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

TITLE: Flying Forward
By Eileen Knowles


Lisa stood staring at the pencil marks on the door frame of Liam’s bedroom. It had been years since they had kept track of height on an annual basis, but the memory was as fresh and clear as the eight hour round trip drive to the state University earlier in the day. Okay, now Liam, stand up real straight. Let’s see how much you’ve grown this year. No, sweetie, not on your tiptoes, put your feet flat on the ground. Wow… two whole inches!

Lisa closed her eyes, breathed in deeply and slowly exhaled, still feeling slightly numb. Friends had warned her this day would be difficult, but she still was not prepared for it. Her eyes were still tired from all the tears on the ride home. Rachel and Paul had already left home, Rachel two years ago and Paul three years before that. Liam was her youngest. For the past three months, Lisa had been giving herself little pep talks. It’s only four hours away. He’s been away from home before… summer camps, class trips, even a two week mission’s trip with the church youth group. It would just be for slightly longer intervals now.

Despite all the internal motivational talks, nothing had prepared her for the dorm room goodbye. It was then that it suddenly hit Lisa and became painfully real. The phrase “it hit me like a ton of bricks” must have been coined by a parent on the day they had to deliver their college bound child to their new college home. How could this day be here already?

Lisa walked across the bedroom to the bookshelf and ran her hand down the smooth side. Liam was slightly disappointed when he found out that his dorm room would be too small for him to bring his bookshelf. He had built it during his freshman year in high school. When Liam was younger, he and his dad loved working together on wood projects out in the garage. First, it was little projects like the breadbox which still sat on the kitchen counter. The handle was very noticeably off-center and still made Lisa smile every time she reached in to grab a loaf of bread.

The numerous bird houses came next. There had been a time when all the neighbors on their block owned a little house personally Designed by Liam. Lisa still received so much enjoyment from hers. Many spring mornings had been spent sitting on the back porch watching the momma bluebird make countless trips back and forth to the wooden shelter carrying nourishment for her squawking little ones. One year, Lisa even got to witness the momentous occasion when one by one the babies would take flight and brave the big new world surrounding them.

Lisa took a seat on the edge of her son’s bed and looked at all the books crammed into the bookshelf. As much as Liam loved to build things, his real passion had always been reading books and writing stories. So, it did not come as a big surprise to Lisa when Liam announced he planned on majoring in English. Lisa remembered smiling at his decision. It had always been one of her passions as well.

In fact, after high school, Lisa entertained the idea of going to college and studying English. But, she and Greg had been high school sweethearts and were eager to graduate, get married and start a family together. Lisa never regretted her decision to pursue family and married life. She cherished the past 26 years. Being a wife and a mother had given her so much joy. Yes, there had been challenges as well, but the rewards always seemed to outweigh the seasons of difficulty. But, every now and then, a certain thought would cross Lisa’s mind.…what if she had pursued her passion and gone to college? I guess it was this occasional nagging question over the years that prompted her to drive across town last month and visit the community college. Courses in creative writing were being offered three mornings a week.

Lisa smiled. What a weird sensation to feel sadness, apprehension and excitement all at the same time. Her life was changing, a new chapter was beginning. But, one important lesson Lisa had learned over the years was that the joy was found in the journey. There was a whole world out there. It was time, time for this momma bird to stretch out her wings and fly.

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This article has been read 452 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke09/17/09

You did a nice job unfolding the tender thoughts of the MC in your story.
One small 'trip up' for me was the introduction of another voice? When you use the phrase "I guess". suddenly it caused a shift in POV for me.
still a sweet story and one I am sure a lot of moms can related to.
Allen Stark09/17/09
I liked the direction your story took. I especially liked the phrase, "joy was found in the journey." As long as there is joy, there will be more to come.
c clemons09/20/09
A little repetitious with "lisa smiled" Wished the MC would have taken a lesson from the momma bird, you nuture them then let them go. It is the cycle of life. Hence the subject "empty nest". Glad she finally got it at the end.
Lisa Johnson09/21/09
I liked that your MC was finally going to pursue the dreams she had put on hold while having her family. Just because the nest is empty does not mean life has to stop...or be boring.
Shilo Goodson09/22/09
This was a story that drew me in quickly. Now, I just want to know how well Lisa's creative writing class goes.
Beth LaBuff 09/23/09
I enjoyed the look through Lisa's eyes and especially the turn your ending took. :)
Pamela Calhoun09/23/09
I like this. Good job of balancing the sadness and excitement of an empty nest.