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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Soul (07/13/06)

TITLE: Bernie Goes to Big Lots
By Lisa Vest


Bernie Conway was quite a man. He could out dance anyone at the Moose Lodge and could charm the socks off any lady. Despite his comb-over hairdo and polyester suit, his confidence and demeanor set everyone he met at ease. Bernie was also a bargain hunter, which was why he loved Big Lots. Bernie didn’t believe in paying retail and he loved a good closeout deal. He was the devoted husband of Merna and Merna loved him more than life itself.

“Come on sweetheart, we’re going to Big Lots” Merna cheerily announced.

“I know how much you love Big Lots and they’re having a great sale. I just got this flyer in the mail today.” She picked up the flyer and stuck it under her arm.

Grabbing her purse, car keys, and the mason jar sitting on the kitchen table, she headed to the car.

Merna chatted endlessly with her husband all the way to the store.

She pulled into a handicap parking space, picked up her purse and the jar and walked with a slight limp into the store.

“Oh sweetheart,” she continued, “look at the great selection of pillows they have on sale. I know you want to get over to the car maintenance department. We’ll go over there in a minute.”

Merna picked up several pillows, feeling their texture and admiring the different designs. She finally decided on one and placed it in the basket.

With wrinkled hands tightly holding the shopping cart handle, she strolled over to the car maintenance department.

“Look Bernie, they have windshield fluid on sale, buy one, get one free!” Merna placed two bottles in the cart with the pillow.

After looking around another ten minutes or so, she headed for the cash register.

She began placing the items on the counter, as the cashier checked her out.

“Ma’am, can you hand me the other item in your cart there?” she asked, pointing to the mason jar in the top of the cart.

“Oh no dear, that’s my Bernie, my husband. He came with me. He loves Big Lots.”

The cashier’s eyebrows furrowed and she quickly beckoned her manager. The manager sauntered over from a register two aisles down. As she whispered in his ear, a look of anger and disgust took over his countenance.

“Ma’am,” the manager spoke directly to Merna, “is that your husband’s ashes in that jar?

“Why of course, I can’t come to Big Lots without my Bernie, you know he loves Big Lots, it’s his favorite place.”

“Ma’am, I don’t want you to ever come back here with your husband’s ashes again. It could be disturbing to the other customers and it’s just plain weird.”

Merna sheepishly handed the cashier the money she owed and quickly exited the store.

Back in the car, she held the mason jar to her chest, a tear trying to make it’s way down her face.

“I’m sorry Bernie, I don’t know if I can take you to Big Lots anymore. I know the real you is not here anymore, but I just somehow feel close to you this way.” Her heart still burst with pain when she acknowledged this dark reality.

“Oh Bernie, I know you’re in heaven and your joy must be absolutely complete, but mine is so incomplete. I know I have our memories, but there’s no replacement for your wonderful, joyous soul.”

She hugged the jar tighter, looking in the mirror, barely recognizing the old woman that stared back at her. “Bernie, all I have is our memories and this, the former shell of your wonderful soul, and the hope…no…the absolute knowledge that I will see you again someday, but some days it doesn’t seem like enough.”

Merna wiped her tears and gained her composure. Placing the mason jar securely beside her, she put the car in gear and began the drive home.

“We’ll come back to Big Lots next week, Bernie, but I’ll have to move you to the Christmas cookie tin.”

A smile spread across her wrinkled face.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Believe it or not, this story is based on a true and actual events.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 731 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kevin Kindrick07/20/06
OK, so I'm laughing out loud - I loved this! Even in the midst of sorrow, you broght humor. This was very well done - though I must confess, I figured it out about 1/4 of the way through. It was still a great read, especially the line "But I'll have to move you to the Christmas cookie tin."

Thanks, and God bless,

Jan Ackerson 07/21/06
Lynda Schultz 07/22/06
Wow! Terrific take on the theme, wonderful imagination and creativity. I was a little distracted by the funny marks that turned up as quotes and apostrophes, but the read was worth the little bit of extra work.
Rachel Rudd 07/22/06
This story is fantastic! I loved the line about the Christmas tin, too. It aptly shows how grieving can be a process full of ups and downs. Thanks for sharing this!
Brenda Craig07/24/06
Delightful with a sense of humor (with the cookie tin) It is so unusual I can believe it is true. Awesome writing. Love does live one and we will all be completed. Great job!
Jan Ross07/25/06
I can believe this! Awesome! I needed a good chuckle tonight! Well done! :)
william price07/25/06
I am totally impressed! Not surprised, mind you, but impressed with the skill and ease of which you wrote. And, I enjoy a story with a sense of humor to it every now and then. Thanks for a very enjoyable read.
God Bless!!!
Lynda Lee Schab 07/25/06
Loved, loved, loved it! Clever writing - and even more enjoyable because of your note about it being true! Great title, great entry!
Jen Davis07/25/06
This is great! Kind of sad yet a very funny story. A perfect example of "truth is stranger than fiction." Well done.
Trina Courtenay07/25/06
I most be the only one who cried. I knew Bernie was in the mason jar as soon as she picked it up with her keys and the tears just started pouring down my cheeks. I didn't even giggle as she placed him into the cookie tin...tears got in the way. Well Done! I pray this one places. It's moved me in a soulful way.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz07/25/06
Great read. You did a wonderful job on this.
Joanne Sher 07/25/06
This is TOO cute and sweet - and VERY well-written. Other than the html stuff, I can't think of a thing I would change. Thanks for sharing this "stranger than fiction" story!
Rita Garcia07/25/06
Great story, perfect ending!
Kimberly Mitchell07/26/06
This is hilarious, the title caught my eye, and the story flowed.
Debbie Sickler07/27/06
Lol! I can't believe this was based on someone you knew. hehe. Great story!