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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: Freefall
By Katie Sherrill
09/16/09
~10th Place


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Freefall

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

With my stomach in my throat, I’m afraid that if I open my mouth to back out I’ll throw up. So I give Frankie the thumbs up.

How did I get myself into this? That was such a stupid question. I knew exactly how it happened. I was afraid. I was afraid of getting old, of becoming irrelevant. It didn’t help that only a week after I announced my retirement the jokes started. They seemed to confirm my fears as they struck a nerve.

“Do you have your AARP card yet?”

“So what are you going to do with all your free time, old man?”

Old man, is that what I am? I don’t feel old. If the comments weren’t enough, the practical jokes started. My desk became inundated with retirement home pamphlets. My lunch orders for our weekly staff meeting always come with a side of prunes or some other food to promote regularity. The comments and jokes hurt, like the first time I was stung by a bee. The sharp pain sent chills through my body. Did I suddenly become old? Did retiring from my job mean I needed to retire from life and my dreams?

That’s what landed me here; flying ten thousand feet in the air strapped to my Tandem Master, Frankie, about to jump out of a plane.

“It’s a great day to jump,” my instructor yells in my ear, giving me a toothy grin.

What is that suppose to mean? Are their bad days to jump? Did I just get lucky picking today? If it was tomorrow did my chances of plummeting to my death at terminal velocity increase?

“Dude, are you ok?” Frankie sounds like a west coast surfer the way he says “dude.” I imagine him as being carefree and careless. This sends me over the edge.

“No, Dude, I’m not ok! I just paid three hundred dollars to be strapped to you, who is carrying my only chance of survival in what looks like a school kid’s book bag, on your back! I have worked my whole life in a job, so that I can retire with my pension. I want to travel with my wife, watch my kids and grandkids grow up, join the church softball team. Now I’m about to throw all that way because I let some harmless comments and practical jokes get to me. I was so afraid of appearing old that I end up doing something childish.”

“Whoa, how ironic,” Frankie chuckles

“Ironic? Yeah I guess it is,” I state feeling a bit more calm and foolish now that I have verbally regurgitated all over Frankie.

“Do you want to do this?” Frankie asks again.

There’s that question. Do I want to do this? “Not really, but you know what, I’m already here so what the hay! My life is in your hands, dude,” I say with my best attempt at copying his surfer accent.

Frankie laughes at me as we get ready to exit the plane. The endless sky before us leaves me breathless. “Nah”, Frankie says “Don’t give me that much power. There is someone much bigger than me who has that job.”

We jump from the plane. After a few seconds I spread out my arms, like Frankie, to stabilize our bodies for the freefall when it hits me. “All the days ordained for me are written in your book before one of them came to be.” Words from Psalm 139, my favorite chapter in Psalms, rush past me like the wind in our freefall. It shouldn’t be called a freefall, I think to myself. I feel like I’m flying. I feel exhilarated from the rush of adrenaline and the reminder that God is in control.

How could I have forgotten that God has this all planned out for me. He ordained my days. He has a plan for me, to prosper and not to harm. He knows the hairs on my head. Scriptures were rushing at me like the earth thousands of miles below me.

Why was I afraid? I almost don’t remember. “It’s time dude” Frankie yells in my ear. I wasn’t paying attention to him flashing the 5500 sign to me with his hands, indicating that it was time to pull the rip cord. I find myself disappointed that the freefall is going to end.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marylynne Middelkoop09/17/09
Very well written! The sense of immediacy was tangible; I was right in that moment with you. Loved the dialogue. "I was so afraid of appearing old, that I end up doing something childish." For some reason, these words resonate within me, cause me to evaluate my own actions. I understand the feeling. Although for me it wasn't retirement, but turning 50, I fought my fear of becoming a prim and proper old lady by taking a belly dance class. Perhaps I will share the story in a future challenge. Thanks for the great read!
Marylynne Middelkoop09/17/09
Very well written! The sense of immediacy was tangible; I was right in that moment with you. Loved the dialogue. "I was so afraid of appearing old, that I end up doing something childish." For some reason, these words resonate within me, cause me to evaluate my own actions. I understand the feeling. Although for me it wasn't retirement, but turning 50, I fought my fear of becoming a prim and proper old lady by taking a belly dance class. Perhaps I will share the story in a future challenge. Thanks for the great read!
Shilo Goodson09/18/09
I enjoyed reading your story. It made me laugh a little, because I think we all have those moments where we feel that we have something to prove, and sometimes we end up doing something stupid or something that we didn't really want to do just so we can prove someone else wrong.
Judy Mathis09/22/09
Wow! As someone who just got her medicare card, your writing made me jump out of the plane and spread my wings, too. I could feel the rush of freedom and the reminder that it is all God's plan. He will never let me fall out of His sight. Very well written!Your words created a real picture, a real experience in my mind...a refreshing escape. Thank you!
Deborah Engle 09/24/09
What an excellent story! So expressive, I could feal the fear and nerves demanding to be acknowledged. Loved the comment, "Don't put that much power in me hands. Somebody else much bigger is in control". Great job. Congratulations.
Laury Hubrich 09/24/09
Wow! Great story and congratulstions on your EC!
Charla Diehl 09/24/09
I truly enjoyed reading this and connecting with your MC on some level--yeah, we sometimes rebel at getting older by doing silly things. I like how you wove the scripture into this story so effortlessly. Great job--congrats on your 1st place win and EC ranking.
Marita Thelander 09/24/09
Wait a minute! This was in level 1?? Pack your bags, baby, and move on up! Great read...my fav part was the regurgitaded words on the Dude. lol
Carol Slider 09/24/09
An interesting story, well told. Congratulations!
Eileen Knowles09/24/09
Just beautiful! Sorta kinda makes me want to try it :) Contgratulations on the 1st place and EC placing...well deserved!
Sherrie Coronas09/24/09
You are a very good writer! I love that it had a great message, along with all the fun.
Patricia Turner09/24/09
I think you must have actually done this to write so perfectly about it. I love the conversation, the characters - everything. Congratulations on 1st place and your EC placement. I hope we see a lot more from you.
Lisa Johnson 09/25/09
Awesome writing. Way cool that you got a first place and an EC on your second challenge entry. I used to fly airplanes when I was much (much) younger...but I never had the hutzpah to jump out of one. Kudos.
Catrina Bradley 09/26/09
How like taking a leap of faith and stepping into God's will - the free-fall quickly turns to flying, and you don't want it to end. Congrats on your EC! Wonderful work.
Noel Mitaxa 09/27/09
You've packed a whole lot of emotions, descriptions and humour into this piece. Well done, for you also avoided too much focus on the "gravity" of the situation. :-)
c clemons10/08/09
Sorry I'm a lttle late commenting on this article. Wanted to see who was writing in beginners and I know you won't be in beginners this week. Good job!!!