Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ONEROUS (03/02/17)
- TITLE: The Serenity Spa
By Sandra Fischer
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Irena smiled. “You can pick up the extra luggage you brought at the storage desk.”
Cara put her finger to her head in a mock gesture of consideration. “Ah, yes! Trouble is I can’t remember what I brought that I needed.”
Irena laughed. “What a difference a Serenity Spa weekend makes, huh?”
Cara couldn’t believe how quickly the time had passed and how far she had come. Here she was holding the small plastic bag containing “essentials”, but inside she was leaving with much more.
Cara craned her neck around the women in line to see what the hold-up was for the check-in to Serenity Spa. She could hear some of the chatter and she could see some women stepping aside, opening their luggage and pulling things out.
“Why in the world would they be inspecting luggage for a spa check-in?”
The woman in front of her turned. “This your first time here?”
Cara reddened as she realized she had verbalized the question aloud. "Um, yes.”
"Then, you don’t know—it’s not an inspection; it’s a limitation rule.” The woman extended her hand and introduced herself. “I’m Irena. I could tell by your luggage, you are probably a first-timer.”
Cara gave her name and took her hand off her weekender to shake Irena’s. “My husband signed me up as a birthday gift, but I didn’t see a limitation rule.”
The line shifted forward as some women were processed quickly, while others opened their suitcases and put items in small plastic bags. Spa staffers put tags on the suitcases and wheeled them away on carts.
Irena smiled, putting a hand on Cara’s shoulder. “The limitation rule is simple. You’re asked to only keep what you absolutely need for the weekend. The rest will be held until the retreat is over. You can collect it then, if you still want to.”
Cara frowned, eyes narrowing as she struggled to process the information. Before she could speak, Irena was suddenly lurching toward her, pushed by a woman, screaming, “No way! They’re not making me give up my stuff. I packed it carefully and I’m keeping it. I’m outta here!”
Irena managed to keep from falling, but her knee nudged Cara’s suitcase causing it to twist out of her hand and thud the floor.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Cara rubbed her smarting fingers.
“Not everyone likes the limitation rule.” Irena bent to pick up Cara’s suitcase. “Whoa! This is heavy. Must have brought your whole closet.”
That’s when Cara noticed that Irena didn’t have any luggage, only a small bag strung over her wrist. “Is that all you’re taking?"
“Yes. And, if you want, I can help you sort out your things for just the essentials.”
Cara looked at the bag. It was large and heavy and she probably could do without many of the things she thought she needed. She had always been one to overpack.
“This is my fifth time here and, each time I find I bring far more than I need. I end up with much more.”
It didn’t make sense to Cara, but she was willing to trust Irena. Maybe it was her calm, assuring manner, her warm smile, and a glow about her she couldn’t pinpoint.
Soon, the two were sorting and putting items in a small plastic bag provided by the resort.
Cara held her small plastic bag up next to Irena’s. “Now, I know why you were eager to help me sort out all the things I didn’t need. I had no idea what the Serenity Spa was. I expected all kinds of body massages. . .”
“And you received soul messages instead.” Irena finished Cara’s sentence.
“A faithlift instead of a facelift,” Cara laughed. “And who would have expected a prayer-cure instead of a pedicure?”
Irena resounded. “A heart cleanse instead of a body scrub?”
“I thought I was coming for a physical makeover, but I didn’t realize how far I was from God, allowing worldly things to weigh me down. What did I get? A Holy Spirit takeover. Casting all my anxieties on Jesus, I laid my burdens down here. Oh, Irena, I can’t wait to thank my husband!”
Irena hugged her goodbye. “Are you going to pick up your luggage?”
Cara threw the small bag over her shoulder, smiled and called back, “Nope. I have everything I need—and much more.”
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