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

TITLE: The Grand Voyage of Alida
By Cristy Zinn


In the moonlight Alida could barely see the fabric she held, it was her very last piece, the final touch to her freedom. She stroked the fabric gently and moved closer to the window into the small pool of dim light.

She heard movement outside and quickly plunged the fabric into the straw bed beneath her. Holding her breath she waited until the footsteps passed and then pulled out her masterpiece. In the moonlight Alida unravelled the enormous canvas that had taken her almost a year to complete and began stitching her final piece. She could barely contain herself as she sewed.

Four years before Alida had been arrested by the Royal Guard for daring to steal some food when she was starving. She had never been as desperate as she had been that day and had regretted such a thoughtless act. She had long ago repaid her debt but still she sat in the cell because as it happened, Alida had a talent that the King wanted.

Rather than free her and pay her for her work, the unjust King had kept her captive and commissioned beautiful garments from her under the watchful gaze of his armed guards. Alida worked beautifully regardless of her captivity because she did not work for the King but for God. Each magnificent dress was a work of praise to her Father who had given her a bed to sleep in, food to eat and exquisite material to sew.

Alida prayed as she worked, even for her captors, and sang hymns she had learnt as a girl. Even in the horrible conditions she found herself in she could not help praising her God. And soon an idea came into her head that was so daring it could only have been inspired by God.

The window in her cell was barred by thick iron bars. These bars were not to hold people in because the cell was in the highest tower of the prison on the wall of a sheer cliff that fell into the sea – no one would dare escape that way. Alida would often sit on the window sill, legs dangling over the edge, wondering if she would ever be able to survive such a plummet. She was almost certain she would not and was not brave enough to try.

But one evening when the sun was extinguishing itself at the edge of the world, she watched the gulls glide on the wind currents and developed an insane plan. The garments she sewed were made of thick elaborate fabric and so often large pieces would remain unused. No longer. Alida began hiding the pieces and sewing them together at night with a grand and terrifying voyage in mind. She was sewing them into an enormous balloon that she hoped would carry her on the currents and safely into the sea where she could easily swim the short distance to shore. She prayed more fervently as she sewed these pieces, knowing that only the God who breathed the wind could save her from disaster.

The following morning when she woke, Alida pushed her hand into the straw, touched the finished piece and smiled. She had only to wait for the wind to be in her favour and then she would be free. She did not have to wait long for the next evening she saw how the gulls glided in the very direction she wanted to go. Strapping on the harness she had created with a heavily beating heart, she moved to the window with her exquisite balloon. How furious the King would be when he realised it was his material that had fashioned her escape!

She climbed up onto the window sill, careful not to rip the fabric that would save her and dared not hesitate. Instead she jumped, pushing herself as hard and far as she could, the material flying out behind her. For a moment she felt her heart drop as the material remained limp but then a sudden gust of wind blew it ballooning behind her, lifting her onto the current.

Hearing shouts behind her she looked back to see the guards straining at the bars of her window. Their faces were incredulous and shocked – how on earth had such a thing happened under their noses? Alida laughed out loud as she sank towards the molten sea.

“My God saves!” she cried, hoping they had heard and then singing at the top of her lungs floated towards her freedom.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Howard03/01/07
This story really pulled me in. Perhaps a little more description of her cell and the fabric of the balloon, but I like it the way it is.
Virginia Gorg03/02/07
This is well written, but I wonder what kind of material she used - was it bits from all the dresses? I was hooked in and read it all the way through. Well done, with a really neat ending. :)
Jacquelyn Horne03/04/07
Clever story. I was taken in immediately. I couldn't see her making a balloon from cloth, but then I realized it was like a parachute, which ,way back when, might have been called a balloon. All in all, I really enjoyed the article. Maybe a short story that tells more of the beginning and expounds the bulk of this story could be written when the challenge is over. I liked the ending just like it was.