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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sharp (03/07/13)

TITLE: The Roses Of Belleville~
By C D Swanson


There it was again, a sharp burning pain in her left eye. "Ouch, ouch, ouch! What the heck is this?"

One hand on the wheel, the other on her eye, she continued navigating the back roads with twenty minutes to get to the interview for an Administrator. Each time the pain returned, it got worse, and to add blisters to a boil, her vision got blurry.

She had to be in top form for the interview. Casey knew she could accomplish much for the residents in Belleville Manor. There had been many issues, and complaints, in the last state survey. There were conditions that would be ratified if she were to take the reigns as head honcho. Her calling was with the elderly, as evidenced by her fervent desire to help these individuals at every turn. She gave them a voice, and made sure they were heard.

"Ouch!" She pulled the car over. Fumbling through her bag, she grabbed eye drops and squirted a generous amount. "Owwwwwwwwwww!"

It felt as if a flame licked her eye with a thumbtack pinned to her iris.

Her Jeep was tethering on the outskirts of a desolate area, with a small lake nearby. Casey's body tensed, as she heard a car stop directly behind her. Gripping the steering wheel, she immediately locked her doors, as a lady in white appeared.

"Can I help you miss?" She peered in and continued, "I'm a doctor… you okay?" Her voice was pleasant, quelling Casey's anxiety.

"I, er-"

"It's okay, I’ll show you my Identification." She held her badge to the window-- Verona Jensen, M.D.

"Thanks, I feel stupid.”

"Absolutely not, you're obviously experiencing pain, in the middle of nowhere. Actually, under the circumstances, you're a lot calmer than I'd be." She smiled, before continuing, "Can I check your eye?"


"Oh boy, here's the problem," Dr. Jensen's voice was incredulous. "Please try not to move. I have to grab my tweezers. This will hurt for about a second, Ready? Here we go.”

"Owwwwww." Casey's shrill cry startled ducks nearby, taking flight, quacking mightily.

"I'm sorry. I warned you that it'd hurt."

Casey's pain subsided considerably, before she asked, "Why did you use tweezers?"

"A tiny thorn, almost near your iris, it penetrated, albeit, superficially. However, enough to create the sharp, piercing, burning pain."

"How the heck did that happen? I didn't feel it go in?"

"Probably a delayed reaction. It could have blown into your eye while walking, or driving. Who knows?” She opened a bottle of disinfecting solution, “One quick rinse and you’re all set.”

"Oh, that feels better. Wow, that was bizarre. Totally freaky, I can't believe that just happened to me. Thank you Dr. Jensen."

"No problem, glad I could help. I have to dash off, I've an appointment."

"So, have I." She laughed, then continued, "Although, I'm going to be late. However, I'm determined to get there irrespective of the time. I feel passionate about an opportunity that can impact the lives of residents. I just pray the person interviewing will lend me slack, as to why I'm late. You may know the place, Belleville Manor. I know I can help make the place a home for this special population, instead of an institution with problems. I want to be instrumental in allowing the residents to thrive, not merely survive. They’re special, and need to be treated as such. Apparently, there'd been incidents where they’ve been treated as thorns, and not the sweet roses they are. Someone needs to be there, to allow them to bloom in peace, as their petals begin to fall away, with dignity and poise. That person would be me."

"Casey Winston?" Dr. Jensen squinted as she tilted her head with a small smile.

"Yes. How..."

"I'm not only a doctor; I'm the owner of Belleville. I've already seen your resume, and checked your references. Casey, listening to the sincerity that resonated from your heart, concerning your plans, and goals, I've already made my decision. As far as I'm concerned, you're the right person for the job. The previous administrator has been let go, and I need to fill this position immediately."

Casey stood frozen, her mouth ajar, trying to process what she'd heard.

Dr. Jensen smiled broadly before adding, "Casey, now that I've removed two thorns, one from my side, and one from your eye...can you bring your potting soil, and begin tomorrow?"

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This article has been read 504 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Goergen03/14/13
Ouch indeed, I could only imagine how painful a sharp thorn in one’s eye could be. I liked this from the title to the end! A lot of well thought out detail in this story presents it in powerful mind pictures!

I love the way you took the thorn/rose theme throughout the whole story. Having the nursing home residents
“treated like thorns” instead of “roses” gave a very vivid view of their present care and an effectual understanding of how drastically Casey wanted their care to improve.

You gave strong images throughout your story of the topic “sharp”, in showing pain the sharp thorn brought to an eye, the sharp suffering of people being treated roughly and the sharp stress another person can cause another by being “a thorn in their side.”

I found this to be an interesting and entertaining read and thought the “thorn” helping Casey, get the job, instead of losing it, was another good visual. Sometimes we have to endure pain to get to something good. Great job.
Dannie Hawley 03/15/13
I loved this terrific story! If I tried to give you all the reasons, I'd be plagerizing Linda's comments just above mine. She has described everything just as I would have. I've nothing more to say, except I hope the judges love this as much as I do! Very well done!
Jack Taylor 03/16/13
Realistic dialogue, clear presentation of the theme, and a good ending. Well done on the powerful imagery.
lynn gipson 03/16/13
As usual, you have come up with a brilliant, unique, captivating story for us all to read. Spot on topic and left me wanting to know how her first day at work went.Love it. This should do well, You go girl!
Linda Berg 03/16/13
Carrying the theme of the thorn and sharp throughout this story was very clever. Great story.
Noel Mitaxa 03/17/13
Your characters are drawn very credibly and you have earthed the scene very well. Like others have noted, you have strongly emphasised the roses despite the thorns, straddling this emphasis by a very absorbing intro and a conclusion with a cute twist which also carries a whimsical touch of authenticity.
The way you MC tumbles out with obviously-rehearsed answers to questions she anticipates may have telegraphed the twist, but you still withheld enough to maintain interest.

And some very minor red ink: "taking the reigns" would involve simultaneously replacing more than one king or queen - since 'reigning' is what they do for a living. "Taking the reins" does entail far less of an upheaval for a nation, its constitution and its citizens. :-(
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/20/13
I think this is a beautiful story. I really enjoyed the characters and thought you did a nice job of showing the conflict right up front which helps pull the reader into the story. As soon as the mysterious stranger approached and announced that she was a doctor, I was fairly sure that she would be the one with whom the interview was scheduled. Even though the ending was slightly predictable, I still enjoyed it thoroughly. I can feel your passion in your words and believe that you have a gift with working with older people. It truly is a gift and one that is needed more and more each day.
Judith Gayle Smith03/20/13
I am galloping towards that thorny age where my petals are blowing in the proverbial wind. How I wish every care facility would have your MC's incredible heart. Thank you for hope . . .
Edmond Ng 03/21/13
I enjoyed this piece very much. There is no coincidence that is not God arranged.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/22/13
Congratulations on ranking 35 overall! Happy Dance!!
Mary Toll03/23/13
First of all, your title is beautiful. I felt as though I were taking a leisurely Sunday stroll through a tended garden. As you planted the elements of the plot patiently, proficiently, and elegantly into the soil of your story, the outcome came out 'smelling' like a rose. The chance of the two ladies meeting is what I call a 'divine' appointment with no thorns about it. Well done!
Ken Ebright 03/24/13
CD I finally got to reading it, I absolutely love it. Although when the doctor was treating
I got a little lost as to whom was speaking.