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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Life (06/15/06)

TITLE: The Wheel of Life
By Ann Grover
06/22/06


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The great Wheel of Life revolves through days, years, generations. Its course may be tortuous; it may be smooth, but always, it moves relentlessly forward.

More than a century ago, Mattie and Carl braved Atlantic swells to find a new life on a prairie homestead. The old country was crowded and opportunities were few.

The Wheel moved effortlessly through waves of flatland grass, and the resilient stalks rose again into the breeze.

Together, Mattie and Carl built a cabin and made fences. They ploughed the sod and planted crops and gardens. They were rewarded with the fruit of their diligent labour, and were blessed with four healthy children who played beneath the wide blue sky.

The Wheel laughed.

Paul, Claire, John, and Emma. Each one a delight, but Emma was the enchantress, the angel. Blonde curls framed her cherubic face, and blue eyes glittered with innocent glee. Part of her charm was her curiosity and inquisitive ways, and when a box of matches was left within her reach, the brightly coloured tips mesmerized her. In wonder, she tasted each one. Their poison snuffed out the light in her eyes and dimmed the heart of the family.

The Wheel moaned.

One September, Carl was short of field help. Since Mattie was capable of driving the team, it was decided that she mow the hay, despite the fact that she was six months pregnant.

On a particularly steep hill with a sharp corner at the bottom, the mower tilted, and Mattie lost her balance. She fell, and in horror, she screamed as the wheel of the mower ran over her abdomen.

With steely resolve, Mattie climbed back up, calmed the spooked team, and finished the field. Silent and pale, she returned to the house and ate the simple supper Claire had prepared. Mattie waited for signs of impending loss, but nothing happened.

The Wheel hummed.

In December, Paul needed minor surgery at the small hospital in town. That night, while resting at their friends’ home on the outskirts, Mattie suddenly gasped and began to tremble. Carl, knowing the signs, wrapped her in his coat and went to harness the horse.

Carl drove the bob sleigh through the blinding snow and buffeting wind, and as they entered town, Mattie gave a cry as the first hard labour pain struck her. By the time they reached the tiny hospital, Mattie needed to push. She was rushed away, delivery imminent.

What a delivery!

A boy!

Screaming his displeasure at the nighttime run through the snowstorm.

Then, miracle of miracles! A girl!

Wondering why her brother was making such a fuss.

It was a dazed Carl who visited all four members of his family in the little prairie hospital during the next two weeks. It was a wonder, to be sure. And what an amazing Christmas gift to bring home to the other children. A double blessing!

The Wheel sang.

Several summers later, Claire and John were old enough to shepherd the family’s eighty sheep. Each day, they moved the sheep to fresh pasture by the creek. While the flock grazed, Claire and John amused themselves by fishing or playing along the creek bank.

One day, John suggested that they build smuggler tunnels, and with enthusiasm, they both began to dig. It was great fun, but suddenly, Claire noticed the bank overhead starting to shift. She shouted a warning, but John couldn’t escape the collapsing sand. Claire dug frantically with a stick, then with her emptied lunch bucket. She dug until her fingers bled, and finally ran the mile home.

A neighbour was in the yard visiting with Mattie. He pulled her up behind him on his horse and spurred hard.

When Carl came in that night, John was wrapped in a quilt and laid out on the kitchen table.

The Wheel groaned.

While Mattie’s spirit grew stronger, Carl’s wilted. He drank, but it wasn’t enough to still the screaming pain in his soul. Brewing a bizarre tea by boiling lead shot, he hoped to quench the fiery pain in his joints. Finally, in dementia and desperation, he silenced his tormented voice forever.

The Wheel wailed.

And still...

The Wheel of Life revolves through the generations, sometimes churning up soil with a keening lament, sometimes stirring the dust with barely a whisper. But always, it moves onward, leaving a legacy in its wake or a promise in its path.


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This article has been read 931 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Treharne06/22/06
Well-written and compelling story. I enjoyed the read and wish you luck in placing. Great title and follow through.
Phyllis Inniss 06/22/06
I like the title and the movements of the wheel. There was joy and tragedy, both part of life and what's in between. You drew the reader on in a compelling way. May God continue to bless your writing.
Pat Guy 06/22/06
Wow, and wow.

Tragically beautiful, beautifully tragic.

You have captured the essence of your story in every word, for the reader to experience this family's joys and tragedies. Awesome.
Suzanne R06/23/06
What a moving take on the theme of 'life'. Beautifully written - you fit a lot into 750 words but kept us right there with you.
Sherry Wendling06/23/06
Superbly written! The Wheel takes on its own life, the collective life of all existence--brilliant. I love the contrast in the last line: "leaving a legacy in its wake or a promise in its path."
Jan Ackerson 06/25/06
Yahoo, I just knew this was yours! As always, simply superb. I actually think you could have just posted that last paragraph and placed with it--but I'm glad we got the whole nine yards. Heartbreaking and just full of life.
Rita Garcia06/25/06
This is why you are in the master level! Powerful, brilliant!
Maxx .06/25/06
very very strong. Really nothing to pick at. (I would if ya gave me something) Great word choices, great feel. Excellent in most every way.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/26/06
Wow. You captured it all. I'm inspired. Great job.
Pat Guy 06/26/06
I've been waiting to see who wrote this. I had a feeling, and I'm glad this was yours Ann. Excellent beyond excellent!
Jessica Schmit06/26/06
Wow, you amaze me. Your creativity is astouding! It must be the Northern B.C. air (wink).
Seriously Ann, you are incredibly talented. This story is wonderful. You captured life in a story that every person can relate to even if they didn't go through those exact circumstances.

Amazing girl! I hope you're expanding your writing world! I want to read your books!
Jan Ross06/26/06
Amazing ~ Creative ~ Powerful ~ Captivating ~ Masterful! Wow!
T. F. Chezum06/26/06
Very well written and powerful. Just a superb piece all the way through.
Trina Courtenay06/27/06
I know what I like and I just loved this piece! You sure are building up my list of favorites. But that's okay! Your entries are always a pleasure to read.

Blessings,
Trina<><
Kimberly Mitchell06/27/06
I don't know who you are,but this is in my opinion the best on this whole level. Keep writing I love it!
Shari Armstrong 06/28/06
Heartbreaking, but all part of life. Well done.