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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)

TITLE: Of Roofs and Walls
By Loren T. Lowery


A sickly baby swallow cried out in fear. It had been pushed from its nest and laid injured on the floor of a barn. Above him, in the rafters, he heard the constant peeping of his siblings.

Their chatter was too far away to understand; yet his heart was hopeful they were cries for his safety down below. Surely, his mother would soon come looking to bring him home.

Cold and shivering, he moved to the security of a nearby, sun-speckled corner. His tiny limbs flitted in frantic but futile thrust to lift him back to his warm nest. His throat ached from crying out, but he could not stop.

The call from his siblings sounded as if they were saying “Beep…Beep…” and he thought they were calling his name. He cried back, “I’m here. It is I, Beep.” And over their raucous calls he was certain he heard the swooshing of his mother’s wings.

And then it began to rain, the water making a deafening noise upon the metal roof of the barn. And with the noise and the rain came the warmth of another creature to huddle beside him, seeking shelter from the storm.

It was a cat with tangled, wet orange fur. She was skinny with white boots; and blind in one eye. She had no name because she’d been abandoned on the road, but she remembered, as Beep remembered, her litter mates calling out a name behind her. And that is how Scat got her name.

And now in the corner of the barn, the two huddled as one, watching the lightening blanch color from their world. The rains became a curtain of pelting grey darts; and thunder the sound of approaching phantoms.

Beguiled by the warmth of the other’s body, they fell asleep and soon awoke to find the sun had vanquished it all. It’s yellow orb, reviving the colors, ripping the grey veil and silencing the howl of the unseen banshees.

But this storm was not without its good purpose, because in its passing it baptized these two into forgetfulness. Beep no longer remembered being pushed from his nest, nor Scat being abandoned. Each lost the fear of the other as adversary or prey. And, with dread and strife defeated, they became the best of friends.

In the months that followed, Beep became the eyes for Scat and Scat the protector of Beep.

“Its good you can fly and see the field mice from above,” Scat would tell him.

“And likewise you scare the hawks away.” Beep would reply.

Their barn was their world, and when it burned one day, there was neither roof nor walls to protect them. Their world then became larger beyond what they could imagine. Indeed, the sky grew larger for Beep to fly and the fields more vast for Scat to prowl.

And, as often happens in worlds without roofs or walls, they lost one another in the vastness. And so, too, some of the magic of the day it rained began to fade as well.

Hungry hawks chased Beep in relentless pursuit and he would dodge their talons by only moments, not because he was daring, but because he was alone. And the dodging was the only thing that challenged his heart and kept him alive.

Likewise, Scat became thin as her dim eyes could not see the field mice that Beep had scouted so easily. Soon, she could only lay in the sun and dream. Sometimes turning on her back with her feet pawing the sky, she would remember Scat chasing bugs in the air.

And this is how Beep happened to see her one cloudy day next to a willow tree. He was dodging a hawk, racing to stay alive; but, when he paused to see her, the sharp talons of the hawk found purchase in his wing and sent him falling to the ground.

At this same moment, lightening flashed, thunder rumbled and Beep was lost to the hawk's chase in the veil of rain that began to fall. Moments later, he fell through the willow branches and lay injured beneath its boughs.

Fear found its way into Beep's heart once again. Yet, as before, with the rain falling outside came the warmth of another creature to huddle beside him, seeking shelter from the storm. It was Scat.

The willow became their roof and walls, re-uniting them in a world less vast. A world made safe by their common need of one for the other.

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This article has been read 872 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Chely Roach06/13/08
Wow...I LOVED this. Awesome take on the subject, and SO well written. Wow.
Joanne Sher 06/13/08
This is absolutely beautiful and tender, with captivating descriptions. Atmospheric and so visual. Wow.
Karen Wilber06/14/08
Love your two characters in this unusual family. I hope they're going to be OK from now on.
Beckie Stewart06/18/08
What a tender story this is.
Mariane Holbrook 06/18/08
This is so good and I hope so much it places! Kudos!
Catrina Bradley 06/18/08
Much like your previous entry, this is like a kid's story for grown-ups. I love the depth, hidden under a simple-sounding narrative. Great descriptive work makes it come alive. I truly like this new direction you've taken - so original and SO well written. And the title is awesome, too. :)
Lyn Churchyard06/18/08
Loren, this was wonderful! I loved every single word. I would love to see this illustrated in a children's book. Just perfect my friend, just perfect.
Deborah Engle 06/19/08
How unique this is. You've written this heart-warming, yet unusual story in a manner that held my interest.
Joy Faire Stewart06/19/08
I loved everything about this tender story. The descriptions are very visual plus a beautiful message. Excellent, I hope this places!
Lyn Churchyard06/19/08
Congratulations Loren on placing 11th In your level and 18th overall. Loved that story so much.
Colin Swann06/21/08
Thanks you masters for your expertise and encouragement that we writers experience from you, right from starting out as beginners.