Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)
TITLE: A Light That Shines In Winter
By Linda Boulanger
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Only he wasn’t there and no amount of calling would bring him back. Oh, Nicky! How could she make it on her own without him?
Annie had buried her husband that morning; a cold, gray winter’s day. It reminded her of that old, oversized gray sweater she used to wear. She’d used it to try to cover the shame of having been the object of her step-father’s unwanted attention.
She shuddered; unsure if it was from the cold of winter, the loneliness of an empty heart, or the unpleasantness of a childhood gone wrong.
Nicky had saved her in more ways than one. He’d seen beneath the ugly façade she’d worn; trying to make certain people did not notice her. She didn’t want them to see her pain and her shame. Nicky had seen it and had decided to erase it and make her into the beautiful woman he knew lay beneath; the real Angelina.
Annie smiled remembering the first time she’d seen Nicky. Her parents had died and she had moved to the beach town of Camden to work at her aunt’s bookstore. Nicky was a summer regular. She remembered the day he had waltzed into the bookstore looking more beautiful than any man had a right to….yet there was nothing feminine about his beauty. It was born of his uncharacteristically good looks and a light that shown brightly from within him.
And he’d chosen to shine that light upon her. Her! The mousy, dull, gray wallflower; afraid of her own shadow, non-trusting of all, as cold as winter itself, had captured his attention.
She remembered the first time he’d sat close to her. She’d taught piano lessons too back then. It just so happened that had been his summer project…learning to play the piano. Or so they’d all thought. It quickly came to light that she was to be his summer project. Little did he know the challenge that lay before him. Little did she know he would turn out to be the love of her life.
Yet that first time she’d sat beside him on the piano bench, she’d been so wracked with nerves she’d nearly thrown up on him. She was surprised when he returned for a second lesson…and a third, and a fourth…All the while, she thought she was teaching him. And, in reality, she was the one learning to trust and to live and to love.
A sob caught in Annie’s throat. She was so cold. She longed for the warm Camden beach and Nicky’s comforting arms. How many times they had walked hand-in-hand along the water lapping at their bared feet? Always happy, always warm, smiling.
“Mrs. Dawson? Angelina?” The kindly voice interrupted. “It’s time…”
Annie dried here eyes and smiled as brightly as she could. She was preparing to step out before a packed house. Everyone had told her to cancel the engagement but she’d refused. These women needed her as much as she’d needed Nicky. He’d introduced hope into her life and it was her responsibility to see that the light of that hope was never allowed to go out.
“Hello, my friends!” She beamed as she walked out onto the stage and looked out onto the fifty or so women scattered widely about the auditorium. Yes, that was a packed house…for these women; battered, abused, hurting, fearful, not wanting to be near others, yet desperately reaching out for help – searching for a lighted path of hope. Annie, at Nicky’s prodding, had founded Angelina’s Hope; a group created to help women and children who had been abused. Nicky had lit the path of hope for her. Together they’d kept the torch of hope glowing and growing to help so many others.
Winter had seen her husband taken from her. Annie pushed the sorrow away. A new song began to run through her head. Something about a little light of mine and going to let it shine. Nicky had been her light. And through her and their work to bring hope to others, his light would always, always shine; even in the cold darkness of winter.
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