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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cards (11/06/08)

TITLE: Quite the Collection
By Sally Hanan


It was grubby. The work of a 2 year old. Yet something drew the man to its pigments and lines, like a child's hands to a lightening bug.

“Whatcha think Jesse? Will we send old meanie Grandpa a card?”

“Yeah!” Jesse clapped her hands. Ryan smirked at her naivety and rolled the crayons in her direction. He regretted it already, but maybe... Whatever.

His trembling fingers turned the card from right to left, the light casting a net of color on his pupils. It had been a year since he’d received the last one. He walked backwards until his shaky legs found a solid seat.

Jesse’s tubby hands sat on the waxen mass as she filled in what remained of the empty spaces on the card. She couldn’t read the print.


Ryan decided not to add anything to it. He’d already said enough.

Water pumped into his cloudy eyes. He let a drop roll steadily down past his jawbone and onto the myriad of color. His Sheltie walked up to his side and leaned his head on his hand. A small corner of the man’s mouth turned upward as his fingers curved through the warmth of his dog’s hair.

“I’m gonna give him a biiiig kiss.” Ryan smiled halfheartedly at his daughter without really seeing her. She picked up the card and planted a huge wet smacker of a kiss over her artwork. Then she kissed all over the rest of the card. “So he can have lots of love,” she explained. She stood up on Ryan’s lap and stared into his eyes. “Just like you Daddy. You give me lots of love,” and she planted another sloppy wet one on his mouth. He grunted and kissed her forehead. How could I not love you?

Jesse’s grandpa leaned forward to let the table take his weight as he rose. He picked up the card, ever so carefully, and walked to his bedroom, taking care not to scrunch it each time he leaned his hand into the wall. In the far corner, over the picture of Ryan’s mom, he pegged the card onto the makeshift string. He had quite the collection. Just knowing that Ryan had planned it was difficult. He couldn’t understand why he kept trying to reach out. Too many bad things had happened, all at his hand. He didn’t want to mess up another life too, or worse, another family.

They walked to the mail box together. Her little feet were steadier these days; her curls beginning to straighten out. Both strong hands gripped her chubby waist and lifted her to the flap, which she pulled down eagerly. “Now Grandpa will get his Kissmas card, won’t he Daddy, won’t he, cuz I gave him a lots of kisses on it.”

“Yes Sweetie, he will.”

Jesse’s grandpa lay back on the bed. Somehow he felt even more alone today. The ceiling fan flapped the cards from wall to wall, a dancing procession of hope. He didn’t see it. He closed his eyes, and fell asleep.

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This article has been read 782 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 11/14/08
Oh wow. This one is so sad. :( Makes me wonder what "grandpa" did to make him feel like he ruined the family.

From the "meanie grandpa" line, I thought Ryan didn't like him, but the end made me think differently. I'm still trying to decide whether it's really a "conflict or not!" lol
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/16/08
Interesting characters, like most families. Sad for the grandfather and grandson.
Joanne Sher 11/17/08
Excellent descriptions, and you did a wonderful job of creating atmosphere in this piece.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/17/08
Yes, this is sad, but probably not all that unusual. You captured the two year old's actions and speech excellently. It's rather haunting, not knowing what caused the rift, or if it will ever be repaired.
Catrina Bradley 11/17/08
So much emotion in this piece. So much more I want to know. Great writing, and a story that makes me stop and think.
Loren T. Lowery11/19/08
One thing, among many, that I really admire about this piece is that the son did not allow his feelings towards his father affect his daughters. There is something very revealing about this.
Celeste Ammirata11/19/08
Great descriptions of emotions. I like that while Ryan obviously had bad memories of his father, he still respected him as his father to send Christmas Cards. I'd love to read of a reunion and heartfelt conversation between father and son.