Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ODD (02/20/20)
TITLE: Memories Restored
By Leola Ogle
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An odd little shop with an odd little man as owner. She looked at the old man, Abram, and all her apprehensions evaporated. His smile was warm and genuine, but it was his eyes – as if they looked into her soul and covered her hurt with love.
Maggie’s trembling hand held out the photo albums, a ragged breath whispering from her lips. The albums smelled of mildew and damp soil, and she felt shame for expecting Abram to work a miracle.
“It’s my grandmother’s. Hurricane Katrina.” She shrugged. “So many things destroyed. Grandma’s in a care facility now, so frail. She has dementia. She keeps asking for wedding pictures of her and Grandpa, of my dad when he was a little boy.” She glanced at the albums. When they tried to peel apart the pages, it tore pictures. Maggie’s shoulders slumped in defeat.
Abram took the albums, turning them in his hands. “And you want me to restore them. To give your grandmother joy while she’s still here.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement.
“I found your shop, Memories Restored, on the Internet.” Maggie didn’t realize she had tears on her cheeks until Abram offered her a tissue.
“Your grandmother’s very special to you. Tell me about her.”
Memories washed over Maggie, stirring an avalanche of emotion. She let her gaze travel around the shop as she pondered whether to talk about her grandmother. It was a small shop with shelves laden, but not cluttered, with vintage items – toys, small appliances, radios, dishes, paintings, bric-a-brac, and books. Maggie sensed that people’s lives were contained on those shelves. She glanced at Abram whose brown eyes were filled with such compassion, it melted her hesitation.
“I was four when I was first sent to live with Grandma and Grandpa. My dad, their son, was in prison and my mom was on drugs. I had seen and experienced things…well, I was fearful and had nightmares. Screams and thrashing were nightly occurrences. Grandma would hold me and Grandpa would pray. I lived with them throughout my childhood. My happy memories were with Grandma and Grandpa. Now Grandpa’s gone.”
“You wish she could live with you but you’re unable to care for her.”
How did he know?
“And you’re parents? Where are they now?”
Maggie’s sigh quivered in the air. “I don’t know where my mother is or if she’s still alive. My dad straightened his life out when I was a teenager. He heads up a prison ministry and is involved in our church.”
The bell tinkled as an elderly woman came in, drawing Abram’s attention from Maggie. Abram reached under the counter and brought out a picture frame. It was one of those older frames of bronzed baby shoes and photo holder with a baby boy’s picture in it.
“Oh, my.” The woman placed a hand over her heart. “It’s perfect, Abram.” Her fingers touched the picture. “My son, my baby boy. Gone to heaven now.”
Maggie turned away from the raw emotion on the woman’s face. She wondered what happened to her son. Did he die as a baby or an adult?
The woman paid Abram and left. “Her son was fifty, an only child, killed in a car accident. The picture frame had been through a fire.” Abram’s eyes had tears in them.
Was this odd little man psychic? Was God whispering in his ear?
Abram picked up the photo albums she’d brought and held them to his nose. “It smells sweet and earthy. Like a flower garden after it rains. It smells of love.” He cupped his hand over hers. A sense of well-being flowed through her. “Give me three days. I’ll do my best,” he said.
That’s when she saw it, the numbers tattooed on the inside of his arm above his wrist. She understood what that meant. He brushed fingers over the numbers when he saw her looking at it. “I was a boy. I have no photo albums. I will do this for your grandmother because family is important. I lost all my family.”
His eyes filled with sorrow and hope. He smiled and the odd little shop radiated with love.
She had confidence that he could restore her grandmother’s albums. And she had a desire to find her mother.
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