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

TITLE: Blue Valley Spring


Dark clouds hung low enough to brush Blue Valley with their melting fingertips. Slow steady rain pelted the oilskin covering of the one window in our log cabin. I watched for my husband to return from the trading post.

I could have gone, but for my righteous indignation. What do you know about Indians? They’re repulsive savages! I can’t believe you want anything to do with them...

I hated being alone, but I crossed my arms and turned away from the window to tend the fire. A sigh escaped as I stirred the embers and added another log.

So far from home... I missed the busy streets of Boston, where I had once shopped for anything my heart desired, whenever I wanted, among civilized people.

Why did I have to fall in love with you, Matthew Hollister? And why did you have to move me all the way out here to Casper, Wyoming?

"I named the valley after you," he had crooned. "The larkspur in the spring, are as blue as your eyes, Emma."

I wasn’t sure I believed him when we arrived last fall to a valley as brown as the logs of our primitive home.

“Just wait,” he had promised. “You’ll see.”

With my belongings left behind to make traveling easier, he had taken me to the trading post at Fort Laramie. It had everything I needed to set up housekeeping, and I’d convinced myself all would be fine until I had my first real encounter with savages.

Why couldn’t you have prepared me, instead of trying to force me to meet them? Seven months. Still you pray for your Indian friends and this, Brock, whoever he is. As if God cares...

I looked around at the remodeling Matthew had done through the winter. This trip he was going to get real glass for the window, along with our much-needed staples. He didn’t chide me for not going; he just had me make him a shopping list. Then he left, assuring me the spring rains had melted the snow enough he’d be able to go and be back by the next day. That should have been two days ago.

I shivered with worry and peered through the window again. The rain had subsided into a soft mist. I saw a shape outside and flung open the door.

"Matthew!" Only it wasn't my husband sitting in the wagon seat of our buckboard. It was one of them.

The Indian nodded behind him, and a shudder ran through me when I saw Matthew's mangled body. The savage sprang from the wagon seat, catching me as I swayed. He lowered me to the porch, saying he’d get water, but I pulled away.

"What happened?"

He ignored my accusing tone and knelt beside me, and for the first time I looked into his dark tear-filled eyes. Like the spring rains, the warmth of his concern chipped away at my icy heart.

"Bear marks. Everything gone. Matthew...friend."

Weeping, I watched as the Indian buried my husband. He led me back to the cabin, stopping at the door.

"Matthew tell me you fear Indian. You make list. I go trading post...get supplies."

“You would do that?” When he nodded, I remembered something he’d said earlier. "What is your name?"

"Black Hawk, Warrior of Night Skies. Lakota. Matthew call me Brock when I believe."

Guilt and shame washed through me, setting off a new flood of tears. Oh Matthew... How blind I’ve been to the scope of God's love for all humanity, but especially for these Indians.

Not wanting to stay by myself again, I made a quick decision, one that would have made Matthew happy. "I want to go with you."

I made myself a list and got ready. While we cleaned out the wagon, Brock revealed more of how my husband had befriended the Sioux and some members of the other tribes. By his life, he had demonstrated God’s love for them.

How like you, my love. I only hope I can carry on your work as I get to know these people better.

We headed to the trading post, traveling in the warm embrace of the spring sunshine. Gone were the rains. Along the way Brock pointed out the emerging blue flowers on the hillsides, and then he pointed to my eyes.

"The larkspur in the spring, are as blue as your eyes, Emma."

You were right, Matthew...about everything.

