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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "It's No Use Crying over Spilt Milk" (without using the actual phrase or literal exampl (02/07/08)

TITLE: The Disappearing Paw Prints
By Venice Kichura


“Get that filthy mutt outta here!” I screeched at Lacy, staring down at a path of muddy paw prints trailing through the kitchen and dining area.

“How could you let Max in the house with muddy paws?”

But, with her I-pod glued to her ears, my16-year-old daughter was in another world, as usual.

Only minutes before the Bible study ladies would be ringing the doorbell, our mammoth-sized Saint Bernard had just tramped through my freshly mopped kitchen floor and across the white carpet, leaving his tracks. I sighed, as my eyebrow-pierced daughter led him down the basement stairs and then headed toward her room.

Grabbing a mop, I flung back my own mop-like hair that didn’t have time to dry, praying no one would be on time. Of all days….Why is she home today? Of course, the school had to have a teacher workday the day of the bible study….And there’s my workaholic husband who’s on another business trip…..

“Turn down the TV!” I yelled, again.

I was still mopping and sweeping up doggie hairs when the doorbell rang.

I flung an area rug over the muddy paw prints left on the carpet. The rug’s too small….No way can I hide those last sets of dirty paw marks.

“Welcome!” I greeted a somewhat familiar face, trying to remember her name. As she glanced up, I just knew she was staring down at my dirty carpet.

I plastered on my hospitality face, pretending to be a happy host. We normally met at the bible teacher’s house, but there was a last-minute undisclosed emergency and somehow I agreed to host

I’m sure most all their houses were at least twice as large and modern as this old outdated New England bungalow. But I couldn’t say no, as I was lonely and desperate to make new friends. Only I was beginning to think I couldn’t relate to all these super-spiritual, put-together women. If they had problems, I couldn’t tell. Many of their husbands were church leaders and their amazing homeschooled children even sat by their parents at church. Then there was my family…..I felt so unworthy.

We’d just moved from southern California, where it wasn’t cool for teenagers to be seen in the same building with their parents. Yet, here in this proper New England church, 95% of the kids were homeschooled. Back home at our old church, parents anxiously sat near the windows of the adult Sunday school classes, making sure their teenagers weren’t driving off to the beach during the Sunday school hour.

One by one, more ladies filed through the front door, taking their seats in my living room. I cringed, noting how everyone looked slimmer than me, as well as more spiritual and impeccably dressed. I just knew everyone had spotted the dirty paw prints.

I’m running out chairs!

I gasped, racing to the porch to grab an old lawn chair. The most eloquent woman in the church positioned her trim size 2 but on my mildewed chair, as I prayed she didn’t notice the ugly stain on the seat. Her wholesome-faced 16-year-old daughter, sitting beside her, popped open a Bible, as I looked up, silently praying my own teenager daughter was behaving herself in her room.

The meeting began as the pastor’s wife, our substitute leader, stood and asked for prayer requests. After a few lame requests such as, “Please pray my kids make the honor roll, again” and “Pray we select the right wallpaper,” I wanted to cry, thinking of my own dysfunctional household.

Then Margie, the regular bible study teacher slowly trudged through the front door, her head buried in her hands.

“ I…I…wasn’t even gonna come, but I need prayer….. “

Silence fell on the room of chattering women. Tears welled up in her chocolate brown eyes, and then gushed out like water from an overflowing dam. We all laid hands on her, as she whimpered through broken sobs….”My husband’s having an affair. I feel so rejected---so unworthy.”

As Max continued to bark from the basement, I finally opened the door, letting him slip through the dining room area to his water dish. His long shaggy fur didn’t seem so dirty or hairy. Next, Lacy tiptoed through the kitchen to pour a glass of juice. Amazingly, I found myself smiling at both of them.

Suddenly, my old New England bungalow, bad-breathed mongrel, and “not so perfect” household didn’t look so bad.

The dirty paw prints just weren’t there anymore.

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This article has been read 837 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Patty Wysong02/14/08
Boy, that'd be culture shock for sure! From Southern CA to New England! WhoEeee! In light of the big picture of reality, some things just really don't matter, do they? Good example.
Dee Yoder 02/14/08
Yes, this is a great example of "don't sweat the small stuff"! I've had those kinds of moments, too, where the temptation to be ungrateful and covetous squelches what the Holy Spirit is trying to accomplish. I could definitely relate to this MC.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/15/08
This story presented a good lesson in priorities,showing how things that seem important at the time do not matter at all in the grand scheme of things.
Joanne Sher 02/15/08
Love the title - fits the piece to a "t." Your MC was so real, too. Enjoyed the read.
Sally Hanan02/15/08
You nailed the topic. Some ways to polish this kind of piece would be to get an editing buddy (you had a few typos) and to try and steer clear of phrases you've read before, like "chocolate brown eyes."
Betty Castleberry02/15/08
Your MC was believable. She knows what's really important, something we all need to be reminded of at times. Nicely done.
Seema Bagai 02/16/08
You presented the topic well.
Jacquelyn Horne02/18/08
We're the best at putting ourselves down. When will we learn that even the best of us have problems? Good job.
Laury Hubrich 02/18/08
Very good story. I really enjoyed the read!