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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)

TITLE: Voice of the Turtledove
By Patricia Turner


I stare out of my window at low grey-bellied clouds threatening rain. I switch off the weather radio. Storms are in the forecast.

Where are you Lord?

Hugging my angora sweater tighter, I wander into the kitchen for a glass of water. I peek into the pantry and the refrigerator, but food doesn’t interest me. Opening a drawer I look at the pills inside and close it again.

Max, my collie, looks longingly at the door and goes to stand by his leash. I give him a wan smile and sit down again to stare out of the window. He comes over to me and puts his nose on my knee, looking up at me with a knowing, sympathetic look, his tail gently wagging.

Robert’s picture is on the table beside my chair. He’s smiling at me, that little half mocking smile that I remember falling in love with the first time we met. I reach over and turn the picture face down, sobbing. The grief is still just too fresh.

Lord, it’s just too hard.

After a while I wander again to the kitchen and open the drawer, this time reaching in to pick up the pill bottle and read its label. I’ve seen the warnings on TV. I drop the container back into the drawer even as that feeling I call “brain fog” comes over me again.

My counselor says to write in my journal. I take it out of the desk and sit again in front of the window. No words come to mind. I stare out of the window again.

Max drops onto the rug beside me with a sigh of resignation. He’s grieving too. Max was really Robert’s dog. Now, no one walks him or throws a ball. But Max is patient. He knows I just need time.

Rise up, my love, my fair one.
And, come away.

Suddenly Max is on his feet, his tail wagging vigorously now. I’m stirred from my drowsiness by a sharp bark.

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is gone…
The voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Standing, I peer out at what appears to be a dove attempting to fight off two other birds; one a mockingbird, the other another dove.

I walk to the front door and open it. A breeze sweeps into the room and the fragrance of the honeysuckle we’d planted next to the front walk wafts in gently caressing my senses. Max dashes out, barking.

As the other two birds flee, the valiant dove turns bravely to face the barking dog. Max stops, confused. He takes a few tentative steps toward the bird. It moves sideways, dragging a wing that seems to be injured.

“Max, come boy.” Realizing it’s the phrase Robert always used, I brush back a tear. Then a smile softens my countenance as hope begins to break through the fog. I just stand in the doorway, looking at the wounded bird. A ray of light slants through the clouds. I look up and see a patch of blue sky.

The dove slowly hobbles towards me. But as I approach him, he uses his one good wing to propel himself half-flying away.

Reaching the street I’m intent on the bird. I haven’t been outside for a long while.

“Good morning Amanda. It’s good to see you out and about again.” It’s my neighbor, Maris Johnson, also a widow. Guiltily, I wave, flashing a quick smile, retreating again to the safety of the front door. Out of the corner of my eye I see the dove stop moving, calmly watching me.

Maris’ laugh is musical and infectious. “That dove certainly has you in his sights.”

“Something’s happened to its wing.” I venture tentatively. Max’s feathery tail fans my leg.

Maris starts toward the bird, which suddenly takes flight, winging over the roof of a nearby house.

“Miraculous healing.” She laughs again pleasantly.

On impulse, I hear myself saying “Would you drop over for dinner tonight?”

“Yes, of course”, she responds.

Musing on the odd occurrence with the dove as I reenter the kitchen, I pick up Robert’s bible from the counter and open it to read the second chapter of Song of Solomon.

Removing the pills from the drawer I drop them in the trash without hesitation.

“Come on Max! Let’s go for a walk down to the park boy.” The delighted dog and I dance as I grab his leash and ball and head for the door.

Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) NKJV
Chapter 2 10:13
10 My beloved spoke, and said to me:
“Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away.
11 For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up my love, my fair one,
And come away!

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This article has been read 651 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bryan Ridenour04/30/09
Wonderful entry of restored hope. Nicely done.
Seema Bagai 04/30/09
Excellent story. I felt like I was beside the MC watching the story unfold and experiencing the emotions with her.
Charla Diehl 05/02/09
Beautiful insight to a grieving heart and how the Lord helps one heal. I loved Max and the part this devoted pet played in your story. I hope your encouraging message is shared with other grieving souls--possibly at your own church.
Marilyn Schnepp 05/02/09
Oh, what an awesome and beautifully written entry! So simple, and yet so magnificently done. I loved it! Everything, from the boredom to the pills, from Max to the turtledove, and from the grief to the awakening of a new life was perfectly expressed and utterly captivating to this reader. Great job! ...and let me repeat myself, I LOVED IT!
Marilyn Schnepp 05/02/09
Oops! I forgot something... Solomon! His words were the icing on the cake. (*.*)!
Shelley Ledfors 05/04/09
This is incredibly beautiful, and so well done. Excellent work!
Lollie Hofer05/05/09
Beautifully written. Instead of telling us she's depressed, you showed it by her actions (something I'm STILL trying to figure out how to do). I need to use this story as a good reference point as to how to "show" and not "tell." I was indeed there with your MC feeling her despair, her pain and her hope. Your story fit the theme for the week quite well. Well done!
Eliza Evans 05/06/09
This is beautiful. Love the biblical references.
As one commenter said -- You did a GREAT job of show vs tell. Very nicely done.
Perfect title, too. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/06/09
Your beautiful story of renewed hope is one of my favorites this week.
Betty Castleberry05/06/09
I love the symbolism you used. I had a clear picture of the birds, and especially the "injured" dove. You tied scripture in very nicely.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/06/09
Simply beautiful. What a message of hope through the storm.
Beckie Stewart05/06/09
What tender story handling a sensitive topic of losing a spouse and having to move on eventually. Neat how the Lord is there to help them move on in His timing.