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

TITLE: A Diverse Reunion
By Joshua Janoski


Lance stepped out of his Mercedes Benz and onto the lush green turf. He looked around the park. Off in the distance was a large wooden pavilion that housed a half dozen picnic tables. He adjusted the cufflinks on his shirt and took special care not to place his brown loafers into any stray mud puddles left over from yesterday’s rain.

As he neared the pavilion, he was almost tackled by a tall African American man who was also clad in dress shirt and tie.

“Lance my brother!” the man exclaimed as he wrapped his large arms around Lance’s neck.

“Darrin! My man!” Lance said as he wormed his way out of the chokehold and turned around to face Darrin. Lance checked his clothing for any dirt or stray blades of grass.

“My apologies, Brother. I forgot that you’re Mr. Uptown now with that fancy Benz and your designer clothes.”

“It looks like you are doing quite well yourself, D. Look at your clothes. And I’m guessing that the Hummer sitting over there is yours.”

“Ha. You guessed right. Hey, come on over here. I want you to meet my wife.”
Lance followed Darrin underneath the pavilion roof. A slim woman with milk chocolate skin in a peach sundress stood laying a tablecloth over one of the tables.

“Latisha, this is my boy Lance. We grew up together at St. Anthony’s.”

Latisha stretched out her small hand towards Lance.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Lance. Darrin has said many good things about you. He has been looking forward to this reunion for a long time.”

“It’s great being here. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to take the time off and fly in, but I’m glad that I made it.”

“Feel free to grab something to drink and have a seat. More should be arriving shortly.”

Other familiar faces from Lance’s childhood soon arrived at the park. Some faces looked the same, and others had changed drastically. Many had families of their own, while others remained single. All shared a common bond – they were orphans who lived together at St. Anthony’s orphanage in New York. The orphanage was home to a diverse group of children. All colors were represented there, and this reunion displayed those colors proudly.

There was Li, a Chinese girl whose parents were robbed and gunned down in an alleyway. Then there was Ahmed, an Arabic boy whose parents gave him up to the state right after birth.

Darrin was taken away by Social Services after his mom got busted for dealing Crystal Meth. Lance escaped the abuse of alcoholic parents and found refuge at St. Anthony’s.

Then there was Anya, Malik, Yoshi, and Lisa. Together, all of these abandoned kids now sat as grown adults, each with unique stories to tell.

“I am majoring in Music at Julliard,” Li told Anya as they sat sipping on fruit punch and nibbling cookies.

“I am an investment banker still living in New York.” Lance told Darrin. “Every now and then I’ll drive upstate to St. Anthony’s. It really brings back a lot of memories, both happy and sad.”

“I heard that the place closed down a couple years ago.” Ahmed interjected.

“It did, Ahmed. You can’t go inside, so I just sit on the steps and pretend that I’m beating you all at checkers.” Lance laughed.

“Funny. You were never able to beat me.” Yoshi said proudly.

The group continued to banter back and forth until Lisa stood up to make an announcement.

“I don’t want to spoil this wonderful reunion, but I would like to stop for a moment and take notice of something. We are all blessed to have been adopted and to have made something of our lives, but there are many that are not here with us today. People like Rob, who died of a drug overdose early last year, and Tamara, who ended up dead while soliciting her body. Let us thank God for helping us take steps in the right direction, and let us pray for our fellow brothers and sisters who are still out there struggling with feelings of abandonment and worthlessness. Let’s pray for those who never found a home…”

Everyone gathered in a circle, each praying in his or her own way. At that moment, Lance realized that he had never really been abandoned while at St. Anthony’s. He had been with family the entire time.

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This article has been read 921 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Holly Westefeld06/12/08
I enjoyed your unique angle on the topic. If you haven't read Dee Henderson's O'Malley series, you might enjoy it.
LauraLee Shaw06/15/08
Excellent writing here, with a "just right" ending. Loved it.
Jan Ackerson 06/15/08
Love the concept of this diverse family! Authentic dialogue, too.

I wonder if the ending would be stronger by having your main character remember those "other" family members, rather than having a summarizing speech by a different character. Just a thought...

Chely Roach06/15/08
This was SO good, what a great concept. Well done!
Marita Thelander 06/15/08
I like the angle you went with of kids from and orphange reuniting as adults.
Betty Castleberry06/15/08
I hadn't thought about orphans reuniting as a family, but it worked. Very nicely done.
Joy Faire Stewart06/15/08
I enjoyed the unique take on the topic.
Edmond Ng 06/15/08
A very good story coming from an angle of one who has been greatly blessed, standing in the presence of the lesser blessed, and those who have strayed and lost. I like the way you put across the happy feeling of reunion at the start and then turning the story around to direct the readers to the less fortunate, then concluding it with the MC realizing how much he has been blessed.
LaNaye Perkins06/16/08
This is definately up there in the running for one of my favorites this week. Great writing my friend.
Lyn Churchyard06/16/08
Another 'out of the box' entry. Well done Josh! You did the different characters extremely well, and I could see each one of them. There was no mistaking who was who, even without name tags. Good job Josh, good job :- )

Mariane Holbrook 06/16/08
This is a unique and very well written piece. I hope you place with this one, Josh!
Joanne Sher 06/16/08
I love the banter among the characters especially. I agree with Jan about the closing, but otherwise, but have no other red ink for ya. For seat of the pants especially, this is great!
Colin Swann06/17/08
A good write! Thanks
Beckie Stewart06/17/08
Having adopted a little orphan girl myself, I really appreciate this unique approach to this subject. Good writing. What a bummer about all those weird marks.
Norma-Anne Hough06/17/08
Well done Josh. Your writing is really going places. Hope you do well because you deserve to. Blessings,
Debbie Wistrom06/17/08
What a creative angle for this topic. I enjoyed the idea and the message very much.
Pamela Kliewer06/17/08
I have to agree with everyone else, a very unique take on this topic. I enjoyed this very much. Well done.
Bill Obenauer06/18/08
Josh, I really enjoyed this one. It makes me sad to think about those who did not make it. It's just a perfect example of why our government needs to make a focused effort at improving our domestic adoption system. Great story.
Sara Harricharan 06/18/08
What a neat reunion! I liked the different characters and the names and the line with beating everyone at checkers! That was a neat realistic touch, I liked the ending though, where they all came together to pray, even to remember the ones who didn't make it. This was good! ^_^
Karen Wilber06/18/08
Creative take on the topic. Your final sentence is excellent.
Pamela Kliewer06/18/08
Josh, I forgot to mention in my previous comment that you did very well for your first 'seat of the pants' entry, improvising and not knowing where you were going w/ it... isn't that fun??? :)

Gerald Shuler 06/18/08
Seat of the pants? Josh, you have great pants. Well done.
Catrina Bradley 06/18/08
An original take on the topic. I love the idea of orphans having a family reunion. The opening definitely got my attention, and a sweet ending too. Good job, Josh. :)