Home Read What's New Join
My Account Login

Read Our Devotional             2016 Opportunities to be Published             Detailed Navigation

The HOME for Christian writers! The Home for Christian Writers!
The Official Writing Challenge



how it works
submission rules
guidelines for
choosing a level


submit your entry
read current entries
read past entries
challenge winners

Our Daily Devotional HERE
Place it on your site or
receive it daily by email.



how it works   Submit

Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)

TITLE: Poot's Hatchet
By Jan Ackerson
~10th Place


Poot sat cross-legged, counting her treasures and listening for Jeremiah. Thirty-seven cents. A yellow Indian bead. A bird’s nest with half an eggshell inside. A midnight blue marble. She was returning them to their tin when she heard her brother’s door open.

She flew into the hallway and met Jeremiah at the stairs. “Miah! Kin I go with you? Please?”

Jeremiah tweaked Poot’s nose. “Aww, Poot, not today. I got too much work to do. It’d be too hard fer a girl.”

Poot protested, and Jeremiah pulled her hair. “Say, it looks like Daisy’ll be whelping soon. Whyn’t you make her a bed in the barn, and Saturday I’ll take you fishing. You kin even bait the hook.”

Mama pressed past, carrying a basket. “Jeremiah, I wish you wouldn’t call your sister that nickname. Her name is Petunia.”

“Yes, mama.” Jeremiah waited until mama disappeared around the corner, then winked at his sister. “See you at supper, Poot.” He took the stairs in four big steps. Poot heard the screen door slam. She went to Jeremiah’s room and took a shirt. It hung beyond her knees. She pushed up the sleeves and walked downstairs, hanging on the railing so she could take two at a time.

Mama came down with a full laundry basket. Quickly, Poot headed outside. “I’m making Daisy’s bed, Mama,” she said, and she ran to the barn.

After half-heartedly pushing some straw around, Poot wandered to the workbench. She reached up high and took Pa’s hatchet, the one Jeremiah used to kill chickens. Poot walked a long way with the hatchet, warm and heavy in her hand.

When she got tired, Poot sat in the weeds, listening to the bugs. A grasshopper hopped onto her overalls. She captured it and felt its feeble flutterings. Pinning the grasshopper to the ground, Poot took the hatchet and imagined a chicken. One chop, and the grasshopper was in two pieces, oozing green. Poot jumped up and ran home.

Days later, at supper, Pa surprised Poot by speaking. Pa never talked at supper. “Son,” he said, “my hatchet is missing. Do you have it?”

“No sir,” said Jeremiah. Poot’s stomach slid sideways. She froze, a biscuit halfway to her mouth.

Pa looked at Jeremiah for a few seconds. “All right, then,” he said. Poot finished her biscuit, a hundred grasshoppers in her stomach.

Days followed days, a chain of summer days in which sometimes Jeremiah would hold Poot up to touch the rafters, and sometimes he would show her how to throw a baseball, clean a fish, stack firewood.

Sometimes Jeremiah said “Not today, Poot.” On those days Poot would slip away from Mama’s chores and practice being a boy.

On a warm August evening, Jeremiah came in late to supper. His face was red. He did not sit down. Poot held the potatoes out to him, but Jeremiah shook his head.

“Pa,” he said, “I took Daisy’s pup out with me today.”

Pa put down his fork.

Jeremiah spoke softly, twisting his hat. “It was a real nice day, Pa, and I thought the pup’d like to play. We was down by the creek, and I set down fer a spell, and I musta fell asleep. Anyways, I heard a yelp, and the pup’s in the creek, and I jumped up to fetch it, and I tripped on a root…the current took it, Pa. I couldn’t get to it. It drownded.”

Poot waited for Pa to do something terrible. Her supper stuck in her throat. Pa finished his potatoes, then said, “Jeremiah, I promised that pup to Jim Hicks.”

“I reckon I’ll tell Mr. Hicks he can have his pick of Daisy’s next litter, fer free.” Still Jeremiah did not sit down. Poot wondered if she could have his drumstick.

“Son, that pup was worth five dollars.” Pa’s voice was very quiet.

Jeremiah nodded. “I’ll ask around, see if I can chop wood fer anyone. You’ll get yer five dollars, sir.” He turned a darker red. “Pa, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t of took what didn’t belong to me.”

Pa sipped his coffee. “All right then, son. Eat your supper.”

Jeremiah’s words settled on Poot’s shoulders. Without waiting to be excused, she ran from the house.

Half an hour later she returned, and bounded up the stairs.

Then she slipped into the parlor. Jeremiah was whittling, Pa smoking his pipe. Poot looked to be sure Jeremiah was watching, then offered two things to Pa: his rusting hatchet and thirty-seven cents.

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

Join Us at FaithWriters and Grow as a Christian Writer.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.

This article has been read 1557 times

Like this article? Please promote the author by commenting below
and clicking like to post their article to Facebook.

