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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fruit (10/10/05)

TITLE: Unless a Seed Falls
By Sally Hanan


No one saw her fall. She was an itty-bitty thing: a wrinkled, overripe grape that gravity carried to the ground with a PLOP. She lay there unattractively, feeling abandoned and hopeless.

Even the air breathed death; brown leaves whirled, brown fields hung their dead... Head out her bedroom window, Marilyn sucked it into her lungs. He’s just dead... Get a grip…. People die. Life goes on... Half of America is fatherless anyway. Dreadful memories of her dad’s painful last days swam through to her drowning heart, and she tucked them closer as if the poison were a salve. Pulling the window shut, she climbed back under the covers and stared mindlessly at TV images.

The rotting grape lay silently, bothering no one. Though stood on at times and her flesh nearly gone, her seed was hard and strong. The wind blew toward her, and as the leaves gathered around her and the rains came, she sank slowly into the ground.

“Marilyn,” came her mother’s muffled voice through the bedroom door. I’m going to take you to the church counselor. This has gone on for long enough.”

This darkness felt safe, comforting, but the grape seed sensed more. The green shoot broke free of her hard covering, and knew instinctively she had to strike upwards-to light and warmth.

“Hello Marilyn, my name is Grace.” Grace Hinkle’s office was small and homely. Marilyn kept her hands on the cushioned chair, her body as stiff as if a metal rod was poked through her spine. Hopefully this will all be over soon.

“Marilyn, I know you don’t want to be here, but your mom is very worried about you and how angry you seem to be.” Marilyn’s stony eyes remained resolutely glued to a speck of dust on the floor. “How about we form a compromise? You stay for just one prayer session, and if you never want to come back again, that’s okay with me. Deal?”
Marilyn nodded her head slowly in acquiescence.

“This anger -sometimes Marilyn, when we hurt a lot, we get mad at God. The problem with that is that we get so mad at Him that we shut ourselves off from the only one who can really help us; He’s the only door to any hope of healing inside our hearts. Are you mad at God for your dad’s death?”

Yes, yes, I AM mad at God. She nodded again.

“You know, if you talk to God about why you’re mad, that will help you begin healing. Do you want to stay with all of this pain bottled up inside, with no sign of it stopping?”

A shadow of fear crossed Marilyn’s face.

“How about just telling God you are afraid?”

A desperation rose inside Marilyn’s chest, a desperation to be free, to burst out of the jail she had locked herself in. “Okay,” she mumbled, and bowed her head, expecting nothing…and then it all burst out.

“God, I am SO mad at you. You took my dad away before he even had a chance. You STOLE him to be with you. WHY did you do that? WHY did you take away the person we all loved so much? WHY did you make Patty cry in her sleep every night? WHY did you stop our prayer times together before I fell asleep? They were all good things. Why …Why?” Her tears began to fall. Grace pushed some tissues into her hands and she grasped at them gratefully. A warmth and peace began to creep in. Her breathing slowed down. Her body relaxed.

“It’s going to be okay.” Marilyn looked up into Grace’s eyes for the first time. “I’m still confused, I still hurt, but I feel like He’s saying it’s going to be okay.”

“So are you still mad at Him?”

Her surprised eyebrows lifted. “No,” she responded, and a glimmer of a smile played on her lips. No.

The seed had made it. She had pushed and persevered until finally she had broken through to the sunlight. Her tiny leaves unfurled to soak up more of this newfound warmth.

The gardener saw her and smiled with joy. This one is ready. He removed her tenderly from the soil to replant her in a special place - close to the Vine. Once firmly pressed in, He soaked her in water mixed with some of His own version of Miracle-Grow. This one’s going to make it; and in due time her fruit will bless many.

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Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight10/19/05
I like the correlation of the grape falling, dying and new growth. A beautiful description of breaking hope.
Suzanne R10/20/05
Yes, clever correlations. Good job.
Linda Watson Owen10/20/05
Wonderful comparison of the seed to the human 'death to life' experience!
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/20/05
Good comparison--I enjoyed this. I did feel like it had a "too easy" ending, but it is a good story. :-)
Anita Neuman10/21/05
A good comparison. I, too, felt that Marilyn's healing was a little too quick. But it was a good story. And Miracle-Grow -- that's funny!
Garnet Miller 10/21/05
What a wonderful story. I liked the way you tied the life of the seed with Marilyn's spiritual life.
Denise Stanford10/22/05
Once I caught onto the transition signal *** I could relax and enjoy these concurrent stories. Great idea
Joanne Malley10/23/05
Well-written. Liked your analogies and your message! Good job! Jo
Jan Ackerson 10/24/05
Sally, I was one of the judges this week, and I really loved this story. Your parallels between the grape and the woman were wonderful, and your "take" on this topic was unique. Well done, and be encouraged--you're a talented writer.
Deborah Porter 10/24/05
Sally, as Jan said, be encouraged. This was an excellent piece. I just wanted to stop by and let you know that you ranked 8th in the Level 3 list, and 16th overall (out of 135 entries). So well done! There really wasn't much separating the entries in the top 30. Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)