Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Black (10/15/09)
TITLE: The Beauty in Black
By Marc Smith
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Little Jenny was barely two years old, and Gideon had heard her cries as he was pulling her unconscious mother and father from their burning home. In a moment of pure adrenaline, Gideon instructed his partner to get the parents out as he bounded selflessly up the stairs in an effort to save the frightened child. He knew from his training that you never left your partner in a fire, but this was the exception. If he didn’t act immediately, Jenny would die.
Gideon had checked three doors before he found the panicked toddler’s room. He rushed to her crib and gently picked her up, nestling her to his chest.
“Shhh, it’s going to be alright,” Gideon comforted, stroking Jenny’s golden hair. “Let’s go see Mommy and Daddy.”
From the time Gideon succored the youngster from her room to his current location in the living room couldn’t have been more than thirty seconds. However, in that time, the intensity of the blaze and smoke had increased exponentially. Lying on the floor, with Jenny safely tucked under his chest, he could just make out the wavering door not more than ten paces away. Exasperated, he scooped up Jenny and rose to his feet. The billowing smoke burned his eyes, blurring his vision. His chest was heavy as his lungs begged for oxygen. The flames leaped menacingly, intent on grabbing him in their clutches, thwarting any attempt of escape.
“Come on, Gideon, you can do this!” He commanded himself.
With one last effort, and all the strength he could muster, Gideon lurched toward the rapidly closing exit. As he neared the door he could just make out blurred, spiraling images of his fellow firefighters racing to assist him. Cresting the opening, he extended his arms to his companions, delivering his young passenger to them. At that moment Gideon felt an excruciating pain in the back of his head and everything went black.
That incident was nearly two months ago and for the first time Gideon was able to stand on his front porch and take in a deep breath of fresh air without coughing or choking. It was a beautiful day and the warmth falling upon Gideon’s head lifted his spirits. Jenny and her parents were doing well, being cared for by a relative while their house was rebuilt. His recovery, however, had been a bit more involved.
“How ya doin’ today, Gideon?” inquired a friendly voice from his neighbor’s porch.
“Doin’ better than yesterday, Brad,” he assured. “On my way to my weekly check up.”
With that, and a wave, Gideon headed down the front steps and toward his doctor’s office. He wasn’t quite used to his cane yet, but he was getting the hang of it. It slowed him down a bit, but he was realizing that it was good for him.
Gideon had lived in this small town going on 10 years now, ever since he lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. Since then he filled his time with such busyness, including his job, that he had forgotten what it meant to enjoy life. He had never really taken the time to notice how special this little town was. Walking to his appointment today, he noticed that the sun was warmer, the air was cleaner, and the birds sounded more cheerful than in the past. Passing Mrs Walker’s house, his nose sensed a hint of apples and cinnamon from her latest baking creation. Her block was always filled with the most delectable aromas. The sound of children playing and laughing as he passed the local school yard brought warmth to his heart. Before he knew it he had reached his destination with the door chimes announcing his arrival.
“Come on back,“ the doctor instructed. “How are we today?” he asked as Gideon entered the room.
“I still see black,” Gideon replied.
“That is to be expected, Gideon, remember it will take time. That blow to your head from the ceiling collapse was extremely severe. You are fortunate to still be alive.”
“Na, Doc, fortune had nothing to do with it. I’ve been too wrapped up in myself lately. God knew the only way to get me to see clearly again was to take away my sight. It’ll return in His time. If not, I’ll accept it and trust Him to find the beauty in black.”
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