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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

TITLE: Just Call Me Kathy
By Joanne Sher


Simon shuffled toward the meetinghouse, pebbles on the sidewalk pressing into his bare feet. Despite the pain, he scarcely lifted his legs as he walked, preferring the discomfort to the effort required to relieve it.

He hoped they would let him in. Street urchins, with their grime and crime, were excluded from such gatherings. Yet, this was one of their own. Weeks before, Cameron shared a ratty blanket with Simon. Then, good fortune suddenly seemed to shine on Cameron.

The boys had been begging together along the street a month previous. A lady - clearly from high society - dropped her handkerchief right by them.

Cameron retrieved it. Simon planned to ask for it later, in exchange for a bowler hat. Before he could, however, Cameron did something shocking.

"Excuse me, mum," Cameron said, tapping the lady on the back. "You dropped this."

Simon's mouth dropped. Urchins were to never speak to, much less touch, anyone outside their kind. Friends had been beaten for less.

Simon retreated and turned his head, watching the two discreetly. He didn't want to be seen as Cameron's cohort.

"Why, thank you." She took her handkerchief from Cameron. "What is your name, young man?"

Cameron lowered his eyes. "Cameron, mum."

"Just call me Kathy." She smiled. "Cameron, where is your mother?"

"Dead, Miss. Pa, too."

Kathy held Cameron's dirt-caked hands. "You poor boy."

She looked into Cameron's eyes and smiled. "I'd like to help you, Cameron. Will you come home with me?"

"Mum?" Cameron's jaw dropped.

Simon discarded his plan for discretion. He stepped closer and gawked.

Kathy smiled gently. "I'd love to take you in, Cameron, if you'd like."

"Oh, yes, mum. Thank you, mum." Cameron danced down the sidewalk, grabbing the woman's outstretched hand. The two walked off.

Cameron hadn't turned to wave goodbye, and Simon wasn't surprised. He was getting a new life: why look back?

Over the next couple weeks, Simon heard gossip from local vagabonds. Cameron had his own room in a mansion. He ate four full meals a day. Kathy would adopt him.

Then, suddenly, the scuttlebutt turned grim. Cameron had fallen down a flight of stairs. He was in the hospital. The doctors couldn't help him.

Finally, just the day before, Simon learned Cameron was dead and his funeral was noon today, in the meetinghouse.

Fellow urchins had discouraged him from going, saying he'd never get into such a fine gathering. Simon was undeterred.

"Gotta go, fellas. If they don't let me in, they don't. I hafta try."

From the location of the sun, Simon could tell noon was fast approaching. He quickened his pace slightly, reaching the meetinghouse as several finely-dressed people entered.

He recognized Kathy right away. She stood at the meetinghouse door, greeting guests as they entered. Once the crowd cleared, she grinned and beckoned Simon, who stood beside a lamppost just outside the doorway. He approached cautiously.

"You must be Simon." The boy looked up and was immediately drawn into her warm eyes and gentle smile. "Cameron told me so much about you."


"He surely missed his friend Simon. In fact, we were planning to come calling on you when..." She lowered her eyes briefly and sighed. "I do miss him, but it's a blessing to know he's in a better place, isn't it?"

How could she say that? Cameron was dead; how was that better than being rich in a fine house with a kind woman? And why was she smiling? Was she happy Cameron was gone? Simon bawled.

"Oh, Simon, don't cry." Kathy cupped his dirty face in her hands. "Cameron is in heaven."

Simon choked back further tears.

"Of course I'm sad that Cameron is dead, Simon. But he believed in Jesus before he passed on. Now he is in the most wonderful place, waiting for me - and for you, too.

"If you believe, Simon, you will see him again. And while we wait, we can know this: our friend Cameron is full of joy - more than we can imagine. For that we can be happy, yes?"

"Mum, I have to believe? How?" Simon pleaded. "I want to see Cameron again, and go to heaven. It sounds so much nicer than this place."

Kathy took Simon's hand. "The funeral is beginning, Simon. Come in with me and help us remember your friend. I'll tell you about it once you come back home with me afterward - if you'd like to, of course."

