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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Season(s) of a year or life (01/13/11)

TITLE: Poetic Tenacity
By Marita Thelander
01/19/11


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I set Greg’s coffee on the table next to his bowl of oatmeal. “Have you ever noticed that lone leaf on the oak tree?”

Greg turned in his chair to look out the dining room window. “What about it?”

“It taunts me.”

“What? That’s silly.” He sipped from his cup and eyed me at the same time. “What does it say?” His smile prodded me on.

“Winter is almost here. Winter is almost here.” I answered in a childish sing-song voice. I stared out the window when Greg ignored me. “Maybe it’s the empty bird’s nest in the crook of the tree that taunts me more.”

“You need a project to keep you busy for the winter months.”

“I hate winter.”

“Spring will come soon enough.” Greg flippantly answered my moody outburst and got up to put his bowl in the sink. He came back to kiss my cheek before he headed out for his day. “See you after work.”

I stared at the stately oak in the back yard while I continued to sip my coffee. It’s all rather poetic really. I look every morning to see if the tenacity of the leaf still fights the change from fall to winter. Maybe the leaf represents my heart, fighting the change of the season in my own life with silent stubbornness.

Summer was filled with the excitement and busyness of planning Chandra’s wedding. We transitioned smoothly into autumn with a trip to Hawaii to celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary and came home to cold weather and an empty nest.

For me the hectic hubbub ended like a semi truck slamming into a wall. What now? I asked myself over and over again. Marcus and Chandra were my life. Now both were married and moving on with their lives. I don’t think I was fully aware of how this would feel. Like the robin’s nest, my house is empty and my heart hangs out there similar to the leaf on the end of a flimsy limb.

Every year I've watch the big oak tree transition through the seasons. I guess I never realized that I was shifting into a new stage of life, too.

Lost in my melancholy thoughts, I jumped when my phone vibrated on the table. I opened the text message from Marcus. Do you have plans tonight?

I texted back a simple no. I wanted to say we are lonely old people now but refrained myself. Besides, I don’t text that fast.

Feel like company?

A single tear trickled down my cheek. Sure. Come for dinner?

Ok. 6?

It’s a date.


Good old Marcus. I’m not sure if he sensed his mama’s loneliness, or was low on groceries and looking for a free meal. Either way, it gave me purpose for the day.



“Mom, you out did yourself,” Marcus patted his belly. He smiled at Angie and winked. “We have something for you.”

Angie bent down and pulled a long slim jewelers box out of her purse.

“A bracelet?” I was befuddled. It wasn’t my birthday or any other gift giving occasion.

“Just open it, Mom.”

When I peeked inside I knew exactly what it was. “A pregnancy test?” l anxiously looked at Angie. “You’re pregnant? We’re going to be grandparents,” I waved the gift towards Greg.

“Careful, Dear, that’s been peed on.”

“When are you due?” I asked Marcus as if he was the one carrying the baby.

“Late May or Early June,” Marcus laughed at me.

“A baby. We’re going to be grandparents.”

“You said that already, Dear.”

“Honey, we’re going to be grandparents.”

“And the slippery slope to senility begins,” Greg teased.

I have no idea what was talked about the rest of the evening. My mind was roaming up and down the aisle of the craft store planning my winter projects for the baby. Then it jumped over to the mall and wandered through several baby departments. I couldn’t wait to go shopping.

The next morning I set Greg’s coffee next to his oatmeal and looked out at the oak tree and smiled.

“What’s the leaf saying to you this morning?” Greg teased.

I leaned close and whispered, “Spring will come soon enough.”

“Yes it will.” He nodded towards my purse and coat. “Go easy on the plastic today.”

“Who, me?”

Greg took his bowl to the sink and came back to kiss me before he left for work. He leaned in and whispered sweetly. “Honey, we’re going to be grandparents.”


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This article has been read 660 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 01/20/11
I love this! I could relate to the empty-nest and ALL the emotions you so skillfully wove here. Then I was so excited for "the news" and found myself laughing and smiling.. This is great!!
Henry Clemmons01/20/11
I really liked this. It has a quick pace but tugged at my emotions. Excellent! Truly.
Connie Dixon01/21/11
So many things I loved about this - humor, dialogue, great ending, smooth flow, good message and my favorite line: "I hate winter." Awesome!
Rachel Phelps01/21/11
Loved this! So many emotions. I'm not near this stage, but I've seen my parents go through it. Wonderful.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/21/11
Great Dialogue makes it stand out--I've been there already, and it's really not a bad place to be!
Yvonne Blake 01/21/11
Yes, being grandparents do change a person's outlook on life! Great story!
Virgil Youngblood 01/22/11
As the saying goes, "All's well that ends well." You've demonstrated that with this delightful story. The title didn't seem to work for me, but otherwise, it was a fun read.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/22/11
I so enjoyed this! I could empathized with the MC and my nest still has a 17 yo in it! I laughed at the line about that sticking having pee on it. I will admit I was puzzled at the line "Go easy on the plastic." Then after reading your delightful story again, I still didn't get it. Finally after scratching my head for a minute or two, I said "Duh, credit cards!'' Then I chuckled one more time.
Author Unknown01/23/11
Aw, I liked this. Some good lines that made me laugh out loud- really :) And even though I *knew* why Marcus was coming over (though you tried to throw me off), I was still glad and felt a little teary & happy for your MC. The dialogue felt very real. Nice job.
Carol Slider 01/23/11
Strange how life is like that, as endings often become beginnings. I love how you used the metaphor of the leaf to tell this hope-filled story of life's seasons. Well done!
Mona Purvis01/25/11
Thank you for allowing us to come in and sit at the table and watch this unfold. Your writing did that for me and since this is a writing challenge...well you get an A+.
Sarah Elisabeth 01/25/11
Aw, this just dripped with sweetness. You really have the husband/wife thing down in all your stories ;-)

Loved your 'poetic' take on the topic, top notch writing!
Gerald Shuler 01/25/11
I wish I could write like that. Loved the title AND the story.
Bonnie Bowden 01/26/11
I really loved this piece of writing. I'm glad spring is just around the corner. When I look out my window and see the snow and darkness, I long to see green and the newness of life.

Rita Garcia01/27/11
Fantastic story!! CONGRATULATIONS on your editors choice award!! I love your writing--can't to read your first novel!
Joy Bach 01/27/11
This is soooo good. I agree. When is your book ready? I wish I could write like that. Excellent.
Laury Hubrich 01/27/11
Told you it was good:) Proud of you, Mari!
Carol Slider 01/27/11
I love this story, and I'm so glad to find it on the EC list. Congratulations!
Beth LaBuff 01/27/11
Congratulations on your Editor's Choice award, Mari! Your story is superb!
Catrina Bradley 01/27/11
Very good! I absolutely love this story. So glad you made the EC list. :)