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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: The Music Matcher
By Sara Harricharan


If she was as loud as her clothes, I think we would’ve thrown her out.

A metallic mini-skirt over dark leggings, topped off with knee-high, multicolored socks and pink rubber boots made up her bottom half. A wispy floral blouse, accented with patterned scarves in bold prints to match her safari headband, completed her upper half. Her hair was thick and unruly and as she swung down from the old bus, she was whistling, a rainbow knapsack on one shoulder.

The only thought that came to me was that she was the answer to our prayers.

Riverbranch was a tiny community of, on the outskirts of nowhere, slowly dying. Middle-aged, empty nesters like myself, made up the majority with cookie-cutter husbands who took the bus to work in the big city and children scattered around the world. There was a lady judge and young pastor with a tragic past.

It had to be the music.

After the pastor’s wife had died, our mere existence lapsed into silence. We went about our monotonous lives, looking down on the younger women who hadn’t yet achieved our height.

It was her whistling that broke the silence. It also woke Mrs. Lambert’s new baby. The newcomer didn’t seem to notice anything amiss, for she promptly inserted herself with the young family, helping with the children as if she belonged.

I wrote her off as city relative who didn’t know better. If she lasted longer than a day, I knew she’d lose the garish clothing or chirpy attitude.

By the end of the month, I was proven wrong.

Tales of this strange girl’s musical talent courted my foggy ears. From coaxing the elderly Coughton sisters to sing, she taught Mr. Cyrula’s blind daughter to play the flute.

The silent town I’d adored was now overflowing with music.

It was our own company, I suppose. We were such a miserable, depressing lot, but since her arrival, we’d become a real-life musical.

I was baking raisin-cashew scones for Mrs. Beardin, when the doorbell rang. I set the timer on the oven and hurried to answer it. It was Mrs. Gouth with the latest news.

The girl had charmed our lady judge into singing in the church choir next week.

“She’s filling their heads with false hopes.” I muttered, stalking back to the kitchen and stopping short at what I saw.

The mystery girl was standing near the counter, lining up well-browned scones on the cooling rack. Her electric green eyes locked onto mine. “It’s not false hope.” She scooped four scones into a clean towel. “It’s real. Just like His promises in His book.”

“Who’s book? How did you get in here?” I grabbed her oven mitts. “I’m going to call your parents and-”

“We all have the same Father you know. Just a different song.” Her eyes went to my clenched hands. “Like the wedding band you used to wear. A symbol of unending love. What is love without acceptance? You soul is caged because you won’t believe. Is it worth the silence? I’ll take these to Mrs. Beardin for you.” She paused. “He knows the end of your song-if you’ll only let Him finish.” She brushed past and let herself out.

I followed her to the door and watched as she delivered the scones in exchange for her knapsack.

She slung it over one shoulder and
began to walk to the bus stop.

An odd feeling welled up in my throat and came out as a strangled sound, encouraging the tears that followed.

The emotions mixed around and played with my heart. I thought of all the twisted dreams and fears I’d clung to the past few years.

Since my divorce, I’d rejected everything I could get away with. Especially the music. When my awkward prayer shot upwards, I was on pins and needles, wondering if I’d done it right.

That’s how she’d done it. She’d slipped into our lives and challenged our right to be as we were in our own company.

Her hand of friendship was sealed with music.

Beautiful, blessed music.

Her melodious laughter floated back to me, and I smiled through my tears.

In the company of angels.

Copyright 2008

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This article has been read 1161 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 02/07/08
I just love the beginning and end of this - almost poetic in its phrasing. So visual.

There were a few places where it looks like you might have accidentally cut out an extra word or two - it didn't flow just right. I hate when I do that.

Excellent job with characterization too - this blessed me.

Sherry Castelluccio 02/07/08
This was a beautiful story. I love the wisdom in the young girl, how she changed everyone's heart through just being herself. Well done and bravo.
Leigh MacKelvey02/11/08
This was a creative take on the topic and well done! I liked the voice, it read well and true to my ears. As someone also comments, it was almost poetic!
Jan Ackerson 02/11/08
Lovely, and written with a wonderful voice.

A few comma faults--mostly unnecessary commas that interfere with the flow of this otherwise perfect and lyrical story.
Holly Westefeld02/11/08
I like the uplifting message of this story, and how it demonstrates that one person sharing hope can make a bigt difference.
You probably skated a bit close to the proverb with a couple of uses of "company."
Shelley Ledfors 02/11/08
Very nice. I love the descriptions / characterizations, especially. An creative and interesting take on the subject.
Loren T. Lowery02/12/08
I liked the lyrical voice in which this writting taught a valuable lesson. It causes us to look inside, not outside and not be quick to judge. It teaches us how our pain can sometimes blind us to the good that God has brought into our lives. Great story and writing!
Betty Castleberry02/13/08
You're a very good writer, you know. This piece has wonderful descriptions and a distinct voice. Well done.
Karen Wilber02/13/08
I loved your description at the beginning and I just wanted to know more and more about what happened.
Sharlyn Guthrie02/13/08
This has a soothing, mystical quality about it. I enjoyed it very much.
Maxx .02/13/08
Story was good, the first line was great. Well done, and I'd like to meet this person!
Lyn Churchyard02/14/08
Well you just can't stop there you know! This demands more. Well written, I loved it. We have an unconventional lady in our church... complete with tattoos, wild clothes and red hair. LOL she doesn't teach music, she teaches line dancing. This story made me look at her differently. Thank you for that.