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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)

TITLE: Love's Comforting Arms
By Joyce Poet


A few feet away from the window, Brian sat in the hand-carved pine rocker he’d inherited from a grandmother he could scarcely even remember. He watched the sky pulse from utter blackness to blinding white. The thunder had become almost constant and no longer caused his body to involuntarily convulse with each crack. Now, besieged with tremors, he was helpless to make himself stop concentrating on the storm that seem to threaten his home. But it was easier than humbling himself to concentrate on the raging storm that endangered his life.

Brian was a strong young man, a man determined to be more than just the fittest to survive. He worked hard for the things he owned. He was “self made” and highly respected. The only things ever just handed over to him were that beautifully crafted rocker and excessive determination in the form of abusive so-called “guardians.”

Somewhere in a his vaguest memories were rhythmic rocking and gentle hymns to soothe a boy whose parents had chosen a life of drugs over the blessing of parenthood. He was indeed a rock to those who thought they knew him. But Brian was crumbling inside.

He ran a sweaty palm over the curve of a worn armrest that a loving husband had once labored joyfully over. A husband had known every detail of his loving wife’s comforting arms and designed the chair to fit her perfectly. But it was Brian who sat in that chair now. He could only imagine Love’s comforting arms wrapped about him like a warm blanket. He was certain he could smell the scent of lilacs and sun-dried linen. “Where are you now, Grandmother? You too have left me alone.”

Bitterness flowed through his veins as much as did fear. Rain ran steadily down the window -- a mocking witness to the tears he was helpless to bite back. Nausea wedged itself between the base of his throat and his mouth. Finally, Brian closed his eyes and begged for either relief from the pain of loneliness or for death. It mattered no longer which.

The hand was light upon his shoulder, so light that he was sure he was dreaming. Certain of what he would find before he ever opened his eyes, Brian looked down at his shoulder to see the bruised, bloody, pierced hand. Then he noticed a small box wrapped in plain brown paper sitting in his lap. It was tied loosely with scarlet ribbon.

With one trembling hand, he held the box in place and with the other, he slowly pulled the end of the ribbon. He watched scarlet fall easily away from the box and the binding as it tumbled to the floor around his inward prison. Peace rested upon his shoulders as the gift of lilacs and sun-dried linen permeated the air.
© 2005

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 (NIV)
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.

Psalm 10:16-18 (NIV)
The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

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Member Comments
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Sara Westhead10/31/05
Well-written and enjoyable. I wanted more though, especially at the end. How did the fragrance make him feel better? Why? Who was it from?
Melanie Kerr 10/31/05
I could picture the scene so clearly from your writing. It is amazing the small things that seem so insignificant that can be so comforting to us.
Helga Doermer10/31/05
Smell is the most ancient of the senses that evokes emotion. You've captured a piece of that in your story.
Jesus Puppy 11/01/05
In a word .. Awesome. A touch of darkness, unfolding to deliverance. Very well done.
Nina Phillips11/02/05
I agree. It's true that miraculous way in which God brings comfort and deliverence to our souls. Knows our hearts.
This is well done. God bless ya, littlelight
Jan Ackerson 11/02/05
I'm sure its just me, but I have a hard time with stories that start out highly realistic, then introduce a supernatural element in a matter-of-fact way. I wonder if Brian's healing revelation could have been brought about in a more typical way...but like I said, that's just personal preference. Your writing is top-notch, very deftly capturing Brian's pain.
terri tiffany11/02/05
You have a wonderful skill with description. I was unsure about the ending..but you write beautiful
dub W11/03/05
Very well done, ever have one of those moments when you say "wish I had written that" - my impression tonight. blessings - dub