Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: End (02/13/06)
TITLE: End of Her Rope
By Larry Elliott
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“Thank you, Lord, for a refuge when pressures are nearing detonation. And today I feel a real doozie brewing.”
This morning the washing machine refused to drain, as did the upstairs toilet. She found a disposable lighter in her son’s jacket pocket. Her husband never seemed to have time anymore to assist with all the assorted domestic catastrophes. Now the PTO chairman phones for last minute refreshments.
Cheryl knelt to remove seeds and a small spade from the box.
She addressed the budding rose bushes, “I’m glad to see you all perky today. Personally, I’m at the end of my…yieee!” Cheryl screamed and jumped.
Beneath the largest bush was a snake.
Losing her footing she fell backward her head thudding against the concrete birdbath.
Dizzy, she sat upright and felt the back of her head. It was sore and a bump was growing, but no blood.
Upon closer examination, she had not seen a snake at all, but a brownish yellow rope.
The end was frayed and knotted and sort of resembled the head of a small garden snake.
Cautiously she grabbed the rope and pulled, gently at first, then yanked hard. Dirt and dried leaves flew as the rope tightened.
“What in the world is this?” She asked herself.
She heard a tiny munchkin voice.
“Who said that?”
“He did.” chimed a second little voice.
Cheryl saw two tiny ground squirrels sitting next to the box of seeds.
“I’ll tell you what it is for some of your sunflower seeds.”
Cheryl squeezed her eyes closed which hurt her head. “Dear Lord, please help me get to the phone and call for help. I must have a concussion.”
She started to cry and heard the squirrels whispering to each other.
“May we have seeds, please?” they chimed in unison.
Still stunned Cheryl tossed a handful of seeds in their direction.
“Thank you. That is your rope.”
“What?” Cheryl asked.
“It’s your rope, or at least the end of it.”
“This is the end of my rope?” She asked then laughed out loud.
The impact must have been greater than she suspected. She was hallucinating.
The squirrels and seeds had disappeared.
Cheryl stood gently and pulled on the rope until it passed underneath the privacy fence.
Once outside the gate she followed the rope across a small field and into a wooded area.
A short distance into the woods the rope wrapped around the base of a large oak then became two.
One rope led down a well traveled trail.
The second disappeared into a forgotten path overgrown with briars, vines and scrub brush.
Cheryl sat beneath the oak gently probing her contusion.
She began to cry again. “This is crazy. I’m crazy, talking to animals that aren’t there and following this stupid rope into these woods. This must be a practical joke. But who would do this to me?”
“That’s what I said. Who?”
“Who’s mocking me?” She peered overhead where the voice came from.
Sitting on a limb halfway up the tree was a large gray owl.
“Here we go again.” She sighed. “Well, since you’re in a mood to talk and owls are so wise, maybe you can tell me what this is all about and which way I should follow next.”
“The ways of least toil are not always the appropriate ones.” The owl replied.
“That’s no answer.”
“Change direction and the end of your rope is actually the beginning.” At this the owl flew away.
Cheryl had not traveled far down the comfortable pathway when a rustling came from the forrest.
A large brown bear bounded into the open knocking her over, it’s huge paws pinning her shoulders to the ground.
“This is my path. I will let you pass for some honey.” The bear growled.
“I don’t have…” She began to plead, feeling the bear’s cold wet muzzle against her forehead.
The bear repeated, “Honey, honey...”
“Honey, wake up.”
Cheryl opened her eyes. Her head hurt.
Her husband was brushing her forehead with a wet cloth.
It was all a dream.
“Thank you, God.” She sighed with relief and laughed though it exacerbated the pain.
Cheryl looked to the rose bushes and underneath the largest one was the end of a brownish yellow rope.
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