Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: DULL (05/12/17)
TITLE: The Kindest Actions are the Most Profound
By JC Hummel
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She had that feeling in her stomach again, it was a strange achiness that always came when she was sad or when mom and dad fought with grandpa and uncle. Sheila and her parents had moved in with her maternal grandfather and great uncle a few months ago, after her father lost his job at the paper mill. She didn't understand why the people she loved most in the world were being so hateful to one another, and hearing her father say bad things about grandpa made her want to cry.
Even when they weren't fighting Sheila was aware of the silent hostility that hung in the air. It reminded her of the ominous calm before a summer storm, when no matter how ready you are to hear that first low moan of thunder, it always catches you off guard.
Now that school was over her days were spent at home, and as an only child with no friends, there wasn't not much to do. When she tried to speak to Dad he usually ignored her or told her to go away. Her mother was always busy and never spent any time with her. Today Sheila felt lonelier than usual, and decided to go upstairs to her room and wait for her mother. As she passed the bathroom she saw her great uncle standing by the sink splashing water on his face. He was wearing his undershirt and black trousers held up with braces.
“What are you doing uncle?”
“Can I watch you?”
“That’ll be fine, once you don’t get in the way.”
Even though the safety razor had been invented more than twenty years before, he still used a straight edge blade. She liked uncle Phil; he was kind and gentle just like grandpa.
She sidestepped into the tiny room squeezing past and lifting herself on the side of the old clawfoot bathtub. He stood with his back to her by the white porcelain sink. Then he attached the black leather stope to the cabinet.
“Why are you doing that Uncle?” she asked him confused.
“The blade is dull.”
“Dull? What does that mean?”
“It’s blunt, needs to be sharpened,” and he gently slid the blade back and forth against the leather. Then he rinsed his shaving brush and dipped it in the white ceramic bowl that held his shaving soap. He lathered his brush and in circles put in on his silver whiskers.
She leaned slightly to the left with her head cocked trying to look past him and into the mirror to see his reflection. She thought it funny that he had white cream all over his face and she put her hands up to her mouth and started to giggle.
He turned around and said gently, “You need to be quiet now. No noise while I’m shaving.” “Okay uncle. I’ll be as quiet as a mouse,” she said in a serious tone and tried to breathe quietly even holding her breath here and there so not to disturb him. She watched with fascination as he maneuvered the blade while it made a gritty, scrapping noise. It was a little scary to see him put the sharp shiny object up to his cheek.
“Sheila,” she heard her mother call from downstairs. “Where did you get to?”
Uncle turned to the little girl. “You better go now, or she’ll be mad.”
She scooted off the side of the tub and went to the hallway. She realized that the achiness in her tummy was gone. She stopped and turned around, “I love you Uncle.”
“I love you too, sweetie.”
“Sheila.” If I have to come …
“Coming, Mom.” and she ran down the stairs.
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