Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BROKEN (12/06/18)
- TITLE: Sweet Savor
By Annette Griffin
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â€œWhat are you doing down here?â€
â€œJust seeing what canned goods are left.â€
Papa planted himself between her and the dusty shelf. â€œIs that so?â€
Esther lowered her eyes to the dirt floor to hide lingering tears. â€œHowâ€™d you know where to find me?â€
â€œThis has always been your crying place, Esther. Ever since you were a little girl.â€
â€œOh Papa.â€ Esther buried her head in her fatherâ€™s burly chest and exhausted her grief. â€œI wanted so badly for Robert to return home. But not like this.â€
â€œThere, there. All will be well. The Lord is in control. He knew what He was doing when he sent your husband off to battle. And His timing is perfect in sending him home.â€
Esther peeled herself away from his embrace and glared at him. â€œHow can you say that? You blame God for this? We were barely married a year before Robert was drafted. And now heâ€™s coming home â€¦ injured. Do you really think God would have a hand in such a thing?â€
â€œSeems He did, Esther.â€ Papaâ€™s steel blue eyes held her captive. â€œEven if we donâ€™t understand why. Do you think Robert will return as less of a manâ€”just because he is missing his leg?â€
â€œDonâ€™t be cruel, Papa. You know I donâ€™t think that. You know I never could. Robert would be no less to me if he returned with no limbs â€¦ and a tail.â€
â€œThen whatâ€™s weighing so heavy on you?â€
A hot mixture of fury and tears blurred her vision. â€œDo you know what Maggie Cooper had the audacity to suggest yesterday when I was helping her string the banner for the county fair? She said, â€˜Sorry to hear about your poor husband. My father could use some help in the store if Robert needs work when he returns.â€™ Oh Papa, can you imagine? Can you see Robertâ€”confident, self-assured, war hero Robert helping those snooty Coopers stock their shelves?â€
â€œSo, itâ€™s pride thatâ€™s got you in a tizzy then?â€
â€œOf course not. Not for myself, anyway. Iâ€™m horrified that Robert might think less of himself. His letters have been so different, Papa. He just seems so humbled â€¦ so broken.â€
â€œYou say that like itâ€™s a bad thing, Esther.â€
A bur of frustration prickled her insides. How could he not understand? She turned from him. â€œIâ€™m taking Motherâ€™s last jar of peach preserves to enter in the fair contest. Today is the last day for judging.â€ She whisked past him and shoved the jar into a quilted satchel. â€œMother deserves that blue ribbon on her grave. Lord knows she gave enough of these peaches to the neighbors. They practically begged her for them. I want her to have something to show for it.â€
â€œLet me drive you in the buggy. Youâ€™re too riled to take the reins.â€
â€œNo Papa,â€ she turned and gave his arm a gentle squeeze. â€œA brisk walk will do me good.â€
Before he could protest, she scurried up the stairs and out the front door. A fragrant gale greeted her. She ignored itâ€”and every other sign of Spring that flourished along the trail into town.
By the time she reached the judging tent a light dew of perspiration coated her flushed face.
â€œWell hello there, Esther. Nice to see you. What can we do for you?â€
The tent was filled with jovial townsfolk, but they were all a blur. â€œI came to enter Motherâ€™s peaches in the contest.â€ Estherâ€™s head swam, and heart ached as she reached into the satchel with shaky hands. â€œBut â€¦ Iâ€™m afraid Iâ€™m not quite myself right now.â€
Her motherâ€™s peach jar shattered at her feet just before Esther succumbed to the dizziness enveloping her.
â€œEsther? Can you hear me?â€
â€œYesâ€”you fainted. Here, sit up slowly.â€
â€œFainted? Waitâ€”why is everyone crying? Doc, Is something wrong with me? Be honest.â€
â€œNo, Esther. Theyâ€™re nostalgic tears.â€
â€œThe peaches, my dear. The fragrance.â€ The kind old doctorâ€™s eyes grew misty. â€œItâ€™s her. Your sweet Motherâ€”sheâ€™s all around us.â€
Esther closed her eyes and inhaled the sweet, spiced savor that filled the tent. He was right.
â€œAnd donâ€™t worry my dear, thereâ€™s nothing wrong with you that a few months wonâ€™t cure.â€
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