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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Holiday (04/05/12)

TITLE: Lorne
By Geoffrey johnstone


The Great Ocean Road stretches 243 kilometers along the south east coast of Australia. Its ancient cliffs and rough seas have created some of the most beautiful places in the world.

“I love it here,” my wife smiled weakly.

My family had been coming to Lorne for as long as I could remember.

“Do you remember where we first met?”

“Yes.” Mary spoke quietly, saving her strength. “At the trampolines.”

“I’ll never forget that day,” I stated. “You were the most beautiful girl at the beach.”

“I was 14 years old,” she laughed, “and my mother warned me about you.”

“My intentions were completely honorable,” I replied with mock offence.

I cut our sandwich into quarters and set the plate in front of her. “Chicken, lettuce and tomato with plenty of mayonnaise,” I smiled. “It’s your favorite.”

She ate slowly, stopping occasionally to rest.


“Yes, honey,” I looked up anxiously.

“Why are we here?”

The question surprised me.

“You mean Lorne?”


“We love Lorne,” I protested.

“But it’s winter. You don’t come to Lorne in winter.”

She was right of course. Out on the water a container ship battled the elements before it disappeared behind curtains of rain.

“I know,” I sighed.

Mary reached out and covered my hand with hers.

“It was something Pastor Harold said.” I hesitated but we had promised to be honest with each other. “Do remember that sermon he preached. I think he called it '5 things dying people taught me.'”

“I remember,” she said quietly.

“The holidays,” I whispered.

“The holidays,” Mary squeezed my hand.

Suddenly a chill wind brought the first drops of rain.

“Let’s get you home,” I fussed.

We hurried across the road to our holiday house. Mary gripped the arms of her wheel chair as I raced down the drive way.

“That was fun,” she laughed.

“Would you like me to light a fire?”

“That would be nice.” Mary struggled out of her wheel chair and walked the few steps to the couch. She watched bemused as I tried in vain to light the kindling wood in the fireplace. Eventually a wisp of smoke turned into flame as the fire took hold.

“Success!” I exclaimed.

I turned to see the woman I loved asleep on the couch. Her head resting uncomfortably on the arm rest.

“Oh honey,” I whispered. Once again sadness and grief washed over me. My wife’s hair was streaked with grey and the flesh around her eyes was puffy from the chemo therapy.

How long did we have? Our doctor had given us only a few more months at most.

“How will I live without you?” I whispered.

Suddenly a tear ran down her cheek. “I’m sorry, honey,” she murmured. “I tried so hard.”

“I know,” I spoke softly as I covered her with a blanket. “Just sleep, I’ll be here when you wake.”

Somewhere in Lorne our children were preparing a surprise party. Friends and family had been arriving all day and somehow we had kept their presence a secret.

Only a few months, I fretted.

A line from the sermon kept playing itself over in my head. “It’s not the money they remember. It’s the thousand ways you show love. It’s the flowers, the candlelit dinners, the picnics in the park. It’s the time you took from making a few more dollars to spend with the people who matter. But above all else – it’s the holidays. Because those few days together mean that they, and they alone, are enough to satisfy you.”

The fire had taken hold. Somehow watching the flames helped still the turmoil inside me. The list was still inside my coat pocket. Unfolding it I took my pen and crossed out ‘picnic in the park.’ The item underneath read ‘surprise birthday party.’ There were three more lines below that.

“Dear God,” I prayed quietly. “Just a little longer, please.”

Behind me Mary stirred and opened her eyes.

“Hi, beautiful,” I smiled.

“You silver tongue smoothy.” The sleep had obviously helped.

“Let’s try on that new dress I bought you,” I held out my hands. “I’ve got a surprise.”

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This article has been read 485 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sherry Castelluccio 04/12/12
This is such a beautiful story. I'm actually fighting tears. Well done. I hope the judges see what I see- a winner.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/12/12
This is beautiful. I sensed that the wife was dying immediately and it set the tone of the love felt in the story. It gave me goosebumps.

There were a few tiny editing errors, a missing question mark or comma, chemotherapy and driveway are one words.

But the message of the story comes screaming through loud and clear. It is so important to slow down and take the holidays with your loved ones. This story really touched me and reminded me to live for today. I needed that message right now and I can't thank you enough for giving it to me.
C D Swanson 04/12/12
Oh my, what a tear jerker! I was overwhelmed reading this...my husband and I recently lost two dear friends to cancer, so it hit home.

Good message to appreciate each moment we have while we are here on earth.

Thank you for bringing home a powerful message, and loving story.

God Bless~
Theresa Santy 04/12/12
Beautiful. Still crying. Gotta go.
Genia Gilbert04/12/12
Touching, sad, but lovely. Very good.
Joe Moreland04/12/12
A masterful job of building your story and setting the scene and the mood. I know I felt, saw and heard just what you wanted to convey in this story and that takes skill that is beyond all but a lucky few. Thanks for sharing.
Leola Ogle 04/12/12
Just beautiful! Such a poignant love story and well written. You did an awesome job! God bless!
marcella franseen04/13/12
A sweet, well-written story!
Rosamund Bunney04/15/12
Now I'm in a dilemma because I've already said I hope another story is the winner, and now I hope this one is! Very well done!
Laura Hawbaker04/16/12
Very well written. Conversation flowed well. Brought tears to my eyes.
C D Swanson 04/19/12
Congratulations & God Bless~
Hiram Claudio04/19/12
Nicely done and congratulations on the "Highly Commended" recognition!
annie keys04/19/12
Congratulations, well done!
Ellen Carr 04/19/12
Beautifully written and a very moving story. Congrats on your 9th place award. And I know Lorne too! A lovely place to set the story.
Sandra Hartman 04/25/12
This is a beautiful aritlce!! I love the way the story unfolds gradually and naturally. I'm sure this story will touch a lot of hearts out there:)