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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Drip (04/25/13)

TITLE: The Water Trance
By Francy Judge
~2nd Place


Robins splash in a birdbath…without a care in the world. A breeze draws the earthy scent into the classroom, inviting me to leap into summer. Mr. Jennings points to the SMART Board and directs our eyes across a diagram of water dissolving rock as he drones on…

“Rain mixes with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as it travels. This forms an acidic solution that dissolves calcite, the main mineral of karst rocks, where most caves form…”

I wish I was climbing out of my cave, not just hearing about one.

“This acidic water drips through cracks and fractures and creates tunnels and passageways like an underground plumbing system.”

My own life has enough cracks and fractures to crumble into dust if I let it. What if I followed the tunnel that led to my dream instead? I’d be in New York City, designing graphic arts.

“Ally, are you with us?” I nod. “Then please tell us how stalactites are formed.”

“By a drip,” I answer, wishing I did my homework. Thank God the bell rings, so I won’t have to say more.

Michelle grabs my arm as we leave. “Want to come to the mall with us after school?”

“Can’t, sorry. Got to watch Tommy.”

“You say that every day, girl... okay, next time. You’re not supposed to be your mom at seventeen.”

She doesn't get it.

I like school. The order, routine, and even rules. Normal kids, mostly normal adults. Not like home.

I toss the mail on the table, even the letter from the School of Visual Arts. I can’t read it now.
Tommy is running the water again. I’m surprised he didn’t flood the bathroom; the sink is filled half an inch from the top. I open the drain. “Hey, buddy.”

“Hi.” He stays in his water trance. At thirteen, he already towers over me, so he kneels on the worn rug to be eyelevel with the faucet. His eyes are close enough to the water to get sprayed and wet his lashes. Sometimes he turns it almost off to watch it drip. Sometimes he counts the drips as they splatter in the sink. Sometimes he catches the drips in a bowl until it fills; then he dumps it and starts again…for hours.

“Where’s Mom?” He doesn’t answer, but I know.

I collect the empty glasses and wine bottle from the den. I drape a blanket over her on the couch, shut off the TV, and kiss her forehead. “Please don’t give up on us like Dad did,” I whisper and pray.

The air conditioner is rattling and spewing lukewarm air. I kick it, but nothing changes. I shut it off and get an ice cube. I lie back on my bed and hold the ice an inch above my face. My eyes have to cross to look at it. I stare at the water beading around the surface. Some light filters through the edges. Droplets drip down my cheeks and pool at my neck. For just a moment, I see what my brother sees. Only the water.

But I get restless after three minutes of water watching and get up to fry two grilled cheeses, maybe three if I can wake Mom.

She is still sleeping when I tell Tommy to go brush his teeth for bed. He loves brushing his teeth; the problem is getting him to stop without throwing a fit.

Finally, I curl up under my covers and peel back the envelope.
“Congratulations…” I smell the envelope to make sure I’m not dreaming.

But in the morning, I rip it up and walk Tommy to school. He drinks from his water bottle I packed for him and pours some on his hand. “Don’t waste it. You’ll be thirsty later.” He pours it until it’s empty. “Oh well.”

When I get home Mom is at the table, holding a tissue to her nose. Fear runs through my veins for a second until she smiles. “Come here, Ally.” She holds an envelope.

“Is something wrong?” In a normal family, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her awake.

“You didn’t tell me you got into SVA.”

“It doesn’t matter. It costs a fortune, and Tommy...”

“This letter says you have a full scholarship. You deserve to go.”

I blink back tears and read the letter and the Christian rehab pamphlet she shows me.

For the first time, I see an opening to my cave. I take Tommy outside, and we splash through the puddles.

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

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Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 05/03/13
Beautifully written this touching emotional tale. I loved the underlying "hope" and tender moments that were left "unsaid." Great job!

God bless~
Claudia Thomason05/03/13
Great story of giving as she tends to her brother. I enjoyed this. If the story continued, I would hope to read she followed her dream.
Carolyn Ancell05/06/13
Yes, I too yearn to know if her dream comes true. But your writing excels by not letting us know, by making us care, by making us hope, by leaving so many questions unanswered, by leaving us wanting to reach out and support. Great job.
Christina Banks 05/09/13
You drew me into this story. I wanted to know more about this girl who was a mother before her time. I loved the bit of hope at the end. Congratulations on your 2nd place EC!
Olawale Ogunsola05/09/13
Congratulations on your EC's 2nd place and coming first in level 4. You really deserve them.
Olawale Ogunsola05/09/13
Congratulations on your EC's 2nd place and coming first in level 4. You really deserve them.
Cheryl Harrison05/09/13
Such a tender story. Your descriptions drew me in. I wanted to know more about your MC. Great development of your characters. Congrats on your level placing and your 2nd place EC.
Allen Povenmire 05/09/13
Oh, this was a wonderful story that stretched the range of emotions. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Congratulations on your 1st place finish in Level 4 and 2nd overall.
Noel Mitaxa 05/09/13
Congratulations on your thoroughly-deserved win. Your characters are drawn so credibly that you aren't so much showing instead of telling, but you are inviting us into the scenario. I love how you have allowed the promise to sidle up on us, to break into your MC's mix of frustration, duty and care, without wrapping up with a "happily ever after." Great work.
Ellen Carr 05/10/13
Congratulations on your second place in the EC. It is very well-deserved! Your emotional story gripped me from start to finish. Your MC was well-drawn and it was easy to empathise with her. Great writing!
Bea Edwards 05/10/13
Lovely and touching story of family sacrifice. Well done and congratulations on your 1st place win.
Leola Ogle 05/10/13
Congrats Francy! Great entry! God bless!