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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Huh? (01/21/10)

TITLE: Once Beautiful
By Chely Roach


Three days of continuous rain had pummeled nearly every magnolia blossom to the ground. Dinah slumped across the cushions of the bay window, entranced by the white and pink petals scattered on the toppled grass. Most of them were browning from the puddles they were drowning in. Just a few days ago they had been vibrant—beautiful. They barely resembled their former selves in that fallen state of decay. Their season abruptly ended, beaten down in their prime.

She thought of the moment she first saw that matronly magnolia...

Look at that gorgeous tree, Dinah.


How could I not be happy here? I got a feeling, baby girl, this is our new house—this is the one.

“Mind if I sit here, Dinah?”

She touched the window pane, fingering the droplets through the glass.


“Huh?” She looked up to the aged eyes of her great uncle John.

“May I sit with you?”

Please, go away.

“Sure.” She sat up, drawing her legs to her chest to make room.

He sat beside her, patted her knee. “I’m so sorry for your loss, sweetheart.”

Not as much as I am.


“I want you to know something…in the midst of this awful thing, there is hope…”

Hope that you’ll leave me alone soon.

“…two thousand years ago, God gave His only begotten Son…”


“…because He loves you…”

Yeah right, I have never felt so unloved by God.

“…so that you can have everlasting life…”

Why are you telling me this? I’ve heard this spiel a thousand times.

“…and all you have to do is believe…”

I don’t think I believe in anything anymore—especially God.

“…I want to give you this Bible…” He handed her a postcard-size NIV New Testament with a putrid green pleather cover. She thumbed it open to appease him.

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’


“…I took the liberty of highlighting some passages…”

I highly doubt that will help.

“…in Romans we are told that all things work for the good of those who love Him…”

Dinah focused on a picture perched on the piano: her mother wearing white lace over satin, a towering cross in the background, a dainty white Bible in her hands.

She believed.

“…for those God foreknew He also predestined…”

Next to it were glimpses of sibling’s graduations, weddings and children: more white dresses, white smiles, pink flowers. She’ll never see my graduation, my wedding, my babies. He knew this would happen? And didn’t stop it?

“…nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord…”

Shut up. I beg you, old man. You are not helping. Shut up.

“…and He will carry all of your heavy burdens…”

She flashed to earlier that morning—her father lifting the veil from the casket, kissing her lips, wailing her name, over and over again. Dinah felt nauseous.

Jesus didn’t seem to carry mom’s burdens.

From the numb cavern around her heart—a place she thought was already excavated of all tears rationed for her lifetime—tears formed anew.

“…I am going to head home now, Dinah. I’ll be praying for you, okay?” He patted her knee again.

Go already. One answered prayer out of a million.

“Thanks, Uncle John.”

He winked at her as he put on his suit jacket, shook her father’s hand, and slipped out the door.

Dinah’s father trudged over and sunk into the still indented cushion. “What did he have to say?”

“The Jesus spiel,” she handed him the putrid green Bible, “that all of this was predestined and will work out for good.”

Her father took her hand in his, quietly scanning the pictures on the piano.

“Uncle John didn’t even mention her being in Heaven.”


“Neither did the pastor during the service.”

“Sure he—” his voice faltered. He stared at his shoes. “Maybe he didn’t. Is that what you need to hear?”

The pressure behind her eyes began to build again, “It’s a start.”

“She is.”

“But what about, you know…how she died?”

He sighed, “Don’t listen to all that stuff about mortal sins…it doesn’t matter how she died, only that she believed in Jesus.”

“Says who?”


“It doesn’t make sense.”

“God, or what’s happened to us?”


He enveloped her small frame into his arms, and as powerless bystanders, they again watched the rain ruin the once beautiful magnolia blossoms.

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This article has been read 903 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 01/28/10
The dialogue flowed and was so genuine as was the struggles within your MC's heart. Love the message at the end.
Patricia Herchenroether01/31/10
Oh, my. I truly hope that is true about suicide deaths. A very thoughtful entry.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/01/10
Great analogy with the death of the magnolia blossoms and the mc's mother. This was beautifully written.
Beth LaBuff 02/01/10
This heart-tugging piece was expertly woven together. Your skillfully set the tone with the rain. The Uncle's message shines through, even if she wasn't ready for it. Very good!!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/01/10
My eyes are full of tears. You did a wonderful job. I hung onto every word. My heart hurt for Dinah, but then when I read the end, my heart broke for all who have lost a loved one in this manner. God bless you for writing such a wonderful story on a difficult topic. It is at the top of my all time favorites.
Celeste Ammirata02/01/10
Wow! You had my attention from the first word. I felt her pain. I loved the inner dialogue throughout. And I do believe that if Jesus is our savior, even if we bring our own lives to an end, He will welcome us home. Nothing can separate us from His love. And He knows our private pain. Excellent Writing!
Sheri Gordon02/02/10
Wow. Just, wow. I love how you used the magnolias--brilliant. The emotions of the MC were so real--so heart-wrenching. What a tragic tale.
Joy Faire Stewart02/02/10
I was touched by so many aspects of the story. When Dinah's father wrapped his arms around her, I was reminded of our Heavenly Father's warm embrace.
Loren T. Lowery02/03/10
Love this work, thought provoking and poignant. I liked, too the ending. It seemed open ended as if one could, with further thought, conclude, that if it were not for the rain - even though it might be incessant - the blossoms would never have bloomed.
Tessy Fuller02/03/10
Anguishing emotion of such a loss was portrayed so well in this piece, something not easy to convey as a writer. I felt like I wanted to reach in and hug the MC as well. I also felt the rain destroying the blooms wrapped the telling of the story, giving the reader a visual of brokenness.
Carol Slider 02/03/10
So poignant, so moving, so real... and your unfolding revelation of the mother's suicide was perfectly paced. Very well done.