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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)

TITLE: Compassion's Kitchen
By Christine Rhee


Lisa Bailey was just finishing up the vacuuming, when she heard an unexpected knock on the front door. Through the peep hole, she saw her dear friend, Sarah Cassidy, standing on the porch. Lisa could tell something was wrong by the flushed look on Sarah’s face and the way she was wringing her hands.

Lisa opened the door, welcoming her friend into her house. “Hey, Sarah. It’s so good to see you. Come on in.”

The two friends entered Lisa’s well-kept kitchen. The aroma of apple-scented candles greeted them, as did the cozy, red-checkered tablecloth. “Have a seat. Would you like a cup of tea?”

Sarah tried to speak, but could only nod. Determined not to push, Lisa busied herself, preparing the raspberry tea. She poured out and brought the cups to the table.

After setting Sarah’s cup before her, she slid into a chair nearby. Her friend sipped her tea, but remained unable to speak. Lisa placed her hand over Sarah’s trembling one and gave her a squeeze of support. “It’s okay. Take your time. I’m not going anywhere,” she gently encouraged.

Tears began to pour down Sarah’s face, and she hung her head. Lisa pushed her chair closer to Sarah’s and pulled her into a warm embrace. What seemed to be an ocean of grief saturated Lisa’s sweater as her friend let the sadness flow.

When the fountain of tears subsided, Sarah met Lisa’s concerned gaze. “Would you like to talk about it?” Lisa probed tenderly.

“That’s just it. I really don’t get it.” Sarah sounded dismayed. “I heard a lady call into Family Life Radio earlier today. She said she was a pastor’s wife and had discovered her husband was being unfaithful, and she didn’t know what to do,” Sarah gulped back a sob. “The host recommended she confront her husband, but she said there was no way she could do that. She felt that would be not be submitting to or respecting her husband.”

Lisa studied her friend, praying for both wisdom and compassion. “And hearing this has upset you?”

Sarah gave her head an incredulous little shake. “Yeah,” she affirmed. “The thing is, I don’t understand why-sob-I’m-sob-so-sob-upset-sob.” She rubbed her red, puffy eyes, then looked up. “I mean, it’s a sad situation, and everything, but it’s not like I even know the couple.”

Lisa took Sarah’s hand and held it between her own. “I’m so sorry to see you in such pain,” she said gently. She pondered her friend’s words. “Not always, but usually, when our emotional reactions seem to be too strong for the situation at hand, it’s because an event has stirred up some old hurt we’ve never completely dealt with. Can you identify the emotions you are feeling now?”

Sarah clasped her hands together, almost as if she were kneading dough. “I think I’m…angry.” Her voice was barely audible.

Lisa considered that a moment. She leaned forward, her gaze intent. “Okay, well, anger is a secondary emotion, which means there are usually other emotions underneath it. Think about it, and see if you can identify those.”

Lisa waited patiently as Sarah concentrated, looking inward. Finally, Sarah looked up and met her friend’s eyes. “Betrayed, humiliated, and abandoned,” she stated. “But that doesn’t make sense. Brian has never been unfaithful to me.”

Lisa smiled sadly. “No, Brian worships the ground you walk on. So, it’s not about him, but when is the first time you remember feeling abandoned, humiliated, and betrayed?”

Sarah considered the question for a long time. Lisa waited patiently, lending her support. Suddenly, Sarah dropped her head again, and then more tears came, her entire body convulsing even more strongly than before.

Lisa wrapped her arms around her friend, as years of pent-up grief gushed out. And finally, the tears gave way to words as Sarah explained. During Sarah’s teenage years, it had been a well-known “secret” that her father, who was a minister, was also a philanderer. The one time Sarah confronted her mother about it, she had been severely punished for speaking against her father, who, after all, had a reputation to uphold.

“I’m so sorry, Sarah,” Lisa kept repeating.

Finally, when Sarah had finished pouring out her heart, she hugged her friend back and said, “Thanks, Lisa. Thanks for listening, and thanks for giving me the space I needed to work through this pain.”

Lisa smiled compassionately, even through her own tears. “Any time, Sarah. Any time at all.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 01/31/06
I didn't really understand the sobbing friend's problem; however, the lady of the house proved to be a real friend in need; thanks for sharing this slice of life...and nicely told in this story. God Bless.
Lynda Schultz 02/01/06
I would like to see this developed into at least a short story. That would give you time to develop your characters and the plot instead of having to squash so much into seven hundred and fifty words. I don't think you need to put in the "sobs". Just saying, after she speaks something like: "she sobbed" is enough.This has great potential. Keep writing.