Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GRATE (11/19/15)
- TITLE: The Grate Story
By Cindy Duncan
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Seven children, ranging in age from three to sixteen, raced across the living room, coming to a stop in front of the old brown recliner. Grandpa Joe groaned as he sat down in the recliner and prepared to share the same story he had told last year, and every year that these children could remember. It was sort of a Thanksgiving tradition, and the children were eager for the telling of Grandpa’s tale to begin. Every year the children listened in awe, and shook their heads in wonder, wondering that is, if it was even true.
There was evidence to support his story. The old metal grate had hung above Grandpa Joe’s fireplace for as long as anyone could remember. And his recollection of the story seemed genuine, but that could have been from the many times he had repeated it. Or it could have been that Grandpa really was a prisoner in his own neighborhood.
“When I was just eight years old,” began Grandpa, “I was playing war with two of my friends, when they accidently pushed me into an abandoned well. At first they were sorry, but then they decided that I would be their prisoner of war, and the well would make a good prison.”
“Then they put the grate over the opening of the well, right Grandpa?”
“Yes, sweetie, they did. I begged them to help me out, but they laughed and said they had to go find more prisoners. They left, and I sat for hours waiting for them to come back and help me, but they never came. Just before dark, I could hear my parents calling my name in the distance, but when I yelled for them, they couldn’t hear me. I screamed so hard my throat hurt, and I cried, because it was getting dark, and I hated the dark.
“I hate the dark too, Grandpa,” replied Joe’s youngest granddaughter. She pulled her blanket up to her chin and stuck her thumb in her mouth.
“I know you do honey, but I noticed when it got dark, that the stars and the moon shone through the openings of the grate. I was so thankful for that natural night-light that I was able to stop crying for a little while, even when I heard coyotes howling above me. I wasn’t afraid of them, because I knew the grate would keep them out, but it was still pretty creepy sounding.”
“I’ve heard this story lots of times, but the coyotes always freak me out. There is no way I would’ve slept at all that night,” said the oldest grandchild.
“I didn’t sleep much, and I woke up shivering from the cold. When the sun rose, though, and warmed me through the grate, I felt more hopeful about a rescue. I began to pray that my friends would tell someone where I was, or that my parents would find me. While I was praying, I heard a dog barking, and I recognized the bark almost immediately.”
“Cookie,” stated several of the children in unison.
“Yes, it was Cookie. My parents had let her out, hoping she would be able to find me. I called out her name, even though my throat was still burning from yelling so much the night before, and from lack of water. It wasn’t long until she led them right to me, and they helped me get out of the well.”
“What about your friends? Why didn’t you go beat them up?” Joe’s nine-year-old grandson started punching the air.
Joe laughed and shook his head. “Believe me, I wanted to. It took me a long time to forgive them.”
“Grandpa, why did you keep the grate? Doesn’t it make you sad to see it?” asked one of Joe’s grandchildren.
“Yeah, I would have smashed it into a million pieces,” said another.
“It was probably the worst night of my life, but I kept the grate to remind me that even in the worst of circumstances, I still had much to be thankful for. The grate gave me light, protection, and warmth, but more importantly, it caused me to pray harder than I ever had before. And God answered that prayer.”
“So why do you tell us the grate story every Thanksgiving, Grandpa?”
Joey, Grandpa Joe’s five year old namesake jumped up and shouted the answer before Joe had a chance to. “Because he wants us to be grate-ful!”
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