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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: The Short End of the Stick (02/20/14)

TITLE: My Silent Cry
By Lillian Rhoades
~7th Place


My Silent Cry

It was only 9 a.m. when the alarm rang. The jarring code words that followed from the loudspeaker chilled my bones and almost froze my ability to react. No! It can’t be! Eighteen pairs of eyes gaped at me, eighteen second–graders, counting on me to do something.

Don’t panic. Not now!

I sprinted towards the classroom door, locked it, and turned out the lights. That was their cue. Without a sound, each child stood up, and row by row in single file moved towards the bathroom. A year earlier, the school board had voted to allow child-friendly locks on bathroom doors. Such were the times.

Where are the critics who fought to remove prayer from schools? Dear God, You’re the only One that will help us now!.

The sound of gunfire reverberated into our tiny space. I’ve never seen children so frightened, and so brave. None of them had forgotten about Rule #3. No talking, not even a whisper.

With each shot, Tommy followed his best friend, Aaron, and covered his ears, but their eyes remained glued to the locked door. Merri-Lee and several of her friends who sat huddled together, lowered their heads and squeezed their eyes. Jonathan, my timid one, hid behind the shirt that covered his head. I sat on my trembling hands, tried to calm by racing heart, and prayed. Would I have to take a… bullet?

With my ears cocked for the least little sound of a gunman trying to break a lock, and my brain pounding at the thought of what could happen, little Jonathan’s question snuck in between the drumbeats going on in my head. We had just finished a gun safety drill earlier that week, when I felt a timid tug on my left hand. I turned and there was Jonathan standing on tip toes. He always stood on his tip toes when he didn’t want anyone to hear. I leaned towards him. He whispered a question that turned on the spigot to my tear ducts.

“Mrs. Kline, was it this way when you went to school?”

I turned my head, but gave him a hug. Why let him see me cry?

“No, Jonathan.”

I didn’t have time to tell him about another period…When graduation programs included the word invocation and no one called prayer a violation of civil rights... when the Bible was more than just an historical book.

We sat for almost two hours in terror-filled silence until the “all clear” sounded. The plug that had kept our emotions in check fell out. We hugged each other and cried.

With forced imprisonment over, the children grabbed their coats. And barely waiting for my instructions, they rushed out the back door and into a wall of parents, who peered over shoulders trying to catch a reassuring glimpse of the child they’d kissed good-bye earlier that day. I walked slowly back to the building with feet that felt as if they were tied to weights. We had escaped a madman’s rage, but some had not. At the front entrance, I caught a glimpse of Jonathan. His head lay buried in the fold of his mother’s arm, and she was crying. Instinctively, I knew why. Two boys had set out for school that morning, but only one would return home. Jonathan’s older brother, Jeremy Millan, was among the five who died in a place where death does not belong

No, Jonathan, No. This was NOT the way it was when I went to school!

But no one heard my silent cry.

The pain of loss ran deep for the rest of the day: Loss of life, lost innocence, and the loss of what was that could never be again. School was no longer a safe place for learning, but a place where someone could... die. That’s the lesson my students learned that morning, and it was not from my Plan Book.

At home, I try to escape from the aftermath of chaos, but the picture of Jonathan keeps me at the scene. I think again of his question and wonder, what has society done to our kids when they stopped Bible reading and halted the practice of prayer in school? In the wake of that decision, children keep dying at the hands of the godless.

Some would argue that perhaps there’s another reason. Maybe, but Jonathan, that was not the way it was when I went to school. And for children everywhere, I wish it was that way again.

Mostly Fiction

I welcome constructive "Red Ink" critiques

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Member Comments
Member Date
Theresa Santy 02/27/14
Beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes. I felt such a strong conviction from the MC, but it didn't feel the least bit preachy. A powerful piece, and a great application of the theme.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/28/14
An awesome reminder written beautifully.
Laura Hawbaker03/03/14
Very well written. Caught the emotion of the event.
C D Swanson 03/03/14
Excellent! Living in Connecticut where that horrific scene of all of those beautiful children and adults died at the hands of a madman, this touched my heart deeply and resonates such truth!

Well written and thought provoking truths...thank you!

God bless~
C D Swanson 03/06/14

God bless~
Tracy Nunes 03/06/14
Congratulations Lillian! I knew this would do well. It's one of those "wish it wasn't true" stories that breaks your heart. I thank God that He will make all things new! Excellent writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/06/14
Wow, what a compelling read. You took me right into the mind of the MC. I even found myself holding my breath. I think you did a brilliant job with this piece.

I hesitate to mention it because all of the experts don't necessarily agree, but the following rule from the Blue Book of Grammar seems to be what most people advise: Rule 13 Use numerals with the time of day when exact times are being emphasized or when using A.M. or P.M. Example:
She had a 7:00 P.M. deadline.

Overall, I think you did an amazing job. I love the line It didn't used to be...It made me think of parents who said, "When I went to school, we walked barefoot in the snow, five miles uphill both ways." Except, now it's a sadder comparison. Where walking barefoot might have strengthened those in the 1800s, but no kid should ever have to endure a school shooting. (Sorry I know I rambled a bit, but my mind tends to do that.) Congratulations on the EC and of course you know I'm doing my patented Happy Dance!!! (well I tried to get it patented :))
Judith Gayle Smith03/06/14
The bravest folk in the world today are parents. I could not have children. I dread to think about having grandchildren in school today. This could make me a big advocate of home schooling. Thank you for this reminder to pray for parents, teachers and all the wee innocent ones caught up in the ugliness of what should never have been birthed . . .

Congratulations, and thank you for your heart for Christ!

Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV
Danielle King 03/07/14
Congratulations Lillian. This brilliantly written piece had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I am so glad it's a fictional story, but sadly it's been factual for others far too often. In my school days (long ago) each day would begin with hymns, prayers and bible reading. It's a sad fact that now parents are scared to part with their children at the school gates.
Margaret Kearley 03/10/14
Oh Lilian, this was just heart-breaking to read and, I guess, may have been heart-breaking to write also? It tells a tale too often heard on our news. Beautifully written, well deserving of its EC and full of serious warning too. Thankyou.
Bea Edwards 03/12/14
Your story was so gripping and believable - I wondered if you had been the MC in a real drama.