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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)

TITLE: A Message of Grave Importance
By Linda Germain
07/30/07


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Daily News: Service for Miss Caroline Simpson will be held Friday evening at Zooblin’s Mortuary Chapel. No flowers.

“Well, that’s certainly a strange thing to read first thing in the morning.”

“What’s that, dear?” Sam Fenalie mumbled from behind the financial page, hoping to tune out his gossipy wife.

Mitzi Fenalie’s psuedo-sophistication fell a little flat as she continued to slurp gourmet coffee from the fine china cup. Sam waited patiently, as always, with his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose.

“ Sam, do you remember poor little Caroline Simpson back in school? She sat behind you in Algebra and went to the prom with some tall guy with lots of teeth. They say she married into royalty.”

“Okay, I give. What did her ladyship do -- rob a bank or win the lottery?”

Mitzi tapped the local paper with a long red fingernail before she delivered the shocking news.

“She died!”

“Of what?”

“How should I know? It just says there’s a service. We’re going.”

Mitzi’s long-suffering husband made an abrupt escape to the shower. As refreshing water washed over his hair-challenged head, he smiled. Of course he remembered that beautiful Caroline from school. Was he the only one who knew she had gone to the mission field after college?

Back then, her genuine smile and sweet nature had pummeled his shy heart with unrequited teenage love. Every guy in class nearly passed out when she walked by smelling of lavender or lemon or baby powder… or whatever it was. It made him sad to think she was dead.

Sam was the small town’s well-respected Mayor who tried to approach life with honesty and transparency. He knew the funeral parlor was an accepted gathering place to fraternize, but sometimes his spouse and her posturing entourage were too predictably dramatic. He was not surprised when Deanna Greene, lace handkerchief at the ready, grabbed Mitzi by the arm.

“ You know,” the tale bearer preened as she oozed misinformation, “They say the king husband killed her.”

Mitzi gasped, then tried to wrinkle her brow. “Now, what country was that again?”

Deanna’s foolish response was more proof of the rumor mill’s toxicity and stupidity.

“ Oh…over in Jamastan, or Lamastan; one of those Stan places”.

After a surplus of discriminatingly curious souls were squeezed into the tightly packed pews, Mr. Zooblin escorted an unfamiliar woman to the front. She wore a simple linen suit and short black veil.

Her eloquent voice was mesmerizing. “Thank you for being here tonight. As you can see, there is no casket.”

Most of the attendees would rather hemorrhage blue blood than show the slightest evidence they even noticed.

“Many of you were Caroline’s classmates. I have a letter written especially for those who have gathered to pay respect to her memory.”

The mystery lady ignored the crowd’s restless derrière shifting, leg crossings, and throat clearings. She continued, unfazed.

“Dear Friends. Death is not a time to be sad.”

Not one surgically improved eye blinked in the flowerless chapel. Blank stares expressed a confused, ”Huh?”

“When you forgive and are forgiven, and know you are going to Heaven after you leave your earthly body, death is a beautiful transition full of joyous expectancy.”

The stranger had their collective attention.

“Some things are sad, though – like the feelings of a young girl when she is shunned in school because she is not rich, or when she takes a stand for abstinence and virtue but hears vicious lies degrading her reputation.”

Deanna jumped up and ran out the ornate double doors, sobbing.

“Sad is being wealthy but hoarding instead of helping; of playing church merely for the business connections.”

She extended her arms in a loving gesture.

“Ignoring the truth about the Triune God and eternity has to be the saddest thing of all.”

Time seemed to stop with that piercing conclusion. Before she folded the letter and moved with grace toward the exit, she had one more gift to share.

“Jesus loves you.”

Sam’s heart was overwhelmed with deeper sadness than he had known in his entire life (certainly more than he will experience next week after Mitzi runs off with Calvin Mossheim from the post office).

The sweet, articulate woman smiled as she passed by his honor, the Mayor. He felt faint for a few seconds before sad moved out and happy moved in.

It might have been the delicious scent of lavender, or lemon, or baby powder…or just possibly, whatever.

~


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This article has been read 780 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 08/02/07
Love the voice - I can just see those ladies and their pretense! An amazingly well-articulated message too. I REALLY wanna know who the mystery lady was!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/03/07
I love how you presented the hope of the Christian and the shallowness of those who do not follow Christ.
Lynda Schultz 08/03/07
Great writing, great message and great mystery! Good work.
Dee Yoder 08/04/07
A mystery and a funeral, what a great combination! I like the characters you created and the exact personalities I could see in my mind from reading your descriptions.
Rita Garcia08/05/07
A message woven through the story, like a flowing stream of golden wisdom from above. I would love to read this as part of a novel, expanding on the lives of each of these characters.
Phyllis Inniss 08/07/07
I like how the title connects with the story and the easy transition from the home to the funeral parlour. Is the mystery lady the daughter wearing the same perfume?
Janice Cartwright08/10/07
May be just my take on it but I'm reminded here of the instance when Jesus wrote in the sand, possibly hitherto hidden sins of accusers of the woman caught in adultery. The words of the mystery woman seemed to hit some of the audience where it hurt most!! As always, Linda, superb writing!