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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)

TITLE: I Can Smell Him
By Sally Hanan
~1st Place


I can smell him. His stubble lingers by my cheek. His breathing is quick. Short. My entire body feels as if it is being trailed with a feather. I step back. He nears.

A corner of his lips turns upward. He pulls back so he can see my face. I see the eyes of the man who is my friend. I see the eyes of the man who listens to me. I see one who cares, one who laughs, one who is kind and thoughtful and complimentary. I see the man who wants all of me.

He leans forward until his lips touch my ear. “Tell him you have to meet a client,” he whispers. His hand brushes by my waist. I jump. There is that smile again; the one I have been thinking about many times at night.

Only a few hours ago I lay beside my sleeping husband, and my thoughts of the man I married were utterly benign: He is so boring. I've never felt truly alive with him. We were so young. We didn’t understand what we were getting into. I don’t think I love him any more. My husband stirred and touched my shoulder. I felt nothing. There was no ache to be close. There was no desire.

Not like now, here. This man moves and my heart stutters. This man…

We leave the copy room and return to our desks. He sends me an e-mail. I smile. My insides yearn for him.

My mind is full of opposition. It is as if there is a battle going on. Heavy combat. The scene is thick. The field is full of blood. Swords clash. Shields defray the plunge of the ax. Valiant thoughts lie down and gasp their final breath. The enemy is winning, and the spoils of war are waiting. The plunder is opulent.

I pick up the phone. I hit speed dial to my home. My husband answers.
“Hi Honey. What’s up?”
“Oh nothing in particular. I was thinking of you.” I can hear him smile.
“I love you too sweetie. I need to let you go though; Jake just fell over and needs me. Sorry.” One click, and the line goes dead. Just like that.

The warriors in my mind rouse themselves, watching, waiting. Those they thought dead are resurrected. I rise from my seat and walk down the aisle of office space to my manager’s office.

My manager nods his head. He makes a phone call. He scribbles something on paper. “Are you sure about this?” No, I am not sure, yet I am. There can be no other way.

My heart is being shredded, but I keep driving. The lights spaced five feet apart line the driveway. I park my car. Before my key turns all the way, the door opens and my husband greets me with a kiss on my forehead.
“What’s wrong?” He knows me so well.
“I was transferred to another department. I won’t be making as much.” Tears fill my eyes. He pulls me into him.
“It’s ok. We’ll manage.” And I wonder if I will ever feel clean again. But at least I can breathe now, and God will give me the strength I need to keep walking away.

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

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 01/10/08
Hmmm. There is a lot of emotion packed into here. I like the description of the mental battle going on. Very creative. The end was a little choppy though. It added to the pace, but I was kind of hoping for a little more. I guess I wanted to see why exactly she'd changed her mind, etc. Good job though! ^_^
Lesley-Anne Evans01/10/08
I love the concept and the writing and the battle that is ultimately won by a tiny step of obedience!!!!

Good work!

