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Razor's Edge
by Vince Martella 
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This is the Writing Challenge I inted to submit for 'Sharp', but I used up my 4 entries. All red ink is encouraged.


He awoke abruptly and turned toward the alarm clock. The soft yellow glow whispered 4:00 am. He perceived her warmth next to him and lay quietly so as not to wake her. He closed his eyes and silently traced the soft curves of her body in his mind. Her rhythmic breathing soothed him like the waves of the ocean. After several minutes he rose silently and reached for his clothes. He left a quick note on the nightstand before slipping out the door; had to go, see ya tonight. Love Mac.


“Good morning Pastor,” said Kathryn, Mac’s secretary of ten years.

“Morning, Katie,” said Mac. Slim, blonde and efficient, Mac had grown to depend on her over the years. “Please don’t forget to remind me about my 10 o’clock. I’ve also got two counseling appointments after lunch and a budget proposal meeting. And call my wife and tell her I’ll be late this evening. I’ve got to meet with some contractors about the new classroom wing.”

MacDonald  Stanton closed his office door and poured himself some fresh brewed coffee. Admiring his crisp, tailored suit, Mac reflected on his life. He was a blessed man. He had a beautiful family, a secure job that paid well, and the respect and admiration of the community. His position at Family Life Center had afforded him an extraordinary life. He had everything but peace of mind.

“Pastor, don’t forget your 10 o’clock….”


Mac drove up the driveway just before sundown, past the knife edged, manicured lawn and parked. Without knocking, he entered and placed his keys in the dish on the credenza.

“Hey,” Mac announced. Hearing no answer, he headed to the bed room, removed his jacket and lay down on the bed. He closed his eyes, and exhaled deeply, and realized the shower was running. Glancing at the clock, he saw the note; had to go, see ya tonight. Love Mac.

“Hey stranger,” her voice jerked Mac out of his daze. She was radiant in a silk, oriental gown, her skin shining. Mac inhaled her scented body wash as she reached to embrace him. “Miss me?”

“Terribly,” he lied. Mac was torn between his desires and his morality. Physically he ached for her, but the stab of guilt he felt was overwhelming. She felt the hesitation in his kiss and turned toward the bathroom.

“So, when did she get back?”

“This morning, just before I left.”  Mac sat down in the corner of the room.

Arms crossed, she drew down on him with a pointed stare. “So, when are you going to tell her?”

Mac could feel his blood beginning to boil. “Listen, Katie, I love you, but this is a delicate situation. We’ve been married 20 years. There’s a lot to consider here – if the board were to find out about this…Well, let’s just say my future, our future, would be very much up in the air.” He got up and began to pace the room. “No, we’ve got to be smart about this. “We’ve got to plan things carefully.”

“No, Mac. Either you love me or you don’t.  I don’t want your careful research, and I sure don’t want you to preach me some phony sermon.”

Her words cut Mac deep, leaving him speechless.

She picked up his coat and tossed it to him. “Make a decision Mac, or I will.”


The worship was rousing and the people were filled with expectation as Pastor Mac approached the pulpit. Mac loved to preach when the anointing filled the house.

“If you will, take your Bibles and turn to…”

“Pastor Mac and I are in love!”

Mac looked up from his Bible to see Katie standing in the center aisle. She was pointing at him and shouting. The blood drained from his face and he buckled for a moment before clutching his chest and falling on the platform. Everything was hazy, and he saw his life flash like a movie before him. People, places, websites, habits; even the thoughts and intentions of his heart came into focus. He gasped for air as everything turned black around him…

“Honey, are you alright?”

Drenched in sweat, bolt upright, Mac looked at his wife, then around the room.

The clocked glowed 4:22 am.

“I’m fine.” Mac lay down and silently prayed for forgiveness. He would end his infatuation with Katie now before anything began. And he would get things right with God. Mac realized just how close to destruction he had been.


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Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom  16 Apr 2013
This is really good. I enjoyed it reading it. I could feel the tension leap off the page. I noted a few tiny things like art one point you had the same person speaking but added a quotation mark in the beginning. Also I noticed you use the word got incorrectly. It's in the dialog so it probably can be overlooked, but since it is a mistake many people make, I thought I'd mention it. Got is the past tense of to get, but people often use it as a substitute for have like you did in this line: Iíve also got Technically it should be I also have a meeting... This part: The blood drained from his face and he buckled for a moment before clutching his chest and falling on the platform. Everything was hazy, and he saw his life flash like a movie before him. is a perfect example of showing and not telling the reader. I love these lines as they form such a perfect picture for the reader. The ending was a tad bit of a letdown for me because the dream scenario is a literary tool that is overlooked. I feel pulled in this because I have no doubt that God uses dreams to speak to people still today. It's one of the few times we let our guard down enough to hear his voice. But it is overused and I think it would have been way more powerful of an ending had the preacher been left standing at the pulpit with his jaw open. I suppose some people might have complained that they want to know what comes next, but often those open-ended endings can be used in different ways for different readers. I definitely believe you are a gifted writer and that you have many stories that only you can tell. I do hope if you can afford the few dollars a month for a gold membership that you will consider it. You have a talent and the challenge is one of the better ways for more people to see your work and hear your messages. Keep writing for sure!
Christina Banks  18 Mar 2013
This is very thought provoking. So many affairs start with simple infatuation and too often the wake-up-call comes too late. You did well with a sensitive subject.
Ellen Carr  18 Mar 2013
Your story is really good, most engaging and well written. I would have preferred you to link it a bit more clearly to the topic 'Sharp' but otherwise, well done!
Cheryl Harrison 18 Mar 2013
Okay, how do I say this... your story made me mad! But isn't that what a writer wants? In other words, your writing caused me to respond. It engaged me and kept my attention. When I realized the pastor was having an affair, I was upset. When Katie stood in front of the church and publicly announced their sin, I was shocked. When you added the twist of the dream, I was relieved. I was happy that the pastor decided to turn from his sin, but I wished the entire story had been a dream. Good job!
Cheryl Harrison 18 Mar 2013
Hehe... I read it again and I see now that it was all a dream! Yay!
lynn gipson  18 Mar 2013
Whoa! You had me going on this one! Great suspense and even better ending. God spoke to him in a dream, and showed him what could happen if he didn't repent! Great story!!Great writing.
Alicia Renkema 18 Mar 2013
Great writing as usual. I did have to read a few times before I got it all (what suspense)! -- first I thought the first paragraph was talking about him writing a note for his wife before leaving for work, then when the reader finds out he is cheating, I thought, "Oh, man, I can't believe he is doing this!" Then, come to find out it is -- I didn't think it was a dream, I thought it was him realizing that he could actually have gotten involved with this Katie person but it was only in the thinking stages so far. One can't very well repent if it was just a dream. We all got a little something different out of it that was important which is often another sign of good writing. Too bad you couldn't have used this in the challenge. I thought you were a gold member now though through winning that blog contest?
Judith Gayle Smith 18 Mar 2013
Engrossing. Following the fall of a pastor, even in a dream, is so very painful. So glad Mac was shown the possible result of his lustful thoughts. I wish you had entered this.
  16 Mar 2013
Great story Vince. This story occurs more often in real life than people want to think. The only thing I wish you had expanded more on was the ending when he realized his walk on the edge and the sins he had been committing.


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