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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)

TITLE: Mapel Syrple
By Wilma Schlegel


“Do you remember autograph books? Did you ever have one?” As she asked me, her brilliant blue eyes danced in mischief and merriment.

I hadn’t thought about autograph books in years, but instantly on hearing her question, I smiled broadly and answered both, “Yes, oh yes! Oh, they were fun!” I continued,. “I don’t know what ever happened to mine. I wish I still had it.”

A generation older than me, there was nothing wrong with my dear friend’s memory. Bea continued, “Did you ever hear this one? ‘As long as kitty has a tail, my love for you will never fail.’?” She laughed out loud.

I watched her and was amused that she thought the saying was so funny. It was so innocent, from a much more innocent time.

When she’d stopped laughing she touched me and said, “Now remember that. As long as kitty has a tail, my love for you will never fail - I mean it.”

I was touched. I nodded my head. “I know, thank you,” I said.

“Hey, I remember the one my dad wrote in my book,” I recalled. It came back crisply, wonderfully, warmly. “He wrote it up and down on the page and it said, ‘Read up and down and you will see that I’ll love you if you’ll love me.’”

I smiled, but started to frown as I thought about that ‘if’ in there.

“Hey that’s really something. I never heard that one before,” Bea said. “Your dad must have been very clever.”

“Yea, he was something!” I smiled and thought back to him. We were both quiet for a while. It was a good, peaceful, even appreciative quiet - remembering people, friends, blessings.

“Hey, how about this one?” I started in again. “Roses are red, violets are blue...”

“Sugar is sweet and so are you,” she finished.

The generation difference was showing again. “Yea, but I was thinking of this one,” I said. “Roses are red, violets are blue. Poems are supposed to rhyme but this one doesn’t.”

I laughed. I laughed hard.

Bea didn’t laugh. “Well that doesn’t make any sense. Who would write something like that?”

I subconsciously twisted my hands together as I thought of a feeling-sorry-for-myself answer. “Someone who understand what life can be like, maybe,” I said with a note of worry in my voice. I considered how so many of the autographs were written as keys to success, keys to life. I thought of Job’s friends in the Bible, people who offered advice, but didn’t know the circumstances. Those keys were duds. I let out a shaky breath.

She didn’t let me sink. As spry as could be, she jumped back in. “How about this one then? ‘When you are old and out of shape, remember a girdle is $2.98!’” That mischief was back in her blue eyes. She kept coming up with one after another, from turkeys and tobacco to heads and hearts of lettuce.

I laughed, I cried. I clasped the hand she put over mine. “Oh, Bea. This was perfect. This was so key.” I picked my head up from the hospital bed as I continued to hold her hand.

Some medical people - nurses? anaesthesia personnel? - were coming into the room now, approaching my bed.

I squeezed her hand tighter. “Thank you. How did you know exactly what it would take? I feel like you’ve unlocked something inside me. I feel strong again. I feel hope. Not only do I think this procedure could be a success, I want it to be. All those autograph memories - I want to make more. I want to be you for someone else when they need me.”

I saw a tear on Bea’s cheek as she let go of my hand. “I’ll keep praying for you,” she assured me. “And here’s another one to remember - ‘Roses are red, violets are...’

‘Blue’, I thought. We’ve already done that one. I’m starting to feel a little fuzzy, but am I hearing right?

“Purple. Sugar is sweet and so is maple syrple.” !!!


I don’t know and was unable to find the source of autographs quoted here. They are not original to this piece. (But long live the ‘autograph’!)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Bonnie Bowden 02/21/13
What a clever and fun story. "A merry heart is good medicine."
C D Swanson 02/23/13
I smiled and truly enjoyed this entire read. THanks for this. God bless~
Noel Mitaxa 02/24/13
Whatever happened to autograph books indeed? You've stirred up some nostalgia here, which recalls some of those sign-offs on the backs of envelopes, like SWALK (sealed with a loving kiss) and YTTDSFATCCSH (Yours till the desert sands freeze and the camels come skating home)
Thanks for a fun read.
Alicia Renkema02/28/13
Congratulations Wilma! This was such a touching and humorous piece all at the same time. The only autograph book I ever had was one I bought at Disney World, now I have to go and try and hunt it down. I loved all of those crazy 'Roses are Red poems' -- haven't thought about them in years. Loved the two characters in this read. What a sweet line that the MC wants to get better so she can be to someone else what this other gal was being / doing for her. Thanks fort he memories...
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/28/13
Congratulations on ranking 18th overall!