Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Summer (the season) (07/09/09)
TITLE: A Lightening Bug's Lesson
By Bryan Ridenour
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“Clarice,” warbled Aunt May, straddling puddles, hands on hips. “Are you scrubbing or swimming? Evening shadows are falling…”
Clarice blew strands of loose hair from her eyes. “I’m sorry, Aunt May. I’ll clean up.”
“You’d better… Hurry along on the floor, then I need you to fetch some preserves from the cellar.”
"But I was wanting to go to the swimming hole before nightfall," she whined.
“You know I won’t go stumbling in the dark with spiders, and I’m craving blackberry preserves. After that, I want you to pick some fresh greens.”
Clarice scrubbed angrily. Once the wood floor gleamed, she grabbed a lantern and dashed outdoors. She tugged on the cellar handle and the door swung open, smacking loudly on the ground. A yawning hole in the earth, now awaited a visitor. Clarice slipped into the cellar quietly, not wanting to alert spiders and other creepy crawlies of her invasion. The lantern cast eerie shadows in the dank but refreshingly cool atmosphere, illuminating masterfully designed webs standing ready to entangle unsuspecting insects…or people. Clarice scanned the shelves and snatched the preserves.
“Clarice,” called Aunt May, peering from the top of the cellar steps, “did you get lost?”
Clarice emerged from the cellar, jar in hand.
“Clarice, what were you doing? I didn’t send you down there to waste time.”
“I know, Aunt May. I was dodging cobwebs. Here,” she offered the jar of blackberry goodness.
“Ewww, cobwebs,” Aunt May shivered. She grabbed the jam and huffed back into the house. “Don’t forget about the greens,” she called.
Clarice tramped to the fencerow, squinting as dusk quietly turned to night. Greens grew wildly there creeping up the rustic wooden posts. After selecting a basketful, she trudged to the house, worn from a day’s hard work.
“Clarice, come join me,” called granny from the porch.
Clarice walked up the porch steps and knelt down beside her grandmother who rocked gently, the chair’s creaking cadence joining the chorus of crickets and cicadas.
“You see the fireflies, dear?” Granny asked.
Clarice watched tiny lights fade on and off, twinkling like little stars in her own front yard.
“When are they most beautiful?” Granny asked.
“That’s easy, Granny. When their lights are shining.”
Granny slowed her rocking and leaned forward, softly caressing Clarice’s cheek.
“I know you’re frustrated with your Auntie, dear, but keep letting your light shine.”
Clarice remained still, but tears threatened to gush down her cheeks.
“But she treats me like a slave,” the words caused the dam to burst, and tears streamed freely.
“Since your parents passed, she’s done her best to teach you hard work. She never was able to have children of her own. Even though she has a different way of showing it, she loves you child. Consider your work as serving, not slaving.”
Clarice said nothing.
“Your Aunt, does not know Jesus, and if you work without complaining and sighing, your Heavenly Father will bless you and, Jesus will shine from your life. When we let Jesus shine, we are most beautiful.”
Clarice managed a weak smile. “I understand Granny, but it’s just so hard.”
“I didn’t say it was easy…”
Clarice stood to her feet and pecked her grandmother lightly on the cheek. “Thanks, Granny, I’ll try.”
Granny watched Clarice step inside the house with her basket of greens. “Here they are,” Aunt May,” she called. “Can I do anything else for you?”
Granny, not hearing the response, smiled. Now that’s beautiful, she thought.
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