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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)

TITLE: Gracie's Fly-Up
By Sheri Gordon


Gracie perches on the edge of the folding chair, swinging her legs back and forth, trying to keep her white mary janes from brushing the metal crossbar. She sits with her hands underneath her thighs because she does not like the feel of the cold steel against her bare legs.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats.”

Gracie looks up to see her Blue Bird leader, Mrs. Smalley, standing at the front of the auditorium.

“This is a big night for your daughters, and I am glad you could be here to celebrate their fly-up to Camp Fire Girls. And my little Blue Birds, you all look quite lovely tonight.”

Gracie smiles, smooths her blue skirt down over her legs, and checks the buttons of her new white blouse. She knows her blouse needs to be buttoned to the top so that her new red scarf will look just right when it is placed around her neck. Her best friend, Annabelle, sits beside Gracie. The two girls glance at each other and giggle with nine-year old anticipation.

“I am very proud of what these young ladies have accomplished over the past two years. The Camp Fire Girl slogan is ‘give service,’ and your daughters have worked hard to put that into practice. For example, we made sock puppets to take to the sick boys and girls at Children’s Hospital. We visited the animal shelter to learn how to take care of our pets. And we learned how to make our beds and keep our rooms neat, without having to be asked by mom and dad.” Barely-muffled snickers emanate from the parents’ side of the auditorium.

Gracie peers over her shoulder to where her mom is sitting. On her mom’s right is Gracie’s little sister. On her mom’s left is an empty chair.

“While tonight is an exciting time for your daughters, I must say that I am a little sad, too, because after tonight’s fly-up, these young ladies will no longer be my little Blue Birds.” Mrs. Smalley dabs at her eyes with a white tissue before continuing. “I have been the Lakeview Blue Bird leader for thirty-seven years, and this may be the best bunch of Blue Birds I have ever had the pleasure of leading.”

Slight applause is heard from the parents’ section, while the Blue Birds begin showing signs of antsiness on the hard chairs.

“Without further ado, let’s commence with the ceremony. Girls, pay attention. Hands. Legs.”

Fourteen Blue Birds simultaneously fold their hands in their laps and cross their legs at the ankles…which proves to be a bit tricky with their little legs dangling from the edge of adult-size folding chairs.

“When I call your name, go get your dad and bring him to the front. Dads, I will hand you a Camp Fire pin and scarf. Remove the Blue Bird pin from your daughter’s blouse and pin on the Camp Fire pin. I have some tissues in case you stick yourself.” Knowing snickers are heard from the mothers.

“After you secure the pin, tie the scarf around your daughter’s neck—but not too tight, we don’t want to choke her.” More laughter from the mothers.

“Okay. Here we go. Annabelle.”

Annabelle walks her dad to the front of the room and beams as she receives her new pin and red scarf. Gracie knows she will be called after Felicia…Mrs. Smalley always goes in alphabetical order.


Gracie lowers her head and peers sideways toward her mom.


Gracie slowly stands up and turns to look. The seat beside her mom is still empty, just like she knew it would be. Gracie looks back at Mrs. Smalley and shakes her head.

“What’s wrong, Gracie?” Mrs. Smalley asks while covering the microphone.

“I can’t fly up.”

“Why not, honey?”

“My dad’s not here. He said he would try to be here, but he works a lot and has to miss my stuff sometimes.”

“It’s okay, Gracie. You can bring your mom up.”

“Will my fly-up still count?”

“Yes, Gracie, your fly-up will still count.”


“Grace, it’s been forty years. You have to forgive your dad for not being there.”

“I know, Pastor, but I didn’t even remember this until after the accident. Why wasn’t he there?”

“You’ll never know, Grace. He’s gone…you can’t ask him. Your dad made parenting mistakes, just as you’ve made mistakes. Ask God to help you forgive your dad. Release the trapped bluebird to the only Perfect Parent.”

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This article has been read 678 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Steve Uppendahl10/15/09
As a father of my own Gracie, my heart breaks for both Gracie and her dad. As parents, we know we will make mistakes. It's the big ones we try the hardest to avoid. Nicely crafted story.
Charla Diehl 10/18/09
Our load in life is much lighter when we throw down the rocks we carry in our bag of bitterness. Those grudges from the past only fester and rob us of the joys we could be having in the present.
Janice Fitzpatrick10/21/09
Very nicely written. Touching piece. I use to lead two boys scouting groups; Tiger Cubs, Wolves and Bears, for about 7 years, and we use to have a bridge for ceremonies like this. As those little 6 and 7 yr olds, clad in orange hats and orange Tiger shirts, crossed the old rickety wooden structure it showed that they no longer were Tigers, but offically had entered the bigger boys pack and now were actual "cub scouts."

I could relate to Gracie from my own childhood but had to forgive my father long ago and embrace the memories I still have of him. I still cherish them though they are few.
That's why I wanted to make sure I was involved in my kids lives as much as possible. God bless and good job.
Joshua Janoski10/26/09
This was a cute story, but my heart went out to Gracie for the pain she endured because her father wasn't there for her. This is something that happens all too often nowadays.

The ending took me by surprise, and I wish you could have had more words to transition into the girl's older years, but I think you did a great job with the word count given to you.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Sheri.