Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Bouncebackability (06/05/14)
TITLE: What Remains
By Jody Day
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“Is it over?” She whispered as though the monster storm might hear her and return.
“I think so, honey.” Dad’s voice quivered a bit, but he braved a smile. He took both her hands in his and knelt before her. “Sally, I’m afraid this was a bad one. I don’t know what we’ll find up there.”
Would the house still stand? She’d been trying to capture her mother’s face on canvas. Did her paint room survive?
“You stay here. I’ll poke my head out first.” Dad stepped toward the six steps that led up to the door. He pushed it open and sunlight flooded the room. He stepped outside, but stumbled back down the steps, slumping to the floor, his head in his hands.
“Dad?” She rushed to him, kneeling and wrapping her arms around him.
Sally rose and pulled away. Her brain willed her feet to ascend the stairs.
Gone. All gone. How could a hundred year old farm house be just….gone? First Mom dies, now this. How do we go on?
Dad’s arms slipped around her. His quiet sobs melded with hers as they scanned the Casey property. What was left of the house lie in splintered shards of wood all over the place. Where was Dad’s truck?
“We’d better check on the Keplers.” Dad wiped his face with his denim sleeve. They walked silently down the road to their elderly neighbor’s home.
Sally’s mind raced through a list of her most precious possessions. Her mother’s handwork, her clothes they couldn’t bear to give away, Sally’s painting room, her 4th grade art show blue ribbon she’d just won.
Except for debris scattered in the yard, the Kepler’s home stood serene, as though nothing had happened.
Ample Maud Kepler ran out and embraced the dazed Sally and her father. “Come in this house right now. How was it for you down the road?”
Her dad just shook his head. Jack Kepler came outside.
“Jack, would you go back to the house,” he stopped and blew air from his lips, shaking his head, “back to the property with me? Maybe there is something I can salvage. I can’t even find my truck.”
“Go along, both of you. Sally will be fine with me.” Maud waved them off and brought Sally into the house. Domestic order and comfort did nothing to ease the ache in Sally’s heart. The two sat on the couch in the parlor.
Sally looked around the room. Two framed photos of the Kepler’s home took prominence on the coffee table. One black and white and a color one with some old car parked beside it.
“We lost this one to fire in ’52,” she said, pointing to the black and white. It’s where Jack brought me home as a bride. He rebuilt it from the original plans.” She fingered the porch swing in the picture like the cheek of a small child.
Sally picked up the color photo. “I guess you don’t have this old car anymore.”
“No, not the El Camino, which was brand new, nor the house. The tornado of ’65 took the car and the house.”
Sally quelled a gasp with the palm of her hand. When she found her voice, she put her hand on Maud’s arm. “So, you rebuilt a third time?”
“Yes. Kind of partial to the property. Been in Jack’s family for generations.”
“You keep the pictures to remember them by?”
“Not exactly. The pictures remind us that things don’t last. What is important always remains, our faith in God, hope for a future, our love for each other. The experience of losing two homes taught me to focus on what really matters. It’s the foundation we use to get up again.”
Will I ever get to that point? There’s nothing left.
Mrs. Kepler stood and retrieved a picture frame from the sideboard drawer. “Your mother asked me to have this framed for you. I’ve been waiting for the right moment. I think that’s now.”
“Mother’s sampler!” Mom’s cross-stitched scripture sampler, red on cream colored fabric, bolstered Sally’s heart.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Maybe they hadn’t lost everything after all.
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