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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)

TITLE: Will You Walk Into my Parlor?
By Sally Hanan


She sits in there, in her white brick room beside the highway. The painted words on her outer wall call out to drivers like me. PSYCHIC READINGS. The letters curl at the ends like beckoning fingers, luring me in to see my future spread out on her lacy table.

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly,
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;*

One building down from her is the collision center. Their advertising is less enticing – a 70’s Oldsmobile has been purposefully crashed into a fake wall, and there is no sign of it ever recovering. Does she realize the irony of her location?

The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show you when you are there."*

I drive by her shack of divinity twice a week - on my way to church. I drive by tonight, and push my usual pshaw of noisy, judgmental air through my lips, when I hear: PRAY for her. That’s all He says.

"Oh no, no," said the Fly, "to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."*

I push back on the steering-wheel in surprise. I check the outside of her devilish hut, sideways, (just in case she sees me looking), to see if I’m missing something. But God, wouldn’t that … but…don’t I have to LIKE someone before I pray for them? And besides, what if I’m sucked in to her netherworld of evil?

"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"*

My mind heads for the runway, and begins to speed up.

Scenario 1:
I sneak up on the place in the dark of night and walk around the psychic walls seven times. On the stroke of midnight I whip out my gold (well, gold-colored) ram’s horn, blow for all I’m worth, and the walls fall down.
Voila! She has no den of iniquity to serve in.

The brain cells turn faster.

Scenario 2:
I curse the place, it disappears in a horrible fire, and all of her fiendish instruments collect in the puddled ashes. (The lace tablecloth should catch the flames particularly nicely.)
Voila! She has no occultist base to spread her poison from.

"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"*

Smoke is coming out of my ears.

Scenario 3:
Yelling in tongues, I storm into the stronghold of Satan. I point my gold-leafed, 600 page Bible toward her bosom and yell, “Be gone, ye spirits of darkness.” Instantly she slumps to the floor, while the smell of sulphur creeps out of the room on all fours.
Voila! She opens one eye, and murmurs, “Wow, you are so awesome!”

"Sweet creature," said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!*

We have gray matter take-off.

Scenario 4:
I do what God’s asked me to do, and I begin to pray.

I stop at the lights and check my teeth in the mirror. I think I’ll go with # 3.

He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlor - but she ne'er came out again!*

Pictures form. In my mind, I pull up beside her red Mazda that’s parked by the front door. I lean my eyes into her back window with cupped hand to see a car seat belted in place. Fast food bags litter the floor.

I enter to find a foyer of sorts – pink frills surround the solitary seat cushion, and a granddaughter’s school drawing is pressed to the wall with a thumbtack. A hand appears through the beads, followed by a large maternal body.

“Hello Sweetie. You here to have your fortune read?” Her smile is one of heartache and struggle.

Unto an evil counselor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.*

A word that’s fitly spoken can cut through deepest bone,
Lord take me from your quiver, and shoot this arrow home.

I stop the car and breathe. The pictures fade.

God, I’m so sorry.

And I begin to pray.

* The Spider and the Fly is a poem by Mary Howitt (1799-1888), published in 1829.

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This article has been read 1285 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Crista Darr02/01/07
Brilliant writing. I love it!
Amy Michelle Wiley 02/01/07
What a way to weave a tale. You are a master at the craft, indeed.
Sharlyn Guthrie02/01/07
What a creative take on "reading". Nice job.
Pat Guy 02/01/07
Wow! I was mesmerized! I loved the scenarios. What a weave of a tale. More!
Phyllis Inniss02/02/07
This is so brilliant. I haven't heard or read that poem since I was a child. You did a wonderful job weaving it into your story.
Jen Davis02/02/07
Your intro lured me in, especially the final sentence. I loved this: “I drive by tonight, and push my usual pshaw of noisy, judgmental air through my lips, when I hear: PRAY for her. That’s all He says.” A VERY creative take on the topic and nicely done.
Joanne Sher 02/04/07
Wow wow WOW! This is so very creative and spellbinding. I love your use of the poem - absolutely masterful!
Jacquelyn Horne02/05/07
Interesting way to tell this story. You can't be judgmental and be praying for someone at the same time. God chooses prayer.
Jan Ackerson 02/05/07
AWESOME! What a great way to use that poem, and a marvelous story! I'm totally bowled over by this.
Suzanne R02/05/07
Wow - wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. This is really excellent!
Allison Egley 02/05/07
Oh, this was great, as others have said. I love how you wove the rhyme with the story. I especially enjoyed her various "scenarios." "I think I'll go with scenario three." Hehe
Linda Watson Owen02/06/07
The touch of two 'Master's' hands here! Beautifully woven blend of poetry and prose!
terri tiffany02/07/07
Wow - this was the best one I have read so far! WOnderfully done - very creative with the use of the story within it. I loved the ending and loved the voice throughout. Great work!!
Julie Arduini02/07/07
I've got chills--because the story was so compelling and challenging, and the writing was that good. Amazing.
Timothy Oesch02/07/07
Very well done! Love the way you wove the poem into the story.
Sara Harricharan 02/07/07
Wow! Powerful stuff here. Very grab-and-don't-let-go reading! This certainly packs a punch and I liked the switching from the poem to the story. The scenarios were a little confusing at the beginning, but it made more sense when I reached the end. Great work!
Donna Powers 02/07/07
great story! The poem is woven into the story like the fringes of a spiderweb. very well crafted. Thanks for sharing it
william price02/07/07
YOWSERS! Excellent. Masterfully crafted. God bless.
Jan Ross02/08/07
Absolutely wonderfully creative! Excellent work! One of my favorites this week, for sure! Congratulations on your well-deserved win!
Birdie Courtright02/09/07
Wow! This is awesome! I loved every bit of it. Great writing and congrats on your win!