Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
By Jessica Boling
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The corners of Samantha’s mouth twitched into a smile as she turned her attention to nearer surroundings. In the summer, a flower garden thrived beneath the windows of the cottage. Just now it was showing signs of life but had not reached its colorful climax.
Samantha strolled slowly between the budding rose bushes and the soft-smelling bed of lavender. As she walked, a man came around the corner of the cottage. Tall and thin, his chiseled face reflected the serenity of the surrounding countryside. His hands were worn and scarred from years of toil in the garden. Samantha’s smile deepened as he approached.
They talked for some time, as they always did. Samantha attempted to describe her recent frustrations and fears, but their importance seemed to melt away whenever she looked into the gardener’s peace-filled eyes. As they walked along, she noticed with joy that the daffodils were blooming. He knelt to pick her one. Lifting it to her face, Samantha savored the visual delight of its fiery yellow petals spread wide to the sun.
Still clutching the daffodil, Samantha followed the gardener to a pair of wicker chairs near the sprouting crocus bed. They sat down, taking deep breaths of the delicious air and reveling in the peaceful silence. Samantha could think of a few more things to tell him about, but not now. She wanted to enjoy this moment – the rustle of grass and plants in the breeze, the cheerful cry of birds, and his presence. She closed her eyes.
“Samantha, aren’t you supposed to be working on those spreadsheets?”
Samantha snapped her eyes open and forced them to focus on the woman’s face. Her co-worker, Mindy. Spreadsheets. Data entry. Work.
“I’m sorry.” Samantha turned back to the computer and immediately began entering data from a handwritten page on her desk. “I wasn’t really asleep. Just –“
“Daydreaming?” Mindy smiled wearily. “I don’t blame you.” She sent a meaningful glanced toward the office window, from which only a brick wall and a strip of grey sky were visible. “An imaginary escape is better than no escape.”
Samantha nodded, but thought with a slight smile that her place of retreat was more real than imaginary.
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