Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)
TITLE: A Dozen Crumpled Pages
By Jan Ackerson
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The writer stops, her pencil no longer scratching the paper. This is not the right kind of beginning for the girl’s story. She rubs her temples, willing the words to come. Somehow, she has to find a way to show the readers a true picture of this girl.
Try something different.
She is eighteen, she is lovely,
She is made of Joy and Light,
She blesses all who share her shining world—
Beloved of her Father,
She is innocent and bright;
The future surely shines on such a girl…
Poetry—better, thinks the writer. That’s exactly what the girl was like. But the hard part of the story is coming up. The writer can’t put that part into rhyme, is not even sure that she can write it at all.
Write it. Just write it.
She was nervous about riding the horse, had never ridden a horse before. Its flanks quivered beneath her denim-clad legs as she leaned forward to pat its neck. A twitch, a start—the horse began to run, bucking and bucking as it tore through the trees.
And then she was flying, weightless for a few brief seconds, until the ground rushed upwards and she met it with a thud and a snap.
There. That’s done.
The writer stops to wipe a tear with the back of her hand. A second tear trickles past the stone in her throat. Don’t stop here, this is not the story. This is prelude.
Free verse, perhaps?
She thinks she can do it.
She hopes she can do it.
She prays she can do it.
A step. Another. Another.
You can do it, dear heart.
Sit up and look to Me.
You can do it, child of Mine.
Crawl to where I have stooped for you.
You can do it, precious daughter.
A step to Me—I have always been here.
The writer rips a sheet from the tablet. It joins perhaps a dozen pages crumpled on the carpet, each covered with erasures and scribbled-out phrases. She can not write this, there are no words. No words to express why this girl is her hero.
Just tell them. Set aside the writerly gimmicks, and tell them her story.
She has lived with her devastating injury for over six years. The words that she spoke to her mother from a gurney in the emergency room have become her theme: I feel at peace.
For months of grueling physical therapy—Christ was her peace.
During four years of college in a wheelchair—Christ was her peace.
When learning to drive with hand controls—Christ was her peace.
Amidst heartbreak, struggle, and frustration—Christ was her peace.
There is never a single moment of a single day when she is not aware of the reality of living with a disability—yet Christ has been and always will be her peace.
The writer can feel it now—it does not take heroic words to describe a hero, but simple words for simple truths. She finishes with a few brief sentences, then calls her daughter on the phone. Here is a story that I have written about you, Sweetie, she says. It starts like this:
Once there was a girl who was loved by God…
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