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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)

TITLE: Beautiful Linda
By Sheri Gordon


Linda dipped the blue tortilla chip into the bowl of homemade salsa, shoved it in her mouth, and picked up the yellowed envelope—for the umpteenth time. The dainty cursive writing on the outside, delicately spelling out her name, made Linda’s heart travel north and settle in her throat.

Linda recognized her mother’s handwriting. She had seen it one other time…on a tattered copy of her parents’ marriage license. Linda set the envelope down and picked up the crinkled picture lying next to it. Though sixty-plus years and obvious neglect had severely damaged the photograph, she could still make out her mother’s face smiling down at the small infant wrapped in a blanket. Linda did not know this was her mother from any memory, as she was only two days old in the picture, but rather from the faint writing on the back. Five days after the picture was taken, her mother died.

Abandoned by her father, who blamed Linda for him losing the only woman he said he would ever love, Linda was rotated between reluctant relatives. During her teenage years she tried living with her father and his new wife, but that only ended in more rejection. Eventually, she escaped the emotional abuse by marrying young and starting her own family. Through four children, an alcoholic husband and subsequent divorce, a second marriage, and finding the true love of her life—Jesus Christ—Linda had no contact with her earthly father. She just recently learned that her father had died, and now all she had left of her childhood was this torn photograph and the unopened letter sent to her by a half-sister.

Linda put the tortilla chips back in the cupboard, rinsed out the empty salsa bowl, dried her hands on the kitchen towel adorned with embroidered red chili peppers, and sat down on the barstool to finally open the letter.

March, 1947

My Precious Baby,

The nurse just took you away from me for the night. You are such a beautiful baby. So perfect in every way. I laid here in bed staring at your tiny hands with ten tiny fingers. Then I unwrapped your blanket, even though the nurse told me not to, so that I could touch your chubby little feet and toes. I marvel at the fact that God formed every part of you with His own hands.

My dear baby girl, if you are reading this letter it is because you never got to know me. But remember that I knew you, and I love every inch of you very much. I have named you Linda because Linda means beautiful in Spanish. If anyone tries to tell you that you are ugly and no good, remember that God and I know the truth—you are beautiful in every way, inside and out.

I do not know what story you will be told because your father is very angry at me and at you. But the truth is, my beautiful baby Linda, I have spinal meningitis. The doctors say I don’t have very long to live, and it is a miracle that you were born alive and healthy. Your father cannot deal with a dying wife and a new baby, so he has chosen to leave both of us for another woman. None of this is your fault, Linda, it is his fault for not being enough of a man.

I am praying for God to spare my life every day, but if He chooses to bring me to heaven now, know that the end of my life here on earth is the beginning of my eternal life with Jesus. Your time on earth is just beginning, and I wish I could promise you a peaceful life, but I cannot know what your life is going to be like without a mother or father to love and care for you.

I pray for you continually, little one. I pray that one day you will meet a godly man who will treat you and your children right. And I pray you will come to know your loving Heavenly Father so that when your time on earth ends, you and I will meet again—never to be separated by illness or death.

Welcome to the world.

Love, Mommy

Linda carefully placed the letter back in the envelope and slipped it into her apron pocket. Her husband would be home soon, and Linda wanted to have a welcoming smile and warm supper waiting for him.

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This article has been read 693 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/24/09
Pity she didn't get the letter sooner. How could I not like this story: "I have named you Linda because Linda means beautiful in Spanish. If anyone tries to tell you that you are ugly and no good, remember that God and I know the truth—you are beautiful in every way, inside and out." (lol)
Jan Ackerson 04/27/09
Love the title, love the quiet ending, love the prettiness of the letter, which perfectly matches the theme of the story. Entirely lovely from beginning to end.