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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)

TITLE: The Life Reader
By Sara Harricharan


I tip-toed in, the precious manuscript held close to my heart as the giant doors swung shut behind me. The clock showed the hour beginning.

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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This article has been read 679 times
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Beth LaBuff 04/23/10
Wow! So very, very powerful! I know you've used a lot of symbolism in this story. I kept reading and hoping for your "author." Your gripping story propelled me! You are a skillful writer!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/25/10
I wasn't sure at first if I understood what was happening, but it turned out I did. The ending is so powerful and a wonderful lesson about what our lives really should be about. I'm not sure if I understood the pears, but the story was riveting just the same.
Kimberly Russell04/25/10
Sara: This was riviting--I held my breath waiting to see if she would ever get any approval at all from the reader--so glad she finally did. Awesome job. (I didn't get the pears either...LOL)
Loren T. Lowery04/28/10
Love this type of writing in that it makes you dig for the meaning and understanding. And, when it's handled with skill, like you've done, it makes the quest that much more worthwhile. I really liked a couple of phrases you used at the beginning, "Hour of agony" and "Totally on my own now."
It's interesting, too, who you chose the "reader" to be, yet not so unusual the fretful sense we feel as someone reads our lives.
Ruth Stromquist04/29/10
This was very well written and drew me in from the start. I felt like cheering when the Reader explained that the Author didn't need the whole book anymore because the rest of her life was blessed and she could now go ahead and build on further experiences and on Truth. Such an incredible picture of Salvation and our new lives, in Christ. A very powerful point, very well made.
Edmond Ng 04/29/10
You have conveyed the message of Psalm 8:4-5 very well in showing the insignificance of man, yet with Jesus as our Lord, we are blessed.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge04/29/10
You really showed without telling, bringing your readers into the story, experiencing every emotion.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/29/10
Congratulations in placing in the top 40 over-all and in the top 15 of your level. Good job!