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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The United Kingdom (01/22/09)

TITLE: Worth Every Pound
By Margaret Gass


They had never been really close, at least not close like Marcy thought sisters ought to be, especially since Marcy and Joyce were just barely a year apart in age. When they were younger, they had played together in the room that they shared, usually quite happily. Then came junior high, new friends, cliques, and masking tape down the center of the room whenever Joyce got mad at Marcy. “You can’t come on my side!” This maneuver never bothered Marcy--the dirty clothes basket was on Joyce’s side, but the door was on Marcy’s--so after deliberately “missing” the basket, Marcy would simply leave the room after “reminding” Joyce about the door.

High school was a little better. At school, they didn’t speak, especially in classes they had together. This was Joyce’s idea…she even asked Marcy to drop her off before entering the parking lot. Marcy refused. “If you don’t want to be seen with me, you are welcome to wait in the rain for the bus.” At home, however, Marcy and Joyce did homework together, shared the chores, and presented a united front when needed with their mother. Every now and then they had real conversations. But they weren’t close.

College brought a few letters and a few visits. The letters increased when Joyce spent a year in Europe, perhaps because Marcy was a more faithful letter-writer than anyone in their family. Joyce missed Marcy’s graduation because she wasn’t home from her trip, but she was there for the birth of her niece Hannah a few years later. Marcy was Joyce’s Matron of Honor. But their lives were headed in different directions, and it seemed to Marcy that Joyce was okay with that.

Marcy wasn’t. So when Joyce and her husband Jeff moved to London, Marcy made an extra effort to keep in touch. She made phone calls that stretched her budget to make sure that her daughter knew Aunt Joyce and Uncle Jeff loved her. She collected the post cards Joyce sent, and included information about England and Scotland into her lessons for Hannah, who was home schooled.

Three years had passed since Joyce and Jeff had moved to London. Their first apartment had overlooked Ascot Downs, and the photos taken from their balcony could have been still shots from MY FAIR LADY. Their first home had been outside Stratford, and yet they had visited the birthplace of the Bard just once, as Joyce did not share Marcy’s love of all things Shakespeare. Joyce had been all over England, with and without Jeff, whose job kept him quite busy. She sent Hannah TELLING TIME WITH THOMAS, since Hannah loved the little blue train engine, a coat of arms, and “rubbers” from Stonehenge--although Hannah never actually used those erasers for her schoolwork--she thought they were too pretty. Joyce tried to describe what it was like to see the flowers piled higher than she was tall for Princess Diana at her death, but couldn’t. She said that she was keenly aware that she was American in those sad weeks, because she really didn’t understand the connection her neighbors felt to Diana. Marcy knew that was because Joyce didn’t allow herself to connect with anybody, but said nothing.

Joyce and Jeff then moved to Edinburgh, Scotland. Joyce gave birth to her first child last week, a beautiful, eleven-pound baby named Kelci Jean. Mom had been there for the birth, and brought pictures home to Marcy, but Marcy found herself longing to see Joyce. She had never felt so far away from her little sister. Marcy sighed, and continued to work on her taxes, due in just a few days. The ringing of the telephone startled her, and Marcy rushed to answer it before it woke Hannah from her afternoon nap.

To her surprise, the caller was Joyce, and she had a question for Marcy. “How do you change a nappie?”

“A what?” Marcy asked. “I don’t know.” Joyce then asked how to change Kelci’s diaper. “Oh, that I know,” and told her. “But why are you asking me? Isn’t there someone there who can help you? This is a rather expensive way to learn!” Joyce burst into tears and said something about not wanting to ask a stranger…she wanted to ask her big sister. It was Marcy’s turn to cry. For the first time, she felt close to Joyce. Marcy was in the States, and Joyce was in the UK, but both sisters were united. The call was worth every pound.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Bach 01/29/09
So many ways to see a "united" kingdom here. What a creative mind to come up with this! Very good.
Jan Ackerson 01/30/09
I love the gradual re-shaping of their relationship--very sweet.

It's hard to tell a story that spans so many years in 750 words. I wonder if it'd have more "show, not tell" in it if you just told the story from Scotland and later, and included more dialogue and other details of characterization to help us know the women better as individuals.

Love the title, and I always get a lump in my throat when a story features reconciliation.
Connie Dixon01/30/09
It's hard to imagine sisters not enjoying each other but it happens and it is so amazing when they finally realize what they have missed. Thanks for showing us the joy of making things right.
Karlene Jacobsen02/03/09
So much in so little time. I liked the relationship tension and hope of restoration.