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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sewing (02/22/07)

TITLE: The Right Thing To Do
By Julie Arduini
02/23/07


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I could see Mel Schutts approaching before I heard his shuffle down the senior center hall. My office, surrounded by windows, usually gave me a heads up on upcoming visitors. A regular, Mel reminded me of Colonel Sanders with the white goatee, hair, and twinkle in his eyes. He usually wore a plaid golf cap with a suit jacket, tee shirt, worn Wranglers and Converse sneakers. Mel was eccentric and his wife visually impaired so everyone at the center was used to his fashion style. This was Mel’s first visit without Martha. I attended her funeral six weeks before.

“Hey there missy, got something for ya.” Mel stuck his six foot frame inside my office without knocking. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was Martha’s sewing kit. He placed the clear plastic tote on top of my budget reports.

“I know this kit meant everything to Martha, especially as she lost her sight.” Mel nodded, opening the snaps to reveal a cornucopia of sewing products.

“You know young lady, I feel like I’m handin’ you a million dollars. This was special to my Marty. You know, I started to speak to the Lord again last week and He told me I had to give this up. I know you’ll do right by this.” He presented the open box to me. I observed three packages of zippers for seventy-five cents from Woolworths.

“She wasn’t a fan of zippers but she wanted them on hand.” Mel explained. I nodded, my mind flying with ideas. The center boasted over one hundred volunteers who did various things around the community. Phyllis Yates could use the zippers. She created jackets for local preschoolers.

“Mel I’ll put these to great use.”

“I’ve one stipulation. I mean, this is hard to do.” His voice thickened and he focused on the faded tomato shaped pin cushion. I reached out for his calloused hand.

“Name it Mel. I’ll do my best.”

“Give the items away. Don’t charge folks. Martha would want it that way. I bet half this stuff could go to her friends, you know?” I smiled, entertaining a plan as I ruffled through about fifty small spools of thread.

“You know Mel, I could use some help with this.” Mel picked up a pewter thimble. He looked out the office windows and saw two of his buddies heading to the billiard room. He rolled the thimble in between his thumb and index finger.

“I don’t know anything about sewing stuff.” Mel confessed.

“No, but you come here for lunch every day. The volunteers who sew come here. It would help me if I gave you a list of who needed what and the item so that you could deliver it. I mean this yarn? Gladys Becker could use that to make lap robes for the nursing home. I could even use help once the lap robes are completed. I’m real short on volunteer drivers.” Mel looked me square in the eye.

“That so? Now listen, don’t be getting any ideas about marrying me off. I just got back on terms with God. It took me a near week to get the gumption up to come and see you. I can help out as a volunteer, think it’d be good for me I suspect. But I’m a grieving widower. Don’t be matching me up with some spunky gal here.” I resisted the smile begging to burst forth and shook his hand.

“Deal. When do you want to start? I’d probably need a good three hours to go through the kit and inventory it. Want to start next Tuesday? Clyde Walker comes in the morning to play pool and I know he could bring some buttons to Ginny. Sound good?” Mel returned the thimble to the box and nodded.

“Guess if I’m comin’in Tuesday to see Clyde I best get workin’ on my pool game. I see Chet and Hank playing in there now. Say thanks missy, letting go of this kit was the right thing to do. I’m much obliged.” Mel gave me a tip of his plaid cap and started out the door.

I heard the men heartily welcome Mel back to the game complete with their regular sports insults and outfit jokes. Mel responded with his own joke and soft laugh. I closed the box feeling a sense of accomplishment. I returned to my budget report, the clunk of billiard balls and laughter echoing throughout the hall.


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This article has been read 995 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/01/07
This was a very nice story, excellently constructed, with a satisfying conclusion.
julie wood03/01/07
I really enjoyed this story! Mel came alive as a colorful and endearing character, both through the dialogue and through the description of how he looked--including with his original outfit. I could see and hear him!

Touching message and great job.
Sara Harricharan 03/01/07
I definitely liked this! Mel is such a wonderful character-I loved the part with his 'fashion' sense and the sewing kit. It certainly was the 'right' thing to do. Excellent writing! ^_^
Jacquelyn Horne03/04/07
Good story. Enjoyed the description of Mel's outfit and felt his love for his wife. Good story of "letting go." Well done.
Kathie Thomas03/07/07
Great story, very touching, well done.
Sheri Gordon03/07/07
This was so easy to read. The descriptions, the dialogue ... I felt like I was sitting in the room with them. Really nice story and writing.
Loren T. Lowery03/07/07
This was very touching and well-told. My only suggestion would be (for clarity) not mix Mel's dialogue with your main character's thoughts. Instead, begin a new paragraph as you would for any dialogue. I hope that's clear and more importantly, I hope it's right!
Laurie Glass03/07/07
Very nice. Made me smile.
Marilee Alvey03/07/07
I enjoyed this story. You've got to love Mel. You did a good job of characterizing him. I like how he was honest about getting back with God after Martha's death. That's sometimes how it is. Sometimes we take something away from our children that they can't have and they are mad...for a bit, until they come around to loving and trusting us again. That was a very realistic detail!
Donna Emery03/08/07
How nice, and a fitting title. I loved Mel and I wager he'll be remarried before the year is over. Thanks for sharing this enjoyable story
Joanne Sher 03/08/07
Great atmosphere with this piece. Delightful!