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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: PICNIC - deadline 7-12-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/05/12)

TITLE: High Hopes
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


Delainey tapped lightly on the half-opened door as she poked her head around to see if the patient in the bed was resting. She grinned when she saw the pale girl in the bed motion for her to come in. “Hi, I’m in the room next door and thought I should make my rounds.”

Struggling to sit up, the girl offered her hand. “I’m Kristi. Making rounds, isn’t that what doctors do?”

Giggling, Delainey shook her hand then plopped into a nearby chair. “Well, sometimes I think I’m here more than the doctors so I try to get around and see the other patients at least a couple of times a day. I get seizures and shake all over and have to come in a lot so the doctors can adjust my medicine. Sometimes I like to use the medical lingo. So what are you in for?”

Kristi shrugged her shoulders and her eyes welled with tears. “They don’t know what’s wrong with me. I get tired easily and want to sleep all day plus my nose starts gushing blood for no reason. They thought it might be leukemia but it definitely isn’t that. They come and poke me all the time and draw more blood. No wonder everyone comments on how pale I am.”

Nodding vigorously, Delainey pushed up the sleeves of her gown and exposed the purple and brown bruises that speckled her arms. “I call the phlebotomist the vampire.”

Crinkling her eyebrows, Kristi stifled a small giggle. “Phle-bot-o-mist? Is that what they’re called?”

“Vampire is easier to say. I’m eleven. How old are you?”

“I’ll be ten in two days.” Kristi’s voice quivered and she squeezed her eyes tight.

“I’m sorry; am I tiring you out?” Delainey bent her knees to push herself out of the chair when Kristi reached out and grabbed her arm.

“Please stay. It’s so lonely here. Mom had to pick up my sister from school.” She swiped away a tear. “It’s just we were supposed to have a huge picnic for my birthday but the doctors said I won’t be discharged until at least Monday. I’m going to miss all of the fun.” She rolled her eyes and sighed. “The nurse said I could have it in my room but that’s not a picnic; that’s lunch. Duh!”

Delainey nodded in agreement. “What’s your favorite part of a picnic?”

Kristi tucked her chin into her chest. “It’s silly but my favorite part is watching the bugs, really the ants. They work so hard and never give up. Ever since I started feeling sick, Mom has been singing this goofy song that is like a million years old. She took a deep breath and belted it out. "Just what makes that little old ant think he’ll move that rubber tree plant? Anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant."

Swinging her arms out, Delainey joined in. "But he’s got high hopes. He’s got high hopes."

Just then the door swung open and a nurse marched in. “What’s that racket?” Her eyes rested on Delainey as her lips slightly pulled up at the corners and her eyes sparkled. “I should’ve known--Delainey! You need to get back to your bed and rest.”

The girls waved to each other and Delainey winked. “I’ll be back.”

Two days later, the nurse came into Kristi’s room with a wheelchair. “Hop in, kiddo.“

Groaning, Kristi climbed out of bed and sat in the wheelchair. “Please tell me that this test won’t hurt. Can’t we wait for Mom?”

After shaking her head no, the nurse wheeled Kristi down the hall and into the conference room. Kristi’s jaw dropped as she saw balloons, a red-checkered tablecloth, and all kinds of food spread out on the balcony.

Delainey jumped out from behind the corner. “Surprise! It’s not exactly the picnic you wanted but it is outdoors so we can feel the sunshine and the wind will blow through our hair.”

Squealing, Kristi jumped up and hugged Delainey. Just then she saw the rest of her family out on the balcony. “Oh, this is almost perfect.”

Delainey punched her lightly on the shoulder. “Almost? You don’t know me very well. I don’t ever do anything halfway.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a huge ant farm.

The girls’ eyes met and they both started singing. "He’s got high hopes. He’s got high hopes. He’s got high, apple-pie-in-the-sky, hopes."

