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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Irritated (11/08/12)

TITLE: So Much In Common
By Sandra Wells


“Of all days, why today?” Brenda grumbled under her breath. “Why did I get Marianne, of all people, to haul around today? She rubs my last nerve.” Brenda could feel her blood pressure rising, and her jaw ached from hours of forced smiling. She had specifically told the pastor not to assign Marianne to her care. But had he listened? No.

On any other day, Brenda, loved volunteering to help the elderly: run errands, pay bills, assist with housework or even prepare food. Today however, the thought of spending the day with seventy-eight year old, Marianne Hargrove, with her sweet smile, cheerful laugh, and caring heart, irritated Brenda.

Marianne was relatively new to Brenda’s church, and from day one, for reasons Brenda couldn’t quite put her finger on, Marianne had rubbed her the wrong way. Brenda’s husband however, had no such problem diagnosing the issue, which irritated her all the more. She in no way needed diagnosing; she was just fine. But, her loving husband saw things differently.

“Just try to relax, Brenda,” had been his sage advice that morning.

Relax? Brenda thought, as she pushed the wobble-wheeled shopping cart through yet another store. Yeah right. Can she move any slower? And if she stops and talks to one more person I’m gonna’ burst a gasket. Just then Brenda’s cell phone chirped. A text from her husband, “How’s it going?”

Brenda’s fingers pounded across the keys, “ IRRITATED! She moves slower than a snail in peanut butter and knows everyone in town.”

“So dinner out tonight?” he text back.


After a gruelingly slow day of shopping, incessant gabbing, a slow-paced lunch, in a fast food place, and Marianne’s weekly trip to the hairdresser; Brenda finally stood on the front step of the cozy yellow cape cod, as Marianne rummaged in her purse for the house keys.

“Come on slow poke, get a move on, I don’t have all day.” Brenda cringed, as her mother’s familiar voice crept into her mind. “You’re so clumsy and forgetful, use your head for once, please.”

“I’m sorry Mom, I’m really trying.”

“Well, try harder, Honestly Brenda, I get so irritated with you, it’s like you don’t have a brain in your head.” The harsh words echoed through Brenda, as she watched Marianne fumble nervously for the elusive keys.

“Oh dear, could you please help me take care of my groceries?” Marianne asked, after finally unlocking the door. “I’m afraid I tired myself out more than I realized today.”

“Sure,” Brenda sighed, as she followed Marianne into the kitchen. “But I’m in a bit of a hurry.” She just wanted to go home, and bury herself in work, to block the unwanted feelings that were surfacing.

“Pish-tosh,” Marianne said, lightly. “You have time for a cup of tea, I’m sure. Oh could you just put that plant on the table for me. It cheers it up in here don’t you think? How do you like your tea?” Marianne prattled on.

“No tea Marianne,” Brenda stated firmly, as she deposited the bags on the counter, and the plant on the table, beside a photograph of a woman about her age. She kind of looks like me, Brenda thought.

“That’s my daughter, Susan,” Marianne sighed, when she noticed Brenda’s interest. “She died ten months ago…..cancer.”

“I’m so sorry,” Brenda said, and she meant it.

“Today’s her birthday,” Marianne wiped a tear from her eye. “She would have been fifty five. I miss her so much Brenda. You remind me of her, that’s why I asked for you to be my helper today.”

“You asked for me?”

“Yes. I’m sorry Brenda, I know I irritated you today. I irritated Susan too. She was the energizer bunny, and I’m so slow and absentminded. She was always telling me to hurry up, and not be so forgetful. She was critical, but she was my daughter, and I just wanted to feel close to her today. And I did, thanks to you.”

Brenda sat back in her chair, wiping tears from her eyes. “I irritated my mother too.” Brenda said, finally understanding what it was about Marianne that irritated her. Something her husband knew all along.

“You know Marianne, it seems like you and I have a lot in common. You’re beautiful just the way you are, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Now, I would love nothing more than to sit with you, and get to know your daughter better. After all, it’s her birthday.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marie Hearty 11/15/12
A very touching story and I loved the change at the end.

God Bless!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/17/12
This is splendid! You did an outstanding job of developing the characters. I felt like I could almost hear the squeaky wheel on the shopping cart. Your message is one I think we all need reminding of from time to time. I wish I could somehow let you peek into my heart to see what a huge difference you made in there for me. Today has been a really hard day and your story was like a balm soothing my irritated and tender heart. God bless you and thank you for listening to God when he gave you this story. You made a huge difference in my outlook today. :)