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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beautiful (11/07/05)

TITLE: The Rock Collector
By Karen Treharne


“There’s “Crazy Bill” again. Sorting through that rock pile. Every Saturday he searches that dirty mound looking for his “treasures”. I can’t imagine what he does with them.” Anne shook her head..

“You shouldn’t call him crazy, honey. He’s just eccentric.”

“I know. But you have to agree that it’s just a bit odd for a grown man, a man over 60 no less, to have a fascination with rocks.”

After dinner, the girls went upstairs to do homework and Jim sat down to watch the news on television.

Anne was cleaning the dishes when she saw red lights flashing through the kitchen window.

“There’s an aid car at Mr. Thorpe’s. I wonder what’s wrong.”

Jim came to look. “I’ll go over and find out.”

She watched until the paramedics eventually brought Bill Thorpe out to their van on a stretcher. She couldn’t see his face clearly, but he was hooked up to oxygen and he wasn’t moving. Her husband returned with the news.

“He’s had a heart attack, Anne, and it doesn’t look good.”

Over the next couple of weeks, their neighbor’s family came and went as they gathered to visit their loved one in the hospital. Bill Thorpe died a month before Thanksgiving.

Even though the Williamson’s had lived next door to him for almost ten years, they didn’t know him all that well. Only enough to wave and say hi, and have him over for dinner now and again. They went to the funeral out of respect but didn’t stay long after the service.

Then, one day in January there was a knock on the door.

“Hi. I’m Ginger, Bill Thorpe’s daughter.”

“Oh, Ginger, I’m so sorry for your loss. Won’t you please come in. I’m Anne Williamson. I’ll get us some coffee.”

“Thanks, Anne. But I just came over to bring you this piece that my Dad wanted you to have. He loved to paint, but he usually only gave his artwork to his family as gifts. However, we did find this one among his collection sitting on a piece of paper with your name on it.”

She handed her a multi-colored rock.

Anne looked in amazement at the jagged stone. There was a crack in the center of the rock face, careening from the top right toward the bottom left. It was painted bright red. Above the stream of crimson were three empty wooden crosses.

The area around the gallows was barren and only a few boulders and scrub brush were scattered down the hillside. Some people were walking away from the death scene while others knelt with bowed heads.

At the bottom, on the left side of the stone canvas, was a black cave and its matching gravestone, with a bright white light emanating from inside. Green grass and diverse shades of rainbow-hued flowers surrounded the opening.

It was the most beautiful painting of the crucifixion scene that she had ever viewed. With tears in her eyes, she held the once ugly rock in shaky hands.

“Thank you so much, Ginger. Please sit for a minute.”

They settled on the couch and then Anne confessed. “I’m so ashamed of myself. Over the past several years, I called your father crazy because he went out to that mound of rocks week after week and, with much deliberation, would finally carry a few select pieces back into his house. I thought he wasn’t in his right mind, but I didn’t even take the time to find out if there was a good reason for his actions. Please forgive me.”

“That’s okay, Anne. Of course I forgive you. Most of his family thought he was a little weird, too. He stuck pretty close to home and didn’t encourage us to visit much.“

Ginger held Anne’s hand in hers for a moment before asking, “Would you like to come over and see some of his other work?”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 11/14/05
I loved this message and I loved how it was portrayed. (I also love rocks and have them still!) A beautifully told story.
Debbie OConnor11/15/05
A great story with a wonderful message.
Beth Muehlhausen11/17/05
I loved that the story ended with the prospect of further relationship between the two women.
terri tiffany11/20/05
Great twist to what could have been an obvious scenario. Made me think about some of my own thoughts of my neighbors. Very nice!