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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: End (02/13/06)

TITLE: The Tulip
By Tammy Cannon


The Tulip

Sarah threw down the TV remote control after pressing the “Off” button. She had been flipping through channels for an hour, and found nothing to fill the hole in her spirit. “What, now?” she said to herself as she slowly walked over to the window. The city was bustling down below and she couldn’t help but think everyone except her had a purpose.

The blanket of loneliness fell heavy on her shoulders. Sarah decided to make a fragrant cup of tea. “Maybe that will help,” she said. As she walked past the bookshelf toward the kitchen, something caught her eye between her cherished novels. It was a paperback Bible-study book her mother had given her years ago. She thought it odd that the thin, burgundy cover would catch her eye now. Sarah walked over and pulled the soft book from its place on the white, built-in bookcase in her large living room. The title jumped off the cover, “A Woman of Strength” by Neva Coyle. Sarah decided to flip through it while boiling water for tea.

Everything was laid out in front of her, the loose-leaf Earl Grey tea from Harney and Sons, the silver tea strainer, and the antique Limoges teapot, cup and saucer. Sarah sat on the kitchen island stool, absent-mindedly looking at the pages in her hands.

“If you think of yourself as an unfinished book, what would the title most likely be?” The question was intriguing. Sarah looked up at the white, milkglass vase holding an assortment of graceful tulips.

Sarah knew that tulips began as brown, chaffing, bulbs. She thought it was truly amazing how something so unattractive could grow into something so radiant. She looked over toward the window thinking again of the people down below. She didn’t have a purpose that gave her passion. She felt like the tulip bulb, hunkered down in the ground for winter. Only her winter seemed like it would never end, no possibility of spring on the horizon. When would she embody her full stature and put an end to the habits that created this empty feeling? She knew she needed to push beyond her comfort zone and stretch her heart.

The whistling teakettle startled her. She went through the motions of making tea, all the while trying to make sense of this urgent feeling welling up inside her. Her success as a gift-shop owner was remarkable, given the rocky economy and cheaper goods coming in from overseas. She chose her vendors locally and focused on one-of-a-kind items. Her clientele favored this approach and quickly turned into repeat customers. She had a chain of five stores in New England and was very successful, very comfortable and very empty.

Her gaze fell on the tulips again as she took her first sip of tea. A sense of peace was starting to wash over her as the warm liquid made its way down. Sarah picked up the Bible-study book again and knew it was time to make a change, to focus on something more intimate. She wanted to be filled with love and give that love to others. As the tulip stretches toward the light, Sarah knew she needed to do the same. Maybe it would be enough for her if she could reflect God’s love.

She pondered these ideas for a while, and made herself another cup of tea. She folded her hands and bowed her head in prayer. “Dear God,” she said, “It has been a while. Thank you for loving me even when I am distant. I don’t know what your plan is for me, but I’m ready now. Let me be an inspiration and blessing to others so that your love may be a true reflection of who you really are. Amen.”

Her eyes opened and absorbed her beautiful environment. Sarah knew it would take time to put an end to her old ways and start fresh. As a business owner she learned that baby steps were an integral part of continued growth. She decided she could start now. Sarah found a pen, pulled out a piece of stationary and wrote the title of her unfinished book: “Growing Toward the Light.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/21/06
A different approach to this same story might be to take us through a day of her purpose-less life, so that we better understand the "hole" in her spirit. You want your readers to feel the conflict, but the reading and tea-making were just peaceful instead. Very good writing, with some nice details. I liked the title of the unfinished book.
c clemons02/22/06
This was a great piece I liked it alot, keep up the good work.