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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Game of Life (09/11/08)

By Kevin Rodgers


Sandra watched as the waves relentlessly clawed at the shores of the white sandy beach, leaving small traces of seashells and seaweed behind. The calls of seagulls rang in her ears along with the playful laughter of a precious little girl who was busy constructing the world’s most beautiful sand castle. The ocean’s steady breeze left a salty taste in her mouth. Or maybe it was a taste left behind by the tears that had trickled down her face.

She sat alone atop the tallest of the surrounding sand dunes. A spot she frequented often; a place where she longed to be when she needed time to grieve. The spot where her husband of nearly thirty years had proposed to her after a romantic moon lit stroll along the beach’s soothing shores.

She missed Frank. Though it had been nearly a year since he left, she still had trouble getting through each day without her husband. A heart attack while asleep in their bed; that was how he left her. Alone, and with a new title to her name; widow.

It was Frank that held her together after their darling Mary died of cancer three years ago. Their only child; gone after just twenty-four years. Twenty-four years, not nearly long enough to live a full life. “Why not me?” she often asked God. “Why didn’t you take me instead?”

“First Mary, then Frank. Who will be next?” She was afraid to ask that question; afraid that God might just give her an answer.

The laughter again caught her attention as she watched the young girl playing in the sand. The castle appeared complete now with a Barbie doll wedged into the top of its tallest tower.

She reminded Sandra of her own daughter. How they would spend nearly every weekend on this beach. How Mary would play in the sand and wade in the foamy waves for hours upon hours. How she would giggle. How she would play with her own dolls and build her own palaces. How she would be covered with sand from head to toe by the end of each day.

“Mom?” a voice called from behind. “Are you okay?”

Sandra answered without turning. No one called her mom anymore, except Jeff. “I’m fine… just thinking.”

Jeff sat and placed his arm around her, hugging her tightly. “I saw you drive up. I thought I’d give you a minute alone, but when you never came down...I got worried.”

Tears began to fill her eyes again. “Thank you, Son. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I love you.”

“I know. I love you too.”

The two of them sat quietly. Neither said a word. Sandra gazed out across the Gulf, trying to recall more happy memories from days gone by. Jeff, deep in thought, thinking of his lovely Mary, shuffled his toes through the warm sand.

For the first time since Sandra’s arrival, the little girl looked up from the castle that had held her attention for most of the morning.

“Grandma!” she screamed as she leapt to her feet and sprinted awkwardly through the thick, weighty sand.

Sandra smiled as the girl ran towards her; arms stretched wide, reaching for a hug, still several yards away.

“Grandma, Grandma!”

Jeff met his daughter at the foot of the dune and helped the impatient girl climb to the crest of the hill where Sandra awaited her granddaughter’s embrace.

Sandra relished these happy moments. That was the reason she chose this place for her quiet times. This hill, this beach, was home to so many wonderful memories of the amazing life that God had given her; memories of her husband Frank, her daughter Mary, her son-in-law Jeff, and of course, her little angel Mary Kate.

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This article has been read 530 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/18/08
Very tenderly written--I like this entry a lot.
Beth LaBuff 09/19/08
Your opening paragraph is so inviting and descriptive, "calls of seagulls rang" and "ocean's steady breeze left a salty taste." I liked where this took me, that the child was your MC's granddaughter. This heart-warming story is beautifully written.
Irvine Saint-Vilus09/21/08
This story was moving and descriptive. As I read it, I could see the grandmother sitting there in the sand dune looking out at the beach and at her granddaughter playing,and reflecting on wonderful memories. But what I especially enjoyed is how she has not given up on life after the death of her husband and daughter; and is looking forward to carving future memories with her son-in-law and granddaughter. You're gifted. Great job.
Shelley Ledfors 09/21/08
Absolutely lovely! Your words paint vivid pictures. Your story evokes both sadness and hope most beautifully. Well done.
Allison Egley 09/21/08
This was good. I liked it a lot.

I don't know that you needed to identify all the people still in her life. Your earlier descriptions made it clear who was who.

Great job. Keep writing!
Kristen Hester09/21/08
THe opening paragraph is so wonderful and made me want to read and read. Your words flow and are so well chosen. Really, really excellent writing. Bravo.
Marijo Phelps09/22/08
Lovomg on the mountains I miss the ocean most of all and you captured it here. Along with the grief and the going on after. Good writing and I enjoyed it.
Celeste Ammirata09/23/08
Very moving story. Your descriptive words set the scene nicely. Life can be sad, but God never leaves us completely alone. Great job!
LauraLee Shaw09/24/08
Your style flows so beautifully, and your message is subtly woven in. Excellent piece of writing.
Karlene Jacobsen09/24/08
Oh how beautiful! It made me cry, first with empathy for Sandra, then with joy over the treasure of a grandchild and a place to go for comfort.