Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Soul (07/13/06)
TITLE: The Quarter
By Pat Guy
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The mumbles in the line behind her intensified the urgency to find the desperately needed twenty-five cents. <I>How can prices jump so high so quickly?</I>
Tess was embarrassed.
With her daughter in the cart already eating out of the box of cereal, she just couldn’t put back the milk. Ellie was hungry. Tonight was supposed to be cereal AND milk.
Tess felt as empty as her purse.
A hand unobtrusively slid a quarter onto the black tarp to the cashier. Tess looked over to a man busy with rearranging his waiting groceries. She noticed his hands. <I>He must have been burned badly. I wonder ..?</I> She felt a need to touch them. The cashier rang up the sale.
‘Mommy, I’m thirsty.’
Tess felt relieved, thankful, grateful … humbled. For although it was only a quarter, it may as well have been a million dollars – she had nothing. But she did have a whole gallon of milk to take home tonight.
She putt, putted home in her extremely used car.
The remote seemed to flip channels on its own, so a foggy Tess aroused herself out of the kind of twilight sleep that makes one wonder if they really are – asleep. Besides, something tugged at her – somewhere deep, deep, deep down inside her. <I>Words? A song? What was it that was just on this channel?</I>
‘Can a mother forget her baby … I will not forget you … I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;’*
<I>Hands, scars, engraved? A quarter? Not forget?</I>
Illumination banished the heavy fog of sleep. The light began as a soft glow from the bottom of her soul and surged to the top, and flowed through her arms and legs. At least, that’s what it felt like to her.
She flipped the remote furiously trying to find the same channel about Hands that were engraved with her name and scarred by her sins.
‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’*
<I>White as snow</I> …she sighed, <I>I wish ...</I>
That night, Tess reached out and touched the Hands that bore her name. She held on to them with all her life.
A quarter. It may as well have been a million dollars – she had nothing. But she did have something that was as white as snow, and as pure as the scars wet with her tears … a soul not forgotten – a soul paid in full.
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