Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)
TITLE: The Life Reader
By Sara Harricharan
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My hour of agony.
I was on my own now.
The Reader sat in the shadowed corner of the gray room, with her back to the window and her head resting against the glass panes. Her knees were drawn up to her chest and her face was hidden behind a curtain of shiny, dark hair. She was pretty. A paper bag stood on each side of her and the clock in the room made no sound.
Moving to the middle of the room, I inched around the large wooden desk and then shuffled over to where she sat by the window. She ate a green pear as she read a small paperback.
She paused in mid-bite as I stopped in front of her. Turning the page, she read for another minute and then closed the book. Vivid violet eyes flickered upwards to meet my gaze and there was no smile as she extended a hand for the sheaf of papers that was My Life. “Name and title?”
“Author…My Life.” I whispered, handing the precious bundle over. I hoped she wouldn’t see the tear-stains.
It went limp in her hands as she shifted to sit cross-legged to properly balance the unruly handful. The piercing eyes shifted to the creased edge of the cover page and she frowned.
I didn’t dare to breathe.
“A true account of life.” Her voice grated, harsh for the soft feminine air that hung around her. “Sit.” Her head jerked toward the desk.
I stumbled to the chair and sat as my legs gave out. Silence descended so thick, I felt it trickling into my ears before settling in my stomach.
She turned the first page and then the second. The swishing sounds continued as she finished her pear and reached into a brown sack to her left, the core disposed to her right. A pale yellow specimen emerged and went straight to her mouth as she continued to read.
“Liar.” Her voice sliced through the emptiness.
I squeezed my eyes shut, unable to meet her accusing stare. “Yes.” I whispered. She would have known at once. “Please…”
“It will not work.” She ripped the pages out and tossed them aside.
I trembled, but breathed anyway. I would live through this.
“Hater.” She hissed, a moment later.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” I hiccupped.
More pages were strewn across the floor.
“How dare you write these!” She snarled.
I cried as more pages were ripped out. That was My Life. I could not change what had been written.
The angry energy in the room thinned to quietness as she read in silence for a handful of minutes. I dared to look up to see what had changed. She was halfway through My Life now.
A red pear was now visible in one hand, savored slowly as she reverently turned the pages.
Something had changed.
“Hopeless.” She muttered, a moment later. The red pear was tossed out and another red one replaced it.
“I know.” I couldn’t stop myself from speaking. “I’m sorry.”
The manuscript was three-quarters done.
And then she finished it.
The pear was half-eaten as she turned and set it on the windowsill. The hour had passed.
“Lucky.” She announced, holding my gaze with her own. “It will do.”
“Not lucky.” I whispered. “Blessed.”
Her face softened as the lines in her forehead smoothed out. “Yes.” She agreed, voice whisper-soft. “We are all blessed by Him.”
The papers on the floor melted away as she handed me over all that remained, a fraction of the manuscript. I stared at her, wonderingly.
She smiled, a heartbreakingly beautiful expression. “You have no need of the rest…you are blessed. By His name, this is what Your Life is. You have some time left. Continue to write the truth—all the truth and when He calls, answer. You need not fear anything.”
The great doors creaked open and another timid figure shuffled in.
The Reader sighed, bored again. She reached for the paperback book and for a new pear. Nibbling on the fruit, she turned another page in the book.
I backed out of the room, hugging My Life close as I heard her question echo.
“Name and title?”
“A-author…M-my Life.” The poor fellow stammered.
The doors swung shut behind me. Two big, fat, happy tears trickled down my face.
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