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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: Paper Airplanes
By dub W


A paper airplane landed on Nan’s desk breaking her concentration.

Nan realized that she was staring at Leonard Schmidt; in fifteen minutes he would turn off his computer for the last time. All of his personal belonging were long ago packed and placed in the trunk of his car; and now he was sitting in his cubicle shaking hands with well-wishers as they walked by. Leonard had been on the copy desk when Nan arrived, and from the speeches made during his retirement party, she noted that he had been doing the same job for 40 years. He had trained her, just as he had trained a dozen or so others at the Herald Picayune, a local newspaper competing in New Orleans.

Leonard walked over to Nan. “Hey kid, gonna miss me?” He teased.

Nan tossed the paper airplane in the wastebasket. “You have got to be kidding, miss the person who pushed me up the ladder, who taught me everything to do to keep out of trouble, and the one who let me cry on his shoulder when I fouled up. Naw, I won’t miss you a bit.” Nan felt a tear welling up in her eye and retrieved a tissue from her desk.

“Well, since you came I haven’t had a day of peace.” Leonard’s twinkle in his eye betrayed his teasing.

Nan clicked her computer and a new screen appeared. She pretended to look at. “Wanna help on a wild story?”

Leonard laughed. “The only wild story I want to work on is driving down Canal Street on my way to a golf course in La Place.” Leonard moved down the row of offices chatting with workers as he went.

Cheryl plodded over to Nan’s desk. “I guess he is really leaving.”

“Yeah, I tried to talk him out of it the other day. We can’t replace him. Lee said, ‘no new hires.’”

Cheryl leaned over and whispered ,”they aren’t even going to move anyone up to his cube.”

“Wow, I didn’t know that. I thought the company might move one of the outside people up.” Nan tapped her mouse. “That means you and I will have to copy edit all the sports and feature stuff. Man.”

“Yeppers.” Cheryl patted Nan on the shoulder. “You’ll love wedding and birth announcements.”

“How about Church announcements?”

“Yeah, you get those too.” Cheryl plodded away.

“Leonard, come back,” Nan cried.

Another airplane landed on Nan’s desk and she stood to find the culprit, but the office was clearing out.

“Hey, Nan. Wanna cup?” Leonard stood grinning by the elevator; in his hands was a folded airplane.

“Okay Leonard, I’ll meet you down stairs.” She quickly closed down her computer turned off her light and rushed to the elevator. Leonard was waiting when the door opened. Minutes later they were sitting at a small café on the edge of the Quarter.

“Nan, I know that leaving now may seem like a hardship on the paper,” Leonard began, “but, the needs of the church are greater right now, and I can be of service.”

“You’re going to write for the church?”

“No, Nan,” Leonard chuckled. “But, I am going to take over some of the visitation, head up a prayer ministry, and be an unofficial assistant pastor.

“Well, that’s cool, but …” she didn’t finish.

“The Lord doesn’t ask us to stop working for him. I have the ability to serve Him full time now, and yes, even on the golf course.”

Nan sipped her coffee. “I guess I understand.”

“We have congregation scattered still, the storm moved good people long distances, I am going to help find them, and minister to the ones we can find.”

“Wow, Leonard, that’s a huge undertaking. “

“I call it God’s retirement plan.” Leonard took a folded paper airplane from his jacket pocket and handed to Nan.

Nan smiled, “Yeah, the benefits are great.”

“Amen to that.”

The airplane sailed across the courtyard.

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This article has been read 649 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allen Stark09/17/09
Great article. Having worked as a reporter, I was able to identify with the co-workers being left with copy they had not been used to handeling. I also liked the direction the conversation took, telling us about God's retirement plan.
Dan Blankenship 09/17/09
Very nice...and it is always tough to see good workers leave the workplace.

Keep writing!!!

May God bless.

Dan Blankenship

c clemons09/19/09
Not sure how the title connects with the story. I can think several ways it could be woven into the story but I would like you to have done it.
Lisa Johnson09/21/09
I kept waiting for Nan to open one of the airplanes and find a special message just for her...
Beth LaBuff 09/22/09
The baton is passed. With your MC's retirement, in the post-Katrina New Orleans, his real ministry could begin, starting with rounding up the lost sheep of the congregation. Great story!
Rachel Phelps09/23/09
I liked this story a lot. Some of the dialogue toward the end felt a little stiff and lost some of the rhythm of the rest of the story, but overall, excellent!
Catrina Bradley 09/23/09
The retiree volunteers keep our church going - great story. I'm not sure I've figured out the significance of the paper airplane but I like how it kept "sailing" into the story. ;)