The Official Writing Challenge
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Very nice, I enjoyed your descriptions and especially the phrase "a lean strength." Absolutely perfect.

A minor nitpick is that we don't have enough details to know what war he's coming home from. I'm assuming Civil War, but I'm just not sure, and I felt slightly disoriented, trying to "place" it.

I love the tenderness of this story.
I like this sweet story. :-)
This is a very heartfelt and moving story. I could really see the dicotomy of Mary's strength tried by tribulation and her vulnerability.

Like Jan,I would have liked more detail too, but I know that it is hard to do with only 750 words to work with.
This reminded me of Little House on the Prairie and Laura Ingalls Wilder's books! I pictured the characters just like them. Again, this was sweet,tender and a pleasure to read.
Very descriptive and touching. Thanks for sharing this moving story.
Beautiful, touching story. Thanks for sharing.
Great detail - the images were so vivid. Wonderful.