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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

TITLE: Pull Her Out
By Noreen Ophoff
05/06/09


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Cleary was confined to bed for a month of complete rest. The old discouragement spread through her as if honey was seeping into every pore. Her doctor said she had a viral infection in addition to bronchitis.
Movies and books would get her to wellness again, but she had travelled this road too frequently and dreaded the thought of it again. Four months ago a sting from a bee brought on all the symptoms of Lyme Disease. That condescending doctor has asked if she knew the difference between a tic and a bee. A former farm girl, she knew the difference. She never went to that physician again. She needed someone who listened to her and had compassion.

Kindness and compassion were important to Cleary. They had always been dear to her. As a child she was often teased about her name. Her mother's name was Echo, and Cleary was better than that. She has been given the name for her clear blue eyes at birth. Sometimes she longed for a simple name like Jane or Mary, but as she grew to adulthood, people always remembered her. It set her apart.

Illnesses set her apart now. Cancelling a lunch date with her friend, Jan, she promised to call in six weeks. The doctor said a month of bed-rest, but often it actually took longer. She called Shirley at the Library to tell her she wouldn't be helping the Friends of the Library with the quarterly book and bake sale. She was disgusted with her body for catching another bug. It always took her a few days to accept the bed-rest sentence. It seemed like prison, although with a movie or two a day she managed to keep her sanity. Books became her escape from the reality of confinement; mysteries, humor and history were the mainstays. Prayer was a constant companion too, but she was a woman who was usually robust, and this cramped her style.

On Monday of the second week, Cleary answered a timid knock on her door from a UPS deliveryman. She signed for the box wonderingly as she hadn't ordered anything. Ripping open the tape with kitchen shears, she uncovered a beautiful cardboard box printed with pansies. Within it were gourmet cookies and candies, an inspirational book of quotations and a little paperweight of a dragon fly. The card was a note of encouragement from Jan, her dear friend.

Cleary's depression lifted. Someone really cared about her, enough to put the care into action, to express it with a surprise like this. Tears filled her eyes, her heart expanded. She unwrapped the buttermints and ate them all while eyeing the molasses cookies. The book contained quotes from Ruth Peale, Sue Monk Kidd and other memorable women. Sweet friend, Jan, knew her love of dragonflies too.

Why had she sunk into discouragement? She wasn't alone in this! It wasn't a jail cell, it was her own home with needlepoint works she had made in good times---favorite phrases, and sunsets over water. She had pictures of loved ones to remind her of happy times together. She just had to keep reminding herself when she was stuck in discouragement she needed to grasp onto something, or someone, positive, to pull her out.


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Beth LaBuff 05/11/09
Your sentence, "A former farm girl, she knew the difference." struck a chord with me. :) Your MC's frustration over her illness came through in your writing. What a friend Jan was.. I enjoyed reading of the packages contents.