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This article has been read 923 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betty Castleberry03/09/07
This reminds me just a bit of Janet Oke, one of my favorite authors. You have the same gift for whisking the reader away to another place and another time. This reads like the beginning of a novel. I'd love to see it expanded. Excellent work!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/10/07
Beautiful description and a well-plotted story! I love the repetition of the blue flowers matching her eyes. The message is clearly shown.
Leigh MacKelvey03/10/07
This would make a wonderful read as a novel. The opening line blew me away. You have a gifted pen. The only thing that bohtered me a bit, was her husbandjust got buried and then she was off to the store. But I know with word count so limited, it would have been hard to avoid it. Didn't bother me enough to not say "Bravo!" to your talent and the great story, descriptions and message.
Marilyn Klunder03/10/07
Love this! Very well done. I've never read Janet Oke but I've seen Love's Enduring Promise. This kept me interested and I could see it played out in my mind like a movie. Would love to see more.
Jacquelyn Horne03/12/07
Wonderful story! What a mission voyage. Good job.
Jan Ackerson 03/12/07
I love the fact that this turns stereotypes on their ears--nice writing!
Elizabeth Baize03/12/07
What a wonderful entry with a valuable lesson. I could especially relate to it since I've traveled to Wyoming and visited Fort Laramie.
Cassie Memmer03/13/07
Sweet, but sad story. I enjoyed reading it. I love reading stories from this time period, you should make it a longer story... a novel? :) More, please.
Sara Harricharan 03/13/07
Oooh. And indian story. ^_^ This kind of reminded me of the little house on the prarie books, the feel and the character were just perfect. I liked the end when she went with Brock. You did a great job with Emma's thoughts. That really brought this to life for me.
Joanne Sher 03/14/07
Oh - your pen is amazingly gifted (LOL can you send it to me?) - your descriptions are so vivid and wonderful. I was swept away again. I agree - this is a novel begging to be written, my friend!
Tiffany Secula03/14/07
That was so touching. We should always to be careful and not judge. Great story.
Sandra Petersen 03/14/07
This was a wonderful setting for this story. Loved the description. Loved the recurring reference to the blue of the larkspur in the valley. Great way to tie it all together.
Jen Davis03/14/07
Such a touching story. “How blind I’ve been to the scope of God's love for all humanity…” The story left me with chills at the end. I want the whole story. Beautiful!
T. F. Chezum03/14/07
Well written, very descriptive, easy reading story. Great job.
Loren T. Lowery03/14/07
Your writing always calls to mind stories told around an open campfire by a a wise medicine (person) : ).

Unless I missed it, my one observation is that I would have liked to have the piece delve a bit deeper into Emma's sense of loss. They seemed to have had such a great love for one another - which you brought out beautifuly.
Joanne Malley03/14/07
Mid, It's easy to enjoy all your stories. They are written with ease and continually hold my interest. This one's no exception. Very well done, again! Blessings, Jo
Marilee Alvey03/14/07
Fantastic, realistic story. It reminded me of my grandmother, around 1916, living in an adobe house in New Mexico. She told how the Indians used to walk right into her house and help themselves to her coffee pot on the stove. In their culture, that's how it was, I guess. That would be disarming before you got adjusted to it!

Mid, because of its excellence, this story DID remind me of an Oke story! Good job!
william price03/14/07
I just don't know, Mid. A little pitchy in places:)
Oh, this isn't American Idol. In that case, wonderful job again dear maiden. Your stories glide with no effort and allow the reader to enjoy the landscapes and portraits you paint. Another memorable story.
God bless.
Sharlyn Guthrie03/14/07
You transported me to this place and time so completely. Your writing seems effortless and your descriptions vivid.
Julie Arduini03/14/07
These are the kind of works I request at my local library. When you can place me right in the middle of an era and a place I've never been and make me feel like I live there too, then it's a pretty amazing job!
Rita Garcia03/15/07
Your gift for painting vivid pictures with words is amazing! I didn't want the story to end. It blesses me that you are praising Him through your gift of words.
Bonnie Derksen03/16/07
I add my name to the very loooonng list of your admiring readers. I've read much of Janette Oke, and yes, you definitely scooped me up and gave me a delightful "escape".
I loved the way you developed the MC. Obviously the word-limit restrained the telling of her grief but all the same, the entire story was well-written and challenging.
I love the message regarding love for your fellow man without pre-judgement.
Well done Mid.