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

TITLE: Capsules and Stars
By Debbie Roome


The capsules scatter across the floor, a medical rainbow in green and white. I hurl the container after them as frustration explodes inside me. “It’s so unfair God. I didn’t want to retire at sixty. Couldn’t you have kept these discs from rupturing?” I sink into the chair next to the table, tears stabbing the backs of my eyes. “I loved working with old people. Now I feel like I’m one of them. I can hardly walk and driving is a distant memory.”

Fresh pain surges through raw nerves and I realise I need my capsules. I struggle onto my hands and knees and start sweeping them towards me. “The only thing I can do is pray for people and what good is that?” The heavens remain silent and I continue ranting at God. “My prayers seem so small and inadequate. They might as well be a star in the sky for all the good they’re doing. I’d far rather be helping people physically.”

I drop the capsules into my pocket and claw my way up, using the chair as a support. “Look at me, God. I’m useless.” I dump the pain meds on the table and reach for my glass of water. “I’ve swallowed so many of these things that I feel like one of them.” To illustrate my point, I yank one apart. “Just a dry empty shell that’s full of bitterness.”

For the briefest of moments I consider swallowing the whole lot but I can’t. Not yet. Kerry is coming this afternoon and I’m longing to see her. I shove the capsules back into the container and snap the lid on. “If you’re there, God, show me one good reason why I shouldn’t swallow them all.”

A few hours later, Kerry arrives and puts her arms gently round my neck. “Hello Granny.”

“Hello my darling.”

“I got the best new toy, Granny. Do you want to see?”

“Of course, Kerry. What is it?”

“Mommy bought them at the toy shop at the mall.” She giggles. “But I need warm water to show you how they work.”

She drags a chair to the kitchen sink and together we mix the cold and hot water. “Ok, Granny.” She jumps down. “I’ll go get them.” She comes back with a packet of giant capsules – about four times as big as mine.

“What are those,” I ask. “Sweets?”

Kerry shakes her head. “Watch what happens when I put one in the water.” She plucks a cherry red and sunshine yellow capsule from the bag and drops it into the sink. “It takes a few minutes.”

We stand and watch and after a while, the hard shell starts to soften and expand.

“It’s working!” Kerry exclaims.

A few minutes later, the halves separate and a strange amoebic form appears. “What is it?” I ask.

“Just watch, Granny.”

The object seems to be growing and I put on my glasses so I can see better. It’s a fragment of sponge, spreading, absorbing water, opening like a rose bud.

Kerry scoops it up and presses it into my hand. “This one’s a star.”

I gaze down at the spongy silver shape, infused with glitter and shine.

“You can have it, Granny.”

I smile and nod as pictures float through my mind. I see a hardened shell of a heart being softened by the warmth of God’s love. I see tiny prayers coming from that heart, flashes of silver that unfurl into gleaming stars. I see those stars radiating life as God adds amazing power to them.

Kerry tugs my arm. “Do you like it, Granny?”

I tuck the wet star into my shirt, close to my heart. “It’s beautiful, Kerry. I’m going to keep it in a very safe place.”

As she scampers off to get another capsule, I raise my eyes heavenward, soaking in the glow of God’s grace and mercy. “Thank you,” I whisper. “Thank you for being so patient with a crotchety old woman.”

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Member Comments
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Laury Hubrich 09/17/09
Is fun to see how children can reveal truths to us. Very good story.
Gregory Kane09/19/09
An excellent attention-grabbing opening line.
Charla Diehl 09/19/09
It always warms my heart when God uses children as His messengers. Nice read.
Dolores Stohler09/19/09
Wow! I can relate to this. I, too have a precious granddaughter who daily delights and opens my eyes to fresh wonders seen through the eyes of a little child. Every old person should have a child in thie life.
Catrina Bradley 09/19/09
I love the layers of meaning in this story. It captured my heart - and my attention - all the way to the beautiful ending.
Beth LaBuff 09/21/09
I like many of your word choices and phrases in this. I could see the excitment of the child as they waited. :)