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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: The Mismatched Day
By Sara Harricharan


I stubbed my toe on a stone frog this morning.

What it was doing in place of my slippers was a complete mystery to me. I will say that slamming one’s feet into a freezing, outdoor, amphibian replica is not the way to start the morning.

My day did not get any better. First, the coffeemaker broke. My bootlaces followed suit by snapping, leaving me to wear loafers. I ended the chain by spilling yogurt on my new photo assignment.

The photo assignment I should’ve been doing.

Frustrated words are etched in the empty page of my journal. All I need is one moment with no interruptions to capture the sun before it sets. Why can’t I do this? If I dared to freelance instead of working at an insurance firm, I could find hope instead of shattered dreams in burned ruins.

I desperately want to blame it on my sister-in-law. She begged me to watch my scatter-brained niece.

Meeko is ten years old and the first creative walking disaster I have ever met. She loves frogs, birds and rearranging whatever her busy fingers can find My neatly organized stacks of paperwork are transformed to origami reptiles as she charges through life at a hundred miles per hour.

Born partially deaf, hearing aids are a must. However, Mekko rarely pays attention to the fussing around her, even when I am fairly sure that she can hear me.

Sometimes I think she simply chooses to ignore me. Like when I told her to stop pouring detergent in the dishwasher. I cleaned out most of it, but she must have squirted some inside.

My apartment kitchen resembles an oversized-bathtub with lemon-scented suds.

“I’m sorry Aunt Lizzy!” She’d apologized, her peacock-green eyes round in awe. “I really am!”

That was one phrase I would hear throughout the day before I would repeat after each disaster. “Don’t worry, Meeko. That’s all right.”

I silently built up a lecture in my head, not daring to let it out. Yet.

Instead, I bundled her into a coat, shoes and backpack to accompany me on my daily routine.

Some grocery shopping, picking up the dry cleaning and of course, dropping off Meeko. Somewhere between the errands, I promised Meeko lunch. She ordered a kids’ meal for the toy and I ordered a salad for my sanity.

As we ate, I asked her what the stone frog was doing in the bedroom. She blushed redder than the ketchup on her shoes and mumbled something about it being cold.

I didn’t bother to ask her to elaborate. Cleaning up the ketchup took over my attention as I tried to keep her still.

“Meeko!” I couldn’t keep the frustration from my voice when she toppled the remainder of her burger on my perfect ponytail.

Her lower lip quivered. I swallowed my sigh and tamped down the raging lecture. Again. “Don’t worry. That’s all right.” I parroted. “Let’s just get you home before your mother arrives.”

The ride back to my house blurred in silence as I pulled into the midst of crime scene. Yellow police tape crisscrossed in front of my garage as I managed to put the jeep in park.

“Aunt Lizzy?” Meeko is holding my hand as I stare at the approaching police officer. This can’t be happening.

My mouth answered questions of my identity, insurance and whether I was all right. Someone’s gas grill had exploded through the fence and into my tiny apartment.

My neat stacks of paperwork are beautifully charred.

Gone were the pictures and reports that took more time from me than I had to spare.

Several hours later, minus Meeko, I moped inside a hotel room, babying my rotten attitude.

There was nothing really left to do. I emptied the duffel I’d been allowed to bring. Flecks of ash blended into the standard bedspread. My journal tumbled out, falling open to my morning rant.

I had plenty more to add to it.

Anger left me as new threads of my dreams wove through the recent despair. I wanted a chance. A new start. I’d gotten it.

The last rays of sun peeked through smudged mini-blinds. I rummaged through my duffel to find my camera.

Today I will capture the sun before it sets.

