Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Right and Left (07/31/14)
TITLE: A Fruitful Lesson
By Dannie Hawley
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“If I had just one wish, it would be that the video jammed every time we came to eat.” I leaned back, as the waiter placed the plate of steaming food before me.
“Oh, come now; how could you throw away a perfectly good wish?” My colleague pointed her fork at the slab of beef. “How about asking for some fresh fruit?”
“With the Sahara Desert at our doorstep, I just figured I’d ask for something possible.” I sighed and stabbed at a morsel of the steak, which in reality bore little resemblance to the familiar cut. Here, a steak was just a slice of the bull that was tossed in a pan, regardless of its anatomical origin.
The villain’s shriek and clashing of swords swallowed my words. Lifting her arms, palms up, and eyebrows arched, I knew Deborah hadn’t heard me.
Heading back upstairs to fetch a couple of mint-flavored antacids for our dessert, Deborah shared her proposal. “How about we go looking for some fruit? Omar said that there’s a fruit stand just down the road. They’re supposed to sell watermelons, pineapples--”
“Are you sure it’s not a mirage he saw? A fruit stand way out here?”
Deborah shrugged, continuing her ascent. I followed; my mouth watering like I’d just heard Pavlov’s bell.
Soon, unrelenting desire guiding us, we grabbed our cloth bags and headed for the receptionist. He gave vague directions; our happy journey began.
Deborah and I joked, giggled, and acted like schoolgirls beginning a trek for the long-awaited prize. “Stop; I’ve another stone in my flip-flop.” Bending down, I removed and shook the rubber sandal.
Next to me, Deborah pulled off and shook each of her flip-flops. “Are you getting all this sand in your flops, too? Maybe we should have waited until late afternoon to try to find this place?”
“I’m getting a ton of sand in my shoes, but I just kind of flip them up as I walk when the layer gets too thick.” I glanced around. “Hmm? You might be right; I don’t see any of the Africans walking around at one-thirty in the afternoon.”
Forty-five minutes into the journey, the bodice of my cotton dress clinging from sweat, we reached the point of decision. The sand-packed street branched out to the right and the left. “Any idea if we’re supposed to go right or left?”
“Nope,” I said, taking the handkerchief from my side pocket, silently praying God’d tell us.
“Let’s pray; God knows where it is.” I believed we should go to the right; Deborah thought to the left.
Half an hour later, we reversed direction. My handkerchief soaked, every exposed skin surface reddening, our feet began slipping out of the rubber flip-flops as we trudged on. Once we reached the decision point again, we agreed that we’d come so far already, we just couldn’t go back to the hotel without the fruit. It had to be on this road.
Half an hour passed without a sign of life, let alone fruit. “I think it’s time to admit defeat. My mouth is so dry my tongue is nearly sticking to my palate.”
Deborah agreed, with a groan. “We were so close; I know we were. If only we’d gone to the right instead of the left, we would have had time to find the stand.”
Like two battle-weary soldiers, we dragged our soggily-clad selves back to the hotel. Once inside our sad, little room I discovered that, while our trek in the desert sands had not rewarded us with a single bite of fruit, it’d produced more than sun-reddened skin. My feet had been rubbed raw by the friction of the sand against my sweat-slippery soles. Both crimson surfaces burned; the right foot had an angry, bleeding blister.
During the days I hobbled around on crutches, we learned we’d been searching for the once-a-week fruitstand on the wrong day. For six days it’s just arid land. Our first prayer for guidance shouldn’t have been between right and left, but, “Should we go in search of fruit today, Father?”
Back at the table, we thanked God for the blessing of food, surrounded by the sounds of Captain America pummeling his enemies one more time.
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