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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hear (07/08/10)

TITLE: The Shriveled Dandelion
By Jeanne E Webster


“Mommy, look at what I got for you!” the energetic little girl exclaims as she holds out a mangled dandelion.

Listlessly folding clothes, her weary mother turns her head towards the animated voice. “Oh, that’s nice, Nancy; what a pretty flower! Now go back outside and play with your brother.”

“Don’t forget to put it in water, Mommy!” Nancy replies as she scampers back out the door. Only five years old, she already baby-sits Johnny, her two-year-old brother.

“Ok, Nan,” Mommy half-heartedly promises, her attention drifting back to the household chores awaiting her. The “prized” dandelion silently drops to the floor and shrivels up into a skinny speck. Vaguely she hears laughter coming from the back yard, and a hint of a smile appears on her face. “At least the kids are happy and well,” she ponders. With a hundred things to do, she pours another cup of coffee and continues her routine.

Cries from Johnny thirty minutes later break into Mrs. Armstrong’s labors and thoughts. Pushing her head out of the upstairs bedroom window, she calls out, “Nan, what’s wrong with Johnny?”

No answer. His cries become more desperate…something is wrong, terribly wrong.

Throwing the freshly washed linens onto the bed, she hurries to the stairs, hollering again, “Nancy! What’s the matter with Johnny?!”

Again, no answer. Reaching a panic state, Mrs. Armstrong takes the stairs two at a time, quickly reaching the doorway to the backyard, her eyes searching frantically for her children.

Johnny’s voice is at its highest pitch as she bends down and removes him from his swing seat. Comforting him with hugs, she quickly pivots around in a frenzied pursuit for her daughter, but Nancy is nowhere in sight. The gate to the fenced yard is closed; there is no sign of her on the premises.

Looking back, she scans the back yard for Nancy as she rushes into the house. Within a few seconds she is dialing 911 to report her missing daughter. As she awaits the arrival of the police, her last conversation with Nancy plays over and over in her head. Her heart breaks as she realizes she hadn’t really listened to her daughter; the treasured dandelion lies shriveled up on the kitchen floor. She had never put it into water.

Bracing herself for the ordeal that’s facing her, she makes a vow to tell Nancy when the police find her that she is sorry for breaking her promise. “Next time I’ll listen, Nan. Promise.”

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This article has been read 674 times
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Caitlyn Meissner07/16/10
Ugh! Every mother's nightmare. But your tragic ending makes a great point. Good job with this article.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/18/10
Wow what a wonderful reminder. It's so easy to cast our little ones' words aside. I hope this story has a part 2.
Kellie Henningsen07/19/10
Oh...I've done that before. Usually the cup is overflowing with weeds when I give up on the idea of putting more in water though. I really would like to read the next chapter. This is such a scary storyline. Well done.
Carol Penhorwood 07/20/10
I HATE reading stories like this because it's every parent/grandparent's greatest nightmare. But I have to admit this was well done and left me waiting to hear the, hopefully, happy ending.
Colin Swann07/21/10
Oh dear! This brought back memories of Madeliene, lost in Praia Da Luz, Portugal. This has got to be a piece to heed. Thanks for writing this story with a warning. Colin.
Lollie Hofer07/21/10
Thanks for sharing this well-written story. It's a good reminder - even for us grandmas who have been around the block a few times.
Author Unknown07/21/10
aaaugh! where's nan!? ok cannot leave mother readers of young children waiting. at least reply and tell me she's okay. :)

and I knew, from the instant mom was supposed to put the flower in water and ignored it, something bad would happen. was there music to cue me?

okay. a little too close to home (in a good way).

very well done. sheesh. don't scare me like that!
Maria Egilsson07/21/10
Jeanne: This is a parent's worst nightmare... and you leave the reader hanging with the unknown.
Your message is one that all of us need to be reminded of, to treasure moments and to really listen.
Very well written.