Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BOYCOTT (11/01/18)
TITLE: Wrestled Woes
By Annette Griffin
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She turned the door latch, mentally scolding herself for not oiling it sooner. Maybe Papa would be asleep, and she could avoid his questions till morning.
“Where on earth have you been?” Papa stood in the entry hall, wrapped in the thick quilt she’d tucked around him earlier.
“Oh Papa, I’m so sorry.” She peeled her coat, scarf, and gloves from her body, hung them on the hall-tree, and rushed to him. “Why are you out of bed? Doc Porter says pneumonia is nothing to fool with. You need plenty of rest if you want to bounce back.”
The lines in her father’s worn face softened. “How could I rest, knowing you were out in this weather—all alone?”
She linked her arm through his and gently guided him back to bed. “I wasn’t alone, Papa.” The menthol-scented air burned in her nostrils as she sank into the rocker by her father’s bedside. “I spent the day with … with Miss Gracie and her family.”
Rarely did her father lose his temper, but the veins that bulged in his neck told Esther she had better brace herself. “You know we do not associate with the Sanders. Never have. Never will.”
Esther bit her lip to keep the tears at bay. “Yes,” she answered softly, “but their dog was stranded in the snow, and I had to return her home.” Knowing her father’s affection for all creatures, great and small, she hoped the answer would appease.
A parade of expressions marched across Papa’s face, as the old man tried to come to grips with her explanation. An untold story lingered behind his sullen eyes and made her wonder if there was more to the family feud than she knew.
“Well—you could have returned the animal and left. That’s what you should’ve done, knowing how your Mother and I feel about it.”
At the mention of her Mother, Esther’s tears flowed. “That’s not fair, bringing Mother into this. She never held a grudge. The Sanders even attended her funeral. What has made you so angry with them? Yes, I know the story about Mr. Sanders buying the farm that you and Mother wanted. But that was forty years ago, Papa. Forty years. Is that worth boycotting their whole family over—forever? They’re our closest neighbors.”
A hard line formed at Papa’s jaw. His blue eyes narrowed to tiny slits and one bushy gray eyebrow peaked above the other. “Why are you so interested in being neighborly, now?”
With one question, he had gotten to the root of her dilemma. Her afternoon with Robert had been full of life, laughter, and deep conversation. But more than that, there had been a connection. Not a fleshly, frivolous attraction. But an echo that resonated deep between his spirit and hers, as if The Lord had brought together two pieces of a human jigsaw puzzle.
Esther sighed and leaned toward her father. “Their son, Robert, is home from college and—”
“I’ll hear none of this. No more. Esther, I forbid you to—” A wracking cough interrupted the tirade and sent her father into a wheezing attack.
It took an hour for Esther to calm him. She applied a poultice to his chest and soothed him to sleep. When he began to snore, she sank into the rocker with her Bible but could barely keep her eyes open. “Father, only you can mend old wounds and give us the ability to forgive. Please heal Papa’s heart, as well as his lungs,” she mumbled, as her heavy lids fell.
A hand upon her shoulder startled Esther awake. The orange rays of a new day streamed through the faded curtains. “Oh, Are you okay, Papa?”
“Yes. And no. I wrestled with God all night. And as usual, He won.”
Her father’s crooked smile always made Esther laugh. “Your color is back, and you look stronger. So, it must have been a good fight.”
“That it was, my dear. That it was. Now—tell me about this Robert.”
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