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
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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.
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