Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW (05/02/19)
- TITLE: A Time to Grow
By Rachel Burkum
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Emily turned quickly at Becca’s voice. “Mm-hmm,” was all she could muster. Becca never had anything to worry about. She was Miss Perfect - at least according to half the high school. The rest of the world, though, had plenty to be concerned about. Including Emily.
She released the breath she’d been holding since arriving at the vast field of green shoots. It was a sunny, perfect day for harvest. And yet, just like every other season, her stomach was in knots.
A shout of glee rose from a great enough distance away that she had to squint to see Kyle with a fistful of whatever it was he’d just pulled from the ground. Apparently it was a success.
“You’re not gonna find out anything by just standing here.” Mike nudged her shoulder playfully.
She wrapped her arms around her torso. “There really is something to be said for blissful ignorance.”
He grinned. “Maybe. But if you don’t start your harvest, you’ll always wonder what’s been growing.” He moved bravely into the field to find his plot.
Emily knew the quicker she went about this task, the less time any sting would last.
It didn’t take long to find her own plot, which adjoined Mike’s. She knelt in the dirt and looked at the array of leafy sprouts. Everything looked the same. Unfortunately, that didn’t mean what was underneath matched. She could still remember the first consequence she’d ever pulled. She’d been quite young, and she’d lied to her parents. Her harvest had included the grounding she’d deserved. In spite of all the good, that one rotten plant had spoiled the joy.
“Aw man…” Mike grimaced as he held up something rotten.
Emily tried to stifle a snicker. “Let me guess. Your algebra test.”
“Yeah, well…” He shrugged and tossed it aside. “You know I didn’t study. I shouldn’t be surprised by an ‘F.’ I don’t know why you’re so worried though. You never do anything wrong.”
A scoff surfaced. “That’s what you think.”
“Straight-A student. Church every Sunday. Volunteering.” Mike smirked. “Compared to me, you’re a saint.” He ripped another plant from the ground and rolled his eyes. “Remember that stunt I pulled, stealing the mascot? Apparently I get a ‘break’ from school for a while.”
Emily didn’t know how he could be so casual. She always tried her hardest to live above reproach. She wanted to do what was right, follow God’s leading, and be a good example to her peers. Anything to mar that image was devastating. Finally though, she reached for one of the plants, and pulled.
The next hour was filled with many different accomplishments. The good grade on her algebra test. The life touched by her volunteer work. A child’s interest in Jesus because of the Sunday school lesson she’d helped teach. Mike had some good moments too, and between their chatter and laughter, Emily almost forgot her worry. But eventually, she came upon that which she’d been dreading.
Still sitting in the soft earth, she felt the tears forming in her eyes as she stared down at the last result she’d harvested.
Realizing he was now talking to himself, Mike glanced over at her. “Whoa. What’s that?”
Her lower lip trembled. “Remember that party… the one I wasn’t supposed to go to?”
“I… I went to it anyway, and… there was drinking, and… and I got in a car with some of the others who had been drinking, too.”
Mike’s face paled. This was nothing compared to a bad grade. “Who is that?” He pointed to the wilting item in her hand.
“Jen. The rest of us only got a few scrapes and bruises, but… she’s in a coma.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“Maybe not. But I shouldn’t have gone. I should have said no. I shouldn’t have let her drive at all.”
“It’ll be okay. By next harvest, this will just be a memory.”
Perhaps. But as Emily gathered up this season’s bounty, it felt heavier than it should. She would sort through the smiles, joy and achievements she could be proud of. And she would also reflect on that which was now causing pain. She would remember today… and the next harvest, she was determined, would not hold the same outcome.
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