Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write for the SUSPENSE and/or THRILLER Genre (10/23/14)
TITLE: Independence Day
By Nancy Sullivan
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One could only guess at the circumstances that would bring about total chaos in a home that knew nothing but pristine grooming and a peaceful aura. Would order ever return to this quaint cottage nestled in the historic, undisturbed neighborhood?
Upstairs sleepy blue eyes blinked against the sun that was climbing to its brief nesting place on the window sill. At first, a smile crossed the soft, slightly wrinkled face of the resident who had lived most of her adult life in this serene existence. As reality replaced her early morning fog, she suddenly sat upright and her heart rate adjusted to the anxiety that, until now, had taken a brief and welcomed respite.
Sophie, her aging calico, stretched, arched her speckled back, and stood to vacate her favorite resting place. But Miss Jeanne pushed against the heaviness to stand and face the horrible scene that had engulfed her memory. How would she ever explain the trauma of last night to her niece? She would have little time to formulate answers before frantic knocks attacked her front door later that day. But, if she hurried, she should be able to restore some order to her home before the inevitable show down.
Miss Jeanne’s independence was hanging in the balance. Each day meant precise attention to detail to assure her niece that she could, indeed, continue to care for her own needs, prepare her own meals, and keep her own house. Kim would surely put that claim to a test now.
Quickly and carefully, Miss Jeanne slipped out of her floral robe and into some comfortable slacks and practical shoes. Time was moving much faster than she was, and there were no seconds to waste. Gingerly, she made her way downstairs, her eyes now wide open to the task that lay before her.
For the rest of the day, this gentle lady would continue to pick up, dust, and return each and every belonging to its assigned place. She hoped she could remember exactly where everything had been. And while she worked, she searched. Miss Jeanne had always been meticulous with the important things in her life, and this one failure could have dire consequences.
One more hour and Kim would be leaving work and making her way along a congested highway for the 30-mile trip to her aunt’s home. Normally, this trip would be reserved for the weekend. Since Miss Jeanne made the decision to stop paying for a land line that had become an answering service for robo calls, Kim’s concern for her had led to some intense conversations---until they negotiated a compromise.
Knowing this might not end well negated any thoughts of an afternoon nap; Miss Jeanne walked through and surveyed each room of the house. Time was running out. Her best efforts would also mean reliance on a Higher Power. The words of Psalm 16:8,9 were on her lips as she pressed forward.
With a few final touches to tidy the living room, the restoration was completed. Bookcase. Check. Throw rugs straightened. Check. Figurines centered on doilies. Check. Sofa cushions in place and pillows fluffed. Che…
What? A familiar song began to play softly in a distance. Miss Jeanne stopped dead in her tracks and listened as she tried to determine the source of the refrain. Her stiff neck turned slowly toward the tote bag that held one of her many knitting projects. Heart rate soaring, she practically leapt across the room. She grabbed the bag from the bottom and upended its contents onto the floor. The aria never sounded sweeter than at this moment. She winced at the many missed calls bearing Kim’s name and number. Her hands shook as she pushed “Send” and willed her voice to speak in its normal range.
“Hello? Well, yes, Kim. I’m fine! You’ve been trying to call me? Reeaallly! Yes, yes. Everything is perfectly fine, dear. I’ll see you on Saturday.”
“I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.”
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