Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)
TITLE: Finding Flowers
By Shannah Hogue
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Where is that dog? Muttering under my breath, I traipse through a wooded area of the park, the empty leash swinging in my left hand.
“Come girl! Flowers! It’s time to go! Now!”
I get no response from the surrounding trees except the echo of my own call. My mind swirls as I move down the dirt path.
I suppose I deserve this. I was late getting home late from work again, and the poor dog is probably so tired of being cooped up that she’s going to run for as long as she can. Still this “outing” was supposed to have been quick. My new job is really crazy, and I still have work to do tonight, none of which is getting done. Instead, I’m chasing my stupid mutt through a completely new section of the park.
“Flowers! I pause before trying again. Flowers!” The only response is the wind rustling the branches above me. I’m getting desperate. I’ve been searching for almost an hour, it’s getting dark, and I don’t know my way around this park yet.
I stop on the trail, discouraged and out of breath, debating whether to give up. Tonight, I am overwhelmed by life. A new city, a new job, everything is unfamiliar. I don’t know very many people, and I miss my friends. I feel like an alien here, even in church, an outsider, an exile. And now, I’m searching for Flowers in an unfamiliar park, and I may never find her again.
I stand alone on the path. I guess this is how I would describe my entire life right now: I’m looking for flowers in lonely places, and I’m not sure I’ll ever find any again. I want to feel safe again. I want to be happy again. I want to feel loved. I miss the refreshment of old friends and familiar faces. I ache to find joy, to be filled up, to be satisfied with life and living. Where are all the flowers that used to decorate my life: the family, the friends, the fun adventures, the clear and unrestricted presence of God.
I decide to give it one last try before turning back without her. “Flowers!” It’s going to be lonely without her, but I can’t stay out here all night. “Flowers! Please come!”
The echo dies away, and I feel like crying. I turn to head back to my car when, from somewhere up ahead, I hear a faint bark. “Flowers? Here girl! Is that you?”
The bark comes again, and I move towards it. After a few minutes, the trees break, and I find myself on a rocky bank. On my left is a steep cliff, perfect for adventurous rock climbers. On the right is a small stream. And on the other side of the stream is Flowers, wet, matted and filthy, but alive.
She splashes joyfully through the stream towards me, rubbing herself against my legs. I don’t mind right now. I hug her, too glad to see her to be mad at her for running away or for the mess she’ll leave in my car. She leans against me as I hook her leash back onto her collar.
“Come on, girl. Let’s go home.” I stand up and turn back to the path when something catches my eye. It’s a small white flower growing at the base of the rock wall. It’s somewhat scrawny, but it’s bright and cheery in the dusky evening. I scratch Flowers’ ears, and she licks my hand.
I breathe deeply, filling my lungs with the evening air. So there are flowers in barren places. With a slight smile, I head back towards the car.
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