*High Hopes sung by Frank Sinatra and written by Cahn/Van Huesen

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This article has been read 617 times
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Dannie Hawley 07/12/12
Wow does this article ever bring back memories! I once took an adolescent with lots of scar from old surgeries and bandages from the latest skin grafting surgery to our church's Fourth of July picnic... or, almost did... we ended up holding a picnic in his room, without the ants, though. fever spiked. Thanks for this poignant piece.
Phyllis Inniss07/12/12
What a great story! It held me right to the end and the surprise for Kristi. It was so very good. You are truly a great writer. Keep it up. God bless.
Genia Gilbert07/12/12
I loved this. So much in it, the picnic, the ants, the song, and a kind little girl. Lots to enjoy, and left me feeling good.
C D Swanson 07/13/12
Awww, so much packed into this piece. Emotions, messages, thoughts of yesterday, childhood, life in general. Nicely done. I enjoyed this entry.

Thanks...God bless~
Noel Mitaxa 07/13/12
Very powerful story, for the power of its innocence and seriousness and for how you have brought out a sense of fun against the uncertainty of what may be ahead of these kids. I also loved how you have wrapped it up at the end. Excellent work and right on topic.
Catrina Bradley 07/14/12
Delaney sounds like an angel sent to raise the hopes of others. What an inspiring story!!!
Helen Curtis07/14/12
This is delightful; definitely on my favourite's list for this topic! Really well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/14/12
This is a really sweet story. I fell in love with Delaney!
Yvonne Blake 07/15/12
Ahhhh.... that's so sweet. I fell in love with Delainey. I can see this used as a children's devotional.
Deborah Engle 07/15/12
What an inspiring story. Terrific writing.
Myrna Noyes07/15/12
I so enjoyed the positive spirit of this charming story! Delainey is a captivating and creative character! Nice writing! :)
Leola Ogle 07/16/12
Wow! Excellent and then some! Great story and so well written! God bless!
Laury Hubrich 07/16/12
Very sweet story.
Hiram Claudio07/18/12
Special ... touching ... endearing ... all at the same time. This was a real treat to follow this well written story. Delaney, for only being 11, is an excellent counselor ... and a wonderful friend. So many things to like about this and to cheer about.

So well done!
Kristi Huseby07/18/12
I love this story. So sweet - the relationship between the two girls and the troubles they share. It's so well written and really drew me in. I love how you weaved in the picnic topic. So clever. Nice job!
C D Swanson 07/19/12
Congratulations Shann! God bless~
Kristi Huseby07/19/12
Congrat's Shann!!! Nice job.
Genia Gilbert07/19/12
Congratulations! I'm sure this missed the top 10 by only a tiny margin. Great story.
Dannie Hawley 07/19/12
Do you see the celebration rockets exploding over your house and making the sky purple? I launched them as soon as I heard of your win. You rock!
Barbara Lynn Culler07/19/12
Congrats my friend! I've not been reading here for a long time- you sure have grown in your writing! Loved the story.
Leola Ogle 07/19/12
Congrats Shann! Good job!
Danielle King 07/19/12
Aw ... Shann, this is absolutely lovely. All the above comments echo my thoughts. A huge congratulations!
Hiram Claudio07/19/12
Congratulations my friend on your well deserved 2nd place ribbon!
Noel Mitaxa 07/19/12
Well-deserved placing. Congratulations Shann and God bless.
PamFord Davis 07/20/12
Congratulations,Shann! I love this story and the way you delivered it...
Wing His Words!
Ellen Carr 07/20/12
Congratulations on your 2nd placing Shann! This is lovely writing and a great read. Well done!
Raymond Dickerson07/20/12
Congrats on your high placing...Also, a hearty thank you for your wise counsel on my poems these last few months...You have beeb an inspiration and a great help, God Bless you for that...
Charla Diehl 07/20/12
Congratulations, Shann for taking 2nd place with this sweet story of a budding friendship. I like the happy notes it ended on.
Myrna Noyes07/20/12
Congratulations on your level win with this delightful story! :)
Genia Gilbert07/23/12
Congratulations on your #13, Shann. I thought it would be cloooose. Well deserved.
C D Swanson 07/26/12
Congrats! God Bless~
Patsy Hallum07/26/12
Congratulations, dear girl! You wrote a great story, Got a prize, and helped me at the same time. You are a writer!