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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)

TITLE: Irrepressible Hope
By Rita Garcia


I cheerfully made up the guest room in anticipation of the arrival of my good friend, Annie. We became fast friends living next door to one another when we were both young mothers. With our children grown we have ended up living far enough apart that it requires weekend visits. My anticipation of seeing her was not without one small glitch, however; Annie loves shopping. Not just a quick trip to the mall either, that would never do. It must be an all day affair, pausing only for a nice lunch to rest weary feet before continuing on with more shopping. So, as much as I was looking forward to seeing my good friend, I was not entirely thrilled about spending the day shopping, which has honestly never been my favorite pastime.

Annie arrived right on schedule. We had time for a lovely dinner followed by a cozy chat, seated on cushions in front of a roaring fire in the stone covered fireplace. She said something I found a little puzzling at first, but then I knew exactly what she was up to, or at least I thought I did.

“I think maybe we should get some rest, I have a big surprise for us this weekend.” She said.

“You know I hate surprises, what are you up to now?”

“Shirley, you just never mind, get some rest, we need to be up early and on our way.” She said.

I wasn’t really that curious because I was sure I knew exactly what her surprise entailed, it was a new mall somewhere within driving distance. Wow, I thought. I am going to have to be excited about this shopping trip. After all I only have the pleasure of visiting with her about once a year. I was almost asleep before my head hit the pillow, and couldn’t believe it could possibly be morning when I heard Annie softly tap on my door.

“Rise and shine, coffee’s on.” She said.

What a great hostess I am, allowing my guest to get up and make the coffee, I lectured myself. I headed down the stairs, dressed for a day of shopping. I could hear Annie singing in the kitchen.

“You sound in splendid form this morning.” I said.

“I’m anxious to tell you my big surprise.”

I took a seat at the table and pick up the cup of coffee she had poured for me. “Which mall are we going to?”

“Don’t look so smug, it isn’t a mall at all. I have tickets for “The Women of Faith” conference at the Anaheim Stadium. I realize how much you indulge my shopping sprees when I visit, so this time I wanted to surprise you with a little token of my appreciation, with something I know we will both enjoy.”

“A little token, this is not little, this is huge!”

“We best hurry if we want good seats.” She beamed.

For the duration of the conference, we were both on the edge of our seats as we listened to the messages of each speaker. However, the highlight for me was the thrill of hearing Sheila Walsh and Luci Swindoll, two of my absolute favorite speakers.

Oh, we did get to go shopping after all, and I loved it. We made the rounds of the tables filled with inspirational books, CD’s and DVD’s; now that’s my kind of shopping!


The following year, my dear friend, Annie, was diagnosed with cancer. Her prognosis told us her time would be short. I visited with her as often as possible. I overflowed with great sadness when I received the devastating phone call from her husband.

“Shirley, it’s getting close and she’s asking to see you.” He said.

I went to my friend, prepared to stay with her until the end. I couldn’t believe the way cancer had ravished her body, but not her spirit. I took the items with me I had purchased during our shopping spree at the conference. Sometimes, I read the bible to her, other times we listened to the CD’s from the conference. The theme of the conference had been “Irrepressible Hope”, we didn’t know when we attended the conference how much we would need those revitalizing stories of hope resonating in our souls.

Not quite a year after she was diagnosed, Annie went home to the arms of Jesus, filled with hope and love, His irrepressible hope and His eternal love.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Bonnie Way03/09/07
Neat story about two friends; I liked how Annie understood her friend and how the conference brought them together in something they could both enjoy.

Just a note on punctuating dialogue... it should be: "I have a suprrise for you," she said. (comma instead of period at end of dialogue). I had to rewrite one of my novels after a critique partner pointed this out to me... :)
Sue Dent03/10/07
Here's another idea about that punctuation. Something my editor always told me. Don't worry about the tag if it's clear who is speaking.

Oh how I wanted to be sitting in front of that fire on pillows with a good friend! You always have a way of making things "feel" so cozy!

Excellent writing!
Jacquelyn Horne03/12/07
What a wonderful account of a loving friendship. And so good to know that Annie was prepared to go. What a great hope that is for those left behind. Well written.
Jan Ackerson 03/12/07
Loved your title, and the characterization of your friendship.
Jen Davis03/12/07
The story began in such a joyful way and then my heart sank at the news of Annie’s cancer. The writing was very real, and the story touched my heart.
Cassie Memmer03/13/07
This is a wonderful story. It had light-hearted moments, then got deadly serious. Very warm, sad, yet hopeful. This is fine writing. Just beautiful.
Sara Harricharan 03/13/07
What a heartwarming story! Annie sounds like a delightful person to meet in real life. I enjoyed the "Surprise" that she had in store for her friend and though the ending was a little sad, it spoke volumes for the title which was very true in this piece. Hope is Irrepressible in Him. Excellent writing! ^_^
Leigh MacKelvey03/13/07
Such a beautiful story and written with a talented pen!
I liked the dialogue and felt it believable. Great work!
Joanne Sher 03/14/07
Oh, Rita - how I have missed your warm, "comfy" stories! You have a way of inviting us right into your living room. Wonderful characterization and detail. Is this true? (I only ask because I know how close Aneheim is to you! LOL)
Loren T. Lowery03/14/07
The companionship between women is something always to be admired and you've not only shown us a reason why, but presented it in a meaningful format as well.
Sandra Petersen 03/14/07
I had the opportunity not very many years ago to be with a friend while she battled cancer that claimed her life not two weeks after she left the hospital. This brought back that memory.

Thanks for portraying the strength of friendship in this way.
T. F. Chezum03/14/07
Well written with good dialogue and interaction between the characters. Very good job.
Catrina Bradley 03/15/07
Wonderful tale - I enjoyed it even if it did turn sad. The irrepressable hope picked me right back up. Good job!
Julie Arduini03/15/07
What a beautiful expression of authentic friendship. You wove a tender, sweet, sad story around two very believable characters. Great read!