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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Blessed (10/11/12)

TITLE: Mirror
By Addie Pleasance
10/17/12


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My mother was young, poor, and single, and thus unaware that she was carrying twins—my sister and me—until the startled doctor discovered my sister, patiently waiting her turn to be born while the nurse was already swaddling me. While she handed me into my mother’s arms, the doctor said, “Good Lord, there’s another one,” and Jolene slipped weakly into the world.

I was squawking, demanding food, love, attention at my mother’s breast. So enamored was she of my dark curls, my tiny fists, that she was hardly aware of the doctor and nurse rubbing Jolene’s tiny chest and tapping the bottoms of her feet, hoping that she’d pink up some from the dusky blue shade she was born with.

Of course I don’t remember this, but the story has been told all my life; the delivery room nurse was my mother’s Aunt Sue. That my mother’s scandalous pregnancy should result in unexpected twins made for tremendous storytelling potential, all the richer for the differences between Jolene and me.

From that very first day, it was apparent that I had enjoyed more than my share of our maternal nourishment. I was a vigorous, lusty baby with chubby arms and legs and pretty pink skin. Jolene was scrawny, pale, and listless. I seemed to have been blessed with every genetic advantage. Poor little Jolene’s unfortunate appearance endeared her to no one—particularly our mother, who preferred to snuggle me, and often had to be reminded of Jolene, silent in her cradle.

“Isn’t Jasmine just the cutest little thing?” was the theme of our childhood. At the grocery store, the nursery school, the playground—my mother would present her identically dressed twins, delighting as new acquaintances looked from me to Jolene with mild astonishment. How her two girls could look so much the same and yet so unmistakably different was a source of constant amusement for our mother.

“Are they twins?” would come the question, and mother would clap her hands and laugh.

“Of course they are—but they’re not identical!”

Here is the litany of our differences, made greater through the passage of many years: my blessings, Jolene’s misfortunes. My hair is full and shiny; Jolene’s is coarse and dull. My eyes, an unusual golden green; Jolene’s, a similar shade of green but flecked with gray. My nose—slender, slightly upturned; Jolene’s—ever-so-slightly broader. I am tall, slim, graceful. Jolene is as tall as I am, but ironically the years have thickened her figure, and she walks with a kind of graceless plodding.

Jasmine and Jolene—I even got the prettier name.

Our school years were exactly what you would expect. I was the teacher’s pet, the cheerleader, the homecoming queen. My looks and charm I leveraged for grades, or I copied Jolene’s papers without her permission. Have I said that Jolene was as intelligent as I? Perhaps more so—her one saving grace (and mine, especially in algebra).

All of my life, I have used my beauty for gain: for grades, men, career advancement, cars, jewels. People willingly throw such things at a pretty face, a shapely body.

I hate it all.

When I look at Jolene, with her chubby, balding husband and her tousled children, in their tiny parsonage—laughing, always laughing—I hate everything I own.

Here’s what I think. Some mysterious process in our mother’s toxic womb made Jolene and me to be mirrors for each other’s souls. Jolene is me—when I look at her, I see myself, unmistakably, but with the distortions of my twisted character.

I am not a person of prayer—Jolene seems to have been given all of the inclination toward faith. But if God were to grant me one small grace, it would be that just once, I would be able to use my looks for something good. That Jolene would look in her Jasmine mirror and see the beauty of her own soul.

***

Jasmine walks up the steps to Jolene’s house and knocks on the door. From inside, she hears the children, the dog, her sister at the piano. The music stops—a child says “Mommy! She’s here!”—and footsteps approach. Jasmine runs her fingers through her hair, tosses her head.

The door opens, and Jasmine is enveloped in an embrace. After several seconds, Jolene pulls away and holds her sister at arm’s length, one hand caressing her hair. “Oh, Jazzy,” she says. “You’re so lovely, so blessed. You get more beautiful every day.”



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This article has been read 376 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jody Day 10/18/12
Made me cry. Good treatment of the theme. A very compelling piece and well written. Good job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/19/12
Wow! what a powerful message. You spoke volumes with your words and tugged at my heart. There are so many messages here. I think I especially needed to hear the one that it's what is on the inside that matters. I can look back at the first half of my life and see a beautiful person on the outside (though then you'd never be able to convince me of that) That person hurt so much. But through the years I've changed not just physically where my weight doubled and my illness makes me tremor and sweat. I can hardly stand to look into the mirror but my children have given me such blessings and I look at what wonderful creatures they've turned into and feel so blessed to know my adult children love and respect me for my inside qualities. My daughter is getting married in a week and I've been dreading the picture taking portion of the day. But your story has helped diminish that fear--at least for now. I think I'll reread this next week at this time. Thank you for writing what God put on your heart and for blessing me with your words.
Genia Gilbert10/19/12
This held my attention completely, and the point is well made. Good writing, and the contrasts make your title perfect.
Genia Gilbert10/19/12
This held my attention completely, and the point is well made. Good writing, and the contrasts make your title perfect.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/19/12
You have done an outstanding job with characterization and in showing us exactly what "blessing" is.
Danielle King 10/20/12
Compelling piece and excellent characterisation. Great message too. This has everything!
Janice Wappel10/21/12
Very insightful. Thanks for sharing such depth and love sisters have for each other.
Margaret Kearley 10/25/12
This is just brilliant and well deserving of first place. You have portrayed deep and not to be forgotten truths in a wonderful way. Thankyou
Michael Throne10/25/12
Beautiful piece, full of depth and wisdom. Your story keeps our interest throughout. I especially like the finish - it's different for a story like this, but fits quite well. Excellent writing.
Leola Ogle 10/25/12
Congrats Addie! Good job! God bless!
Nancy Bucca 10/25/12
This is amazing, and the ending made me want to cry. It's a great take on the topic. Congratulations on winning 1st!
Bea Edwards 10/26/12
Congratulations on your profound and lovely winning story. It makes me think about how scripture says that God doesn't see as we do but looks at our hearts. Thank you for the reminder throughout your creatively written article.
Alicia Renkema01/23/13
I was truly blessed to have read this. I want to thank you so much for writing something that I believe so many can identify with in one way or another. I for one, have two very beautiful sisters, married to successful husbands. They have always had more friends than I; had an eye for fashion more than I and the money with which to purchase the very latest in women's designs. My sister's both believe in God, don't get me wrong, although I don't know what their heart - relationship is, I know what mine is. And even though I have had a lot of pain in my life both physical and emotional, I have been truly blessed with my love - relationship with my heavenly Father. Thank you for this poignant reminder that is what is priceless; that is what blessed truly is. May all the blessings that I believe you have blessed others with come richly back to you, a hundred fold... jerseygirl
Alicia Renkema01/23/13
I was truly blessed to have read this. I want to thank you so much for writing something that I believe so many can identify with in one way or another. I for one, have two very beautiful sisters, married to successful husbands. They have always had more friends than I; had an eye for fashion more than I and the money with which to purchase the very latest in women's designs. My sister's both believe in God, don't get me wrong, although I don't know what their heart - relationship is, I know what mine is. And even though I have had a lot of pain in my life both physical and emotional, I have been truly blessed with my love - relationship with my heavenly Father. Thank you for this poignant reminder that is what is priceless; that is what blessed truly is. May all the blessings that I believe you have blessed others with come richly back to you, a hundred fold... jerseygirl