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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: "Splash" 4-11-13 Deadline (04/04/13)

TITLE: Enshrouded
By Leola Ogle


Five oíclock in the evening and the sun is still a bright, blistering orb in the desert sky. The harshness of the sunís rays and the disquieting sounds of rush hour traffic match the frazzled state of my spirit. Drifting over the five-foot brick wall surrounding my back yard are the voices of teenagers as they walk to the convenience store behind my house. Guffaws, giggles, and curse words send irritating barbs into my emotions.

The sounds of the city, although annoying to some people, holds a fascination for me. It speaks of life and busyness and purpose. Today, though, I yearn for serenity, something to quiet the incessant clamoring of my mind Ė so many things vying for my attention.

I feel so alone. After years of a troubled marriage, I am left with two teenage daughters to support. My three other children are grown and away from home. I feel overwhelmed by responsibilities. If not for dear friends who rented me this home for under-market rates, Iím not sure where we would be.

After my busy and frustrating day, I have a moment to myself. I stand on the cool decking by the pool and try to shut myself off from my surroundings. I stick my right foot into the tepid water. Itís as warm as bath water. My sigh floats in the still air. Closing my eyes, I tilt my face to the sun. Its warmth feels like a gentle caress.

A small dust devil kicks up leaves and dirt against my legs. The dry wind feels like tiny fingernails scraping my flesh, adding to my irritation. A buzzing sound distracts me. I open my eyes as a small cactus wren flies past my cheek and alights on the water. Not even a tiny splash erupts. The only evidence of the birdís presence upon the water is a small ripple spreading from its body. It drinks and flies away without acknowledging my still figure.

I raise my hands over my head as if to worship my Creator. My fingers touch as I rise upon my toes to propel myself upward and forward. I enter the water with a splash, the sound muffled the instant my head goes below the surface. The tepid water is surprisingly cool and refreshing. I plunge until my fingers brush the coarseness of the poolís nine-foot bottom.

Opening my eyes, I feel the momentary sting of chlorine. With an effortless movement, I twist my body around. The color of the cement walls gives the water a shimmering blue aura. I feel enshrouded in a cocoon, escaping for a moment from the elements of my environment -- protected, sustained, like a baby in a womb.

Gentle movements of my hands and feet allow me to remain in the poolís depth until my lungs begin the first burning for oxygen. Placing my feet against the bottom, I push. My body rises to the surface and breaks free with small splashes. I tread water for several more minutes before swimming to the cement steps at the shallow end.

I exit the water facing the same problems as when I entered. Nothing has changed. After years of acclimating to the desert heat, the warm breeze flowing across my wet skin chills me, or perhaps itís my circumstances that chill me. I shiver as I wrap myself in a towel. A sob rumbles in my chest, but I choke it down, although nothing stops the tears that spring to my eyes.

I stand until my body warms. Soon I shirk the towel, and the blazing sun hits my back and shoulders like a masseurís probing fingers. Evenings donít cool off much in the desert. Unable to stop it, my mind floods with the many cares besetting me. My lips quiver, and I manage to whisper a single word, ďJesus.Ē

It comes then, that gentle, soothing presence that stills the storm within me. Like splashes of gentle raindrops, it quiets my soul. I know I am not alone. I am enshrouded by the calming assurance of His love.

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This article has been read 490 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/11/13
Oh wow what a powerful story. I can feel the pain of the MC oozing off the page. Your descriptions are priceless and such a perfect fit. I thought the comparison between the womb and underwater genius. You spoke volumes in this piece and it really touched my heart.
Ellen Carr 04/12/13
This is a moving piece of writing that rings true. I like the ending. Well done.
Bonnie Bowden 04/12/13
Very descriptive. I like the line: I feel enshrouded in a cocoon, escaping for a moment from the elements of my environment--protected, sustained, like a baby in a womb.

The story rings true; the circumstances remain the same, yet Christ's love is evident.
Linda Goergen04/12/13
Beautifully written emotion and visuals that makes the reader feel immersed in the MCís feelings and actions. And love the messageó focusing on Jesus, doesnít always change our circumstance, but it does change our perspective and ability to handle it! Terrific job on this!
Darleen Coon04/13/13
Wow! This article was so descriptive, I felt like I was right there.

Sometimes you need to get away from the stresses of life and be alone with our Savior. This story tells how in the quiet He comes to us.

Again, excellent writing!
Tracy Nunes 04/13/13
I really, really loved this! The weight of her circumstances is palpable and so relatable. Yet, it ends with the fresh breeze that we all need, Jesus. Beautiful!
Jack Taylor 04/13/13
Graphic and gripping. You immersed us in the MC's world. Well done. Feels like you wrote it word by word as it happened to you.
Grace Merkey04/14/13
I see why you are in the Masters category. You really made me feel as if this was happening to me.
Linda Berg 04/14/13
I felt your emotional pain and frustration with this stage of your life but was encouraged by your focus in the end of that which brings peace, Jesus.

This was a beautiful story.
Laura Hawbaker04/15/13
Great descriptive writing! I certainly don't live in the city or the desert, nor do I swim, but felt I was right there with you. I do have a question about the word shirk. I think it means to avoid work. Would "Soon I shed the towel" have been a better choice?
Judith Gayle Smith04/17/13
You make diving a healing thing, rather than something to fear. I may have to brave up and get in the swim again!
C D Swanson 04/17/13
I felt as if I was watching a movie in my head, so great was your descriptions. This was an easy read, I liked it so much.

God bless~
Beth LaBuff 04/18/13
Pain and Hope! Life is such a struggle. Your writing was beautiful. I so enjoyed your descriptions of the desert. I could see it all.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/18/13
Congratulations on ranking 8th in your level and 11 overall!