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

TITLE: Subscription Renewal
By Cheryl von Drehle


Hip. Smart. Late forties and at the apex of her career. The ultimate cliché of modern feminine success. And now she was undone.

Oh God, Laura murmured silently, half new prayer, half old habit. Seriously, if you are going to mess with me, God, I hope you have something in mind, because my mind is as blank as my laptop screen.

The blanks began to form around the dread she kept pushing away. Deadline Day. I could just slit my wrists right now, Laura thought. Then I wouldn't have to write my editorial. I would be the lead story instead. That thought made her snicker. If she had been the drama queen sister, instead of the practical one, maybe...

Practical yes, I am practical if nothing else. Make another two shot pot of coffee, butter another scone, just start typing while I think this through. Ahhh…this. Yes, that is the problem..what exactly is this?

Her magazine. Her creation. Her life. Oh God... and there was that half prayer again. Is God going to answer the question of her final undoing? What does the founder, publisher, and editor of an upstart trendy bi-monthly local magazine, smartly named OUTLOOK, do when her whole outlook on life is slowly and suddenly, mundanely and dramatically, changing? Maybe she was being melodramatic. No, melodrama was still not her style, despite her emotional turmoil. If she could just manage to think this through, perhaps her life would start making some sense again.

Practical Laura picked up her coffee and headed back to her laptop which was ready and waiting for her manicured stroke of the keyboard. Publisher’s note? Or lead editorial? Just start typing and see what develops. The blank spaces in her brain started to fill in.

“My tony croissant life has been deconstructed by the death of my parents in the last six weeks. With my parents suddenly gone, the top slice of bread has been consumed, and now I am an open faced sandwich, the filling of my life directly exposed to heaven. How do we face the reality of nothing now standing between us and eternity once the last of the previous generation is gone? Why is this so unsettling, when it is an inevitable event, and blessedly in my life happened in the natural sequence we all hope for: parents passing on before children. And yet… .”

And yet, there it is. Laura pushed her chair away and stared out at the awakening dawn. Oh God, make it a full prayer, that Your sudden awakening of that small believing child from decades ago takes shape and understanding. After a few minutes, Laura rolled back to her laptop and resumed typing with renewed hope. Maybe this fresh outlook was exactly what her magazine needed. Commentary, opinion, stories of people, places, things, all about the neighborhood, all about the people. So why not explore the connection between the passing of her parents’ generation and the regeneration of faith from childhood. Would her growing base of loyal readers be challenged by the exploration, or would they grimace and move on to the next passing trend train?

“Yet…I cannot think of my parents without context. The most vivid context is the extended family in which I was raised. That context included a vibrant church, Bible reading, animated dinner table discussions about spiritual matters. Much of this disappeared as career and goals and ambiguity and ambivalence supplanted the desire to search inner things. It is natural to review our lives when our parents die. That review is currently leading me back to the “childish” things I thought I had put away…that are now not looking so childish. Will you come with me on this journey, into your own childhood in search of those realities we may have too quickly discarded?”

Laura felt a twinge of joy as the creative writing process kicked in, accepting that she would discover shortly if her readers wanted to take this trip with her. As her fingers navigated the map of her life and the keys of her laptop, she grew increasingly confident, anticipation forming in earnest to taste the re-making of her outlook, emboldened to explore where God might be taking her.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Leola Ogle 06/11/11
Good story and well written. Thanks for sharing! God bless!
Linda Goergen06/11/11
What an engrossing read! I got totally caught up in her pondering and dilemma. I love how she describes the death of her parents as leaving her exposed, like the inside of a sandwich to heaven, because no family elders remains to pray for her, help guide. Well written! Enjoyed!
Patricia Protzman06/16/11
Congratulations on your Highly Commended award.
Kim Hamlin06/16/11
Congratulations Cheryl, well done!
Joe Moreland06/21/11
Very well written and something that definitely hits a sore spot for many of us. I don't know if losing your parents is something you have gone thru recently, but I certainly have. Within a span of about 2 years my wife and I lost both her parents and the last one of mine. And we felt EXACTLY how you describe it here. I love the idea of your MC using this as instigation to begin a close examination of her own life and choices.