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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Summer (the season) (07/09/09)

TITLE: Summer Son
By Arlene Showalter
07/16/09


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North Carolina
Aug 13, 1893

“Mon Dieu,” Monsieur Guigou breathed, pushing himself to an upright position. He swiped a weary hand at the cloying sweat trickling from his face and neck. “It’s impossible.”

A groan escaped his lips as he sought to knead out the knots bunched in his back. His whole body ached from countless hours bent over the rock-littered soil.

Guigou straightened his young shoulders, bowed by work and worry, to scan the mountains in the distant horizon, each cloaked in a delicate blue hue. Not our beloved Cottian Alps, but beautiful nevertheless, he allowed in his heart.

“I will lift up mine eyes to the hills,” he muttered in a trembling voice. “From whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord.”

Tears of defeat sprang from Guigou’s eyes, mingling with the sweat on his cheeks before completing its journey to the dust. He stooped to run a finger through the moisture and dirt. Soon he had a rude paste balled in his hands.

Our Lord Jesus used this to make a blind man see, he mused while rolling the ball around and around. “Lord, I need to see. I need to know why you preserved our people through years of persecution and death, only to face starvation in a free land. Why?” he repeated as he chopped his worn heel into the red earth. “What can possibly grow here?”

The silent land grew dark as the sun began its nightly drop. Guigou sighed and turned for home.

“Home,” he snorted. Not the sturdy stone homes of our beloved Alps. No, just rough cut boards, hastily thrown together into a shack that greedily hordes this awful, damp heat. Our stone houses kept us so cool in summer, so snug in winter,” he continued bitterly.

Guigou’s thoughts flew east—flying farther and faster with each step he took. Back to the valley where his people had lived and hidden for 1000 years. He found himself perched on his grandpa’s knees.

“Never forget who you are, Little Jean,” Grandpa had said. His gnarled hand caressed Jean’s baby cheek. “Never forget where you come from or who you belong to,” Grandpa continued. You are a Waldensian. We have lived and died for our faith. My mama and papa died for the faith when I was just your age.” Grandpa stopped to wipe tears from his aged eyes. “I never knew them,” he whispered. “I memorized the entire New Testament in their honor.”

“The persecutions are over, Little One,” he continued. “But you must never forget. Hide God’s Word deep in your heart where no man can rip it from you.”

The end of persecution meant the people stopped dying at soldiers’ hands. Soon, they ran out of needed land to raise their thriving families. Guigou and his wife volunteered to come to America with a handful of others.

Guigou heard voices as stepped across the rough porch floor. Fear pounded through his veins as he threw open the door. His eyes rested on his wife, lying in their one bed.

“Catherine!” he cried, rushing to her side. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, mon Chérie,” she returned, smiling. “Only that you are a papa.”

“A papa?” Guigou scanned the cramped room. A neighbor woman stood nearby. His confused eyes sought Catherine’s again.

“Come, Jean,” Catherine invited. “Meet your son.” She pulled back her blanket. Guigou stared at the tiny human bundle tucked by her side.

“You can touch him,” Catherine laughed. “He won’t break. He’s another sturdy Waldensian!”

Guigou gathered the sleeping infant in his arms. “My son,” he spoke with wonder. Carefully he picked up a baby fist and uncurled its fingers. Next, he cradled one small foot. “My son,” he repeated.

Joy surged through Guigou’s being, draining away all former discouragement. “The LORD is thy keeper…the sun shall not smite thee…the LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” *

“Catherine! Has not God promised his everlasting love and presence to us?” Guigou lifted his son high, presenting him to his God. “I praise you, mon Dieu, for our son, the first baby born to your people in this new land. I receive this visible sign of your faithfulness. I repent of my doubt. Merci. Merci.”


Portions of Psalm 121


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Member Comments
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Sara Harricharan 07/18/09
Love the touches of culture in here and I'm glad that he was able to have a good thing happen for him. Your title fits this piece well. The ending is good!
Phee Paradise 07/21/09
I was a little confused in the first few paragraphs. The mood seemed to shift between hopelessness and hope. But after that it was clear and you used the MC's musings well to tell the story.