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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)

TITLE: On the Bridge
By Seema Bagai
~1st Place


Mary Elizabeth stood on the bridge, staring forlornly at the river. Her callused hands clutched a faded rag doll. Tears cascaded down her sun-weathered face. The first star had just appeared in the twilight sky. Chirping crickets and flowing water provided an accompaniment to her sobs.

The doll belonged to Mary Elizabeth’s daughter. It had been a year since the accident, a year of silence and emptiness. Days blurred together, weeks became months. It was still difficult for her to grasp the enormity of the solitude. Her husband and child both dead, drowned in the river below her. Something had frightened the horses and they took off running. The wagon lurched and…

She didn’t want to think about it anymore, didn’t want to feel the grief and experience the loneliness that smothered her as the sun rose each morning. Many evenings she walked out here to the river, to gaze at her family’s final resting place.

They are down there, she thought. Now is the time for me to join them. In the fading light, she searched for an opening in the wood slats she could squeeze through or break off so she could jump.

“Mary Elizabeth, what are doing out here at this hour without a lantern?” The voice and approaching wagon startled her back to the present. She turned around. “I went to the house and knocked. I was worried when you did not answer.” It was her younger brother, Edward.

“It’s Clara. She’s delivering the baby and Doc was called away to Hartsfield. Margaret needs your help. She asked me to fetch you,” Edward informed her.

It took Mary Elizabeth a moment to understand what he was saying. She hesitated, stuffing the doll into her apron pocket. But seeing the worried look in his eyes, she walked toward her brother. Edward climbed down and helped Mary Elizabeth into the wagon. He turned the wagon around and they sped off toward Clara and William’s farm.

As the wagon approached, Mary Elizabeth could see William hunched over on the porch. She scrambled off the wagon and climbed the front steps. William didn’t look up as she strode past him and entered the house.

She found Margaret in the bedroom, holding a small bundle in her arms and pacing around the room. Clara lay on the bed, pale and still.

“Clara?” Mary Elizabeth timidly approached the bed.

“There was so much blood. I didn’t know what to do,” Margaret sobbed.

“It’s not your fault.” Mary Elizabeth consoled her sister-in-law.

“William hasn’t said a word. Ruth is hiding somewhere, maybe in the loft. He can’t care for these children by himself. It’s planting season. These children need a mother.” She turned so Mary Elizabeth could see the baby. “It’s a boy. Charles William.”

Mary Elizabeth’s head spun when she heard the name Charles. Her husband’s name. Of course William would honor his deceased brother by giving his son that name. Still, she wasn’t prepared for the flood of grief washing over her. Yet she knew that, in this moment, she could not surrender to her sorrow. She knew what needed to be done.

“I’ll take Ruth and Charles to my house for the night. Edward can take us home on the way to fetch the reverend. Stay here with William and Clara.” Mary Elizabeth went up to the loft to find Ruth.

“Ruth. It’s Aunt Mary Elizabeth.” She knelt beside her niece who was curled up the corner under a quilt. “Come on, darling. You’re coming with me tonight. I know you’re scared, but I’m here. Look. I have something for you.” Mary Elizabeth held out the doll for Ruth to see.

Ruth crawled out from her hiding place and looked up with somber eyes, tears streaked across her freckled face. Silently, she reached out and took the doll and hugged it. Then Ruth held out her arms and Mary Elizabeth carried her and the quilt downstairs.

After all the details were explained, Mary Elizabeth climbed onto the wagon seat. Margaret handed her the baby, while Edward tucked Ruth into the back. Without words, they headed to Mary Elizabeth’s house.

As they crossed the bridge, Mary Elizabeth trembled. She thought about her reason for being on the bridge earlier and what could have happened. She squeezed her eyes shut to keep out the tears while she prayed.

