Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Day and Night (07/10/14)
TITLE: The Night Shift
By Marlene Bonney
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Veronica Miles had been born with Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a disorder that made her hypersensitive to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. There was a strong genetic component involved in most cases; hers was an exception. Dr. Spelling, the family pediatrician specializing in children’s rare syndromes, had predicted a bleak future for them all.
“Scientists are doing research and making a little progress, but there may not be a cure, or even management medications, during your daughter’s lifespan,” a scenario that had taken her parents years to accept.
Consequently, they had held fund raisers, they had pleaded with politicians, they had traveled clear across the country for possible treatment programs, all to no avail. Like pioneers thrashing their way through uncharted territories, the Miles’ became well-known for their persistence and tenacity in the face of overwhelming blockades.
Veronica was 6 years old before she realized how topsy-turvy her cocooned world was. A “normal” little girl from their neighborhood had come over for an over-nighter, a slumber party for two, and had promptly fallen asleep before midnight! “Nica” had only been awake a few scant hours at this point and was in tears at her new friend’s defection. Her mother had sat her down, then, and explained that God had made her very special as a “night owl.” She told her that most little girls slept through Nica’s waking hours because they were awake during the day and were not allergic to natural light from the sun. (What she didn’t tell her was that most children with her disease developed skin cancers at around 10 years old.)
“But, Mommy, I like being awake at night! I can go outdoors and lay on the grass and count stars and run around and stuff. Remember how you and I had a tea party under the oak tree with Daddy’s camping lantern? And it was so quiet we could hear the crickets and the birds woke up with pretty singing right before we had to come in?”
“Yes, darling,” her mother smiling tenderly, “but haven’t you noticed that our neighbors house lights are off and no one else but our family is outside through the night?”
Veronica DID feel special then, and thanked God for the eventide excursions and adventures she could keep all to herself and those she loved. It was almost as if they were on a deserted island of sorts! As she got older, however, the home schooling and limited social outings became more restrictive. She had watched her peers going off to school and playing and laughing with each other when she peeked through the heavy drapes drawn across the specially treated sun-deflective windows in their home. And she began to yearn for a different kind of existence, and her prayers became petitions for healing.
Not so long after that, a uniquely formulated sun-blocker cream became available, and Veronica Miles was chosen as a test case for this trial lotion that was touted to completely block the dangerous ultraviolet rays from harming skin! What a wonder if it really worked!
“Oh, Father in heaven, thank you for answering my prayers a different way!”
Of course, now Veronica had a different set of problems arising from the transition to being awake and active during the day and sleeping through the night, so foreign to her that she felt like an alien in her native land. Conversely, it was wonderfully liberating to join her friends in school and be involved in outdoor daytime activities along with them. She could even expand her wardrobe into delightful short-sleeved blouses and play outside in the winter always, instead of just when there was a snowstorm! Each day was an adventure filled with new experiences and sensations. As if it had been in a wicked sleeping spell, the Miles’ house awakened, transforming from a tomb to a sunlight-ridden dream-house. Gradually, Veronica and her parents adjusted to the new nighttime/daytime schedule, although they rarely were able to fall asleep before midnight.
Veronica and other patients saw such positive results from the newly-released “miracle” cream that she was actually asked to become a spokesperson for the drug company, sharing her story with other children and young people with the disease.
Like caterpillars emerging from their cocoons, the kids previously labeled “Children of the Night” slowly became known as “Children of the Light”.
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