Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)
TITLE: Stepping Into The Light
By Valora Otis
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“Sheri Lynn! Where are you?”
Oh no! The babysitter had found her hiding place. Oh well, she was hungry anyway. “I’m over here by the big log,” she shouted. I’m okay, Debbie.”
Debbie climbed over the log, dark braids touching the hands on her hips. “You need to stay closer to the house. If you hadn’t yelled we would never have found you!
“We? Who’s with you? Please tell me it’s Melanie!” Her best friend loved playing in the woods. She liked how Mel called it ‘God’s garden’ when they played.
“Well, who else would tromp through the woods with you? She even brought you an early birthday present.”
“Really, where is she?”
“Right here!” Melanie peeked around a lichen-encrusted tree. “Betcha didn’t hear me. I have moccasins on today. Surprise!” Producing a package wrapped in ferns and flowers, she climbed over to Sheri handing it to her like a royal offering. “My lady, your gift,” she curtsied.
Sheri giggled, no wonder Mel was her best friend. She accepted with bow, followed by peels of laughter falling on the soft moss carpet of the forest floor. Sheri sat up- delicately unwrapping the ferns, placing the flowers in her hair. She squealed with delight - a purple critter keeper. Purple was her favorite color. Sheri produced the newt from her pocket.
“Oh! We have a new friend. Let me help.” Mel showed Sheri how to open the top of the cage. Sheri placed her creature in the bottom. Sheri grabbed some moss to put over him, so he’d feel at home.
Debbie gently locked the lid with a Click! Sheri hugged it. “This is the best gift ever, Mel. Thank you!”
“We shouldn’t keep him too long, I’m sure Mr. Lolly has a family.”
“Aw, I wanted to keep him. Sheri bit at her lip.
“You know the rules, we leave, and the animals stay in the garden.”
“Why do you always have to spoil my fun? I have other pets at home you know.”
“Mr. Lolly is from The Garden!”
“You caught a frog in your garden last week. I’ve seen you feed it with my own two eyes.”
“Yes, but not from THIS garden.”
Mel always had the same rule. ‘Never take an animal from ‘the Garden.’ It was the rule. Sheri couldn’t for the life of her figure out why it was so important to Melanie.
Deb rolled her eyes. “Well, you two have fun out here” She produced two sack lunches. The girls thanked her and she left to go care for Sheri’s younger siblings.
Sheri sat munching on potato chips still wondering at the reasons behind the ‘rules.’ After lunch they played ‘Faerie’ flittering about the ferns pretending to take flight. Sheri didn’t want to leave but didn’t want Deb to come looking for them either.
“Time to go home.” Mel nodded. Sheri hoped that Mel would forget the newt. As soon as they reached the ‘Garden’s’ edge Mel stopped suddenly as if a line had been drawn that she dare not cross. “Sheri, it’s time.”
“Time for what?” Sheri said wide-eyed.
“Release Mr. Lolly." Mel stomped her foot.
“I want to keep him!”
“No can do. Let him go.” Mel pointed to the ground.
Sheri opened the cage deliberately, resigned to sending Mr. Lolly back home. “Why do you always ruin my fun, Mel? Sheri was near tears as she bent to let the newt go.
“Only Adam and Eve were forced to leave the Garden of Eden. The animals all stayed behind silly. The Bible never said that the animals left. After all it was God’s Garden.”
Sheri finally understood Mel, as she clicked the cage door shut. She realized one important fact about this garden; they could return tomorrow enjoying this beautiful place and a new Mr. Lolly. She smiled as warmth hit her freckled face leaving the garden behind and stepping into the light.
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