Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Predicament (03/01/12)
- TITLE: Trapped Like A Brat
By Laura Chambers
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Hester grasped the heavy yellow box and yanked it to one side. The squat cardboard annoyance left a trail of slide marks in the dust. A few photographs slipped off the top and landed in a heap in her lap. "Why did I ever agree to do this, God?" She lifted a plump hand up from the floor and gripped the object that lay directly behind the box she'd just moved. Its coolness surprised her, but then it shouldn't have. Hester Halstead hadn't played the old guitar in 15 years.
The only reason she was here, she recalled with a groan, was because Luta Mae Bennet just had to have kissing tonsils. At 17, Luta Mae was everything that Hester was not; pretty, confident, and talented. And entirely too old to have a tonsillectomy, in Hester's opinion. But however you sliced it, while Luta Mae played charades in a hospital bed between mouthfuls of ice cream, Hester would be leading worship for the youth group meeting on Thursday night.
As she slipped the long strap over a body that now left no slack in it, Hes sat back against the attic wall and ran her fingers idly over the strings. She'd lost her telltale calluses long ago thanks to time and lotion. Downstairs on the faded blue couch lay her sleeping husband, Steven, and a pile of chord charts and lead sheets, spilling out of the ugly orange binder Luta Mae's mother, Angie, had passed to her in prayer meeting. Hester remembered how the woman's many bracelets had clicked and clacked as she gave it to her.
Turning the knobs at the top to tighten the strings, she paused in thought, trying to remember some of the songs she used to play. Her fingers fluttered against the strings with an anxious twitch, like a fibrillating heart muscle, sending discordant twangs bouncing off the roof and walls.
SNAP! A string whipped upwards and caught Hester by surprise. "Ahh!" She jumped up and smacked her head on the ceiling. With a word that definitely didn't belong in the orange binder, Hester yanked the guitar strap over her head and threw the instrument on the floor. She stomped over to the attic door and yanked on the handle. Which promptly flew out of her hand and out the open attic window.
"Oh, God, no. No." Sitting down on the floor with a thud, she began to pound on the door. "Steven! Steven!" she called, but it was no use. After 5 minutes, she concluded he was dead to the world. Letting out a loud sigh, she let her gaze track across the objects in the attic. Finally, it rested on two items which were side by side; that cursed guitar and....a small yellow plastic chair. Child-sized.
Slowly, deliberately, rubbing the sore spot on the top of her head, Hester walked over to the old chair. She lowered herself down into it and smiled. For this was the old time-out chair. How well she remembered Mom or Dad picking little screaming Hessie up off the floor and plunking her down in it until she could "behave herself". The sound of the door closing behind them as she stared at it, pouting.
The sound of the door closing....
"Come on God, you're kidding me....really?" A tear slipped out of the corner of her eye, then another. She grinned again. "Okay, I guess I was being pretty immature.....alright, I'm a baby.....forgive me....there's no excuse." She reached over and picked up the guitar again.
A creaking sound made her pause mid-reach. She looked over as the door opened down and her husband's head peeked up from the ladder. "Honey, you all finished in here?" Steven asked in a sleepy voice.
"Yeah....yeah, I am." Hester lifted up the guitar by the neck and handed it to Steven. He backed down the ladder with the instrument in hand. As she descended, she watched him carry it down the hallway towards the living room. The broken string trailed behind him. Hester looked up to the attic one last time.
"Note to self....get some new strings...."
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