Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Oops (01/14/10)
TITLE: Grace's Fall
By Lynne Eliason
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The barely there mattress was her only sanctuary. Most days she crawled beneath the scratchy wool blanket of drab grey and stared up at the ceiling. It was the highlight feature of the room. With peeling paint and water stains and an occasional generic bug, it became her focal point, while her thoughts tumbled over the same scenario again and again. She always came to the same conclusion; she hadn’t meant for it to happen.
When Grace met Greg, he was absolutely breathtaking and captivated her heart. He made her feel secure and needed. His scheme to rob the little convenience store seemed reasonable. Nobody would get hurt. They’d only take enough money and food to get to California, where the ocean would make their lives complete. They’d eventually repay the store with interest. His detailed plan was her comfort zone. Grace wasn’t really going to be involved. Trust him, he said. She was caught up in the passion for his every word and touch. How could anyone resist those blue eyes that were the color of that very ocean they were seeking?
Their moment had come. They entered the dilapidated store carefully when nobody else was around. The proprietor, George Kroger, an elderly man, was watching a ball game on TV. Greg appeared to be shopping for tobacco and Grace was selecting snacks of pretzels and her favorite Snickers bars. She could see the outline of the small handgun in Greg’s khaki pants. Grace had a momentary urge to run. Greg, sensing her nervousness, ordered George to give him the contents of the cash register and get to the floor. He hadn’t planned on this old guy having the tenacity to swing a baseball bat at him. In retaliation, he gave the gun to Grace to hold while he tied up the feisty man. An alarm went off somewhere. Grace panicked and pulled the trigger, not really intending to hit anything. Mr. Kroger was dead instantly and Greg was out the door just about that quick.
She would always remember the sound of the judge’s gavel when he pronounced her lengthy sentence. The end of her life as she knew it. She had fallen and couldn’t get back up. She must pay the price for taking a life. The prison routine stilled her soul. Greg had never been caught. That made her feel even worse. Grace shut out her family. It was best if they didn’t even have to care about her. Shame and remorse consumed her.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon, there was an assembly hosted by a group of women who had been incarcerated previously. They were intent on bringing God’s word to other lady prisoners. These women were upbeat and strong. Their mood was contagious and something in Grace made her want to find out why they could move onward and upward, without guilt. One woman sought her out and they had a short but enticing conversation. The gal pressed a worn Bible into Grace’s hands. “Listen dear, you may have fallen and scraped your knee, but God has a bandaid for you. When you stand up straight, you will be stronger because of the scars. He loves ya, girl.”
Grace returned to her cell and couldn’t forget the woman‘s words. She caressed the worn leather cover of the Bible. With a sigh, she opened it. She read and read and read and found her name everywhere in the Bible! Imagine that - Grace was alive and well in the Bible. For the first time in years, she felt loved, important, needed.
When Grace went to breakfast the next morning, her mending had begun. For the first time ever, she felt the breeze coming through the window with bars. She actually smiled at the woman across from her who had been sitting there each mealtime for months. The food was still tasteless and unidentifiable, but she ate it to nourish her body. Later, when Grace was locked back in her cubicle, she pulled out a Snickers candy bar box from beneath her bed. Inside were letters from her mother, her sisters, her cousin and a few friends. They had never been opened.
But . . . on this day, Grace was healing from her fall. She carefully read each letter. Tears of joy, chuckles and interest now invaded her confinement. Tomorrow . . . she would reply.
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