LA Evans
Amy Michelle Wiley 01/10/08
Good on her for stepping away. Good illustration of the saying. So true what many don't realize at the time--an affair causes so much more pain later than the temporary pleasure is worth.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/10/08
This story is compelling in its description of temptation and of making the right step away from it. This is the kind of outstanding writing that makes you think and then keep on thinking when you finish reading.
Sheri Gordon01/10/08
Wow. Interesting take on the topic -- but it really works. Very good writing and story. I'm so glad to see she made the right choice.
Karen Wilber01/10/08
This was an unexpected take on the topic - but it really fit. Good thinking. I also wanted to know what it was about that phone call that resurrected the warriors. You have so many good emotion descriptions it left me curious to know more about the MC.
Lynda Schultz 01/10/08
Whoa! Powerful descriptions and marvelous "insider" information that made me feel with the MC. Very good.
Laury Hubrich 01/10/08
Wow! This is very powerful, raw emotion... I hope and pray I never have to go through this battle. This was so real and a good wake up call to be on guard. Thanks for sharing!
Rita Garcia01/11/08
Love the title! And the story delivered! Fantastic!!
Joanne Sher 01/12/08
Very powerful and amazingly visual. This felt so real, so stark.
Sharlyn Guthrie01/12/08
I was pleasantly surprised by the resolution to this situation. You described temptation, struggles with conscience, and resistance so vividly throughout this excellent story.
Catrina Bradley 01/12/08
I really like this - the temptation, the inner turmoil, the unseen spiritual battle, and finally the right decision tho it breaks her heart. Beautiful writing.
terri tiffany01/13/08
Terrific - good pace - good sentence length with descriptive verbs! Good writing all around:)
Loren T. Lowery01/14/08
I really like the way this piece was written and delivered. Great emotive writing! Good message, too.
Kristen Hester01/14/08
VERY POWERFUL! Excellent writing. I'm so glad that MC did the right thing. Bravo!
Jan Ackerson 01/14/08
Almost too painful to read, but in a good way--this is so very, very, well done. Every detail exactly right, and this is a model of "show, don't tell."
Hanne Moon 01/14/08
I love the emotion this piece evoked. It is so easy to become complacent and bored with our lives and those in it. I'm so glad your MC walked away. Great job!
Temple Miller01/14/08
Wow. Wow! Great everything: imagery, sensory descriptions, dialogue, pace, and last but not least, a good decision. Great message!
Linda Watson Owen01/14/08
In the midst of Hollywood's endless parade of the 'other' ending, this stands out as a gem that deserves to be read and reread. The 'other' ending is loved by the world's crowd, but the reality is that this ending is the key to real passion and happiness. Great job on this, Sally!!
Pat Guy 01/15/08
There is only one word for this - WOW. And a few more ... awesome work! I wanted to keep reading! It seemed to end so quickly yet it ended just right.

Wow ...
Yvonne Blake 01/15/08
Good descriptions without telling too much! It's enough to feel the conflict and the victory.
Julie Ruspoli01/16/08
I love it. The urge to yell, "Don't do it", while I read was so strong. Great message that so many can relate to and use. Your descriptions of her feelings was perfect.
Beth LaBuff 01/16/08
Wonderful illustration of the topic. Your lesson is a great reminder to all. You've written this very well.
Maxx .01/16/08
I read this first thing in the week but didn't have a chance to comment on the great work. Now that I know who wrote it I understand why it is soooo good! Loved the tension and the resolution. Great job!
Melanie Kerr 01/17/08
A well deserved win! The tension was excellent. o liked the short choppy sentence structure.
Sheri Gordon01/17/08
Congratulations on your 1st place. This is very powerful, and very well written.
Rita Garcia01/17/08
Congratulations, Sally!!
Beckie Stewart01/17/08
Wow, I totally understand the reason your were chosen for first place. Congratulations, this is excellent and certainly showed it all, but thankful for the right choice being made when so often it is not.
Chrissi Dunn01/17/08
Congratulations! This illustrated the proverb so well - I'm glad she chose the right path in the end.
Debbie Wistrom01/17/08
Can't add to the other comments, but want to say that I was very intrigued by the title, so was not disappointed with the story. Great job! So daring!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge01/17/08
Congratulations on winning, and writing a piece that definitely will find a home in broader circulation.
Dianne Janak01/17/08
CONGRATS to a well deserved WIN.... gutsy, real, inspiring, and so true to life...needs to be read around the world! :)
L.M. Lee01/17/08
Excellent - congrats on your win!

How very real this story. I've cried many hours with a friend in this same boat who has never had the courage to walk away.
Dee Yoder 01/17/08
Congratulations, Sally! A great story; full of emotion and conflict.
Gregory Kane01/18/08
I guess your title says it all. I love the way you describe the seduction using almost entirely non-visual cues. Makes for a story super-charged with emotion. Many congratulations
Norma-Anne Hough01/19/08
I really enjoyed this article. Well done.
Llewelyn Stevenson01/20/08
Nice. I got married two days before I turned twenty, by the way. Makes it easy to grasp the inner struggle.
Debbie OConnor02/04/08
That was excellent, Sally! Congratulations. Your opening was particularly strong with all the sensory information. At first I thought I was reading about a woman with her husband, but then to realize it was a temptation and see the contrast between them made it even more powerful. The proactive measure of leaving her department to protect her marriage perfectly illustrated the quote. Great job!
Marilee Alvey06/24/08
Sally, I only just read this, but it is fantastic. This is exactly what you have to do in the workplace when temptation opens a crack in the window: you must flee out the door, no matter what. She lost some income but saved her soul. Thank you for putting these thoughts into a word picture! It needs to be said...and read before that time ever comes in a person's life.