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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Directions (02/02/04)

TITLE: The Hidden Gift
By Allen Clupny


“Rusty, it’s time for lunch!” Silence. The game of I-Can’t-Hear-You had begun again. “Rusty, lunch is ready and I’m serving now!”

“I’ll be right there Mom!” Game over.

He had raced down the stairs a thousand times. But small toys find their way onto unexpected places. “Hey Mom! What’s for lu…”

“Thud.” No screams, just silence. No alarms, just blood trickling from his ear. No pain, only stillness. A false peace.

She had little time to think; 911, ambulance, neighbors, oxygen mask, nurses, machines, waiting room, updates. Like a scene in a television drama, she felt more like an observer than a participant.

“Excuse me. Are you Mrs. Grace?”

She stared at the man wearing a white smock and then replied, “Yes.”

“Your son has a severe…” The medical terms began to jumble. She tried to understand, but all she knew was, “… his condition is uncertain.”

After a minute she quietly asked, “Doctor, how long until we know something?”

The young man had not seen many head injuries. His mind raced for words, “We need twenty four hours. He’s not responding to any stimulus.” Was all he could think of to say. He paused and then continued, “These injuries are unpredictable. I will order a Cat Scan. If there is any pressure Rusty will need surgery.” He continued, “Mrs. Grace, I’m sorry, but I need you to fill out some forms. The nurses will answer any questions you may have. You can wait in the waiting room or here with your son.” As he turned to walk out the door he knew he had given little comfort. “Can I have the nurse call anyone for you?” She slowly shook her head.

Sitting in the waiting room was nearly as bad as the accident; doubt, anguish, and guilt began to steamroll through Hattie’s mind. Her questions became her accusers. “Why didn’t I pick up that car? Why didn’t he listen to me? I’ve told him a hundred times not to run down the stairs. What can I say to him now? How will I care for him? I don’t know what to do."

She wept hard. Time stood still as she released her fear and confusion.

Then she began to assess. “How had life become so busy? Days and months passed before Rusty had fallen and we have had little time to even sit down together. Meals rushed, work brought home, events come and go in our lives. I haven’t even had time to tell him stories at night.”

It is strange how the mind can wander during a crisis and Hattie’s went to something her father once said as they walked on a nearby trail. “Try to spend time doing what you love, Hattie. Stir up your gift.”

She remembered the forest; the smell of moist dirt, the rays of sunlight piercing through the umbrella of leaves, darting squirrels on their endless hunt for food. “What gift?” She thought. “The gift I need is my son.” She laid her head back and prayed. Without noticing, her prayer faded into a daydream.

“Dad, tell me a story.” He grinned and sat on the edge of the girl’s bed. “Hattie, what if you tell me one.” That is what she really wanted, so her father leaned comfortably against the railing and rested in her words.

Sitting straight up she let the story unfold. “The sky was blue. But not just any blue. It was the color of a bluebird’s wings. Through the trees just over the hilltop was a castle.”

Crash! The daydream suddenly shattered when she was wakened by a metallic sound from down the hall. She sat up and peered to the left. There was nothing but reflections on the dimly lit hallway floor of pictures hanging on the wall.

Resting her head in her hands she hoped to get back to that peaceful time with her dad. “Stir up your gift,” was all she could revive. “What can I give to Rusty here and now?” Then, she looked out the window and slowly smiled. Quickly, but gently, as if stepping into a warm bath, she realized the gift. Moving to his bedside she bent down to his ear and spoke. “The sky was blue. But not just any blue. It was the color of a bluebird’s wings. Through the trees just over the hilltop was a castle.”

Member Comments
Member Date
L.M. Lee02/09/04
how very touching.
Mary C Legg02/10/04
outstanding drama and understanding of suffering. very beautiful. thank-you
Donna Anderson02/14/04
A lovely gift!