Member Comments
Member Date
Leigh MacKelvey05/08/08
Your MC was great and the names were names you'd find in a movie or a book ... very true to the tone,the setting and time of the story. The voice of Poot was adorable, but my favorite is Pa. His voice and character came across very strong. the little sister with her big brother as her model reminded me of my son and daughter!
Joanne Sher 05/09/08
Wonderful job of setting the scene - this story flowed beautifully, and was rich with character. Enjoyed it very much.
Sheri Gordon05/09/08
I love Poot--she needs a whole book. And Jeremiah was a very honorable young man--I like him, too. I'd love to read more about their special relationship. Oh, and I really like her treasures at the beginning--great detail.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/10/08
I especially enjoyed the strong characterization and the description here.
LauraLee Shaw05/12/08
This is a wonderful take on the topic, very engaging and clever. Your characterization is wonderful. This line made me laugh out loud:
Poot’s stomach slid sideways. She froze, a biscuit halfway to her mouth.

Lyn Churchyard05/12/08
Loved everything about this story. The characters were great. I loved little Poot, and her desire to be like her big brother. Your descriptions are great too.
Betty Castleberry05/12/08
Wow, great voice. I love the rustic feel. The only thing I didn't like was the drowned puppy, but that's because I'm such a sucker for animals. It absolutely works in this piece, though. The ending is wonderful. Two thumbs way up.
Chely Roach05/12/08
I loved the nostalgia of this piece. The voice was perfect; Poot was perfectly portrayed. I loved the line, "Poot finished her biscuit, a hundred grasshoppers in her stomach." SO very well done...
Sharlyn Guthrie05/12/08
Nice atmosphere created here. I like how the siblings show, rather than tell their affection for one another.
Debbie Wistrom05/12/08
The depth of this is outstanding. Loved this whole family and especially the brother who has a tender heart for his sister.
Her nickname is sooooo perfect, it set the mood of this for me.
This is definitely a feel good story that succeeds.
James Dixon05/12/08
This felt like a wholesome version of Tom Sawyer (which I've just read). You showed us so much with the characters actions they stood out from the screen in 3D.
Dee Yoder 05/12/08
Oh, this is an endearing character-like Scout from my favorite book, "To Kill a Mockingbird". I also loved Pa; he has a strong, but quiet manner. This really captures those innocent and sometimes troubling times of childhood. Love this story.
Joshua Janoski05/13/08
I loved both Poot and Jeremiah. They were a great example of two siblings that each look out and care for each other. A very fun story. Thank you for sharing. :)
Laury Hubrich 05/14/08
Loved this, Jan. I love your brother/sister characters. Delightful:)
Peter Stone05/14/08
Wonderful view into days when American culture was closer to its Biblical roots. I was really impressed with the way the Father believed his son's answers, and did not get too angry. Poot was so cute, and I loved the ending. Only red ink is that the boy's confession was a bit rushed, but with 750 words, not much choice.
Beth LaBuff 05/14/08
There is so much depth in your writing. I especially like the "a hundred grasshoppers in her stomach." The name, "Poot" is great! Love it!
Sara Harricharan 05/14/08
You asked about the voice-this was my impression of it. I thought the story was about Poot. I wanted to know her more, better, but the story seemed to sort of graze up and around her and focus more on her brother. Even though she was observing, the ending kind of came out a little flat, but I suspected that she would mimic her older brother.

The idea was great and I liked the little details, like with the grasshopper and the nickname of "Poot" and "Miah" Those were great. Nice job. ^_^
Loren T. Lowery05/14/08
This had all the flavor and mystery of that song by Bobby Gentry about Billy Jole McAllister up at Choctaw Ridge. Once I "caught" that theme, it stayed through-out the piece - right or wrong. Although I found very little tension to peak my interest, the characters and snap shots of their everyday lifes more than made up for it. They all seemed so real and I genuinly cared for them...even the little pup. I'm hoping Poot finds him just "almost" drowned on an embankment down stream. But, alas, that's the dreamer in me. : ) I envy your use of dialect, too!
Aaron Morrow05/14/08
Very nice job as usual. Great job developing Poots character and setting the scene. I think hatchet story would have probably been great alone if more fully developed, and perhaps a clearer reference to the relative value of the pup (or $5, especially with your description of the treasures) at the beginning would have increased the tension at the end.
Again, you have woven together a beautiful slice of life (think grasshopper :)) entry. Most excellent!
Dianne Janak05/14/08
I loved this Jan. It made me cry. My dog Daisy, this week, we had to put down, and you had a Daisy in your story. Poor pup, but such good characterization, dialogue, and slice of life in the lesson Poot learned from watching her brother. This gave me goosebumps and tears...
LaNaye Perkins05/15/08
I pray some day I will be able to pack as much story into the 750 word limit as you do. This was a great read.
Laury Hubrich 05/15/08
Jan, congratulations on another great piece! You set the bar each week that I try to write up to. Thank you for the inspiration and for being so willing to share with us and encourage us!
Sheri Gordon05/15/08
Congratulations on your EC, Jan. Another very creative entry.
lauren finchum05/16/08
This was cute. You really wrote Pa well. He sounded like a strong man with a deep baritone voice.
Great work.