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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)

TITLE: Bruce's Journey
By Suzanne R


Wednesday July 6th:

A great job, his first million in the bank and not even yet thirty, a snazzy car, an apartment overlooking the city … life was good.

Bruce stepped out of the elevator and strode into his apartment. Throwing off his jacket and yanking off his tie, he collapsed into the designer sofa.

Surely there had to be more to life than this?

He pulled out the monogrammed leather bound journal and Parker pen from the drawer under the mahogany coffee table.

Dear diary,

Why am I unsettled? A wife would be nice, but a tad inconvenient. Kids would be a huge problem. No, I've got it all. So why am I here doodling?

Johnno mentioned his 'volunteers' group today. Said anyone who wants can go with them to donate blood on Saturday. He's a good guy. Maybe becoming a community spirited fellow like him would help?

Saturday July 9th:
It was more like a party room than a medical facility. One or two at a time, the young professionals were called down to the blood collection room, and later returned to the waiting area where the fun continued.

Bruce hadn’t planned to go, but by mid morning, had found himself staring at the computer screen without inspiration. Locking the empty office, he’d taken a brisk walk through the humid air and found himself outside the blood collection centre.

He stepped into the air-conditioning with confidence. Johnno bounced up, gave him a friendly slap on the back and handed him a party bag. Bruce’s lip curled in disdain at the gaudy childish plastic bag of snacks but his awkward words expressed appreciation anyway. This wasn’t his turf. He was more at home with the cut-throat atmosphere of the business world. A pretty brunette handed him a glass of juice.

Dear diary,

Fun morning with the volunteers group. Did I just write ‘fun’? Goodness! A decent group of people. Next month they’re off to the inner city slums to donate food parcels. Wouldn’t mind going … especially if Sally goes.

Saturday August 6th:

As he’d been instructed, Bruce turned up at the meeting point in faded jeans and a T-shirt. His brand name sneakers unwittingly declared his wealth. Johnno divided the group into pairs. It took some effort to keep the grin off his face as he was paired with Sally. But what was that? Johnno winking at Sally?

Anyhow, there was work to be done, and if there was one thing Bruce was good at, it was hard work. He was also a man. A strong man. A man on a mission.

Picking up his own two bulging bags of food parcels with one hand, he then took Sally’s two in the other. Together they entered the dark alleyway to which they’d been directed.

Sally was wonderful. Bruce was glad that at least he could assert his masculinity in carrying the food parcels. There wasn’t much else he could offer.

It wasn’t until the debrief that things really fell apart. Bruce and Sally were the last two to arrive at the coffee shop. Johnno looked Bruce in the eye. "So, pal, what was a highlight of this experience for you?"

Bruce began to describe old Mr Jones. A widower, confined to a dark dingy apartment by poor health, with adult children busy with their own lives, he had been particularly touched to have visitors. The food parcel was a bonus. He had desperately tried to restrain them from leaving his home. The old man had looked and spoken just like Bruce’s own grandfather. As Bruce related the incident, he thought of people, real people, people long forgotten in the craziness of life ‘at the top’. His façade of confidence crumbled away. Something caught in his throat. Something wet escaped his eye. A warm and comforting hand rubbed his back……

Dear diary,

I don’t want to write about it. It was so embarrassing……

There are people out there. Real people. People just like Grandfather.

Sally is out there too. She’s incredible. Johnno, her and I walked through the park after everyone else had gone, talking, talking, talking. I’m confused – Johnno seems so close to her, so protective of her, they went home together, and yet something doesn’t add up.

Monday August 8th:

Bruce found it difficult to look Johnno in the eye. Something had changed between them.

Johnno spoke first. "Hey, pal, my sister wants to know if you’d like to come home for dinner sometime this week."

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This article has been read 1174 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Valora Otis11/30/06
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story. We can forget what is really important, when we don't volunteer or give of ourselves to others. This story drew me in and pulled at my heart. Thank you for involving your readers in Bruce's journey back.
Amy Michelle Wiley 12/01/06
Awesome story! Very real job with the characters.
Pat Guy 12/01/06
I loved the trasition of Bruce - the build up (or tear down) of his character and the format - it works well and makes for a good read. I LOVED the ending - had me really wondering there because I didn't guess, and I soooooo wanted something to work out. :) Loved it!
Jan Ackerson 12/01/06
"Something wet escaped his eye."

What a perfect way of describing the awakening of feeling!
Phyllis Inniss12/02/06
Great job as we followed Bruce's journey and his transition from hard-core business man to a feeling and compassionate individual.
Joanne Sher 12/03/06
You did an exceptional job of describing Bruce's gradual transformation. It was so believable and engaging. So much going on here, and you made me care about all of it! Excellent.
william price12/04/06
Cocoon - the silky covering in which a volunteer-to-be encloses itself during its transition to a volunteer.
Excellent job in describing the process. And written masterfully as well. God bless.
Cheri Hardaway 12/04/06
I love the use of the journal to share the changing feelings going on in the main character. Very nice job! Blessings, Cheri
Donna Powers 12/04/06
Very nice and very sweet. So glad she was Johno's sister. I'd love to see chapter two. Thanks for sharing this
Marilyn Schnepp 12/07/06
Great story! One small thing I'd change. "she" and I...not her and I; otherwise I loved it! Entertaining and a truly enjoyable read.
Val Clark12/11/06
Surprise, suprise! I loved this story, too. Such an excruciating journey encapsulated in just a few words with the promise of a really happy ending. :-)