71. Inspiration

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Sarah stared at the blank notepad as she chewed the end of a pencil.

She sat at the old picnic table next to the red-brick garage on Uncle Albert's lot. For the past three hours, she'd tried to write a suitable poem for Amateur Night. Instead, she managed to produce a dozen crumpled wads of paper that laid scattered on the ground around her.

Sarah had started to write a poem about living in an orphanage. Boring! Then she tried to write one about fixing cars. Way too corny! She considered writing a poem about an eagle. But if she recited two poems in a row about birds, she might pigeon-hole herself, no pun intended. Mrs. Bell might think she had nothing else to write about. She wanted to show another side of her personality.

Sarah clamped her teeth down on the pencil. What else was important to her? What else struck her soul with enough power to move her to write about it?

The image of a bright smile and a pair of soulful brown eyes came to mind. Henry!

At first, a sharp pang of sadness struck her heart, and Sarah felt her chest cavity tighten. They still hadn't talked since the ballgame. What if they never spoke again? Sarah's throat began to burn. She swallowed thickly, unsure what she'd do if she couldn't tell Henry what had really happened.

Then an idea began to flicker in Sarah's thoughts. It felt like an electric vibration running across her scalp before it trickled down the back of her neck and shivered across her shoulder blades. She'd never believed in magic. But if there was ever a time to believe, this was it. As if guided by invisible strings held by giant hands from above, Sarah brought the pencil to the page and the words flowed, her hand whirling faster than a windmill in a tornado.

For the next few minutes, time seemed to blur.

When Sarah finished the last line, she realized she was fighting back tears that threatened to fall in torrents from her eyes. She covered her mouth with her hand, trying to smother them. After a few fruitless moments, she gave up, allowing the tears to overtake her. She set the pencil on top of the notepad and leaned back. She cried quietly, the power of those sobs wracking her frame.

Moments later, a hand touched her shoulder, and she startled.

"Oh! Uncle Albert!" she said, looking over her shoulder. "Hi. I was just ..."

"I can see what you're doing," Albert said, walking around to the other side of the old wooden table. "Anyone can see it clear as day. You're out here crying and aching over Henry, ain't that right?"

As Albert sat down, Sarah slid the notepad and pencil away and placed her hands on the table. She wasn't comfortable sharing the poem with anyone just yet.

"How ... how'd you know?" she asked.

"He hasn't been around," Albert replied. "Any reason why that might be?"

Sarah looked away. "We got into an argument at the ballgame."

It was a complete lie, but Sarah couldn't bear to tell her uncle that Henry had witnessed Edgar Benedict kissing her. Uncle Albert would never let her go back to the Diamond Club to recite another poem. Then her plan to win Henry back would be ruined.

"So then, make up," Albert said flatly.

"What? Come on, Uncle Albert. It's not that simple."

"Why in the world not?" Albert said, giving his niece a hard glare.

Sarah let out a heavy sigh. "It's just not."

Albert's expression softened. "I'll admit I didn't like him much at first. But he won me over. Anyone who looks at my niece like she's an angel on Earth, well he's fine in my book. That boy had nothing but stars in his eyes for you."

"You really think so, Uncle Albert?"

"I just said so, didn't I?" Albert said gruffly. "Have the two of you even spoken since your argument?"


Albert's face gleamed as he slapped the table. "There you go! You can't go and call it quits when you haven't even tried to talk it out. Lord knows, staying apart ain't going to solve anything. You have to get together now that the two of you have cool heads about you."

Sarah explained how she had just written a poem for Henry. How she wanted to recite it to him at the Diamond Club on Amateur Night. She just didn't know how she was going to get Henry to show up at the club.

Albert looked puzzled. "Seems like you're making this a lot more complicated than it has to be. Why don't you just see the boy and explain how you feel?"

Sarah shook her head. "That's not how it works."

Albert frowned. "It's not? Hmm, must be a generation thing. Well, I suppose you could write a letter asking him to come to the club."

"Write a letter?" Sarah repeated, her thoughts drifting elsewhere already.

"That's right," Albert said. "Write a letter." He started to go into more detail.

But Sarah didn't hear a word of what he said. No, not a letter. She had something else in mind. Inspiration bloomed from the inside out. And when she couldn't hold it in any longer, she cried, "You're brilliant!"

Albert stopped mid-sentence. "I am?" he said, hovering a hand over his heart.

"Yes, you are!" Sarah sprung up and gave her uncle a peck on the forehead. "Thank you for saving the day!"

Albert's expression filled with surprise. "Well, you're welcome."

Sarah grabbed the notepad and pencil. She marched towards her tiny shack of an apartment, a huge grin on her face.

Writing a letter was a good idea. Oh it was. But she had an even better idea.

Not a letter ... but a message.

She would send that message to Henry alright.

A message he simply could not refuse.

Author's Note

Just a friendly reminder that the BIG milestone chapter is now Chapter 74 (was 75).

In the next chapter, Peter is off to war. It will be an emotional farewell for the Bell family. This chapter is the result of two chapters being merged. Two farewell chapters was unnecessary.

Well, thanks for stopping by!   :)


P.S. The chapter image is a picture of Thomas Edison and an early version of the light bulb.

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