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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Groceries - deadline 8-23-12 10 am NY time (08/16/12)

TITLE: The Gas Station Fill-Up
By C D Swanson


She was crying when I first noticed her. Bright red hair hid a good portion of her face while she wiped away tears with a pink tissue.

In the back seat of her red car, a young child was holding a teddy bear crying, “Mommy I’m hungry.”

“Miss, are you okay?”

She turned abruptly wild-eyed and nodded silently.

Not wanting to intrude, I didn’t continue. But, my heart went out to the child who cried out again, “Mommy, can we get something to eat?”

“Baby, we have to wait a little longer…” She replied, while looking through her ripped brown purse glancing quickly at the pump and afterwards began to sob out of control.

I walked over to her, “Your little girl looks like she wants a snack, coincidently so do I. I tell you what, I hate to eat alone. I’d consider it an honor if you both dined with me.”

She began to shake her head no…but after hearing her little girl cry, “Mommy I’m hungry” she agreed, albeit reluctantly.

“I have a gift certificate for gas. I don’t need it; perhaps you might want to use this for your amount.”

“I don’t know what to say, I…” She shifted in place while she bit her lower lip. Her Windex-blue eyes dripped a lone tear onto her faded-yellow blouse akin to a Rorschach blot.

Yes will do just fine.” I smiled.

She paid with the gas certificate and followed me to the Oasis Diner, just two miles down the road from the gas station.

As we walked into the diner, we exchanged introductions. “I’m Barbara Zare.”

“I’m Val Sullivan, and this is my daughter Stacy.”

“Well hello Stacy, hello Val. Let’s get something to eat shall we? I’m starving.”

“Me too!” Young Stacy ran up the steps with Teddy in her arms.

We sat down in a corner booth and while Stacy was finishing her hamburger and fries, Val opened up to me.

“I was evicted last week. We’ve been living out of my car. I have no family, and no job. Well, my mom died five years ago…and my husband left us. I don’t know what to do.” Her hand holding the coffee cup trembled, so she placed it down on the table instantly. “I’m a nervous wreck. My poor daughter…we haven’t been able to buy groceries for some time. We’ve been eating at the mall, sampling the free food. And, we’ve been, sleeping in a commuter parking lot overnight. Well, she’s been sleeping; I stay awake and watch all night.”

“I’ve an idea. There’s an elderly lady who’s in need of care. She’s been looking for someone to do her errands, clean and cook. She’d even go so far as to have the right person live-in. She’s a very sweet widow. Would you be interested?”

Her eyes sparkled as her face lit up with a smile enhancing her beauty, “Yes, I would!”

“Mommy you look so pretty when you smile.”

She hugged her child. And, looked at me and in a quiet voice said, “thank-you.”

“As a matter of fact, why don’t you order Stacy an ice cream? I’ll call her now.”

“Can I have ice cream?” She clapped her ketchup laden hands.

“May I? And, yes you may.”

The widow agreed to see her. We arrived in no time and walked up to the mahogany door and rang the bell. “If it works out…you start immediately.”

The door was opened by her nurse Joanne, “Hi, go right in, she’s in the living room. Goodnight.”

Stepping into the beautiful huge foyer, we walked into the living room; I started to make the introductions, “Hello. Mrs. Jansen, this is…”

The widow dropped her tea cup as she gasped bringing her hand to her mouth.

“Are you okay Mrs. Jansen?” I looked at her with concern.

“You…it’s you!” She pointed at Val.

Val stopped in her tracks holding her daughter tightly.

“Valerie, is it really you?”

“Huh?” Valerie stared at her.

“What’s this about?” I asked.

She handed Valerie a picture. Her eyes widened, “Why do you have a picture of my mom?”

“Sweetheart, that’s my daughter. Your mom and I had a fight so many years ago. She left when you were two. I prayed one day you and your mom would return to me.” She sobbed as she held out her arms.

Val, the identical image of her mother, embraced her grandmother, as the picture of her mom smiling and looking happy…watched.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: John 5:14

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This article has been read 481 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanna Stricker08/23/12
Such a sweet story and a wonderful ending. I could read things like this all day. Such a wonderful reminder that God takes care of the little things, and loves to go beyond 'what we ask or think'.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/23/12
This is a sweet story. I felt like I was watching a TV show as I read through it. You did a nice job of building the characters and the twist ending was great.
Dannie Hawley 08/25/12
Fantastic article! Certainly true that God loves to put families back together and how exciting to see that in action here. You had me hooked from the first sentence to the last and, truly, I didn't see the ending coming. Touching,warm story that is guaranteed to push that tears of sadness lever right over to the tears of joy in under 750 words. . Excellent job!
Dannie Hawley 08/26/12
Wow, how wonderful to learn that this was based on a true story! God is so good to keep such a careful eye on us, isn't He? Thanks for sharing the story.
Laura Hawbaker08/26/12
Neat story! However, I had a bit of a problem with the Windex blue eyes. Does anyone really have eyes that color? When a lone tear slid down her cheek I couldn't help but imagine Windex-blue tears!
Vicki J. Cypcar08/28/12
I never get tired of happy endings, and this was a great one! Well done.
Edmond Ng 08/28/12
A heart-warming story. Excellent crafting and story plot. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Well done on a nicely written piece!
Genia Gilbert08/28/12
Well written and a great surprise ending. It held my interest throughout.
Hiram Claudio08/29/12
What an amazing story! So well written and engaging ... it grabbed you at the outset and never let go. I especially liked when the Stacy told her mom how pretty she looked when she smiled. That well placed line really framed so much of the both struggle the MCs had been through and the corner that was turned as hope became possible.

The ending was a wonderful finish to the story. I agree with Dannie ... you accomplished SO much in 750 words. Awesome work!