated this story, for both the message and the professionalism with which you wrote. You are a gifted writer and I loved your choice of words!

I, too, have been in the situation that your MC faced. It's SO easy to rationalize doing wrong, isn't it? Glad you had your MC make the right choice!

Nancy Bucca09/18/10
I truly enjoyed reading this story. You drew a vivid picture of a single mother scrambling to makes ends meet, and the temptation, when all is said and done, to cheat on one's principles out of pure exhaustion. Very well written
Fern Brown09/18/10
Good job and great story! I'm so glad the mc did the right thing. God bless you.
Christina Banks 09/20/10
I'm glad that Molly made the right choice!
Angie McTaggart09/23/10
Well told, well written, well done! :) Congrats on your third place win!