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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Watermelon And Two Peas In A Pod
By Laura Anne Harrison


The wailing screams of sirens bellowing down the street in front of our house annoyed me more than usual on that late afternoon in June of 1977. Engrossed in preparations for the supper meal and with getting our nine-month-old twins, Margaret and Rebecca, bathed and dressed for bed, I tried to pass off the ear-piercing bawling of the ambulance as a “normal” sound for those who live three short blocks from the hospital. The deafening roar of the screaming gnawed past my ears, thrust a chilling sensation down into the deepest depths of me, and penetrated my soul.

The thought that “something really terrible must have happened this time” skipped in and out of my mind and back again. Stephen and our oldest daughter, Stephanie, raced into my mind. Having left the house two hours earlier to mow Grandmother’s yard, I expected to see Stephen and our vivacious almost-four-year-old galloping through the door, bubbling over with her “grass-cutting” adventures with Daddy, some time ago.

When the telephone rang thirty minutes later, fear wedged a path of apprehension through my body, as I heard the familiar voice of my sister-in-law saying, “Leslie’s been hit by a car, and she’s been hurt real bad. . .” She continued through audible tears, “Oh, Anne, she’s hurt so bad!” . . . Following a brief silence, an unfamiliar voice came on the line, “Anne, it’s pretty bad. I think you’d better come now. . .”

* * * * * * * * * *
A hospital emergency room doctor told Leslie’s mother, Stephen, and I that Leslie was dead. Struck and run over by a car, as she tried to follow her older sisters across busy Highway 127, her brief six years on earth ended instantly. . .

* * * * * * * * * *
Driving home from the hospital, Stephen and I turned our thoughts to Stephanie who had spent the previous day playing with her cousin-buddy Leslie. The two inseparable “cousin buddies”, like two peas in a pod, were closer than some sisters. While Leslie’s death introduced a new dimension into all our lives, for Stephanie “death” was not only a new experience, it was a new word. Leslie’s death was Stephanie’s first encounter with “dying”, and that encounter would affect the way she met, understood, and accepted death in later years.

When Stephen and I explained to Stephanie that, as Leslie ran across the street, a car hit and killed her. . . and that we would not be able to play with her any more, she repeatedly cried, “Don’t’ tell me that about Leslie! Don’t tell me that about Leslie!” However, in the midst of her deep hurt, she listened carefully, responded with compassion, and amazed us with her understanding. Hearing that “Leslie went to live at God’s house in Heaven,” she tearfully smiled, “Like in my Sunday School books?”

“Yes, like in your Sunday School books,” we nodded. “We will miss Leslie, but there will come a day, when we will go to Heaven and play with her again. Until then, Leslie doesn’t want us to be sad because we can’t see her and be with her now. She is so happy playing and “cloud-hopping” in God’s beautiful, big heavenly home, and she wants us to be happy too. . .”

Acceptance began to shape itself in Stephanie’s little mind, and her angel-smile blessed our hearts, as she pensively responded, “One day, we will go to heaven and play with Leslie.” After a thoughtful pause, she followed that statement with one more question: “Are there watermelons in Heaven? Leslie loves watermelon.”

With a smile of amusement, Stephen answered, “Well now, we don’t really know. Maybe there are watermelons in Heaven. We’ll find out for sure when we go to see Leslie in Heaven.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Author's Note

Prior to Leslie’s funeral, a Teddy Bear lay next to her inside her casket, and a peapod was placed in one of her small, chubby hands. . .

Thirty-one years later, Stephanie, now married, has two babies of her own. On a bookshelf in the living room of her home, an antique gold frame surrounds a photograph of Leslie sitting in a green and white checkered lawn chair in her grandmother’s backyard at a Fourth of July celebration. With her mouth sunk deep into a huge slice of watermelon, Leslie’s little angel-face with laughing, deep brown eyes is surrounded with golden curls. Lying on the shelf in front of the old photograph, an aged peapod waits for the cousin-buddies’ reunion in Heaven. . . Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be for the two “little peas in a pod”!

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This article has been read 578 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ann Marie Lindenmeyer05/29/08
What a sad story for your family to lose someone at such a young age but written wonderfully, with the hope of Heaven for all of us. Thank you for sharing. I like the tie of the watermelon and the peas, you were able to portray the connection nicely.
Beth LaBuff 05/29/08
Your story is heartbreaking from our viewpoint. You've written this very well, putting the reader right with you--from the dread at hearing the siren to the explanation to Stephanie. You've also added hope to your story… that of heaven. Very nice work on this.
LauraLee Shaw06/01/08
This is moving for sure, and your ending was the perfect choice. Well done!
Chely Roach06/02/08
You have made me cry...
This was absolutely wonderful; perfect title, and such hope you have provided to such a tragic story. Amazing writing...
Lyn Churchyard06/02/08
I loved the title of this story. Hearing sirens when someone is late arriving home is worrying. I loved the tender way the parents explained to the four year old about death "She is so happy playing and “cloud-hopping” in God’s beautiful, big heavenly home" Good story, well done.
Joanne Sher 06/02/08
Oh, Honey - this is wonderful! Tore my heartstrings right out. You absolutely captured the understanding of the cousin buddy. Excellent.
Jan Ackerson 06/02/08
Thanks so much for sharing this story! Your title draws readers right in, and the well-written true account is a gripping read.
Joshua Janoski06/02/08
The ending and authors note at the end really got to me. What a tragedy, and yet there is also hope included. Thank you so much for sharing this bittersweet story. I'm sure Leslie is up in Heaven right now sinking her teeth into a juicy piece of watermelon.
Debbie Wistrom06/03/08
On top of an outstanding story, you have many wonderful word choices and combinations. Your talent is apparent here, keep it up.
I very much liked the story, but I especially loved the footnote that made it personal and real. It brought tears to my eyes.
Lollie Hofer06/04/08
Without preaching it, you showed incredible hope in the midst of deep tragedy. You captured the closeness of the cousins beautifully. I daily babysit my grandchildren, two girls are three years old (three months apart in age). You described perfectly their relationship. Thanks for sharing your tender, well-written story.