Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HOME (02/07/19)
TITLE: Is a House Always a Home?
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom
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After kissing Grace and hugging Shay, Mrs. Fieldings smiled. “So girls, how are your reports coming?”
Shay dipped her head, but Grace nudged her. “Go on, Shay, tell her.”
“Fifth-grade is hard. Ugh, oral reports!” Shay shivered.
Mrs. Fieldings said, “Do you want to practice?”
Grace grabbed Shay’s backpack. “Here, go ahead. I wanna hear it too.” Grace looked at her mom. “Promise you won’t nag her too much.”
Cheeks red, Shay pulled out some index cards from her bag. “It might be nice to practice. And it’s about you guys.”
“I promise not to nag, and if it’s based on us, it’s bound to be interesting.” Mrs. Fieldings chuckled.
Shay glanced at Grace. Licking her lips, she shuffled her cards and stood up. “Is a House Always a Home? I used to think the words, house and home, meant the same thing. Until I started hanging out with my friend, Grace. Every day after school, we go to her house. Her mom always greets us right away, usually with a yummy snack. Although Grace pretends to be embarrassed when her mom kisses her, I know she’s really happy because of her smile.
“There’s no one there, when I go to my house. Mean people say I live in a trailer park, but that makes the landlord mad. He says it’s a mobile home park. Mostly just single moms and kids live there. I don’t think hardly any grown-ups are around when we get off the bus. Us kids are mostly on our own, and some have to cook dinner for their younger siblings and put them to bed by themselves. The landlord may want to call them mobile homes, but I think they should be called mobile houses. At least the ones where I live. Thankfully, not all parks are like mine.
“Before I met Grace, I thought everyone lived like me. I remember the first time I spent the night at Grace’s. Her mom came in and kissed us both good night. Then her Mom said something I’d never heard before: ‘I love you, Shay.’ I don’t think I said anything to her. I just mumbled into my pillow.
“Soon I started wishing my house was more like Grace’s. Her home is always clean. That doesn’t mean everything is perfect, though. There are shoes piled up by the door, jackets and backpacks thrown on the couch, and toys on the floor. Mrs. Fieldings once told me that a home should look like the people who live there. I didn’t understand at first, but now I do. Dishes in the sink, clothes being folded on the counter, and cookie crumbs on the table are all signs of love.
“The idea of home meaning love was new to me. Often the word home is used incorrectly. My landlord insists on calling my house a mobile home. At first I thought the mobile part must mean love moves in and out.
“My grandmother lives in a nursing home, but it’s not really a home either. There are yucky smells and old people tied into chairs who grab your hand when you walk by. So when Grace invited me to go visit her grandmother, I was nervous. Grace told me she lives in a farmhome. I remember scrunching up my face and asked, ‘You mean farmhouse?’ Grace shook her head and said, ‘No, it’s not just a house that is on a farm; it’s a home. My mom grew up there, and my brother and I go over all the time. We belong there.’
“When she took me over, her grandma gave me a big hug and put a plate of cookies on the table. I didn’t feel like an outsider. I felt like I belonged too.
“I asked Grace if her grandfather was home. Her eyes filled with tears. I was afraid I said something wrong. Her grandma said, ‘Poppa has gone home to heaven.’ I must’ve had a funny look on my face because her grandma pointed to a cross on the wall and said, ‘Jesus loves us so much, he died for our sins. Since that’s the greatest gift of love, I figure heaven has to really be home.’
“I think that’s the day I realized a house is just a building, but a home is love. The End.”
Shay squirmed. “It’s dumb isn’t it?”
Both Grace and Mrs. Fieldings jumped up and hugged Shay. Grace swiped tears away from her eyes while Mrs. Fieldings blew her nose into a tissue.
Grace patted her friend’s back. “It’s not dumb at all. It’s perfect.”
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