The Prize

Debbie Stanton | Stories
photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

 

Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

THE PRIZE

by

Debbie Stanton

Jerry felt the dilemma crushing in on his memories. Here he was in a very cold climate, standing in the snow hut he’d designed, and the specialty squash his wife grew was in the States. Thanksgiving would be arriving very soon, yet he’d have to stay right here. Oh, how he wished he could be back home and help Masie with the bumper crop, but that wouldn’t be possible.

The man who consigned Jerry to design another of his specialty snow buildings needed to see Jerry in order to pay him. Yes, Jerry knew Masie understood the reason for his absence this year, but this was not easy for him. In all the years of building his specialty snow huts, it had never taken him away from his family. This year proved to be different.

Jerry was as flexible as the next guy, but even he had limits.

All the layers of cold weather gear kept Jerry warm, and he smiled. Too bad all his fraternity brothers of days gone by couldn’t see this hut. They would’ve teased him endlessly about how he planned to spend Thanksgiving. Jerry would not be able to cook beside his beloved Masie, nor would he be able to get down on the floor and play with his grandkids.

Jerry’s heart grew heavy as he considered the losses he was about to face. Sure, designing ice buildings like this was the way he earned income for himself and his family. But wasn’t there a way he could collect his payment without giving up what he loved?

A strong dose of resignation is what Jerry thought he needed. He’d accent his resolve by reciting how everything would work out. He looked out to sea.

“Gwanpa!” a tiny voice called to him. Now he’d lost it for sure. How would Masie and the kids plus the grandkids be here of all places? Even so, Jerry jerked his head around.

Like a mirage, Elroy approached Jerry on his chubby little legs. Jerry ran toward him and found that this was no mirage. Elroy and the rest of his family wanted to see him! Jerry ran toward Elroy and swooped him up in his arms. He kissed him and found it hard to believe his eyes.

Unbeknownst to Jerry, Masie and his children walked up to him from the other side of the beach. They rushed him as if in a football game. When Jerry saw them coming, he fell to his knees. He figured God must really love him to have brought his family to him like this.

“Masie? What in the world are you doing here?” Jerry said.

“We decided to come to you, and we really didn’t want to be away from you on Thanksgiving,” Masie said happily.

“An’ we can all be warm,” little Elroy said.

“But I don’t get it,” Jerry said. “Masie, your gourds and pumpkins, especially the blue ones, would surely have won the prize this year had you not come here to be with me.” The joyous feeling inside him warmed him to the core. His family loved him beyond physical miles. Even in this frozen landscape, they had proven their love once again.

“That prize is not worth you being apart from us. We wanted you to be home, so we brought ‘home’ to you,” Masie said as if out of breath.

“Yeah, and isn’t that great?” Elroy’s big sister said.

“It sure is great. More than you can know,” Jerry said. “Thank you.” He went around the circle and hugged each of his beloveds. He realized he wanted to say an especially long prayer tonight–a prayer of thanks for home and family.

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