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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: What Time We Have
By Ann Grover
03/13/08


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The house held its breath, suspended, nothing amiss except a multicoloured clutter of mail in the hallway, strewn across the hardwood floor like errant petals. Impatiently, Catherine scooped them up and set them on the table.

“I told you she wasn’t here.”

Ron shrugged and sat in the recliner. “She’s a grown woman, Catherine.”

“She’s my mother. She hasn’t answered my calls for three days. I’m calling Julie.”

Ron sighed.

Catherine’s plaintive tones blended with the sounds of rushing water, clattering tea cups, and clinking spoons. Ron wondered how the sisters could hear each other over the din. Catherine returned.

“Greg and Julie are coming over.”

“Great.”

“They’re distraught.”

“Good.”

“Don’t you care? Mother might be hurt. Or worse. Oh, Ron.” Catherine collapsed onto the sofa.

“Catherine, you’re overwrought. I’m sure she’s fine. Are you certain she didn’t tell you she was going away, and you’ve forgotten? You do forget things.”

“Ron, you’re insufferable.” The tea kettle summoned Catherine with its shrill whistle, and she flounced away, indignation threatening to topple her barely composed anxiety.

Ron reached into the side pocket of the recliner for the television remote control and, skimming through the program guide, found a football channel. Something to focus on while the girls fritter away the tattered remains of their sanity. He settled back, easing himself into the comfortable chair.

It was only moments before the door was flung open and Julie and Greg rushed in.

“Mom come home?”

“No. Catherine’s making tea. Or Voyageurs versus the Kodiaks. Take your pick.”

Julie raced to the kitchen, and Greg found a place near the television.

“What do you think, Ron?”

“I think she’s with her church friends on a retreat, most likely.”

Both men became absorbed in the football game until Catherine and Julie called them into the kitchen.

“Ron? Greg? Look at this.”

Both women were gazing into the open refrigerator, as if it were full of fine and amazing wonders.

“What?” Both men said in unison.

“Don’t you see? Catherine reached in and pulled out several cartons. “Cottage cheese. Yogurt. Coffee cream.” Catherine’s blue eyes sparked with satisfaction. “Mother’s lactose intolerant.”

“Maybe it’s for guests or a church dinner.”

“But what about this?” Julie thudded a large jar of peanut butter on the counter. “Mom dislikes peanut butter.”

“I think you two are overreacting. Come on, Greg. The game?”

“Ron, listen. We think Mother has wandered off. That she has dementia. This food proves it. She could be hurt somewhere. We need to call hospitals, the police.”

It was strange, Ron and Greg considered.

A rattling at the front door, the sound of a key, searching. And then a small silver haired woman. She started when she saw the foursome staring at her.

“What’s happening here? Is this a welcoming committee?”

“Where have you been, Mother?” inquired Catherine.

“I don’t recall that I need to tell you my whereabouts. Oh, have you made tea? How thoughtful! I could use a cup. How about you pour while I get something from the car.”

Julie and Catherine shook their heads. But their smugness turned to speechless shock when their mother returned.

“I’m so glad you’re here, after all. I’d like you to meet someone. This is Graham, my new husband.”

The frail, balding man stretched out his veined hand. “Pleased to meet you. Helen’s told me so much I feel I know you already.”

Ron and Greg shook Graham’s hand heartily and grinned. Julie busied herself with tea things while Catherine began to tremble.

“Graham, darling, go watch the football game with the boys.”

When the men had gone, Catherine sputtered, “How could you?”

“Why shouldn’t I? Graham and I may have just weeks or months left. Why shouldn’t we enjoy what time we have?”

“We don’t even know him,” Julie chimed in.

“I’ve known Graham for years from the Seniors Hall.”

“We could have done a wedding for you. Flowers. Cake.”

“I’ll be gone before flowers have a chance to wilt. Who needs cake? We had the “pomp and circumstance” years ago. We don’t have time now. We want to be together for as long as we have. If you don’t mind, Graham and I would like to be together now, if you know what I mean.”

“Mother!” Catherine reddened.

“Go home, Catherine. You’re not getting younger, either. You too, Julie.”

The tea forgotten, the day faded on a life, on lives, seized and redeemed.


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This article has been read 766 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan03/13/08
What an incredible opening paragraph, and a lovely ending to a worrysome story. :)
Yvonne Blake 03/13/08
Ha..Ha..what a joke on her kids! I know that her kids were worried, but good for the mother. She should have told them though.
Good character development and dialogue!
Lynda Lee Schab 03/14/08
Too funny. It reminds me of my grandma, who is almost 94 and has a "gentleman FRIEND" who visits her retirement apartment a couple nights a week to watch Jeopardy. LOL
The first part was a little confusing for me but the second half smoothed it out nicely. Well done.
Kristen Hester03/15/08
Oh this is just delightful! I had trouble figuring out what was going on at first--where were they? who were they? But, it all came together and I enjoyed the mystery and the happy ending. Good job!
Lyn Churchyard03/16/08
Way to go Mom!!! Great story and take on the topic. Well done.
Chely Roach03/16/08
AH! I loved this...great story.
Jan Ackerson 03/16/08
This shows me that you are every bit as gifted with light-hearted and sweet stories as you are with historical drama...which is to say, very gifted indeed. Wonderful!
Shelley Ledfors 03/16/08
What an utterly charming story! You managed to pack a lot into this piece...and it is all very enjoyable!
Sheri Gordon03/16/08
Very cute, and perfect for the topic.

I agree that it was a little confusing at the beginning, but when I reread it, I don't know why it was confusing the first time.

I love the sisters' conclusions based on the food--very clever.
Paula Titus 03/16/08
The last sentence is absolutely perfect, bringing the whole story full circle, and adding a whole deeper level for the reader.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/16/08
This story was a very cretive take on the topic. Good for Mom, who was serious about making hay.
Joanne Sher 03/17/08
Fun and clever. I LOVE ALL the women characters in this piece - their characterization is so sharp and delightful.

I love how different this is from what I'm used to reading of yours. You are truly gifted.
Loren T. Lowery03/17/08
Among other things that I liked about this story are the words you used such as: insufferagble, flounced, overwrought and distraught...words I have enjoyed seeing is far too long. Although I can't quite agree with Mom's decision, the lesson she's teaching is a real eye opener.
Joshua Janoski03/18/08
Good story. I was in suspense, waiting and wondering, until the new husband was finally revealed.

I can see why the mother didn't reveal her marriage, even though she maybe should have. She wanted to be with Graham, and she didn't want anyone trying to stop her or interfere with her plans.

The ending seemed kind of abrupt to me, but I still really enjoyed this story a lot. Thank you for sharing.
Debbie Wistrom03/18/08
Go MOM! Glad she is making hay! Loved the pace of this, the concerned daughters, the tv engrossed men. Keep it up!
jodie banner03/19/08
I loved this sentence."Something to focus on while the girls fritter away the tattered remains of their sanity." I began to suspect a gentleman friend when they opened the fridge, I was glad they arrived 'Married'. Great example of the topic.
Sara Harricharan 03/19/08
heehee, I'm so glad at the 'happy ending' here. I was worried for the mother, what had happened what could have take her, etc, especially with the funky stuff in the 'frige. lol, great job here, I loved the twist with the new husband, and I especially liked how you tied your title in. Great job. ^_^
Henry Clemmons03/19/08
The range you Master's have is incredible. You sure know how to mx it up and write how it needs to be put down. Thanks for writing here.