Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PROTECT (04/16/20)
- TITLE: The Little Book
By Ellen Carr
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“Breathe Nora, breathe. This is going to work out.” She felt in her pocket and clasped her fingers around the little book. She pulled it out and hugged it to her chest.
“Nora, dinner is ready,” came Mrs Swinton's shrill voice.
“Coming,” called Nora tucking the little book under the pillow. She smoothed her dress and headed downstairs.
The table was round and laid with a cloth and flowers. Mr Swinton sat one side and Mrs Swinton the other.
“You can sit there Nora.” Mrs Swinton's voice reminded her of a little bird.
Mr Swinton thanked God for the food, The Swintons both shut their eyes and bowed their heads as he prayed. It was as if they believed God could hear them. But had God listened to her prayers? Not likely.
Here she was in a strange house, with strange people. It wasn't fair. God hadn't saved her parents from the accident so why would she want to talk to him again. She had prayed and prayed when they were in the hospital but God hadn't listened.
“Would you like some more pie Nora?” Mrs Swinton spoke kindly. “There's plenty.”
“No thanks,” said Nora. “I'll head up to my room if you don't mind. I'm very tired.”
“Yes, you must be tired. But Nora, we want you to make yourself right at home here. You have the run of the house. If you're hungry just help yourself to something from the fridge or the pantry, ” said Mrs Swinton.
“Thank you Mrs Swinton, but I'll just go to bed I think.”
The room was a welcome retreat. Nora was still processing all that had happened. The terrible car crash which killed her mother and father and being packed off to stay with the Swintons because her grandmother was too frail to have her. It was the social worker who set this up for her. So here she was, an orphan at the age of fourteen, and basically alone.
She reached under the pillow to retrieve the little book she was protecting. She hugged it again and opened it up. There, in her mother's writing, she read, Cynthia Taylor, On the Occasion of the Birth of my Daughter Nora.' It was a little New Testament given to her mother the day Nora was born.
Tears welled up and ran down her cheeks. She buried her face in the pillow and sobbed. God hadn't protected her parents but she would protect this special little book that her mother used to carry with her.
Next morning the sunlight pushed through the little window into Nora's new room. She climbed out of bed and went to the window. The sky was clear blue and in the distance she could see a park. She heard Mrs Swinton clattering about downstairs. Then she heard singing. It was Mr Swinton singing some old song, maybe a hymn. He didn't sound too bad actually.
Pulling her dressing gown around herself Nora popped the little book in her pocket and went downstairs.
“That you Nora? Good morning dear. How did you sleep? Breakfast's on the table. Help yourself.”
“Yes, I had a good sleep thanks.” She chose muesli and milk and realised she was actually hungry.
The singing grew louder and Mr Swinton burst into the room.
“Oh sorry Nora. You probably wondered what that strange sound was. I hope you don't mind a bit of singing. I can hardly call it music!”
“You sing pretty well Mr Swinton,” said Nora. “You should have heard my dad! He thought he could sing but ...” Nora gasped out a sob. “Sorry, I just keep remembering.”
“It's okay Nora. Of course you do. And we're here for you and we're praying for you.”
Nora was just about to say that praying was useless, but something about Mr Swinton stopped her. He believed. Maybe one day she could believe again. She felt in her pocket for the little book, her little connection to her mother.
She prayed silently, “Dear God, please help me keep this book safe.” It felt right to pray.
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