Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: QUESTION (S) (05/30/19)
TITLE: Paper Heart Answers
By Francy Judge
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Shayna is watching me with her head tilted and hand out as if she’s waiting for a bird to land. “Mom, why are you standing in the garage with a sock?” Why is she always asking me questions without answers?
I don’t remember. “Why are you in the garage in your pajamas?”
“It’s three thirty in the morning. I heard a noise.”
“What was the noise?”
“You, Mom. Why are you up at this hour?” She is shaking her head like I used to when I would find her hiding in the laundry basket with the dirty clothes tossed on the floor. She was around two then and had a dimpled smile that always made me want to scoop her up and hug her.
I look at the sock, wishing it would answer. I’m tired of sounding stupid lately. “You know. It was time to do something.” I hold the sock to my nose and nearly gag. “Ooh. This sock stinks like rotten broccoli. I think it needs to go in the wash.”
“Mom, it’s too late to do laundry. Let me help you to bed. You look a bit wobbly.”
I let Shayna hold my hand as we march back to the other room. Her hand feels warm and smoother than mine. “You smell like coconuts. It’s much nicer than the sock smell.”
She laughs. “That’s my hand moisturizer.”
Shayna pulls my flowered quilt up to my waist and places a book on my lap. “Here. Read this to help you fall asleep.”
“Thanks. You’re a sweetheart.” The cover has a beautiful illustration of pink roses in a glass vase. “Smelling the Roses. Daily Devotions for Life’s Journey.” My eyes settle on the name. Margie Walker. Me. That’s right. I wrote this. It is lovely. “Thank you, darling.”
I move the bookmark and begin reading: "When I was a young girl about seven-years-old, my Sunday school teacher asked me the most important question I would ever be asked. Mrs. Kennedy had the widest smile and a soft voice that sounded like a song when she spoke. She was also the choir leader, so she naturally sounded like music. Her eyes shined when she looked at me and asked, 'Margie, would you like to ask Jesus into your heart?' I felt my heart flutter like butterflies.
After attending her Sunday School class for a few months, I learned how much God loved me. I wanted to be close to Jesus. I answered, “Yes, I do.” Her eyes pooled with tears as she held my hands and prayed with me. Then she pinned a paper heart to my sweater."
I place the faded paper heart back in between the pages. My eyes feel heavy, so I close the book. “Shayna, you should meet Mrs. Kennedy. She changed my life. I’ll never forget her.”
“I have met her. Don’t you remember she lives next door? You used to bring her groceries before you started forgetting things.”
Questions without answers. I don’t remember getting her groceries, but I remember the heart and the day she asked me the question I’ll never forget. I hope Shayna knows.
“Shayna, do you know that God loves you?”
She nods. “Yes, you pinned a heart on me the day you asked if I believe. Twenty years ago.”
“Good. Remind me to wash the laundry tomorrow. And share a paper heart with someone.” I close my eyes and hear Shayna calling me, but all I see is a shining heart.
“Mom, I love you.”
Her voice mingles with an angelic choir. And my questions are answered.
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