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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Sheila's Pain Reliever


Sheila knew her voice sounded snappy as she talked to Steve, but she just couldn’t help it. She was getting a whopper of a headache. Now Steve wouldn’t be home for hours, so she couldn’t even take her strongest pain reliever. It would make her too sleepy to care for the kids.

“We’ve got to meet this deadline, honey.” She could hear the apology in his voice, begging for understanding. She hung up and thought about calling Pam, but decided against it. Pam’s husband Joe worked in Steve’s department, so he would be working late too. She was sure her friend would also be stressed. And besides she just couldn’t handle an, “I’m sorry you feel bad” right now, even though she knew it would be sincere.

Taking a deep breath, she tried to organize her thoughts to plan dinner amidst the pain that was growing in intensity. All she wanted to do was lie in a dark room and seek release in sleep. Suddenly a door slammed and the crash reverberated throughout her entire body. It was not simply a door slam. It was nuclear blast sending a mushroom cloud to encompass her brain and destroy her thinking capabilities.

She turned to berate whichever child was responsible, but was stopped by sheer surprise. There stood 8-year-old Chrissy with a casserole dish in her hands.

“Ms. Pam just brought this over. It smells yummy. What’s las-an- na?

“Lasagna,” Sheila had to smile at Chrissy’s pronunciation of the word. Then she grimaced as pain radiated up her face from the momentary grin.

“Put it down on the counter there. That was nice of Ms. Pam. Why didn’t she come in?”

“She said she knew you need to rest cause your face hurted.”

Sheila couldn’t get over Pam’s thoughtfulness. How did Pam know she was having a neuralgia flare? Steve must have told Joe. What a relief not to have to cook dinner. Maybe she could get the kids to bed early. Then she remembered it was Friday, the one night they were allowed to stay up an extra hour. Well, at least she didn’t have to help them with homework tonight. That was a blessing. Perhaps a family video would hold their attention and keep them quiet. If she could just distance her brain from the noise of the television maybe the hammering would settle down before it robbed her of what thinking ability she had left.

Suddenly she realized that Chrissy was setting the table without being asked.

“Did Ms. Pam tell you to set the table for me?”

“No, but she said your face was hurted. Daddy says to help when your face hurts.”

Amazed, Sheila gave her daughter an appreciative hug. Then she went to gather the rest of her brood, 6-year-old Sammy and 4-year-old Tommy. The lasagna was a big hit with the boys. But after it was finished, she wished she could just tumble them off to bed.

Finally the movie was over. The kids were bathed; teeth were brushed; and prayers were said. They had been surprisingly well behaved that night. Even at their young age, could they sense her need? Steve wasn’t home yet. The pain continued to intensify. It felt like her whole face was aflame. She still didn’t dare knock herself out by taking pain pills. What if an emergency came up? She crept under the covers and sunk her head into the soft pillows.

Lord, please distract me from this pain, she prayed. Help me to focus on something else. She heard a bedroom door open and soft steps in the hallway. She inwardly groaned as she waited for whatever need was about to be thrust upon her. To her surprise, she heard no crying or whining voice as the child entered her room. It was Tommy. He said nothing, but silently placed his favorite Teddy bear beside her head and kissed her softly on the cheek. He was tucking her in!

Instinctively she knew she should submit quietly to his loving ministrations. She smiled to herself as he exited. Soon she would get up and return the bear, but for now she snuggled her hurting face against its soft fur, inhaling the sweet scent left by its contact with her son. Her thoughts drifted to Pam’s thoughtfulness, Chrissy’s helpfulness, and now Tommy’s unselfish sharing of his comfort toy.

Love is a great pain reliever, she reflected.

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This article has been read 457 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kristen Hester02/28/08
This is a very good story. It's so good, I now have a sympathy headache for your MC. Not really, but you did a great job putting me in the story. I felt for the mom and was touched by the kindess that was shown to her. Great last line. Super job!
Seema Bagai 02/28/08
Great story and it fits the topic perfectly.
Jan Ackerson 02/29/08
Very nicely written.
Beth LaBuff 02/29/08
Oh, I really empathized with your MC. The descriptions put the reader right with her in her pain and I could feel her relief at receiving the lasagna and each small blessing that came her way. Then the teddy bear incident brought tears to my eyes. That was such a touching act of caring. Your ending sentence, Love is a great pain reliever, is perfect for this. This is such heart-warming writing. Thanks!
c clemons03/03/08
Nice story.
Holly Westefeld03/04/08
I love the message of this story. The teddy bear was the crowning touch.
Jacquelyn Horne03/04/08
Sweet story.