Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Persuasion (not about the book) (09/01/11)
TITLE: A Fresh Wind
By Tracy Nunes
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"Silla! Stop fretting, Honey. You're going to look in the mirror one day and wish you had listened to your Mother!"
She subconsciously rubbed the taut muscles, trying to un-frown, but to no avail. Mom was gone but her words rang true; even when Silla wasn't upset now deep furrows gave the impression she was. She took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh, her lips pursed, her cheeks slightly puffed out. That little exchange of air usually loosened the tightness in her chest for a few moments.
Today, it didn't work. A series of setbacks had put her and Aunt Sedra on the edge of losing everything and some days felt like combat in a hidden battle. And indeed, the war raged around her...<i>in her.</i>
An emissary of fear, armed with negative statistics, tragic news stories, unresolved hurts and strategic planning whispered and taunted Silla's heart and mind, painting a picture of her sure doom with its fingers. A future landscape was masterfully rendered by the malevolent artist; the smoke of destruction swirling amongst the vision.
Silla was caught up in the vision as she waited for the bus, becoming a part of it and allowing herself to be carried into its dark corners and abandoned rooms where emptiness and destitution chained her to futility.
Lost in her shadowy rumination, Silla didn't notice a bent old woman sit down on the bench beside her, a large much-used book in her gnarled hand. The woman smiled at Silla but she paid no attention. A look of recognition passed over the woman's face and after a moment she nodded slightly, as if to acknowledge something said to her.
She placed her worn handbag on the bench next to her and opened her book, placing her fingers in the middle of a page marked with notations, dates and exclamations in many different colors. She closed her eyes and her lips began to move silently.
A fresh Wind wafted around the bus stop and as the old woman continued her hushed conversation it picked up speed and began to disperse the darkness. The emissary fought back and redoubled its efforts but the woman redoubled hers as well. The battle raged, the old woman trembled, faltered and paused but when she did Heaven spoke for her, overcoming the shadows, even while bolstering her fragile but heartfelt efforts.
Silla came out of the murky gloom in her mind, shaking her head and rubbing the ridge between her brows. She became aware of how deep into the dark vision she had allowed herself to descend.
"Must it be like that? Is that what's in store for us?" She asked herself.
That's when she noticed the old woman sitting beside her, eyes closed and lips moving. She didn't look crazy but Silla had seen a lot of bizarre things during her commutes on the bus. She shifted away from the woman as far as she could on the bench and turned back to her thoughts.
Her Great-Uncle Clive came to mind. "That's strange, I haven't thought of him for years..."
Silla smiled as she remembered him. He was always so kind and generous to them after her Daddy had passed away. He would climb the stairs to their apartment with groceries in hand despite his bad leg from the war. He'd read Silla Bible story books while her mother cooked dinner. He was her Mother's favorite uncle and Silla recalled the sense of peace that permeated the house for days after his visits.
After Silla went to bed, he and her Mother would sit laughing and talking for hours and they'd have their inevitable "Jesus Talk," as her Mother put it.
"If you weren't so good to me Uncle Clive I wouldn't put up with that nonsense!"
They'd laugh again and soon he was saying goodnight. He died years later but his love and his words lived on. There was something that Great Uncle Clive had that Silla needed.
Silla came out of her reverie as the late bus finally arrived, a feeling of hope rising with her as she got up from the bench, having never really comprehended the beleaguered but victorious warrior sitting beside her.
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