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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)

TITLE: The Gift of a Day
By Mandy White


I close my eyes and I’m eight years old. It is a warm summer morning and the tar sticks to my bare feet as I skip down the worn country road--the marigolds, roses and old-fashioned petunias perfuming the thick southern air.

Something isn’t right. Am I not grown now with a husband and children? I’ll stay just a while--oh, how I’ve missed this place!

My destination is a modest farmhouse--mere feet from my own. I scamper up the front porch steps and take in the view. There’s Pop’s truck and the old chicken pen. Grandma’s garden is overflowing with the bounty of an almost magical green thumb.

Dare I open the door? Is this a cruel joke?

Music from the old radio greets me as I open the screen door.

“Grandma’s out in the garden waitin’ on ya.”

Familiar eyes deeply set beneath bushy gray brows look up at me. Pop is sitting in his brown recliner donning his red cap, tan work shirt and faded jeans. My 35 year old mind cannot comprehend what my eight year old eyes are seeing. I timidly rest my hand on his arm for a moment, needing affirmation. My fears dissolve as I let mind and body become one--reveling in this gift I have been given.

This is a gift--a gift of one more day.

The top of a floppy garden hat is moving above rows of towering tomato vines. I sneeze as the pungent aroma of the ripe red fruit tickles my nose.

“Is that you sneezin’ over there girl? You ain’t catchin’ a summer cold are ya? I can fix ya up somethin’.”

Speak up! Say something.

“N-No Grandma, it’s the tomatoes,” I squeak out.

“Well, get you a bucket and get to picken’. They’re fallin’ off the vines.”

As I round the edge of the tomato row, I look into another familiar pair of eyes--piercing blue eyes I have not seen in 17 years.

“We better hurry up. Look at them clouds back yonder--thunderstorm’s comin’ in.”

Does she know this can’t be?

We pick the last of the tomatoes and reach the back porch just as the rain starts to fall.
Inside, Grandma and Pop hurry to close the windows as the blowing rain pounds against the little house. I desperately try to help, but my weak little arms are no match for the warped wooden windows. I look at my small hands and remember that I am a child.

The wind picks up ferociously, sending the front porch chairs flying across the yard and causing tin to peel up from the barn roof like the lid of a sardine can.

I remember this storm. Now what did I say next? Oh yes. . .

“Grandma, I’m scared.”

“Don’t be scared. You know Jesus wouldn’t let anything happen to you. Let’s sing Jesus Loves Me.”

As we sing, tears roll down my cheeks. I nestle into her side, breathing in her fresh air scent. I can no longer determine if I’m an adult or a child. The line between past and present is blurry now.

“You know, you’ve done good.”

“What do you mean, Grandma?”

“I’ve seen you all these years--would’ve liked to have to been at your weddin’ and held those babies a time or two.”

I look over and see that Pop’s chair is now empty.

My gift is ending--they are leaving me again.

“Oh Grandma, . . . so you know this isn’t real--that I am grown now.”

“This is very real. This day ain’t your gift. Your gift is that imagination of yours. That’s what brought us to you, and you can have it anytime you want. Give those thoughts and words away to other folks--let it keep on givin’.”

“I hug her tightly, willing my body to capture a lasting imprint of her warm embrace. Thank you, Grandma.”

I open my eyes and I am 35 years old. I smile as I see the little farmhouse--the new owners have fixed it up nicely. I walk slowly down the worn country road, the marigolds, roses and old-fashioned petunias perfuming the thick southern air.

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This article has been read 629 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Chrissi Dunn04/10/08
A very well described and moving step back in time.
Chely Roach04/11/08
Hands down, my favorite so far. Very well written; awesome imagery and dialogue. The line, "I’ve seen you all these years--would’ve liked to have to been at your weddin’ and held those babies a time or two.", that one packed a lovely little punch to my emotions. Loved it.
Deborah Engle 04/11/08
Very creative and interesting. One of my favorites so far.Thanks.
Beth LaBuff 04/11/08
This is so creative and beautifully written. I love it. You have a way with painting these memories. Our barn had one of the corrugated metal roofs too. My grandma grew petunias. I can smell them thanks to your "thoughts and words you gave away." Thank you!
Emily Gibson04/12/08
Very well done! It reminds me a bit of the scene in "Our Town" where the main character is given one more chance to return to her family (after dying in childbirth) and realizes for the first time all the things that were so precious about her life. You have made that preciousness clear in your words.
Joanney Uthe04/15/08
I loved the dreamlike state of this. Very well written with a great message. Good job.
Mandy White04/15/08
I never comment on my own, but this is driving me crazy!

I don't know what happened to my quotation marks and dialogue in the next to the last paragraph. It jumped around on me and I didn't notice before I submitted!
Joy Faire Stewart04/15/08
Oh, this is so beautiful. Loved the vivid descriptions. You take your reader along on the "Memory Lane."
Jan Ackerson 04/15/08
Oh, wow--the scene where the past and the present are beginning to blur, and the grandma says "I've seen you...I would have liked to be there..." just took my breath away. Exquisite.
Joshua Janoski04/15/08
I loved how you came full circle by using the same lines at the beginning and the end. Your descriptions are always so vivid, and I think that is why I enjoy reading your entries so much.

I also loved the point you made about our imaginations being our gift that allows us to remember people even when they are no longer with us on this Earth.

A true pleasure to read. I hope that this one places high, because it is very good. :)
Mariane Holbrook 04/15/08
Oh, this is breathtaking. I so hope you win with this one. It's such a keeper, such a tender story. Thank you!
Shirley McClay 04/15/08
Very well-written! I too have used that writer's imagination to spend some time with someone I have lost. Very heart-touching story.
Lyn Churchyard04/15/08
This was absolutely beautiful. I could see the past and present blurring as I read. It was like being able to see both the adult and the child at the same time. You have done an excellent job here. I love it!!!
Betty Castleberry04/15/08
Absolutely beautiful. Expertly written, too. Five stars from me.
Loren T. Lowery04/16/08
Wow. Beautifully, told. One of my favorite lines (among many) "My 35 year old mind cannot comprehend what my eight year old eyes are seeing." This is truly wonderful, you had be experiencing and seeing and smelling everything.
Sara Harricharan 04/16/08
This is so much more than the gift of a memory-or the gift of your writing! A favorite of mine, I loved this day going back and experiencing everything as if I were right there. You did really well with this-excellent writing! ^_^
Debbie Wistrom04/16/08
What a gift, you do indeed have. You can travel back and relive a wonderful life. You are blessed and a very talented writer besides. I feel we have a placer here.
Joanne Sher 04/18/08
Congratulations, Mandy, on placing 7th in your level and 21st overall. Great work!