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

TITLE: Butterflies Dancing
By Kimberly Russell


Samantha quivered with excitement. All the hard work had finally paid off. The reward? Not just a job, but an actual career. Her future. Shiny new ID card in hand, she headed to the government complex where she would begin her first day as a civil servant.

Navigating thick traffic, she thought about the interminable hiring process that resulted in a timecard with her name on it. Aptitude tests, a physical, pre-employment paperwork-the steps were endless but oh so worth it.

The fact that the position was only part time did not deter her in the least. She would still be making twice as much as her old job and more importantly, insurance was included. A luxury she'd never been able to afford, the coverage would mean no more worries. She could breathe a little easier.

Sam's mind strained and anxiety began to seep in. What if she wasn't really qualified? Maybe no one would like her...

If only Grammy were here-the ultimate cheerleader.

No, she thought, you need to stop it, right now...do not give in to this. Taking a deep breath, she redoubled her efforts to fight the fears that were trying to distract her. No room for insecurity today.

Samantha thought about how proud her grandmother would be and got a little misty eyed. The legacy would live on: Grammy had retired from the very same building that Sam was walking into.

Skipping up the steps, she noticed several feathery butterflies dancing in the morning sun, brilliant colors swirling. How nice-a welcoming committee! With a giggle, she stepped into her new life.

Trying not to smirk at the cheap ten-year service pin, Samantha thanked her supervisor and wandered back to her office, not really in any hurry. A frown appeared as she wondered where the years had gone.

At the beginning, there had been some rough times. Her co-workers seemed to be from another planet, shattering her ideals. Lack of ethics, questionable morals, and filthy talk was all common practice. The party-time atmosphere often made work seem like an afterthought.

At first she tried to fit in but most of their antics were so foreign, she finally withdrew into lonely solitude. At least I've given them material to gossip about, she thought wryly. As much as she tried to ignore them, their unkind words often had a way of reaching her ears...maybe that was the intent.

Grammy's voice whispered through the years...just remember, Samantha: God is your boss. He's the only one you need to please...

Change is always hard, Sam thought, but why am I so anxious?

I need a new challenge, she argued, a fresh perspective and definitely, a new attitude. After all, it was a promotion and she could use the money. The extra income would offset the loss from unpaid furlough days they were being forced to take.

Who was she trying to kid? She could justify with all kinds of excuses and disregard the pricking of her conscience but the fact still remained: she was running away.

Time had taken a toll, her attitude jaded. Complacency replaced the work ethic she had treasured and compromised by participating in the very things she detested the most. Much to her despair, she finally fit in. She had become someone she didn't even know. And worse, someone she disliked-immensely.

Yes, it was time for a fresh start. Maybe she could find the old Samantha that had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle. Running away from her problems may not be the answer but she certainly hoped the grass would be greener on the other side...

Bracing against tears, Samantha stared at the room bursting with family, friends, and co-workers yelling "Happy Retirement". A beautiful cake surrounded by gifts announced the occasion as she choked back emotions just waiting to roller coaster.

Her last day. Hard to believe.

The party was lovely but overwhelming and Sam soon felt the need for solitude. Stepped out into the afternoon sunlight, she reflected on her career, years scrolling through her mind. There had been many ups and downs but overall, it had been a wonderful experience. Accomplishments, promotions, financial security-she had succeeded, mission accomplished.

Glancing up, she whispered, "I hope I made you proud." Somehow she knew, Grammy was pleased.

Nearby, the butterflies danced.

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Member Comments
Member Date
c clemons09/18/09
Really enjoyed this, it was very relatable. Good writing.
Beth LaBuff 09/22/09
I liked your progression of thoughts during the different decades. Your ending made me glad that she had no regrets and was happy where her life had taken her. Your title related well to your story.
Lisa Johnson09/25/09
There's something " to thine own self be true"-ish about this story... I rather liked the repetition of the grandmother's influence, and the dancing butterflies.
Allen Stark09/26/09
Kathryn, You captured the journey quite well, in fact so well it brought back memories I had forgotten. Nice job.