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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)

TITLE: Patricia's Birthday Wish
By william price


It was a cool, foggy morning in Magnolia Cemetery. Misty Ambler pressed the trunk button on her automatic car key and the trunk popped open on her gray Oldsmobile.

Misty bent overly slowly and pulled out a lawn chair and sat it next to the car. With a grunt she reached further into the trunk and pulled out a medium sized, rectangular Tupperware container. She shuffled toward the front of the car and laid it on the hood.

Her final trip to the car’s trunk produced a book bag which she carried to a nearby granite tombstone. Misty laid the book bag down next to the cool stone. She stood and stretched her aching back.

“Morning, little girl. I’ve got some books for you today.”

As far as she could tell, Misty was alone. Rows of Weeping Willow and Magnolia Trees lined the curved paved paths that wove their way around columns and lines of tombstones and memorials.

Misty made her way back to her car and fetched the lawn chair with one arthritic hand and picked up the Tupperware container with her good hand wedging the protected Birthday Cake against the left side of her chest.

Misty had a half smile as she unloaded the chair and cake next to the book bag. It was a cloudy morning, the fog was still hanging low. Misty noticed how the granite didn’t sparkle as much without sunshine.

Guess I can’t have everything.

“Well, my little one, it’s just me this year.”

Misty glanced over to a neighboring tombstone.

“I guess you know that though. Dad’s probably celebrating with you this morning.”

Misty’s gaze then spanned further to each side of the gravesite.

“And I suppose your brothers are there with you, if they’re not fishing. Last night, in prayer, I asked God to make sure they were there for you. My goodness, you turn thirty years old today.”

Misty unfolded her lawn chair and sat down.

“I feel a little left out down here, girl. I miss you. Tell the rest of the family I love them too. I made you a birthday cake. Now, I know you like chocolate, but I made carrot cake. Don’t ask me why. I know you and I always liked it, but your father didn’t ever care for it. And seeing how, well, he’s not on the tasting side of this party anymore, I thought why not. Sorry Tim.”

Misty took the Tupperware cover off the cake and set it on her lap.

“I’m not going to put thirty candles on the cake, Patricia. So I just bought a big wax three and a zero.”

While Misty was reaching into her coat pocket for a lighter, the fog began to lift. Random rays of sunlight began to poke in and out of the cloud cover. A slight breeze began to blow. And, many different kinds of cars and trucks began to silently park near Misty’s Oldsmobile.

After a few minutes of trying to manipulate her aged fingers to ignite the lighter she was successful in lighting the two candles.

Misty started to sing.

“Happy Birthday to you. Happy …”

The mother stopped singing as a stray beam of morning light lit up Patricia’s Tombstone. Thousands of tiny sparkles created goose bumps on Misty’s arms. Tears began to flow from her pale blue eyes. She continued singing.

“Happy Birthday, Dear Patricia, Happy Birthday to you.”

Misty wiped her eyes.

“Now make a wish, little girl.”

A hint of a breeze momentarily grew in strength as it danced passed Patricia’s cake blowing out the two candles.

“Oh my”

Shaken, Misty set the cake down. Crunching footfalls from behind caused her to turn around. Dozens of members of Misty’s church were walking towards Patricia‘s gravesite. Brother James and his wife Paula were carrying a pie and some balloons. Pastor Brad had some beautiful flowers. Everybody had something for Patricia’s birthday party.

“What is this?”

Misty was greatly moved. She tried to rise up but her trembling legs wouldn’t allow it.

Pastor Brad laid his hand on Misty’s shoulder.

“We thought you needed some encouragement today. We wanted you to know we love you and that you’re not alone.”

“But how, how did you know? I just, I just don’t understand?” Misty then gazed back down at the smoldering candles on Patricia’s Birthday cake. Her eyes followed the long swirling lines of smoke as they spiraled toward the sun.

“I guess you got your wish, little girl. Thank you.”

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Member Comments
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Beth LaBuff 11/16/07
Beautiful! Love the story. It's poignant, yet not overly sorrowful, AND with a touch of humor (the carrot cake explanation). Very good and creative!
Sheri Gordon11/16/07
This is really sweet -- sad, but sweet. Nice job with the topic.
Joanne Sher 11/16/07
Masterful characterization and emotion. I just love love LOVE this.
Jan Ackerson 11/18/07
Very touching! What a creative and unique idea for "encouragement" this was, too.
Betty Castleberry11/18/07
Love the creativity, and love the ending. The writing was wonderful. Well done.
Amy Kuncaitis11/18/07
wow. I got nothin'....amazing. Ok, I can't type anymore until I get a tissue! BEAUTIFUL.
Janice Cartwright11/18/07
I love the up-closeness of this. You are certainly a master at connecting with your reader. Mind if I take lessons? Great writing!
Kristen Hester11/18/07
Wow. This is so touching. At first I was wondering how in the world the story would be encouraging. As soon as you mentioned the cars I said, "Ahhh..." and I understood. I understood and I got goosebumps. I had to sit here for a second to let it all soak in before I could type. Beautiful. Very creative. Excellent writing and descriptions. Bravo.
Patty Wysong11/19/07
Next time a tissue warning would be helpful! This is beautiful. All the little details add so much. Super job and beautiful. Now I'm gonna go get a tissue! Hugs.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/19/07
So tender and touching. You brought tears to my eyes, but I loved the happy ending.
Peter Stone11/19/07
That was a very touching story. I really felt like I was there. Well done.
Dee Yoder 11/21/07
The character in this story is so real, I feel I could call her on the phone tomorrow. Great story and very warmly told.
Sara Harricharan 11/21/07
This gave me goosebumps-Hauntingly beautiful. Last minute or not, this is a masterpiece in my book. Great writing! ^_^
Leigh MacKelvey11/21/07
Wowser! This was a beautiful story full of great description and feelingand characterization. Please, never, never stop writing!
Pam Carlson-Hetland11/21/07
It's rather difficult to type through tears. I was looking for the encouragement and there it came, at the end. What a unique, touching story. Loved it!
Loren T. Lowery11/21/07
This was poignant and beautifully written. The scenes, the settings, the dialogue, the props, all perfectly orchestrated. I especially liked the insight into Misty’s character when she said her husband was not on this side of the tasting party. Wonderful!

And, to me, the “icing on the cake” were the cars rolling in beneath the fog…a perfect metaphor of hope. Great job!
LaNaye Perkins11/21/07
Aww dad-gummit, you made me cry. This was soooooo beautiful. I just loved it. Now I need to go get a tissue. :)