Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
- TITLE: Inch by Inch
By Judy Sauer
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Her mom looked out the window and smiled as she set up their new home. She had hoped their move to this downstairs flat, with its fenced-in yard, would give Sadie space to play freely; she saw that her hope started to be realized.
As she skipped beside the chain-linked fence, she saw that an old woman lived next door, so she called out, “Hi. My name is Sadie. What’s yours?”
To Sadie, the answer took forever. What felt like an eternity, from within a wrinkled, scrunched-up face, and from behind crossed arms, it came.
From her joyful innocence, Sadie replied, “That’s a silly name. No one is grumpy all the time. I want to call you Miss Happy!”
A scowl-wrapped groan was her only response.
But Sadie wasn’t done yet. She stooped down and picked a dandelion flower and pushed her fingers through a diamond-gap. “Here is a pretty yellow flower for you.”
“Just put it on the ground,” groaned Miss Grumpy, as she shifted her back towards the fence to avoid any eye-contact.
“Lunch is ready.”
Sadie hurried inside and blurted out, “Mom, there’s an old lady next door. She said her name was Miss Grumpy. I told her that was a silly name because no one is grumpy all the time. I told her I want to call her Miss Happy. I gave her a yellow flower from the grass, but she didn’t come to the fence. Instead, she told me to put it on the ground.”
“That was sweet of you. I’m sure she appreciated that you talked to her. Maybe no one has talked to her in a while. It may have been a long time since she received a flower. Give her some time.”
She persisted and said, “Good morning, Miss Happy,” every day, and offered a yellow flower when they reappeared in the yard. One day, she watched Miss Grumpy get up; she adjusted her chair. Hope filled inside Sadie’s heart when she realized Miss Grumpy had moved her chair to the left by an inch or two...closer to the fence. She prayed to God for her to move closer.
The next day, Sadie was happy to see that Miss Grumpy had repositioned her chair even closer to the fence. She noticed all the dead yellow flowers, offered in friendship, had disappeared from the grass. Even though wilted and browned, those flowers were now in a small vase on the table near Miss Grumpy’s chair. This pleased her a lot, and she smiled from her heart all day. It seemed every day the chair was closer to the fence—inch by inch it moved. Her newly offered flowers appeared in the vase the next day.
Then it happened. “Good morning, Miss Happy. How are you? I have a pretty yellow flower for you. Would you like to come get it?”
Sadie’s steadfast acts of compassion melted Miss Grumpy’s heart. “Yes dear. You are so precious,” said Miss Grumpy who then headed toward the fence. “Thank you,” as she accepted this small act of kindness. “When you first moved here, you asked for my name. I wasn’t very kind. I’m sorry. All this time, I liked how you called me Miss Happy. My real name is Velma, but I grew fond of Miss Happy, and hope this would continue. It’s such a lovely nickname. You have been the sweetest friend to me. Thank you.”
“Well thanks, Miss Happy. I’m glad that we now talk to each other.”
From then on, Sadie and Miss Happy talked through the fence. A friendship cemented between them. Her mom looked on very pleased with what her daughter had done as she won the heart of Miss Grumpy.
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