TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
He should have found the first one by now! He walked faster. Father had told him to take care of his mother and sister. He had to check the traps! His head turned left, right, and then left again. Identical snow-laden branches stretched far into the darkening forest. Trying not to cry, he sniffed, and then stopped, his nose in the air. Was that smoke? He squinted through the trees, and saw…
(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)
Moonstruck should have found the final marker by now, three tall pine trees clustered together at the edge of a roadway.
“There they are,” he shouted as he pushed himself faster towards the snow laden branches. Grandma had warned him not to fall for the mis-directional traps white snow can inflict upon an unwary person. He had prevailed. Standing by the pines he looked left, right, and then left again. He smelled something. He sniffed the air.
“Is that smoke?” he squinted through the forest of trees to the left of him and saw smoke rising in the air and the outline of a building.
“That must be Grandma’s small country church.”
Advancing forward, he saw a small one story clapboard church with a tall steeple on the roof and a brick chimney rising from the back. There were three lancet windows evenly spaced on the side of the church he could see. The large red faded wooden door squeaked as he slowly opened it.
He had never been inside of a church before so he didn’t know what to expect. In Chicago, where he was from, his family didn’t go to church, but here in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Grandma walked to church every Sunday before she broke her hip.
Taking care of Grandma had never been on Moonstruck’s of list of things to do. The last thing his father said to him before he died two years ago was take care of your mother and sister, which he had planned to do. His father didn’t say anything about taking care of Grandma. After Grandma broke her hip, his mother insisted that he help her out for a few weeks.
“Since you are twenty, without a job, no prospect of a job, and you don’t want to go to college, it’s the least you can do,” his mother had screamed at him when he told her he didn’t want to spend six weeks in some small backwards country town.
His mother had won out; it was either take care of Grandma or find another place to live. She drove him to Grandma’s and promised to come get him in six weeks.
Moonstruck hated living with Grandma. The first five weeks had been the ultimate chore listening to her daily preaching of the virtues of God and of going to church. He abhorred it.
“God is good all the time. Yes he is. It would be wonderful if you would go to my church and pray for me. It would do me good for my friends to see my grandson praying for his sick Grandma,” was how she always ended her sermons.
Now it was Moonstruck’s last Sunday with her, and he had promised to go to church just to shut her up.
He sat in the back row of the church playing with the deck of cards he had brought with him, not paying attention to the Pastor or what was going on around him. All of a sudden the woman sitting next to him nudged him. He ignored her. On the third nudge he looked at her with furrowed eyebrows. She smiled at him. He then accepted what she gave him and then hurriedly left the church.
He was filled with an abundance of happiness. Trying not to cry, he plodded through the snow back to Grandma’s.
“Grandma, Grandma,” Moonstruck shouted as he pushed open the door. “You were right about church. God is good all the time. Yes, all the time!”
“Baby, I told you so. I am so glad you enjoyed it,” Grandma beamed at him while rising from her chair and reaching for her cane.
“God is so good! I mean really good! I am so glad I went. I didn’t know he was that good. Had I known I would have been going to church every Sunday,” Moonstruck danced in front of his Grandma.
“Baby, it makes me feel so good to hear you say that and see the spirit is still with you. Did you pray for my hip to get better?”
“That’s the only reason I went was to pray for you to get better. God is good, Grandma! Just plain good!”
“Praise God. What’s that you hiding behind your back?”
“Grandma, listen. I sat in the back row. This woman kept nudging me. I ignored her. But she kept at it. I was about to tell her to stop it when I looked down at what was in her hand. She gave me this basket with all this money. Look Grandma! God is so good. Amen! I thought this woman might change her mind and ask for the money back so I got out of there as fast as I could. I never knew God could be so good. God is good! Grandma.”
“Oh, my dear God! Oh, my dear God! You’re an idiot!” Grandma screamed at him as she fell to the floor.