Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: CHILL (10/27/16)
- TITLE: Reality
By Wendy Godwin
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The tote that held her library books sagged as she hurried up to the book drop at the entrance to Heartford Public Library. It was late October and the crisp air was a pleasant mixture of pine needles and chimney smoke. A thin woman, sitting on a bench by the sliding glass door, rubbed her arms and shivered. She wore only a grey t-shirt and jeans.
“Wanna buy a flower for a dollar?” The woman reached into a small pile beside her. Her thin hand reached up toward Jan and offered a pen with a red silk rose taped to the end. Jan shook her head quickly and decided to look for a book drop inside instead.
Once inside in the warmth, she figured she might as well look for that new book she’d wanted to read. She loved the Amish romance stories and they were very popular right now. There’s just something about that simple life,she thought.
This allusion of a perfect life attracted her. She had a friend who was ex-Amish, though. And she knew that particular lifestyle wasn’t as idyllic as it seemed.
Still, she emptied her books into the return slot and found the Fiction section. Soon three books, covered with pastoral scenes, were stacked neatly on a nearby reading desk. A wooden chair offered a welcome rest as she started to read.
She glanced up from her book and looked out one of the large plate glass windows. An old silver car, paint faded, was parked in the very front of the parking lot and faced the main road. She watched as the woman who sold pen-flowers opened the driver’s side door then climbed in as if she were afraid something would fall out.
Before the woman pulled the door back shut, Jan saw her flop what looked like a thin pillowcase up and over the door frame to cover the window opening. She’d heard of people who were forced to live out of their cars, but right here? In the library parking lot?
Reality rushed in to Jan’s mind and forced away the fantasy. She gathered her books together, stood up, and straightened her thick sweater. It would be dark soon and Jan knew she couldn’t waste any more time.
At the check out desk she noticed a glass full of pens that were arranged to show off their affixed red and white blooms.
“Aren’t they pretty? Folks around here, they just keep buying ‘em and bringing ‘em in.” The blonde woman smiled, glasses perched on the end of her nose as she slid book barcodes under the scanner.
“Does that woman live out there, in her car?” Jan slipped her checked books inside her tote.
“Oh, you mean Sally? Yeah, actually, she’s been out there a while now. No family around, ya’ know. None of those shelters around here either. I guess she feels safe with the police station right across the street and all.”
“The police know she’s there?” Jan just couldn’t imagine.
“Believe it or not, honey.” The librarian grinned. “They check up on her. We all do.” She handed the receipt over. “Ok, you’re all set. Have a nice day now.”
“Thank you, I…I think she needs a jacket.” Jan hurried out, her mind racing.
An hour later Jan again maneuvered her car into the bumpy parking lot. This time she pulled up right next to the old silver car. She grabbed a small brown blanket and folded it around a heavyweight green jacket. She had tucked a card that said “Hope”, a handwritten Bible verse, and a few dollars, into the jacket’s pocket.
Then she leaned the warm package on the front of the silver car against the windshield. She knocked lightly on the driver’s side window, returned to the warmth of her own car, and pulled away.
She smiled as she thought about how reality, as messy as it is at times, is so much better than fantasy. She hoped that she would always be willing to let the Lord direct her path.
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