One of my friends recently posted this meme on Facebook. Although I have yet to experience the thrill of putting young children to bed every night, I could only assume this is an accurate representation of the feeling. (Give me a second to repress some awful decade-old babysitting nightmares.)
After writing the story for today’s challenge, this image is exactly what came to mind. While parents might be ready to collapse after the kids finally go to sleep, this is how I feel after finishing a particularly challenging story.
So what was this challenge that left me so frazzled? Keep reading and I’ll let ya know at the end.
The snow in the forest was softer than what was piled up around Molly’s house. Though they’d walked eight miles and her nose tingled from the sting of the cold air, Molly wore a persistent smile. In the most silent moments, she daydreamed of glistening garland and tinsel and slow-blinking lights. She followed her father and uncle under spiked green evergreen arches in search of the perfect Christmas tree.
They entered a 30-mile spread of forest swallowed by a summer wildfire, which had spared not a single evergreen. The black skeletons singed by the flames were covered in a lacelike design of snow and ice. Molly’s father stopped and said, “There were some gorgeous firs about three miles back. We ought to head back that way, or it’ll be a tough walk out if it starts snowing again.” He scratched his beard, loosening bits of bread crumbs that had clung to his hair after their big breakfast. They’d left early in the morning when the previous night’s layer of snow was still undisturbed.
Molly slid a gloved finger along a fringe of white powder dusting a low branch. Snowflakes fluttered down past her elbow and settled into her footprint below. Her father cupped her shoulder to steer her back on the path that led to the living trees. He muttered to his brother, “It would warm her mother’s heart to see how she connects so well with the earth.”
They fell quiet, all three lamenting the Christmases that would never be quite the same since Molly’s mother had passed. It had taken almost a year for Molly to display cheeks chubby with laughter instead of cheeks stained by tears. For a brief moment, every fiber of Molly’s body numbed at the mention of her mother. She could only agree with her father’s observation, which made her more eager to select a tree her mother would have loved.
Molly hated death, whether it was a person or a tree in the forest. But in her hatred was the thread of belief that times of sorrow can magnify the beauty of the world. Beauty would rescue her, and in its immortality she was secure.
The challenge in this story was: Every sentence contains a pair of one-word anagrams at least five letters in length. (For example, the first sentence contains “forest” and “softer.”)