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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Confident (07/05/07)

TITLE: Jacob's Ladder
By Sheri Gordon
07/11/07
~10th Place


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“Don’t go Jake. I’ll miss you.”

“I have to go, Sammy. It’s all part of the plan.”

“But … why? How do you know?” Sammy, the younger sockeye salmon, didn’t understand why his friend Jake would leave their home in the Pacific Ocean and head up the ferocious river.

“And just how do you think you’re going to get up that river, anyway?” Determined to keep Jake home, Sammy tried using logic to show Jake the error of his ways.

“I can’t explain why, or how. I just know I have to go.” Truthfully, Jake wasn’t sure why he’d leave his home either. For three years he had lived here -- off the coast of Oregon. And last year, when Sammy arrived in the mighty Pacific scared and bruised, Jake had taken him under his fin, and become a big brother to the young silvery smolt. Jake had shown Sammy the best places to find zooplankton, and taught him how to catch succulent squid.

But, as the frigid waters of the Northwest started to warm, Jake had grown restless. His soul was yearning for a change. And he knew there was someplace else he had to be.

“Then … I’m going with you. It’ll be an adventure. If you can do it, I can do it, too.” Sammy sounded braver than he felt. He still remembered his wild ride down the Columbia River last year. He wasn’t at all comfortable with the thought of trying to swim back up the river. But, if Jake was going, Sammy would go with him.

“Sammy, it’s not your time. You have to stay here a few more years … grow stronger for the trip. You’ll know when the time is right. You’ll just feel it. And you’ll start to look different … like I do.” In recent months, Jake’s sleek metallic green-blue back had begun to develop a hump. Sammy thought he looked funny, but he didn’t tell his best friend that.

“Okay, Jake. But when I get bigger, I’m going to come up that river and find you.” Sammy blinked back the tears he felt forming in his watery eyes.

“You do that, Sammy. ‘Bye.” Jake turned east toward the mouth of the mighty Columbia River. He was confident that this was the way to go. And he knew that he would never see his little friend again.

For three months, the mature sockeye salmon swam vigorously up the river. Something, or Someone, was pushing him forward. As the journey progressed, his iridescent body turned a deep red, and his head and upper jaw, now full of sharp teeth, developed a green hue.

Jake was getting weary, and he knew the end of his journey was near. He didn’t know what would happen when he reached his destination, wherever that was, but he was ready to be home. One final obstacle lay between Jake and his ultimate goal. The Rocky Reach Dam.

Jake began his ascent up the fish ladders at Rocky Reach. He knew the routine. He had already negotiated ladders at four previous dams.

After successfully jumping over sixteen ladders, Jake’s fatigue threatened to end his quest early. The final ladder seemed impossible. Jake doubted his ability to finish the trip. He knew he was supposed to go home, but he was no longer sure he could get there.

Jake rested in the pool of the fish ladder for two days. Should he give in to the rushing waters and be carried back to the ocean? Returning to his old, comfortable life?

“You’ll know when the time is right.” Jake heard the words he had spoken to Sammy, and he knew. His time was now. He had to press on.

With renewed confidence, Jake hurled his fourteen inch fish body over the final ladder. Task accomplished.

“I did it. I knew I could do it.”

Well done … I knew you could do it, too.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 07/12/07
Tee hee-just last night I saw a nature program, where in one of the national parks, brown bears were poised, just waiting for Sammy and Jake. I hope they make it...Great title, and your last sentence is a fantastic kicker.
Dee Yoder 07/13/07
Oh, Jan, you naughty girl...I'm not sure it's appropriate to be laughing at vicious "Mother Nature" like I am right now!

Ahem..got to pull myself together...

Right. The story is really good and it, obviously, held my interest and kept me involved with the characters. I think children would enjoy this story and it gets the point across about being confident in doing the tasks God plans for us. (Just don't share Jan's nature note with them when the story is over!)
Lynda Schultz 07/14/07
Super story! Maybe you could include the bears in the longer version that I am sure you are going to write for posterity (and for Jan!). Great job.
Beth LaBuff 07/15/07
If you do include the bears in the extended version of your story, Sammy will never want to leave.

This was very entertaining with a good message. Thanks!
Joanne Sher 07/17/07
So engaging and a great take on the topic! Love it.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/17/07
You know, I think I saw Sammy there going up the ladder in that exact spot. Great details in this story.
Sharlyn Guthrie07/17/07
I love this, and I'm sure children will, too -no need to disturb them with the bears aspect :-). I saw a live bear two weeks ago...he was downstream from a salmon fisherie!
Terry R A Eissfeldt 07/18/07
This is great!

But bears aren't the only problem - they may or may not get to dine on Jake -

The sure thing is that Jake WILL die!

That is what he went there for - and of course to do his duties to keep the circle of life going...

Enjoyed this.
Sara Harricharan 07/18/07
I like the title of this. And especially how you refer to it later in the story. The end was my favorite, especially that last line. Great job with this, I think it would make a good children's story! ^_^
Benjamin Graber07/18/07
Yet another creative story this week. I really like this one!
Kristen Hester07/18/07
Oh this is so good. I loved how Jake took Sammy "under his fin". Too cute. I really hate to think about the bears...or the fish my husband likes to eat dinner.
Loren T. Lowery07/18/07
I loved the great use of symoblism in this piece. I've been to a few of those fish ladders along the Columbia River Gorge - now I have a new life-lesson insight to consider when thinking about them. Great job.
Patty Wysong07/18/07
I like this! Engaging and well written. :D
Sara Harricharan 07/19/07
***Congrats!*** ^_^
Rita Garcia07/19/07
CONGRATS! I am so happy to see your story in the top ten! Love the way you weave a story!!
Loren T. Lowery07/19/07
Congratulations on your placement. Like I stated before this was a great read. Thanks, too on your comments on my article.
Continue in God's grace - Loren
Elizabeth Baize 07/19/07
This was great! I love the way the title fits into the story. Congratulations!!
Mo 07/19/07
Wow, very creative. Congrats on your EC win!
Jacquelyn Horne07/25/07
I really enjoyed this. A good show of confidence. Congrats on the Highly Commended.
Cheri Hardaway 07/26/07
Sheri, this was just awesome! Great title. I too think it would be a good children's story. It has so many morals and biblical lessons hidden in it, it almost has a devotional quality to it, too. Very nice work and a well-deserved EC placement! Congrats, girl!

Blessings, Cheri