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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Exhale (08/15/13)

TITLE: Beautiful Browns
By Mike Newman


Emily Kensington sits in her yellow kitchen, watching her world breathe in.

Her youngest, Sophia, does her toddler-best to spread hard butter on her singe (what she does with her bread could hardly be called toast) atop a counter of citrus halftone Formica. The tools of her task include a maize-handled butter knife and a dinner plate ringed in jasmine.

"Microwave the butter first honey, it will make it easier to spread."

"I don't need help, Mommy."

Justin stares into the lemongrass fridge, suspecting that there has been a radical change in it's contents since his previous inspection ten minutes ago. He does not even root around, just looks. This is the same thorough seeking he does when asked to get something from there for her, which he never manages to find but is there once she has gone and done the looking. He is twelve and quite sure of his knowledge of everything.

"What are you after sweetheart?"


Arriving almost exactly between these blonde bookends is Sara, with her auburn hair and peaches-and-cream skin. She is small for eight, having come early when her twin was taken in utero (a time when everything had been breathing out). A twinless twin the doctor had called her, a term that had broken her mother's heart. She sits at the kitchen table on a chair her mom found at Pottery Barn - the only piece of furniture that Emily refers to as true yellow.

Emily has always been moved by color. As a child, before her dad would come home from work and send her whole world breathing out, she would paint pictures of her mom and sisters. She loved broad strokes of vivid colors in myriad shades; yellow became a comfort, associated with her mother and security. Brown was a dark color, one reserved for Daddy and breathing out.

It was when he had broken her arm that she begin to think of the world's ups-and-downs as its breathing pattern. He had come home early and unexpected, catching her with her paintings spread across the living room. Her days had become so cleanly divided between safety and warmth with Mom and cold severity with Daddy that it felt to her like inhaling and exhaling. Breathing in the good and expelling the bad.

Not until college, when her sister had introduced her to Christ, had she seen the broader scope of the breathing pattern. The world had been spoken into existence by a good God, with everything breathing in perfect harmony. But the serpent of old, that ancient evil, had punctured the lungs of that utopian creation. The stained reality that resulted began an extended exhale, a world separated from it's Creator and grasping for life. Salvation would be graciously granted in the exquisite person and work of Jesus of Nazareth, fresh breath for His creation.

Once this had become reality for Emily, there was hope in the breathing out. Her world might not be all yellows, but the browns were now imbued with their own purposed beauty. There was something deep and foundational that kept the lows from taking all the air from life.

Emily Kensington sits in her yellow kitchen, surrounded by her three most cherished possessions, ready for the exhale.

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This article has been read 312 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 08/22/13
This was so well done and delivered an important message that will touch many.

God bless~
Jan Ackerson 08/23/13
Absolutely gorgeous. I think you'll be skyrocketing through the levels here quite quickly. Beautiful, beautiful writing.
Francy Judge 08/24/13
This well-written story is very touching, sad but ending with hope. I love the rich details that paint the scene. Excellent!
Danielle King 08/24/13
So detailed and so beautifully written. Creative for the topic too. I think the judges will smile kindly on this one.
lynn gipson 08/24/13
I love to read your writing. You paint a vivid picture with awesome words. Superb. Yes, I think the judges will smile!
Ellen Carr 08/25/13
This is a lovely story, rich in language and the use of color imagery. Well done!
Bea Edwards 08/28/13
You crafted a splendid word picture splashed with significance. It was enjoyable seeking out the various nuances.
C D Swanson 08/29/13
Congrats! God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/29/13
Congratulations and Happy Dance!!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/29/13
This story has such depth to it. I could picture the characters and laughed at how the 12 yo couldn't find something, but when Mom looks it's there! I can't say how many times that has happened to my kids. I did question a toddler using a knife and the microwave, but as I read on about the mom it seemed a bit more understandable. I really liked the pattern of life being inhales and exhales. Great bit of writing.
lynn gipson 08/29/13
Congrats on your win! Bravo...