Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)
TITLE: Family Heirloom
By Johnna Stein
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I still canâ€™t believe I received this family heirloom from my cousin Johnny. We never did get along and it amazes me that he and I now are part of the same brotherhood; a testimony to family loyalty. When I swore my allegiance, Johnny handed this â€śgiftâ€ť to me as a sign of trust and acceptance. I promised to follow family tradition and pass it on to the next worthy member of our family.
Of course, I am secretly hoping that my brother Joe will be the next recipient. Thatâ€™s why I am waiting in line just like last week in one hundred degree scorching heat to visit him at the state pen today. Getting the heirloom inside will be a cinch; the only real issue is if Joe wants it. Heâ€™s so set in his ways and stubborn like our father was. Pops never wanted to follow family tradition. He ventured out on his own and got himself shot and killed in a bank robbery when I was only fifteen years old. I guess we just followed in his footsteps.
As the guards call me into the holding area, first they examine the care package Iâ€™ve brought for Joe. Itâ€™s full of homemade chocolate chip cookies and a few books heâ€™d requested. Then, they frisk me from top to bottom and top again. I find I am holding my breath and finally blow out a sigh of relief when they tell me to proceed to the visitorsâ€™ block. The heirloom remains secure in my left back pocket. I am wondering if I will leave the same way?
As I sit in the grey plastic chair and stare through the glass partition, I realize I could have easily been the one on the other side. Johnny came to me the morning of the planned heist. I still to this day donâ€™t know how he knew to come. He pleaded with me one last time and again recounted great grandfatherâ€™s legacy and for the first time I actually listened. He talked me out of joining Joe and our friends for the planned robbery. The hardest part was backing out. I only told Joe a half-truth and said I was sick. It was partly true cause I felt like I might puke every time I thought about my part as getaway driver.
Now here I sit free as a bird and there Joe will sit imprisoned for a 20 year sentence. Of course, itâ€™ll only be nine years total if he gets out early for good behavior. That could have been me serving nine years if Johnny hadnâ€™t come to see me that April morning.
Joe approaches his grey plastic chair, wearing the bright orange jumpsuit that distinguishes him from the free outside world. I am looking for a hint of what his answer will be, but canâ€™t find any clue in his unshaven face. He sits down, gives me a cursory glance and buries his head in his hands. From the way I see his head shaking, I assume he is crying. I want to reach over and put my hand on his shoulder, but physical contact is forbidden. So I wait.
Finally he puts his right hand on the glass and I return the gesture and place my left hand on the glass to meet his. Thatâ€™s as close as weâ€™ll get to physical contact today. I can see that he has indeed been crying and I am dying to know what his decision will be. Joe picks up his receiver so I know heâ€™s ready to talk. I follow his lead and put the receiver to my right ear.
â€ś Yes.â€ť Itâ€™s only one word, but it will change his life and mine forever.
â€śWelcome to the family!â€ť I can barely get the words out.
I reach into my left back pocket and before putting the leather bound Bible into his care package, I run my fingers over the now barely visible engraved family name, Tozer.
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