Copyright 2008.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shirley McClay 03/07/08
Ouch... I have 3 little ones and I totally understand what she went through that day! Nice descriptions!
LauraLee Shaw03/07/08
I love the contrast between your opening sentence and your ending one. What a mismatch indeed!
Seema Bagai 03/11/08
What a day! As I read this, I kept wondering what else could go wrong. You forgot a period in one of the middle paragraphs. Otherwise, this is a good story.
Tim Pickl03/11/08
Spared injury or worse! Thank God. Small red-ink: Meeko's name is mis-spelled once as 'Mekko'...unless that was a mismatch on purpose...?!
Catrina Bradley 03/11/08
This is well-written - good descriptions and the story flows. Red Ink on the topic (since you asked): Neither the cloud nor the lining is really clear. If the fire is the "cloud", then I see the lining as a new outlook on life. However, you've placed more emphasis on the whole day of disaster, which she blames on her niece, to which no silver lining is clear.
The opening sentence is a great attention getter, and the voice is natural. The ending shows hope and I like how it ties back into the beginning of her "rant". :) Cat
Henry Clemmons03/11/08
Your title was really good and your first line was one of the best I've read this week. Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.
Mandy White03/12/08
Loved your description of Meeko. I think I know her. :)
Celeste Ammirata03/12/08
I really like your story. We've all had days like that. It's nice when we choose to see our small blessings. One thing though, Did Meeko really turn her paperworkd into oragami? I thought this didn't seemed unrealistic. And is this the same neatly stacked paperwork that burned later? I only mentioned this small thing because you asked for red ink. Well done. You kept my interest from the first sentence.
Debbie Wistrom03/12/08
So many details rang true to me. I could have been your MC. My red ink would be 1. getting to the frog answer earlier 2. a more thankful realization of her silver lining. Other than that, you go girl!
Jan Ackerson 03/12/08
Superb hook, and I see the silver lining. Meeko and the narrator are both wonderful characters. My only red ink would be the title--not particularly compelling. Otherwise, this one's great!
TJ Nickel03/12/08
I enjoyed this well written piece. I printed it and put "Yes" in red ink in several places, enjoying the writing as I read. Great opening line, great italicized paragraph, great one word sentence, great "kids meal...sanity" line. Thanks.
Betty Castleberry03/12/08
I love to read your entries. I think you have one of the freshest voices here.
Just a bit of red ink: One teeny grammatical thing is a missing period after the word "find" in the following excerpt.

"She loves frogs, birds and rearranging whatever her busy fingers can find My neatly organized stacks of paperwork..."

Also, I agree with what someone else said about dwelling on the negative, or dark cloud. I would have liked to see a brighter silver lining.

Really, though, it's hard to find too much wrong with this. You've written another unique and enjoyable piece. I believe you have a future in writing.
c clemons03/12/08
Very descriptive, especially of the "creative" walking disaster child. Who is that way because all the adults say, "that's alright Meeko"(just a side note). I would have liked more of the silver lining also, we were left with just a glimmer of hope, which could be taken away almost immediately if she has to babysit Mekko again.
Joanne Sher 03/12/08
I LOVE the beginning - and the characterization as well. Meeko is quite a character. Enjoyed this - though, like some of the others, I would have liked some silver lining on Meeko, but you only have so many words!
Patty Wysong03/12/08
I absolutely love this voice!! What a way to find the silver lining--and what a day! I loved the frog...great job.
Sherry Castelluccio 03/12/08
I thought it was great. You're so descriptive- you make each scene come alive. I was completely captivated and I fell in love with Meeko. Nice work, to say the least.
Loren T. Lowery03/13/08
Silver lining? I think I found this at it's one of my favorites: Lamentations 3:23 “God’s blessing are renewed each morning – great is His
And, I wish Meeko had been allowed to say why she brought the frog inside, I think it was because she felt it was cold and lonely, which says a lot about her. And finally, the inner turmoil of your MC was so real. You did a great job of identifying the emotions of what many readers go through in just such a situation. Great job - keep up the good work. Loren
Dianne Janak03/15/08
Finally I have time to comment on last week's entry. The others have said what I was thinking. You really bring a reader in with the everyday nuances and not so ordinary frustrations but typical being around children. I loved the change that took place in her attitude and outlook in such a short time. Love your entries... always fresh and different.