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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Rest (01/17/13)

TITLE: Mission Accomplished!
By Danielle King


Sam gauged the squares in the rust coloured carpet. With true grit and resolve he levered his old bones out of the armchair and brought down his walking stick on the golden leaf pattern. Once his legs quit wobbling, he could shuffle; one green fern--two golden leaves--one green fern, until he reached the door.

Sam enjoyed standing by the open door. There was always someone to watch; kiddies going to and from school; the window cleaner on his rounds, or the postman. Most had a cheery greeting for Sam.

Today he sat on the doorstep, hands resting on the crook of his stick. He watched as an army of red ants scurried about their duties. Sam used to work hard like those ants, but not anymore. He hung his head in shame.

“Dad,” Peter would say. “You’ve worked all your life. You’ve fought for queen and country and you’re ninety years old, for heaven’s sake. It’s time to rest.” Sam rubbed his calf. The old war wound still gave him jip some days.

The carer would be here shortly. Peter had stopped his father using the stove; he’d had too many tumbles of late. Sam protested at first. His pride had taken a dreadful blow, but eventually he found he was glad of the company; a bit of saucy banter with the older ladies; a listening ear to the youngsters; boyfriend dilemmas and such. ‘Kids, they know nothing of life these days,’ he’d thought.

Today Kathy was early: “Caught in the act!” She attempted a stern face. “You old scoundrel,” she declared. “You should be resting that gammy leg.” Sam managed a mischievous grin and a wink; though inside, his proud heart was weeping.

Kathy set to work with her mop and duster: “Look.” She said, holding up a photograph of Elsie. “I’m knocking the dust off so she can see what you get up to.” Kathy’s back was turned when a lone salty teardrop splashed down Sam’s cheek.

The sun shone the following day and the ants were busy on the path. Sam was at the door wearing a clean shirt and his jacket, the one that Elsie bought him for ‘walking out.’ It was still early. Sam focused his attention on the goal. He mustn’t look down at his feet.

Step by jittery step, he made it through the garden gate, carefully closing it behind him. The road was quiet; the rush hour over. He spied the post-box on the corner of Church Street. It seemed farther away than it used to be, but Sam wouldn’t let that deter him. Chin up, eyes straight ahead, he shambled and hobbled in dogged determination to accomplish the task in hand.

A resurgence of pain from that old shrapnel wound threatened to curb his mission, but Sam soldiered on regardless. The church was in view when a sharp twinge under the rib cage forced him to halt awhile: “Elsie, what am I like?” He said. And shaking his head in disbelief, noticed he was wearing his carpet slippers.

In this small rural village the church never closed. The vicar encouraged his flock to drop in for a moment of restful reflection. Sam was wilting like a thirsty flower. The niggling pain in his chest was bugging him. But he’d made it, and wished he’d popped his inhaler inside the top pocket of his walking out jacket; the one that Elsie bought him.

He sat in solitude. Pondering; ruminating, until ultimately the silence engulfed him. He sat, head in hands, until those far too long stifled emotions erupted into an unstoppable surge, leaving him drained and exhausted.

On the wall behind the altar, a large mural of Jesus hanging on the cross had been renovated. The last time Sam saw it was at Elsie’s funeral. It was refreshed; had new vigour. He was drawn by its energy.

“Um… Lord.” He paused, testing the waters. “I’m not sure how to put this. I mean, it’s not as though I’ve spent much time with you lately…” He hesitated. “In fact it’s been years. But Lord, I’m wrecked. And I miss my Elsie so much…” He winced as his ‘indigestion’ pain gripped tight.

Sam remained still and gazed long and hard at the cross. No words were needed, because deep in his heart he knew all was well.

When Kathy called later she found Sam in his armchair. Taking Elsie’s picture from the shelf she placed it beside him, before calling Peter.

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This article has been read 634 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dusti (Bramlage) Zarse01/24/13
You did a wonderful job of making Sam feel so very real. I truly felt for him.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/24/13
This is an outstanding piece. I could feel the pain with each step, the embarrassment of noting slippers, the ragged breaths. You did an amazing job of pulling me right into this story. It's an amazing read.
Francy Judge 01/24/13
Great characters. His emotions seemed very real. I also like how you ended your story with a bit of mystery at how the scene transpired.
Noel Mitaxa 01/25/13
You have truly brought old Sam to life with such vivid external descriptions and with such a candid view of his inner thoughts. Exremely absorbing read, with a very tender close. Should rate highly.
Loren T. Lowery01/25/13
Simply lovely - engaging. A well-rounded story tenderly told.
C D Swanson 01/25/13
Outstanding piece of writing, excellent job of story telling, and fabulous entry overall.
God bless~
Alicia Renkema01/25/13
Who could "rip this to shreds" ( your invitation on the boards); I wanted to savor each word. Your characters were rich and Sam's thoughts and feelings just jumped into my pores as I read. The ants were busy and he no longer was; those ants caught Sam's attention twice because when you reach that kind of disability in your living (isn't simply relegated to the old either, I have Firbromyalgia and could easily relate) one notices all of those daily things in life that make one feel less than. Your ending caught me off guard, but if it meant what I thought it did -- that Jesus took Sam home to be with his wife because of Kathy calling his son Peter, I thought it was very fitting and so like our Lord! He heard Sam's heart cry about missing his wife in the church! That was my interpretation, I may be way off... But either way, between your wonderful English / Aussie vocabulary; plot and how the reader felt everything through his "shuffles" -- this is truly a treasure of a piece! Thanks for the blessing!
Allison Egley 01/25/13
Oh, this was great. I was actually afraid it might have a sad/happy ending, but I like your ending better. Nice job.
Dannie Hawley 01/26/13
You've caught the real-life feelings of my own 90-year-old Aussie Mum brilliantly here. She has yet to join my father, but would totally identify with Sam, should she read this excellent article. The reader can't help but be pulling for the old fellow as she reads your piece. Lovely job!
Christina Banks 01/26/13
This is excellent. Sam is such a wonderful character, and you brought him to life so well. Nicely done!
Carolyn Ancell01/27/13
I work with elderly in hospice, and felt the authenticity in your writing, and the authenticity in your heart! A beautiful read.
Ellen Carr 01/28/13
Beautifully written, engaging and tender. These words describe your story well. Well done!
Judith Gayle Smith01/28/13
Shuffling in his shoes, I absolutely loved this!
Myrna Noyes01/28/13
What a beautifully touching story! My heart went out to tired old Sam, and I'm glad he found peace in the church and rest in Jesus! This was so excellently-written, with a lovely ending. Great job!
Margaret Kearley 01/30/13
I can only echo everything that has been said and thank you for such a wonderful and touching story. A very apt title too! Your descriptions bring Sam to life and it's so true, God in His great goodness, continues to speak even right up to our last minutes on earth. Thank you for such a lovely piece.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/31/13
Congratulations!!! HAPPY DANCE!!!
Myrna Noyes01/31/13
Hearty congratulations on your E.C. win for this great story! :)
Loren T. Lowery01/31/13
Congratulations, Danielle. And, I respectfully and most humbly release you from any obligation of "eating your hat" by the ranking of my own entry : ). Your story and the way it was told so very deserving of your EC and Placement. Thanks, too, for your comment on mine - it is genuinely appreciated.
C D Swanson 01/31/13
Congrats Danielle.

God bless~
Bea Edwards 01/31/13
Lovely story that held me enthralled and gave me pause for reflection of the dilemma faced by so many of our elderly.
A beautiful piece-thank you and congratulations.