Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Time-consuming (02/24/11)
TITLE: Little Janie and the Flies
By Leola Ogle
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Janie wanted to help, but mommy shooed her outside saying that a cake from scratch was time-consuming, and little hands would get in the way.
Flies were buzzing around, so Janie held out her thin four-year-old arms as several alit on her. Their crawling movement felt caressing and slightly ticklish. If mommy saw, she would swat them with a dishtowel. “They’re nasty creatures, Janie. I don’t know why you let them crawl on you!”
Janie tip-toed into the kitchen, hoping to lick the frosting from the bowl but stopped abruptly when she saw mommy crying at the table. It seemed all her parents did was fight or cry.
As she tried to quietly back out, mommy raised her head. “Get back outside, Janie. Tell me if you see your dad coming.” Janie cringed at the angry voice. She wished mommy would hug her like she used to.
Tears streaked her dirty face as she went to her spot on the porch. Alison, the teenager from next door, was coming up the sidewalk, laughing with her boyfriend. Her hair had purple and red streaks. She had piercings, black make-up, tattoos, and smoked and cussed. Janie’s parents said she was vile and scary, but she was kind to Janie, so she liked her. Alison waved. She whispered something to her boyfriend before walking over to Janie.
Stooping, she smiled tenderly. “Hey, kiddo, what’s wrong? Mom and dad fighting again?”
Janie sniffled. “I asked God to make them quit fighting, but He hasn’t done it, just like He didn’t bring Scooter back home.”
Scooter was her dog. Daddy came home smelling of beer one night and kicked Scooter. “If I can’t feed my family, I sure ain’t feeding this dumb dog.” After that, Scooter was gone.
“Well, kiddo, maybe answering all those prayers is time-consuming for God. Don’t worry; I’m sure He’ll get to yours sooner or later.” Alison wanted to comfort Janie, but saw her mom glaring at her from the window.
Janie tearfully watched Alison walk away. She wondered why God couldn’t get to her prayers. Grandma and grandpa took her to church every Sunday, and from all she heard about God, it sure seemed like He could do anything.
A fly landed on her cheek. Janie closed her eyes, pretending it was mommy or daddy kissing her cheek like they used to. Things were wonderful before daddy lost his job. Then baby Tommy died. Daddy said it was God’s fault that all the bad things happened. Daddy began drinking, and the fighting and crying started.
Janie asked grandma why God let Tommy die. “Oh, honey, that’s just your daddy’s pain talking. They blame themselves and each other for Tommy’s death, but it wasn’t anyone’s fault. We’ll keep on praying. God hears and answers prayer.” With sadness in her eyes, she pulled Janie close. “Have I told you that you’re the image of your mommy when she was your age?”
Daddy still wasn’t home later when Janie put herself to bed. Mommy was sitting in Tommy’s room crying. Janie’s tummy growled. She had wanted some cake but was afraid to ask.
She awoke later to yelling and doors slamming. Trembling, she put her pillow over her ears, but it didn’t help. She plopped her tiny arms out from under the blanket hoping flies would land on her.
She longed to be hugged and kissed, but nobody at home touched her except the flies; their crawling on her skin felt soothing. If she squeezed her eyes shut and concentrated on their buzzing, she could ignore the fighting voices.
Janie had no idea flies were attracted to her because she smelled. Mommy only bathed her Saturday nights because her grandparents were taking her to church the next morning. Sad, frightened, and lonely, she began wetting the bed most nights. Although her parents never hurt her physically, in their misery, Janie had been forgotten and neglected.
Janie kissed mommy, baby Jacob, and patted her puppy as she ran out the door for the school bus. “Don’t forget church tonight, honey,” mommy called out to her.
Janie smiled at pretty, blond Alison who waved as she was leaving for her college classes.
Linking arms with Barbara, and giggling as they boarded the bus, Janie swatted at the pesky fly buzzing nearby.
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