Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: TALKATIVE (09/08/16)
TITLE: The Trouble with Aunt Prudence
By Jennifer Woodley
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Quite distracted by her voice, she carelessly carried the display to a sideboard too far away for anyone to appreciate the petunias aesthetic appeal. Then with an unquenchable energy that set Aunt Pru’s eyes flashing, head nodding and voluptuous body bouncing, she bombarded me with a barrage of questions. No answers needed.
“Have you seen your Uncle Bill? Yes, he has been very ill. Rushed to the doctor yesterday, the entire house is in a fray. The butler couldn’t find his shoe, the maid has left, what will I do? The fridge has broken, the taps are leaking, the gardeners fought and are not speaking. The gardens are in such a mess, and dear niece would you guess? Bill’s favorite dog has up and died, the one that was his joy and pride. The driver found him out stone cold, and he wasn’t really very old. The cook is in an awful roar, he says his head is quite sore, and so he has gone off to bed, how are my guests to be fed? The ladies group is coming soon, they will be here at half past noon. But who will cook the lunchtime meal, and serve the food that does appeal? I hardly know just what to do, can you help your Aunty Pru?”
She slumped heavily into the luxurious lounge and began to sob. I embraced her warmly and compassion for my dear aunt swelled. She was so distracted with so much. I felt dizzy listening to her. Right now there was just one thing that was needed. I walked towards the petunias and placed the pretty display on the coffee table before her.
“Dear aunt” I began “Do you see these lovely flowers I brought for you this morning?”
“Yes dear” she sniffed and dabbed her teary eyes.
Pushing the tea tray away I urged her to focus on the flowers. They made a delightful center piece. “All this tea service is like the happenings in your life right now, Aunt Prudence. They are distracting your attention from the most important thing.”
“What do you mean dear? This is all sounds very queer. I’ve no time for riddles about flowers and tea and how these things could concern me. My world’s in a mess, and I can’t seem to think, if life doesn’t change, I’ll be forced to the drink. Billy is sick and I’m left all alone, left to care for this enormous home. Nobody bothers anymore about me, so don’t talk of flowers and cups of tea!”
Placing her head in her hands, Aunt Pru wept. She was not ready to listen. She would not hear my words. I quietly placed a slip of paper beside the vase and left Aunt Prudence to her weeping. Only the gentle rhythm of the clock marking time and her intermittent sobs followed me out of the room.
Perhaps it was curiosity, or possibly the reminder to focus on the flowers, that led Aunt Prudence to later unfold the note her niece had left. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. The words resonated deep within Aunt Prudence. Was she weary? Was she burdened? Did she need to learn how to find rest in the very deepest part of her?
And that is where the ladies group, who showed themselves into Prudence’s parlor a few hours later discovered their friend. She had found a Bible in the study and opened it to the Gospel of Matthew. She was sitting peacefully reading, praying and still crying.
Prudence arose to welcome them. Would they like tea? No, her friends had heard that she was struggling, perhaps they could take her out to lunch? On the way out Prudence paused to admire the petunias positioned in the center of the table. Yes, they made a lovely center piece and a reminder of Who would remain her center piece.
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