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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fellowship (among believers) (10/11/07)

TITLE: A Red Carnation and Strawberry Pancakes
By Loren T. Lowery


Drawn to the window by outside tidings, Rose peered through vertical blinds into the twilight of Christmas Eve. A boy of seven or eight wearing a blue wool cap was laughing as he crunched through the snow. Hand-in hand-with his mother, he was bounding up the worn steps of the church across the street.

In his free hand, he clutched a bouquet of red carnations, the same flower her late husband had courted her with. Suddenly the boy stopped and looked up at her, three floors above. Their eyes locked like two magnets. It was brief, almost magical, but broken as his mother tugged him up the final steps to enter the church.

Behind her, a door opened. Harsh, white fluorescence from the hallway flushed the room with light. “Miss Rose,” an attendant said, “I’ll be leaving your pills on your nightstand. I’ll be back to see you took them.” The attendant left, closing the door, taking the light with her.

From the hallway, Rose could hear her voice. “Nothing sadder than an old widow with no children at Christmas, nothing sadder, I swan.”

Rose shut off the lights and put a hand to the cold window pane and then to her face. A smile fleeted across her lips. It was one her favorite pastimes, peering out the window to watch people pass like shadows in a pantomime of life.

Her hand reached for the silky glaze of the window again, its December coldness a welcomed comfort against the hot room the senior home called her apartment.

Night drew deeper; its darkness a magical potion spilling to release bursts of colors entrapped earlier by the gray shadowed sun. Christmas lights strung over trees and, suspended under building eaves blinked silently to life.

She watched as more worshippers, warmly bundled, carrying bright, gaily wrapped packages with satiny bows raced up and through the doors of the church. The doors, ancient and brown, arched and trimmed with polished brass, swung outward like welcoming arms, embracing the entrants with a warm yellow light.

“Do you know how lucky you are?” she whispered, her breath causing the window to fog. “Draw close, stay close, for you will not have this moment for ever.”

The door behind her opened for a second time. “Miss Rose, you standing in the dark again? You know that’s not good for you, you might stumble over something.” The attendant flipped on a light, bathing the room in an antiseptic whiteness.

The attendant left and Rose moved to turn off the light, returning the room to an ambient darkness now suffused with the muffled sound of carols coming from the church. She returned to the window, rocking softly to the rhythm and meter of the familiar songs.

Her hands, pale and veined went to her breast and she could feel her heart beating. She blew a breath on the window pane, fogging it. With childlike joy, she printed the letters RK & NK; and, with equal joy, enclosed them with a heart.

She stepped back, tears stinging her eyes. “I miss you Noah Kane. I miss our church, the fellowship…”

The door opened behind her again. “Miss Rose, I swan you and this light.” The light flipped on. “There’s someone here to see you.”

A woman entered. “Miss Kane? This is a little awkward, but I’m Virginia Clark. I attend the church across the street.” She paused. “May I come in?”

Rose nodded and smiled as the boy with a blue cap followed her into the room. He was hiding something behind his back. “This is my son, Davey. He said he saw you, in the window earlier this evening…and well, he insists he give you this.”

Davey took his hand from behind his back and presented her with a single, red carnation. As she bent to receive it, he kissed her on the cheek, his skin still cold from the outside air.

“I think you remind him of my mother, his grandmother. She passed away last summer. They were very close.”

I’m sorry for your loss and thank-you, Davey. This flower is very special to me.”

“I gave the others to Jesus, in the manger,” Davey explained.

“Miss Kane, I know it’s late and you may have other plans, but it would mean so much if you’d join us for fellowship at the church.”

“We got pancakes with strawberries,” Davey said, tugging her hand.

“Nothing thing could be more perfect,” Rose answered, touching the flower to her cheek. “Absolutely nothing.”

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Member Comments
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Joanne Sher 10/19/07
What a lovely, lovely portrait you have painted of this woman and her life. This is just beautiful.
Betty Castleberry10/19/07
This is beautifully told. It gave me warm fuzzies. Very well done.
Dee Yoder 10/19/07
Oh, so good! I like the character and the way you made her a real person, with feelings that never left her though she lost so much of her former life. That moment when she whispers to the people going into the church is very poignant. Beautiful story.
Darlene Casino 10/22/07
Hi;This is a lovely story, well written and showing fellowship at its best. I enjoyed the read very much.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/22/07
This is an absolutely beautiful story--one that will stay in my heart.
Sharlyn Guthrie10/22/07
Sweet, well-written story. I enjoyed it very much.
LauraLee Shaw10/23/07
I cried warm, salty tears at the end. The good kind. Very moving piece.
Joy Faire Stewart10/24/07
Excellent vivid descriptions, you put your reader into the story. A gentle reminder to look around for those who are lonely. Love the ending!
Kristen Hester10/24/07
This is tender and delightful. Your writing is excellent. This should be a Hallmark commerical or movie. I am moved.
Sara Harricharan 10/25/07
A truly heartwarming piece! (and another of my personal favorites for this week!) Brought a tear to my eye and a smile at the end. Miss Rose is such a real character, especially with turning the light off and the little touches like writing initials on the fogged window. This is so well done-excellent job! ^_^
Laurie Walker10/25/07
You know Loren, I look for you at every challenge now. You have such an extraordinary gift and I love to wallow in it. Beautifully told.