Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
TITLE: Life, One Clue at a Time
By Diane M. Bowman
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The next sigh slipped out and she covered it with a cough. A person can only listen to talk about old people's activities for so long. Turning her wheel chair around, she headed to the restroom.
"Let me help." Her daughter jumped up and started to follow her.
"Sit down, Miriam." Help would spoil her plan.
Wheeling into the restroom, she activated the button hidden behind the door. Immediately, the room transformed into an elevator, taking her down to passageways under the building. She prayed her family would forgive her for escaping, once again. By now, they knew when she disappeared into the restroom they were free to leave.
Upon reaching the underground tunnels, she stood up from her wheelchair and sprinted towards daylight. Nearing the end of the passageway, Olive pulled her cell phone out of her handbag, "The car, please, Jarvis."
Within minutes, a sleek black car pulled up to the curb. Jarvis stepped primly out and opened the door as Olive sank into the back seat.
"Where to, now, m'lady?" Jarvis asked as he steered the car back into traffic.
"I think I've finally figured it out. This is the clue:
Brings echoes of languages long obsolete,
Recalling the height of faraway ranges,
Walk cautiously. The path may be dangerous.
"Your destination that rhymes with chimpanzee,
Sits eleven thousand feet above the sea.
There a wizened old woman you will soon meet,
Inside the stone house, at the end of First Street.
"Let's go to Chumpe, Peru."
Off they went to the airport. After an exhausting flight, Jarvis rented a car and they drove as far up the Andes mountain range as a car could go. From there, they trekked up the mountainside on foot. Her mother's clue took her to the door of a stone house. It creaked open after one knock.
"Why, hello, Olive. We've been expecting you. Come in, come in!"
She'd begun to anticipate this greeting. Her mother, a quadriplegic, who passed away at twenty-seven, had spent her last five years planning the mystery of a lifetime for her only child. At ninety years old, Olive had been following her mother's clues since her twenty-first birthday. Each hint led to another, taking her to every country in the world. This clue was different. It would be the last.
The wizened old woman brought out a small package wrapped in brown paper. With trembling hands, Olive hugged it to her chest. Part of her wanted to hurry, ripping it open like a small child at Christmas. The other part of her won and she cherished every moment as she revealed the treasure she'd searched for so long. Inside the package lay a key and a letter.
Tears ran down her cheeks as she read the words of her mother. Towards the end, she found the key's purpose.
The key you'll find in this package fits a safety deposit box at the main branch of the Bank of New York Mellon. In it, there are a significant number of savings bonds. They are for my grandchildren.
The treasure for you, I’m sure you recognized long ago, was a lifetime of discovery.
Olive stayed in Chompe a few days before beginning the arduous journey home with a peaceful heart. She'd finally accomplished her mission.
Jarvis dropped her off at the end of the tunnel and she made her way back up the elevator into her room. The nursing home staff were expecting her. She'd spent Saturday nights there for nearly twenty years, just to satisfy her family who thought she was too old to live alone. During the week, unbeknownst to her children, she traveled, following the clues.
The next morning, she woke to light streaming through her window. It was Sunday and her family would soon arrive. Olive could hardly wait to tell them of her secret search. She gathered up everything she'd collected along the way, sat down in her chair and closed her eyes to wait for their arrival.
And, there her family found her, slumped over in her chair, still clutching the stack of clues, the letter, and the key. Olive had left to follow her mother on a much grander adventure.
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