Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Weary (05/03/12)
TITLE: The Hope of Fire
By Glynis Becker
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“Child, stop gawking and come over here right now!” Before I knew it, I was swept into my grandmother’s arms, enveloped in her familiar perfume. The tears I had pushed down in the airport and the cab came spilling out. I was home.
“Shush, now.” Granny rocked me back and forth right in the middle of the sidewalk, cooing and stroking my hair. I was a grown woman, married with three children, yet standing here I was a child again, in need of everything.
“Let’s go inside. I’ve got your room ready and supper’s on the table.” She kept an arm around me, directing my steps. At her age, I should be supporting her. Instead, I’m not sure I would have made it to the door without her.
I dropped my bag inside and closed my eyes, reveling in more scents from my past: fried chicken, old books and biscuits. My mouth watered and I swallowed hard as I said the first words I could manage. “I’m so glad to be here, Granny. You have no idea.”
She made a little clucking noise. “Don’t you worry. We’ll talk about it when you’re ready. First off, let’s eat. I’ve never had a problem that didn’t seem a little lighter after buttered biscuits and a glass of sweet tea.” Granny smiled and I even smiled a little back. It felt tight, unnatural, like a muscle I hadn’t stretched in awhile.
I ate like it was my last meal. Or my first meal, I’m not sure which. The food was heavenly, my appetite hearty and the conversation light. I enjoyed it, but as soon as I pushed back my plate, I was overcome with a return of the paralyzing weariness.
“You go up to your room. I’ll see to the dishes, then we can talk.” I must have looked like I wanted to protest because she squinted, focusing right on my eyes, daring me to be contrary. I decided against it.
The uneven steps led to the room I loved. Nothing had changed in the years since I’d laid eyes on the double-wedding-ring quilt, the gilded mirror and the floral wallpaper. It was all I could do to take my shoes off before crawling into bed. Why couldn’t I get it together? I used to be so strong. Exhausted, I slept.
I stirred when Granny’s rocking chair squeaked against the floor. Knitting needles clicked in perfect rhythm and I rubbed my eyes. I’d never known her to mince words, so neither would I. “I’m tired, Granny. I can’t-- I don’t want to do it anymore.”
“Do what?” She continued knitting.
“Any of it. I love my girls, but I’m tired of being “Mommy”. I love my job at the agency, but it’s the same people with the same problems every day. The poverty and need never end. I love Michael, but I can’t remember how we thought our lives would be. I’m not sure I know who I am anymore and I’m too tired to try and find out. When does life slow down so I can enjoy it?” I paused. “But the minute I ask that question, I feel guilty. Guilty that I’ve got so much when others have so little. What right do I have to stand here and whine about how hard my life is?”
Granny took a deep breath. “I certainly don’t have all the answers, child. But I do know that I’ve been bone-tired a time or two. I’ve learned that it’s usually when I’ve lost sight of my passion and my purpose. I know it sounds like a bumper sticker, but if I ask God to remind me that I am His hands and feet and hope wherever I am--well, then I remember my passion. In turn, I feel the holy fire in my bones again and that gives me strength like an eagle. You’ve hit the bottom because you’ve lost your passion. Stay here awhile. Take time to pray, to remember and come out of that pit. When you’ve done that, He’ll put you in a place where passion will flow out of you like water out of a fountain. And, oh boy, the devil better watch his step!”
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