Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)
TITLE: Sweet Things
By Lillian Rhoades
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They say you can’t have your cake and eat it to. Well, I just put a heavy hurtin’ on that oxymoron right down to the last crumb. Whoever heard of having somethin’ you can’t have? That makes little sense to me. I’ll never believe it, and here’s one reason why.
It started on a day too painful to forget. Our little town had just buried the last victim of a devastatin’ tornado. It came through our town like a thief in the night, only it was ten o’clock in the morning, and sunny no less. Too quickly the sky turned a vicious gray, but few saw what was to come, only what happened after. The only elementary school and the town’s only bakery took the biggest hit. Brick and mortar fell like a house of cards upon the innocent, the unsuspectin’, twenty-six young’uns to be exact.
Now, I wasn’t at the scene, but I still felt the pain. It was all over the news; parents torn to pieces, grown men cryin’ like babies, rescuers dazed and workin’on nuttin’ but sheer grit. No, I wasn’t there, but I really was there, if you know what I mean. So, smack dab in the middle of an outbreak of sympathy from strangers miles away, I decided to make my contribution personal. After all, this was my town. No stranger gonna outdo me.
That’s when I got the idea. Those little buds never had a chance to blossom, but they would not be forgotten, not if I could help it. I had a plan; you could say a really sweet idea. <i>The Bakery,</i> now a pile of rubble had been more than just a place to pick up desert for dinner. You name it, birthday parties, fundraisers, ice cream parlor hangout; not to mention having the best chocolate chip cheesecake in the whole planet.
Yep, I had a plan. I called it <i>After the Achin’ Let’s Start Bakin’</i> Fundraiser. Our new bakery would be built in memory of those flowers that never bloomed. Let me tell ya, this would be no ordinary fundraiser. I’d never lost a child, but I know somewhat of what it takes to dull the ache - a worthy cause, for one.
Every hurtin’ parent came to my first meeting. After that we were off and running like a fox chasin’ hens. Sympathy took second seat to the burst of support from, you guessed it, everywhere; that’s right, from miles around. It spread like a disease. And rightly so, sympathy has a short shelf life and everyone wanted to preserve the memories of twenty-five kids who would never grow up.
I couldn’t believe it. We’d hardly had time to figure out how to rebuild before we reached our goal. Good thing too, because this bakery would be more than just brick and mortar with cake, cookies, and ice cream. Oh, no, so we needed every penny to make our plan work.
First off, the name of every victim would be inscribed on the front windows of the bakery for all to see. Then someone got the bright idea to rename the bakery <i>Sweet Things.</i>
I liked that, because the kids were and forever would be.
No sense wishin’ we could play God. We couldn’t bring them back, but by pourin' our lives into somethin' that still had a little life left, we did the only thing man could do.
<i>Sweet Things</i> gradually arose from the rubble. What a celebration we had on opening day. Each child’s name appeared etched in gold on two large front windows.
Bittersweet memories for sure, but all we had left, nothing more.
Not a dry eye around. Anybody who was somebody, or should I say elected officials who wanted to stay in office, showed up. Don’t get me wrong. The real deal were the parents whose children would forever be remembered. Their hurt was our pain, and they mattered most.
This was their day. After the ceremonies, the door to the bakery swung open. To my surprise and to everyone’s delight, twenty-six cupcakes sat in a tray on a real fancy like decorated table. As the parents came in, each one was given a cupcake with the name of their child engraved in green on the white icing. Man, was that a tear jerker!
I waited until it was just about closin' time before I ordered a slice of chocolate cheese cake. Finished it, then looked up and blew a kiss to my sweet things.
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