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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)

TITLE: Brothers Grim
By Sydney Avey


The year America’s heart was ripped out, a tornado passed through my own life with the power of a chain saw in the hands of an angry god. Whatever force wielded the out-for-blood weapon left nothing standing. One day I was secure in a relationship, my dream job and my cozy condo and the next I was out of love, out of work and out on the street. One day I was sitting transfixed in front of my TV watching the news about entire towns reduced to rubble and the next day I was the news. The outlook was grim.

Here’s what happened. Clouds formed over my head, the sky opened up and whoever was assigned street cleaning duty on the heavenly highway’s golden pavement dumped a wheelbarrow load of debris directly onto my head – aimed it at all I held dear and scored big points. Can you tell that I’m a screenwriter? Was a screenwriter; now I’m a festering wound examining the rubble of my life.

First, my boyfriend and writing partner Roan landed a writing job in Hollywood and took off without telling me. I thought we were a team in every way. He’s a horse’s asteroid.

After I learned about this on his facebook status update I was so upset I lit a candle, tried to meditate and fell asleep. A breeze ruffled my new gauzy curtains into the candle flame and by the time I smelled smoke my entire condo was “involved.” That’s fire-speak for all burned up. I learned that watching myself on the news, huddled in a blanket because I dashed down the stairs in my underwear. Thank God no one was hurt. Only my condo was gutted, but good firewalls protected my neighbors. I only wish I had protected myself and paid my insurance bill.

While I stood in the street watching my life go up in flames, my boss called me on my cell phone to tell me that roamin’ Roan had taken the script we were working on and shopped it to another producer. He followed up with the old familiar “You’ll never work in this town again,” and ended with “Expect to hear from my attorney.” That’s the only threat that didn’t bother me. You can’t get blood out of a burned up scribbler.

The next morning I woke up on a couch provided by a member of the Shiloh Community Church. Never in my life had I attended this church, but it was on the fire department’s list of emergency shelters. Jaye Jarvis handed me the most delicious cup of coffee and told me I had a voicemail message on my cell. “Would you consider changing your ringtone,” she asked, “that Ma Bell shriek is pretty startling.” Not as startling as the message. “Amy Brothers, please call Patrick at the fire station.” I remembered Patrick. He was the hunky fireman who wrapped a warm blanket around me and told me not to worry, I was alive and God loved me. How do you figure that, I asked him? He just smiled and hugged my shoulder.

So as not to rattle the Good Samaritan who provided the couch, I changed my ring tone just in time to take a call from my insurance company. Oh, thank you Jesus, there was a grace period and I’m covered! Jaye was heading out the door when she asked me if I would like her to inquire about employment opportunities where she worked. “Where do you work?” I asked her. “I’m a barista at the Beanpunk,” she told me. I shrugged, “Sure, why not?”

It’s been a year since the tornados tore into America’s heartland and then took a detour through my life. New neighborhoods built on stronger foundations have sprung up. I have a stronger foundation as well. I love my new job as Creative Director at Beanpunk’s headquarters, managing the brand of a funky upstart gone global. I love our loft apartment a block from the old stone church where Patrick and I were married a year after the fire. Most of all, I love my God who doesn’t make lemonade out of lemons, he makes Meyer lemon-lime chiffon pie with shaved chocolate on top in a burnt almond butter crust. Come by the Beanpunk and I’ll give you a taste of that.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Cheryl von Drehle06/09/11
love the upbeat quick pacing of this charming story. It has both a breezy quality as well as a strong life message. Great work. (Oh, and glad to see Shiloh Church and Beanpunk Coffee House re-appearing.)
Tracy Nunes 06/09/11
I liked this a lot. You went from obvious despair to wonderful hope and restoration.
Charla Diehl 06/10/11
The pace of this story kept me involved with your MC, hoping all would turn our "happily ever after." I love smiley endings that come about because God gets involved--thanks.
Janice Fitzpatrick06/11/11
From rags to, well not riches but rich in the knowledge that God can restore and what once seemed hopeless is now full of His hope. I really enjoyed this piece. I can almost guess who wrote this but I'll have to wait and see if it's who I suppose.:) God bless your gift and creativity! :)
Bonnie Bowden 06/13/11
I loved how you compared a tornado to a person's tragedy. The story was engaging and well written.