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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)

TITLE: Dearest Suzanna
By Tammy Johnson


Tears sting Suzanna’s eyes. She wipes a stray tear with the back of her hand just before it drips onto the cutting board. She can't tell where the onion tears end and the tears born of heartache begin.

I am a strong, complete woman. Men don’t complete me. I complete me. She repeats her counselor’s mantra trying to fill the shattering emptiness bursting in her soul. She glances at the dozen roses sent to herself in the middle of the elegantly set table.

Plans had already been made. I refuse to leave the food to waste. Valentine’s Day wouldn’t stop just because of her broken heart.

Diamonds sparkle around her wrist as she tosses the onions into the frying pan. Her heart had caught in her throat when she had seen the price tag. I deserve it. She’d already parted with the money once…buying his gift. He’s been working so much. It’s the least I can do.

A sarcastic smirk twists her face. Since when is sleeping with your boss, work?

With wine in hand, she settles into her overstuffed chair and flips through the mail.

Why am I getting so worked up? It’s not like life was rosy with him around. Coldness filled the distance between them. His only contribution to her life in the last month was toothpaste on the mirror and his mess in her way wherever she turned.

Suzanna closes her eyes and leans her head back. When will the knot in my stomach finally untangle? Will it ever settle that the problem was him, not me? Can I accept that I am a desirable woman? Her temples throb under her fingers as she takes another sip. She relates well with those consumed by alcoholism. The air seems thick with the danger of following in their footsteps.

Every emotion from the past two weeks suddenly erupts into a violent, painful surge of rage. Her glass shatters against the wall, thrown with the force of her pain. Curling into a fetal ball, she slides to the floor as sobs shake her entire body.

God, oh God, if you are real I need you. I can’t live so empty! Why do I live? Let me die, please let me die.

Tears continue to pour, purging heartache and pain, releasing her for a moment. But her tears bring no hope. No whisper of encouragement or purpose rides on the waves of her emotion.

Small, perfect letters smeared by her tears catch her attention as she pushes herself up. Lifting the small postcard, her eyes try to focus on the unfamiliar handwriting. Those words given at any other time would have repulsed her but now settle into the depths of her soul.

Dearest Suzanna,
Your beauty is breathtaking. Your worth is richer than the deep scarlet of rubies and more priceless than pure, brilliant diamonds. "I pray that out of (my) glorious riches (I) may strengthen you with power through (my) Spirit in your inner being, so that (I) Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is (my) love, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 4: 16-19 NIV parenthesis added) My scars are here to heal your broken heart.
I love you!

Stunned, Suzanna continues to stare at the healing words. Grandma had always quoted scripture. She called them her “love letters from Jesus”.

Suzanna slips on the scattered mail and catches herself as she jumps up and heads into the bedroom. Photo albums, trinket boxes, old letters, a pair of booties all scatter around her as she digs to the bottom of her chest, her hope chest.

Ah ha! The scent of new leather drifts to her nose as she pulls the book from its tissue wrapping. Trembling fingers caress the familiar handwriting on the first page.

“To Suzanna. With Love, Grandma Cora”

A transformation sweeps over her and the familiar sting of tears fills her eyes again. Tears of joy replace the pain. In a crackling voice she sings a verse faint in her memory.

Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.

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This article has been read 1035 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Peterson09/05/05
I love it. The pain is a genuine pain and the struggle real. I felt like I was sitting in her home watching the events! Well done, hon!
dub W09/05/05
The present tense kinda bothered me,but it worked. A painful but loving end. Thank you.
Karen Ward09/05/05
I really loved this phrase: "She relates well with those consumed by alcoholism. The air seems thick with the danger of following in their footsteps."

The tense threw me too, but only because it's unusual I think.

Her agony was real, you brought it to life. God Bless, Karen

Anna Meadows09/06/05
I think this is something many women face. Filling the void they feel in their hearts with things other than Christ. Thanks for reminding us that we can only be fulfilled with HIM!

The writing was well done... I personally like reading present tense now and then... good job!
Anita Neuman09/08/05
You made the present tense work well, and her inner dialogue is so realistic. I think you made a worthwhile jump to Advanced!
Debra Brand09/08/05
I agree with the above comments. Good story lines.
Jan Ackerson 09/08/05
I like the present tense; there were a few awkward shifts in the 4th and 7th paragraphs. But I'd keep it present tense as you reveal your character's immediate feelings to your reader. And you did a superb job of that. I feel like I know her, and I rejoice in the ending.
Jan Warrick09/08/05
I love this story. Your character reminds me of many women I have met. Good job. A very real feel to this piece.
Brandi Roberts09/09/05
Agreed, I feel like I was watching a movie too. I could feel and see everything. Loved this! Thanks for sharing!
Julianne Jones09/09/05
Ditto to all of the above. This was so real. Great job!