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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Brown (11/26/09)

TITLE: Buried in Brown
By Karlene Jacobsen


Sara laid the brown sweater on her bed. Her fingers lingered on the faux-fur collar and satin ribbon tie before she smoothed the velvety knit.

Today she would say, good-bye one final time to the woman who had been her mentor. The connection she felt toward her grandmother dove deeper than the bond borne of blood. They shared the heartache of self-doubt.

For Gran it was the life with a man who refused to claim her as his daughter, though DNA proved his paternity. Contenting herself with the plain brown dresses that matched her hair and eyes, she watched as her younger sister was lavished with the finest dresses, dolls, and ribbons for her hair. Gran’s clothes melded her in with society like a branch among trees.

But you never were one to remain hidden, were you?

Through the tenderness of her own grandmother, Gran had navigated her childhood and adolescent years graduating into adulthood with a strength and grace Sara wished she could have inherited. Somehow, Gran had taken on a light that fit her name, which meant bright, shining, and clear. People had been drawn to her. She had shed the shame over her birth and subsequent rejection then donned garments of praise and joy.

Sara swiped the back of her hand across a damp cheek. “How did you break free?” she whispered into the air as images of the mischief that sparked in Gran’s eyes paraded before Sara’s mind. Gran’s toothless grin whenever something tickled her heart and those unashamed tears that flowed freely as she shared her love for Jesus.

Almost ready, she pulled the sweater over her head then brushed her hair. She hesitated, reminded of at least a hundred conversations over her clothing choices.

It camouflages my imperfections, Gran. She had argued in Wal-Mart barely a month ago. “Well, it does.” She argued with the memory once again.

But Sara, you should wear clothes that fit, colors that accent your beauty.

Ignoring Gran’s protestations, she had bought the sweater.

Sara scoffed at the memory and fiddled with the satin ribbon until it was tied into a perfect bow. Beauty, indeed… She looked into the full length mirror on the back of her closet door. My body looks like a Shar-pei. Insecurity swelled. Gran at least had always had been pretty. I’m NOT! Her mother had told her so when she was thirteen shopping for school clothes. Sara, you really should wear brown. That color has a slimming effect. Sara got the message. Her closet slowly filled with browns of every style.

Smoothing the sweater around her waist, Sara glanced again into the mirror. A young woman resembling her grandmother’s wedding picture stared back. Ready.

She reached into the closet for her brown wool coat. As she pulled it from its hanger, her hand brushed against something soft. Tucked securely at the back of the closet hung the lavender angora sweater Gran had given her for Christmas the year before.

Gran had taken the sweater and held it up next to Sara’s face. It looks so beautiful against your skin. Quiet sincere words begged her to hear.

Sara had been unable to bring herself to tell Gran she’d probably never wear it, so she buried it in her closet—hidden and forgotten—until now.

Words laid to rest deep in her soul resurrected in her mind. I pray one day you will understand who you are… that you’ll have the courage to be the woman your name declares you to be.

Sara turned back to her room and snatched her Bible from the nightstand. Opening it to the Psalm Gran had often read to her, she sank onto her bed. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made… the words, at last, began to penetrate her heart.


Sara’s husband had come to stand next to her. “Your Grandma would be so proud of you.” He wrapped her into the warmth of his embrace as they gazed into Gran’s sleeping face. The soft brown sweater lay securely beneath the woman’s arm.

*Psalm 139

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This article has been read 679 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Phelps12/07/09
This was a beautiful story with a very relatable MC. I loved the relationship Sarah and her grandmother shared. The pacing in the beginning felt a little slow with the explanations of the grandmother's struggles, but overall, very excellent writing and characterization!
Beth LaBuff 12/07/09
I think your characterization of both women is very good. You've used a lot of rich detail. Very nice work on this entry!
Jan Ackerson 12/08/09
Melancholy and tender--well done!

Since much of it is written in the past, you use a lot of "had (verb)" constructions, which get bulky after a while (and use up words). A possible fix: Write the stuff that's happening NOW in simple past tense, and the memories in present tense (perhaps in italics).

Just something to play around with in future entries. This is a very good story!
Barbara Lynn Culler12/08/09
Poignant story.
Marita Thelander 12/08/09
Soft and tender. I like the protrayal of the relationship. Very sweet.
Colin Nielsen12/08/09
Nothing I can say. Great writing. The story seemed realistic. And although tender and emotional, it was in no way over the top. Reading it I felt a little bad for all the things I sometimes tell my own daughter, usually when I'm angry at her for something. Words have an effect that sometimes last a lifetime. We must be so careful.
larry troxell 12/09/09
Powerful! Keep writing!
Ruth Brown12/09/09
Very touching.God bless our Godly grandparents they have such an impact. Lovely piece.
Sara Harricharan 12/09/09
I can SO relate to this, what a powerful piece. I feel for Sara and the brown sweater and everything it represents. Been there, survived that. Really, really great piece, I loved it. ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/10/09
Your tender story did a good job of staying on topic while introducing strong characters. I especially liked the part where she discovered the sweater.
PamFord Davis 12/11/09
Power packed with emotions, tender story.
Diana Dart 12/15/09
This was so rich. I could feel the textures, the emotions, the struggles of Sara. This felt really authentic... and made me want to hug her! Nice job and way to place up there.
Lisa Johnson01/17/10
This story is very poignant, and tender. I was glad to see Sara's victory at the end of the piece. Well written.

Thanks by the way for your kind words about my poem.