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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Personal Peace (06/01/06)

TITLE: Taking Care Of Moose
By Jan Ackerson


I watched from my window as Luke walked to his car. He turned and grinned up at me, giving a little half-salute before disappearing into the evening.

I continued to stare at the empty street for minutes after he’d gone, waiting for the battle between my heart and my stomach to subside. Luke was unlike anyone I’d ever known. He had swooped into my life three months ago, surrounding me with flowers and laughter at a time when I had almost come to believe in my own invisibility. He brought me a turtle named Moose, played songs for me on his harmonica, and drew our caricatures on dinner napkins. Luke radiated charm.

So why did my stomach flop alarmingly when, over his favorite evening snack of pickles and chocolate milk, Luke brought up the possibility of marriage?

There was only one solution—a heart-to-heart talk with Kris. We had been best friends for years, ever since we had bonded over our mutual dislike of long division and Mean Old Mrs. Maloney, the Scourge of the Fourth Grade. Chris and Kris, the Maloney-Baloney twins.

I made a quick phone call, then hopped into my car for the three-mile drive.

Kris’s house was a recent inheritance from an elderly spinster aunt, and the scent of lavender still hovered in most of the rooms. The wallpaper was huge vermilion cabbage roses, and lace doilies decorated nearly every surface. Nothing could be further from Kris’s no-frills approach to life, and we had laughed ourselves silly over the old-lady-ness of the house.

Kris greeted me at the door with a hug and a can of my favorite diet soda. “Tell me everything!”

We plopped onto the velvet couch—once a deep, plush rose but now faded and threadbare. “Kris, I just don’t know! He’s funny, he’s cute, he’s a believer, and he’s good to me…” I sighed and drained my soda.

“I’m sensing a ‘but’ here.” Kris took my empty can into the kitchen and returned with a huge bowl of kettle corn.

I had to laugh. “My ‘but’ has nothing to do with it!”

The unwelcome quivering in my tummy was starting to abate, thanks to the comfort of popcorn and a friend’s loyal attention. We talked through the entire bowl, and a second one, and finally Kris said the words that I knew I’d hear before the night was over.

“Do you feel at peace?”

“You know I don’t. As much as I enjoy Luke, when I think of marrying him, all I feel is panic. It’d be like marrying a…a bulldozer!”

“Have you prayed about it?” Preaching wasn’t Kris’s style; nevertheless, I was glad we’d finally gotten to this.

“Well…not really. It’s just been such a whirlwind, and it felt so good, in a way, to have someone love me, and he’s a Christian, so I didn’t think it was really necessary, and I was busy taking care of Moose…” I stopped, realizing how silly I sounded. “Will you pray for me?”

Kris stood and took the empty bowl to the kitchen, then sank back into the sofa and reached for my hand. “I’ve been praying for you all along, Chrissie, and I always will. Go home and talk it over with God, okay? Let me know when you find your peace.”

It was good advice. I spent the weekend in prayer, not even letting Luke come over for our usual Sunday night banana waffles.

I called Kris Monday evening. “Can we talk?” A few minutes later, I walked into the lavender-scented living room. “I just broke up with Luke—and I’m really at peace about it. God has someone else for me, I just know it. Someone who won’t be so overwhelming. Someone…comfortable.”

Kris took a deep breath. “I was hoping you’d say that. We’ve been friends for a long time, and I knew Luke wasn’t the guy for you.” I watched, puzzled, as Kris paled and seemed to forget how to form simple phrases. “Would you…I mean…do you think…I could be that guy?”

Startled, I looked with fresh eyes at this dear friend who had loved me for years. No longer a freckled redhead with scabby knees, he had become a godly gentleman—and I had nearly missed it.

I waited for the fish tails to begin flopping in my stomach, but instead, a wave of peace washed over my spirit. Kris pulled me toward him, and I rested my head near his heart. It felt exactly like home.

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This article has been read 1495 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jessica Schmit06/08/06
I am such a hopeless romantic. I actaully teared up at the end. This was so wonderful. Charming, sweet. The perfect love story. I was so glad that she told Luke no. Great message. Too many people marry because of pressure or thinking that no one else could love them. I sincerely love this piece. I soaked up every word. Wonderful job.
Sally Hanan06/08/06
It's hard to write a story like this in 750 words when it could be a book, but you did a good job. I think I'd call this, "Can We Talk?" rather than your title, and I'd let readers know that Kris is a guy earlier in the story.
Kevin Kindrick06/08/06
I like it. Fun read, and the surprise at the end was perfect. Thanks so much.

God bless,

Jen Davis06/09/06
Ahhhhh. Such a nice piece. Well written with a great ending. Reminds me of when my husband pulled me aside many years ago with a similar confession. “It felt exactly like home.” Just as it should be—a warm place to rest one’s head. A great message for those who are looking for that special someone. Thanks for the memory.
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/09/06
Awww, sweet story.
Helen Paynter06/09/06
Great story - really funny moments (I love Moose!), and I enjoyed the surprise - had to re-read it to check you haven't cheated! Good job.
Pat Guy 06/12/06
Okay - the twist makes the story! Loved it! Woohoo ending! (I'm hoping this will eventually happen to my daughter and a 'friend' of hers - at least us mothers are hoping!) ;)
Virginia Gorg06/12/06
I enjoyed the twist ending. I didn't think Kris was a HE - but there are several he's with that spelling. Nicely done!
Brenda Craig06/12/06
Teary eyed, and touched by this piece. Well done. I wondered if it would end this way and it did. I am a romantic too. Loved it! This was great!!
Tabiatha Tallent06/12/06
Loved the twist. Great story.
Suzanne R06/12/06
LOL - I enjoyed the surprise ending too - also went back and checked and re-read it in a different light!

Love the description of the old-lady-ness of Kris' house.

Still don't quite get the significance of Moose, the turtle. Figure it must be significant, since it's in the title and all.

Great writing, as always!
Teri Wilson06/12/06
Jan, I loved the surpise ending. I didn't see it coming even after you wrote on the boards that your story had a surprise ending. Masterful, as usual.
Teri Wilson06/12/06
I actually thought the surprise was going to be that Kris wanted to date Luke! (how soap operaish would that be??)
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/12/06
Yes, you did a great job on this one. I loved the way you kept some of the important details back for a pleasantly surprising ending.
Rita Garcia06/12/06
Pass me a tissue please. One of my favorites! I agree with whoever said this could be a novel!
Rachel Rudd 06/12/06
Jan, this is great! I love it! I am hopeless romantic and you drew me right in. I did try to figure out whether Kris was a boy or a girl, but it made sense in the end. I have a friend who married her chidhood friend and so I know it can happen. Your descriptions of the Luke's wooing and the rooms at Kris's house really drew me in. Fantastic!
Linda Watson Owen06/12/06
Oh, Jan, I dearly love this piece! It's so 'real life' instead of the Hollywood hogwash that's pushed in every movie, every TV show. Thanks for writing about TRUE love and for writing it so masterfully!
T. F. Chezum06/12/06
I agree with everyone else, this is great. I wondered if Kris wasn't a boy, but I still enjoyed the ending. Very well done.
Lynda Lee Schab 06/13/06
Wonderful writing, Jan! I love stories with twists and this one delivered. Nicely done!