Simon nodded, full of hope, and entered the meetinghouse with her.

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This article has been read 1885 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Patty Wysong09/13/07
What a generous, loving lady! I love the details of how she held the boy's hand and cupped his face. Great job!
Betty Castleberry09/14/07
What a touching story. The world definitely needs more Kathys. I enjoyed this very much.
Catrina Bradley 09/15/07
I love how Kathy saw the potential in Cameron, by the way he returned her hankie, and immediately opened her heart and home. And then again with Simon. Good storyline, I really enjoyed this one! Wish you had more words to expand - so we could see the fine home Simon had only dreamed of through his eyes. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/15/07
What a creative story of two urchins of a bygone age. The opening lines drew me in, and I was eager to see what would happen next.
Linda Watson Owen09/15/07
What wonderful characters you've created in this tender story! I vividly saw everything through your skillful pen, and feel like I'd recognize them were I to meet them on the street. This could easily be a chapter in a book I would think...very 'Great Expectations' like. I loved it!
Jan Ackerson 09/17/07
This has a cinematic quality to it...I could just see the urchins, the streets...very Oliver Twist-ish. I love it!
Julie Ruspoli09/17/07
Very nicely written. I could picture the entire story so well. It is nice to read a happy story. Well done.
Debbie Roome 09/17/07
What an inspiring tale. If only we would all make an effort to be a "Kathy" to the world around us.
Rita Garcia09/17/07
LOVE IT! Your attention to details really gave life to this wonderfully told story! BRAVO!!
Sharlyn Guthrie09/17/07
I was afraid that the kind lady had turned out to be a menace instead, when Cameron died so soon. I was relieved to learn that she really was a kind saintly woman. Sweet story.
Beth LaBuff 09/17/07
I really enjoyed your well-written "full of hope" story. Isn't that just like the gospel message...offering hope and a dream for the future to the most wretched of us on earth. This is very creatively written.
Jacquelyn Horne09/18/07
Sounds like a wonderful lady.
Laury Hubrich 09/18/07
Nice story, Joanne. It did have a Charles Dickens feel to it.
Brenda Welc09/19/07
Broke my heart ya did! Oh to not know he was in a better place. Thanks for sharing what's in your heart with your readers. Gret writing! Loved it.
Loren T. Lowery09/19/07
I read this earlier and thought I had left a comment, but see that I hadn't. I was thoroughly engaged by this story. The setting, characters and dialogue were just perfect for the telling of this tale. Great job.
Dianne Janak09/19/07
Delightful JoAnne... I loved it. How do you think of stories like this?? They are so sweet and touching and yet REAL enough you can picture the whole thing... I loved how you weaved witnessing about Jesus into it and heaven... you deserve to be up there where the Masters are! yougogirl!
Frank Creed09/20/07
Literary fiction is something I aspire to someday, but I need another decade before I could come close to this. Pleases toss me a brick earlly every week.

Ann FitzHenry09/20/07
Congratulations, Joanne!
Dianne Janak09/20/07
AHA! they gotcha.. DESERVING PLACiNG FOR EC... happy for you girlfriend.. celebrate the moment!
Kristen Hester09/20/07
Oh, this is such a wonderful story. Your writing is so vivid, I felt like I was watching a movie. Great job!
Blessings! Congrats!
Ann Renae Hair09/20/07
I still can't put into words how this one moved me, so I'll have to settle for CONGRATULATIONS!
Sheri Gordon09/20/07
Congratulations on your EC. This is very good writing -- the dialects were done very well. Nice job.
Jenny Fitch09/20/07
This was just wonderful! I felt like I was standing there on the street with the boys - great job.
william price09/20/07
CONGRATS Friend. I'm glad I popped in to see how you're doing. Excellent writing. God bless.
David Butler09/24/07
Move over, Oliver Twist! This has got a heavenly twist to it. Congratulations Joanne.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/03/09
This really is a great "period" piece. I'm "reimpressed" dear Friend!