In the Embrace of Compassion: The Power of Change

Submitted into Contest #199 in response to: Write a story about a character who returns home changed by someone they met on a trip.... view prompt


Drama Coming of Age

    As the big jet touched down at the bustling airport, Amanda's heart raced with anticipation. It had been several months since the young lady left home to embark on a journey, and she was now returning a changed person. The voyage had opened her eyes to new perspectives, shaped her character, and ignited a flame of self-discovery within her heart. Walking through the airport terminal, she scanned the crowd for a familiar face and there they were, as her parents were eagerly waiting by the gate. Their eyes also lit up with glee as they caught sight of their daughter. Amanda's heart swelled with warmth as she approached them and met her mother with a warm embrace.

    “Hey you,” Amanda softly whispered, with a voice brimming with excitement and newfound confidence. She embraced them both tightly, feeling the comfort of familiarity in their arms.

    “Welcome home, sweetie!” her mother called out with tears of delight glistening in her eyes. It was what her mother would often call her especially when her mother was happy.

    “Hey there, kiddo,” her father said, as even he was taken back with emotion. “Long time no see.”

    “It’s been a minute, huh Dad?” Amanda said, grinning at them.

    “Total understatement,” her father corrected her, “As much as we missed you, we are still quite proud of you. It takes courage to embark on a journey like that, and we’re just happy to have you back and in one piece."

    “Thanks, Pops,” She said, giving him another hug. “It’s good to be back.”

    Amanda smiled gratefully, watching with her mother as Dad fetched her bags for her. They had initially been skeptical about her decision to travel alone initially as her parents were concerned about her safety. They wondered if she was ready for such an endeavor in that part of the world, but she returned safe and sound but also transformed.

    As they made their way through the airport, Amanda could sense their curiosity bubbling beneath the surface. She knew they were both itching to hear her stories, to understand how this trip had reshaped her. And so, she began to recount her adventures, painting vivid pictures with her words during the drive home from the airport.

    “Did you meet anyone nice out there?” Her mother asked.

    “I did,” Amanda answered, “I met this incredible woman named Aisha. She was my guide in a small village in the mountains. Aisha had this unwavering strength and wisdom that captivated everyone she spoke to. She taught me to embrace the unknown, to find beauty in simplicity, and to cherish the connections we forge with others.”

    Her parents listened intently, hanging on to every word as Amanda continued to describe the transformative moments she had experienced. The people she had met, the breathtaking landscapes she had witnessed, and the challenges she had overcome.

    “But it wasn't just about the places,” Amanda added. “It was about the people. Their stories, struggles, and triumphs reminded me of the power of compassion and how small acts of kindness can have a sincere impact on someone's life.”

    Amanda's parents exchanged glances, a mix of pride and curiosity shining in their eyes. They marveled at the person their daughter had become; a compassionate, adventurous, and wise young woman.

    “We're so glad you had this experience, Amanda,” her mother said, her voice filled with admiration. “You've grown in ways we could never have imagined. We can't wait to see how you’ll apply all of that now that you’re home.”

    Amanda smiled warmly at her parents, grateful for their unwavering support. Her journey had not only changed her but had also deepened her bond with her family. Over the following days, Amanda settled back into the familiar rhythms of home. The memories of her transformative journey remained fresh in her mind, and she was determined to integrate the lessons she had learned into her everyday life. Her interactions with her family, friends, and community took on a newfound depth and appreciation. Amanda had also already started making small changes when she returned to her hometown. She volunteered at a local homeless shelter, lending a helping hand and an empathetic ear to those in need. She had become more conscious of her consumption habits, striving to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. She even started organizing community events to promote cultural understanding and unity.

    One evening, Amanda sat with her parents in their cozy living room, sipping tea and sharing stories from her trip once again. Her parents leaned forward; their eyes locked onto her as if they were attentive to her enchanting tale.

    “And you know, Dad,” Amanda continued, her voice filled with a newfound conviction, “I realized that change starts from within. Aisha taught me that to create a better world, we must first cultivate kindness, compassion, and understanding within ourselves.”

    Her father nodded thoughtfully. “It's true, Amanda. People often look for external solutions to their problems, but nothing truly happens until you become the change you want to see in others.”

    Her mother smiled, her eyes shining with pride. “You're putting the wisdom you gained into action, Amanda. It's incredible to witness your growth and see the positive impact you're making.”

    The conversation continued late into the night, as Amanda shared her dreams and aspirations for the future. She spoke of creating a non-profit organization that would empower marginalized communities, fostering education and sustainable development. Her parents listened intently, offering their unwavering support and encouragement.

    Days turned into weeks, and Amanda's journey began to inspire those around her. Friends and neighbors were captivated by her stories, eager to learn from her experiences. Together, they organized workshops, discussion groups, and fundraising events, all aimed at making a difference in the lives of others. Amanda's parents became her biggest advocates, joining her in her endeavors and lending their wisdom and support. Together, they formed a tight-knit team, working side by side to create a ripple effect of positive change.

    Yet as the time passed, there was something else going on that her father could sense. In the midst of Amanda’s inspiring journey, he suspected they were not getting the entire story behind the journey that made such a profound impact on his daughter. When they were doing some spring cleaning in the garage, he decided to address the subject while his wife was off doing the grocery shopping.

    “Hey Kiddo,” He called out, “As much as I enjoy hearing these stories, I can’t help but feel that you’re holding something back. Something rather profound that is kind of weighing you down.”

