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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)

TITLE: A Novel Perspective
By Shirley McClay


“I hate this mom. It just... really stinks.” Kristin nestled the phone on her shoulder and slouched in her overstuffed rocker.

“Canada seems so far away. The gas prices are continually climbing and airplane tickets are sky-high.” Kristin giggled at her mom’s pun. “And it is expensive to mail stuff over the border. I’ll send money for birthdays when I can’t visit.”

“It’s a good thing you have free unlimited calls anywhere in North America. You’d think they’d come up with a decent plan for international cell phones.” Kristin heard the whine in her voice and felt her conscience twinge. She took a deep breath, shifted the phone to her other shoulder, and determined to be more upbeat. “I found a great deal on a webcam at NorthMart… only fifteen bucks. You should look into it, Mom. At least we could see and hear each other when we chat online. Oh… and I posted pics of the kids on my website this morning.”

“I hated missing Hannah’s birthday, but I plan to be there for Peter’s. And I’m taking a vacation when this baby is born. Will two weeks be enough?” She had been there for births of both her grandchildren.

Kristin grabbed a tissue to wipe her leaky eyes again. “It’s too hard being so far apart, Mom. You’re barely a part of my life anymore.”

“I know. I feel like I’ve abandoned you.” Even over the phone… nearly two thousand miles away, Kristin heard the tears in her mom’s voice.

“Well... I guess it could be worse. Not sure how but… Uh-oh! Hannah just spilled her milk all over Peter. Better go! I’ll chat with you later when the kids go down for their naps. Petey said the funniest thing this morning. Remind me to tell you.”

Hours later, Kristin picked up her novel and immersed herself while waiting for her toddlers to fall asleep.

Violet stood back and watched the shopkeeper crank the new telephone. He shouted into it and then stepped back and waved her forward.

She stared at him, confusion and uncertainty twisted her gut.

“Like this.” He handed the earpiece to Violet and pressed her closer to the mouthpiece.

“Hello.” Her voice quivered as she leaned toward the contraption.

“Louder.” The storekeeper grinned at her hesitancy.

“HELLO.” She nearly shouted the word this time.

“Violet, sweetheart. Is that really you?” Her mama’s voice dissolved into sobs and Violet felt the tears slip down her own cheeks.

“Mama, it’s really me.”

Pa’s voice rumbled in her ear. It was strong but unsteady. “Your mama needs a moment to… well…” She heard him clear his throat and blow his nose. “How are ya, Muffin?”

“Oh, Pa… I’m pregnant.” The sound of her pa crying… nearly 2000 miles away… was nearly Violet’s undoing. It took a few moments to push the lump from her throat. They needed to take advantage of this new fangled miracle and not be wasting it on tears. There was too much catching up to do. It was two years since Violet had married and moved west.

“Jake says we can do this again. For important news… like the baby... and even as a treat on my birthday.” Jake grinned at her from where he leaned against the wall. His eyes glistened with a few tears of his own. He leaned toward the mouthpiece, “I heard they’re gonna bring the railroad here, Pa. Then you can visit and see your grandchildren.”

“I never dreamed this would be possible, little girl.” Her pa’s voice trembled with tightly reined-in emotions. “When you married Jake and left on the wagon train... I figured that was the last time I would ever see you.”

“I know Pa… isn’t this newfangled stuff amazing.” Violet checked the pocket-watch that hung from Jake’s vest. “I should go… this is going to cost us a bundle… but it was worth every penny.”

Kristin laid down her book and gazed at the phone for several minutes. God had used a pioneer novel to speak deep into her spirit. She needed a heart-to-heart with her Heavenly Daddy before she called her mom.

That evening Kristin wrote in her journal…
“I guess it’s just a matter of perspective. Gratefulness or griping … do I dwell on what I have or don’t have? Either one is a choice that I make depending on my point of view. Seeing my life from an eternal view changes how I perceive my everyday.”

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This article has been read 766 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 07/24/08
Great piece of writing. I like how you showed the differences in the times. Novel idea:)
Linda Grigg07/25/08
Good story with an important message. I actually enjoyed the extract from the "novel" as it's own story. Maybe you could write one about those characters one day!
Sunny Loomis 07/27/08
Before telephones, news was old before others heard about it. The novel element was a nice touch. Good job. Thank you.
Lauryn Abbott07/28/08
What a charming story! I enjoyed both - the past and present. I nearly went with the new-fangled invention too! Thanks for sharing - it was a fun read.
Joy Faire Stewart07/28/08
Very creative and I loved the story within the story. Excellent message, too.
Betty Castleberry07/28/08
This is well written and entertaining. I like the story within a story. Nicely done.
Marlene Austin07/30/08
Really good personal narrative. You had a smooth transition from the MC's present to the past in the book. Really liked the use of the journal to summarize the insight the MC received. Very nice. :)
Mariane Holbrook 07/30/08
I like the way you constructed this. It was such a delightful read,especially for someone like me! Big time kudos!
Catrina Bradley 07/30/08
VERY good! The novel excerpt in the middle is awesome, the writing tight and engrossing. I love the journal entry that ends the story. It really blessed me today and I needed that prayer! (for different reasons from your MC, but that's how God works, huh?)
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/30/08
"Two stories for the price of one here." Your writing is excellent. I could see the characters through their conversations, and you tied the novel to the present just right.
Sara Harricharan 07/30/08
Very creative! I can definitely relate to this and I liked the real life touches inside of this. It's up to date with things that we're dealing with now (gas prices, airfare, etc.) and yet going back to a novel for the very first day of the telephone. Loved it! ^_^
Joshua Janoski07/31/08
The mixing of the novel with the main story was a nice touch. I think it's what really gives this piece its flair. I'm guessing that it is based off a recent real life experience as well. Thank you for sharing. I always enjoy your stuff, Shirley.
Chely Roach07/31/08
I loved the bittersweetness of this. Great piece of writing!