Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Staff (01/31/13)
TITLE: And the “Em”my Goes To . . .
By Marlene Bonney
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“Now, remember, Class—the field trip to Trestle Park will take place Friday. You must bring your signed parental consent forms back by Tuesday,” Sister Madeline’s smiling admonition following them out the classroom door.
Amanda McGee was a good student, but was known amongst the faculty at St. Bridget’s to be rather like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower, having a hard time concentrating on one singe issue. The one positive of this McGee relocation was that St. Bridget’s Academy For Girls was cross the street, a gargantuan sprawling, turreted building that reminded Amanda of a gothic castle. One of the staff members there had noticed the wandering little girl and approached her parents about enrolling her in their school; subsequently, the school board arranged a trade of sorts. Amanda could receive a good education and, in return, the McGees would allow the establishment to use their acre side lot for a much-needed second parking lot.
Mandy adapted better in this well-structured environment than at all the previous public school systems she had briefly encountered, her freckled face with its impish grin winning over fellow students and teachers alike. She was especially enamored with Bible stories, Sister Agnes often remarking that Mandy soaked them in “like a thirsty dried-up sponge.”
On the field trip, the students were to search the park’s grounds, which included some forest trails and a manicured lawn perfect for blanket-spread picnics, for objects once been held by human hands. Then they were to write a story with that object as its subject. The English teachers of St. Bridget’s thought this a unique method to help their charges hone fledgling writing skills and incorporated the event as a yearly requirement for their students. Discarded soda pop cans, a stray hair ribbon, a dropped penny, an old shoe, candy wrappers in abundance, a newspaper scrap and a dog leash just a few things found that day. The girls would receive extra credit if they filled their paper sacks with litter along with their object, cleaning up park debris in the process.
Amanda, in her element, had wandered further away than the other girls, her nomadic lifestyle an idyllic backdrop for such an adventure. Her sack became as full as a pillaging hobo’s bag, but nothing so far had appealed to her for a story subject. The afternoon sun was sinking through the treetops like a drowning ember before she found IT. Almost completely buried under a pile of scattering leaves it lay, just waiting for Madame Columbus to discover it—a bent and gnarled wooden walking cane, its top smooth from the previous owner’s hand cupping around it’s neck! Almost indiscernible, but still legible, the letter “M” had been meticulously carved out midway down the staff.
St. Bridget’s held an all-school assembly for the readings from Sister Agnes’ English class. One by one, the field trip participants filed onto the platform, each standing forward in turn to read her composition, reminding Amanda of duck shooting targets at a town fair booth. The final story Amanda’s, she stepped forward clumsily, paper in one hand and old cane propping up her mummy-wrapped feet in the other.
“Once upon a time, over 3,000 years ago, there were two boys who were best friends. One was a king’s son named Jonathan and the other, a poor shepherd boy named David. They did everything together, and even though the king disapproved of their friendship and plotted to destroy it, David and Jonathan pledged their love to each other . . . Years passed while they were separated by evil designs, jealousies, and finally, by Jonathan’s death. But that was not the end of their love! David became king and remembered his promise to long-ago friend, Jonathan, and searched until he found Mephibosheth, David’s son! Mephibosheth (how Amanda loved rolling this odd name over her tongue) was five years old when his father was killed in battle and was dropped from his nurse’s arms while escaping . . . and here we have the staff that became his helper for most of his life, even after King David brought him to the palace.”
The entire faculty and student body rose with a standing ovation for Amanda’s live version of a very old Bible story. (Never mind that the “M” in question would have been an Aramaic symbol).
Story based on The Bible, I Samuel 18 & II Samuel 9.
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