    Amanda took a deep breath, mustering the courage to share what she was burying with her father. As she began, her voice trembled slightly, “There is something I haven't told you about Aisha. Something that shook me to my core initially.”

    “I could sense that,” her father replied, “When I came back from my travels, there was a lot I had to keep below the surface as well. You don’t need to sugar coat everything with me. Hit me with both barrels.”

    “Aisha, the woman I met in the village,” Amanda started, “She had endured unimaginable hardships. She had lost her entire family to a devastating conflict that had torn her village apart.”

    “I was aware of the ongoing conflicts in that region,” her father confessed, “I was just unsure how close you had gotten to them during your travels.”

    Tears welled up in Amanda's eyes as she recounted the details. The anguish that was in Aisha's voice as she shared her story, and the scars that marred her heart and soul, and the resilience she exhibited despite her immense pain she had endured.

    “And the most tragic part,” Amanda paused, her voice choked with emotion, “Was that Aisha's dreams of rebuilding and bringing hope to her community were cut short. She was taken from us, a victim of the violence that still plagues the region.”

    “Were you there when this happened?” her father asked.

    “I wasn’t,” Amanda answered, “I had taken some of the kids to another town to gather supplies when Aisha’s village was attacked.”

    “I’m so sorry,” Dad said, as he felt her pains.

    “We knew something was wrong when we returned,” Amanda continued, “There was so much smoke as all the houses were burning down. All the men that were captured were beaten, and the women had been raped repeatedly. Half of the village managed to run away before the violence started, but Aisha had stayed too long trying to help people she cared about escape. She was the first to be taken, and the soldiers executed her for fighting back and defying their authority.”

    A heavy silence hung in the room as Amanda’s father absorbed the weight of her revelation. The darkness that had touched Aisha's life had become an indelible mark on Amanda's journey, transforming her passion for change into an unyielding determination to make the world a better place.

    “I carry Aisha's memory with me every day,” Amanda whispered, her voice filled with a resolute strength. “Her courage, her dreams, and her unwavering spirit remind me of the urgency and importance of the work I do.”

    Her father reached out, embracing his little girl tightly. He could feel the weight of her pain, but also understood the depth of her resolve. He experienced the violence from a different perspective as Amanda’s father was a solider himself. He served in war and managed to witnessed more atrocities than he cared to admit. Her father knew what a dark place the world could be and prayed that Amanda’s experience hadn’t change her for the worse. He hoped that his girl was stronger than the tragedy that had befallen her dear friend.

    “You have experienced something truly tragic,” her father said, his voice gentle yet firm. “Aisha's story and the harm she faced has become a catalyst for your mission. Your mother and I are here to support you every step of the way.”

    “You can’t tell anyone!” Amanda insisted, as she really didn’t want anyone to know the hell she had experienced over there. She didn’t think the people around her could handle the truth.

    “Don’t give me a reason to,” Her father replied, hoping to reason with her. “And it shall never part these lips.”

    Amanda nodded, finding solace in her Dad’s unwavering love, and understanding. Aware that her journey had taken on an even greater significance now, she aimed to honor Aisha's memory and the dreams she had shared. Amanda embarked on a mission to raise awareness, support humanitarian causes, and advocate for peace in the lands she visited. Channeling her energy into creating platforms for survivors to share their stories, Amanda and her father working tirelessly to empower marginalized communities affected by violence and conflict.

    Together, as a family, her parents never hesitated to support Amanda’s endeavors, using their resources and connections to amplify her impact. They recognized the importance of shedding light on the hidden tragedies of the world and supporting those who, like the departed Aisha, had faced unimaginable hardships. Dad never revealed what he knew but was the rock that kept things real for Amanda. With his full support, Amanda became the change she wanted to see in the world as she influenced her neighbors, fellow citizens, and even elected leaders to work for good. That wave of change eventually created enormous influence that eventually ended the bloodshed overseas. It was the least she could do for a dear friend, whom Amanda loved and missed everyday, and the homeland they both wanted to save.

May 22, 2023 21:05

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Rabab Zaidi
01:04 May 28, 2023



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01:12 Jun 02, 2023

This was an interesting read. I like that she changes positively, but this feels like more of an epilogue than a story itself. I would have liked to feel her feelings in those emotional moments rather than having them only been described. I understand that this was most likely a stylistic choice, but I still felt that this story took the prompt a bit too literally. The descriptive dialogue is an interesting choice, stylistically, but I think could have been used more sparingly for this writing format. This feels more like a script, where th...


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Ace Baker
04:20 Jun 01, 2023

Rather than giving an account of something—reporting—it might be better if you dropped readers into the middle of it happening. I do get a sense of Amanda;her naïveté and wide-eyed view of the world comes through. Another point to consider? Remember to start new paragraphs with every change—new action, new location, and new speaker. Style comes from word choice, voice, and fluency, so if you revisit this story, that’s what I might play with more. If we SEE Amanda being changed in the moment of the experiences, we would have more pathos.


P.J. Lowry
10:58 Jun 01, 2023

Maybe you write things your way, and I'll write things my way. I prefer to disclose what happened through dialogue because sometimes I feel certain things are better explained than described. This way, I don't have to add trigger warnings or sensitivity tags at the top of my stories. There are times when I do describe, but I also like this method as well as it's about the person telling it and focusing on character rather than action. I see what you're asking for, but with this particular story I just chose not to do it that way. I want...


Ace Baker
04:57 Jun 02, 2023

Fair enough--you wanted to make it more of a character story. I still prefer to see a character going through the changes than to be told about it, but I think that's just a difference in our styles. The character arc is still there.


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