Heavenly Father, give me strength to bear the sorrow and the blessings You have given to me.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 08/03/07
Very well written! After reading many entries, this is the first one that actually brought tears to my eyes, since the topic is "sad"... I'm amazed. Bringing emotion to the reader is a sign of a great writer; Thanks & Kudos!
Joanne Sher 08/05/07
Excellent detail and description and sense of place. A PERFECT fit for the topic.
Jan Ackerson 08/05/07
What I liked most was the touch of the rag doll, introduced early and with a role to play later in the story. That's the touch of a gifted writer.
william price08/05/07
Very nice story. Heart felt. I liked the way you exceuted the plot. I agree, the use of the image of the rag doll was masterful. I'm impressed. God bless.
Rita Garcia08/05/07
You are, indeed, a gifted writer. I also love the special touch the ragdoll added to the story.
Dara Sorensen08/06/07
I spot a winner in this entry. Masterful story--the rag doll was a great throughout the story. I want to read something longer of this--I want to know what's in store now for Mary Elizabeth ^_^
Dee Yoder 08/06/07
Really good! It would be a wonderful book! I like your descriptions; they're vivid and clear.
Kristen Hester08/07/07
THIS IS WONDERFUL! You are a gifted writer. Your details are vivid. I felt the sorrow and the hope. Great job. I think this is a winner!
Caitlynn Lowe08/08/07
Great job! I really enjoyed this one. A lot of sadness involved, but I love that she found some purpose for herself after all. :)
LaNaye Perkins08/08/07
Very touching and well written story. Great work!
Sara Harricharan 08/08/07
Very nice. It was sad, and it nejoyed the read. My only note is you used the name "Mary Elizabeth" so many times I just got tired of it-lol. Try using a few more "She" "Her" etc, to bring the reader closer to the story. Nice job. ^_^
David Butler08/08/07
I know it's uncool for an Ozzie guy to admit it, but I had to blink away a tear myself.
This was so good. I've always liked the depth and sensitivity in your writings. Keep it up.
Sherrie Jackson08/09/07
I'm so glad I was able to read this. Like the other commenters, this is a winner in my book. Excellent prose, wonderful pacing. I hope you do expand this, and I would love to read it. Good luck!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/09/07
This is a wonderful story--truly deserving of the win!
Kristen Hester08/09/07
I have one thing to say: I told you so, I told you so! Okay, two things: CONGRATULATIONS! Your entry deserves this win. It was wonderful!
Lisa Holloway08/09/07
Excellent story! It's layered and real. Well done, and congratulations on your 1st place!
Janice Fitzpatrick08/09/07
Congrats! This is surely a winner. I love it! Very touching and sad but with sweet hope peeking out from the clouds of heartache Mary Elizabeth walked under. Beautiful! Right on-you surely captured this one with your entry.
Rita Garcia08/09/07
Congratulations, Seema, I am thrilled to see this story in FIRST PLACE!!!
Gina Woods08/09/07
Congratulations! ~Gina
Sara Harricharan 08/09/07
***Congrats!*** Way to write!
Dianne Janak08/09/07
Congrats Seema on your wonderful story. And on your win... I loved it and know you deserved it. What a beautiful and creative description of SAD.. I guess we meet in Advanced together? You go first!
Martha Ford08/09/07
Congratulations, Seema,for a wonderful, descriptive story. Your writing is beautiful. You deserve your win. God Bless.
Loren T. Lowery08/09/07
I can see why this won. Geat writing and a great story. Your talent shines through. Your plotting, pacing, dialoge and descriptive tags compels the reader to read on...Congratulations on your well-deserved placement!
Brenda Welc08/10/07
AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME-(yea I am shouting at you!) This was so eliquently written. congratulations on your win. May God continue to bless your writing!
Brad Paulson08/10/07
Beautiful, sad but beautiful. Well done
Mo 08/11/07
Congrats on your 1st place EC! See you in Advanced!
Sheri Gordon08/16/07
Congratulations. This is beautifully written. I especially like the effect of the rag doll. Nice job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/04/10
Wow I just happened to stumble across this and I'm so glad I did. It's a very powerful and well-written story. I had tears in my eyes, you drew me in right away.