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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Camping (07/11/05)

By Larry Elliott


“Mom? Mom! Sis did it again.” Bobby came running. “Look. She put another one of those stupid dog stickers she got in Sunday school on my back and… I can’t… reach it.” He said, arms stretched to the limit.
“I’ll get it. Hold still. It’s not going to hurt you. She’s just playing.”
“But I don’t want it on me. I’ll look like a nerd.” Bobby retorted.
“Do you even know what nerd means?” Dad added.
“Sure, it’s someone who looks stupid and nobody likes to be around.”
“First, young man, we don’t talk about people in that manner. Everyone is the same in God’s eyes. Second, where did you learn that?” Dad reproved.
“At school.” Bobby said.
“We’ll discuss this at home. Right now, you and your sister unload the small stuff from the van while mom and I finish setting up the tent.”
“Ok. Then can we go swimming?” Bobby pleaded.
“Yeah, swimming!” his sister danced in circles.
“We’ll see.” Mom said.
They carried everything they could to the table and Bobby again made his petition.
“Why don’t you and your sister play close around here until mom gets lunch ready? After we eat we’ll go check out the swimming area. Until then neither of you go near the lake. Understand?” Dad asked.
“Yes sir.” Bobby said, enthusiasm wilting.
“Yes sir.” Sis copied.
“Great, stay where we can see you and you can hear us calling when lunch is ready.”
They trotted off content with the change of plans.

Minutes later Bobby came running, out of breath, and frantic. “Mom, dad! Come quick.”
“What’s wrong? Where is your sister?” Mom said gazing in the direction he had just come.
“That’s what I’m tryin’ to tell you.” Bobby breathed deep. “I can’t find her.”
“What do you mean you can’t find her?”
“We were playin’ hide and seek and…” he paused again for air, “when I went to look she wasn’t around, and she won’t answer me.”
“What’s going on?” Dad placed the ice chest on the concrete table.
“Bobby says he can’t find his sister. We’ve got to go look. Right now!” She stood and her voice rose with her.
“Ok, just calm down.” He placed his hands on his wife’s trembling shoulders then turned to his son, “Show us where you saw her last.”
“Right over there, in those trees.”
“Ok, before we go let’s pray.”

As they concluded their speedy prayer someone came up behind them. All turned at once.
“Hi. I’m John Mitchell.” The man stuck out his hand and hesitantly dad shook it.
“We’re camped behind you there and I couldn’t help hearing what was happening. I’m a local police officer and I would like to help.”
“Thanks. My name is Brad. This is my wife Susan and my son Bobby.”
John nodded and said, “Tell me- how old is your daughter, what’s her name and what is she wearing?”
“She’s seven and her name is Hope, though we usually call her sis. She has on a yellow skirt, yellow sandals and a white shirt with yellow daisies. She has red hair. Straight. Short.” Susan said shakily.
“Ok.” John took the lead. “We’ll fan out. First, I’ll get my wife to stay here in case Hope finds her way back.”

An hour later back at camp John radioed in the situation and in just a few minutes a jeep pulled up. The park ranger stepped out and John briefed him.
“Haven’t seen anyone matching that description.” The ranger said. “Stay as calm as possible.” He urged. “I’ll call for assistance then drive up around the ridge there.” As he turned to go Bobby said “Look mom.” She saw it, too, and whispered something to John. In a flash he had the ranger on the ground hands cuffed behind his back.
“Where is she?” The ranger hesitated and John pressed a knee into his back.
“Ok. Ok! She’s alright. She’s safe, in the ranger shack just over the ridge. Just tell me- how did you know?” John helped him to his feet as he peeled off the poodle sticker from the back of his shirt.

The ranger began to weep, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. My wife and I… we lost our little girl… three years ago- to leukemia. We miss her so much. We would’ve given Hope a real good home.”
Susan said, “We never would have given up Hope. But we will be praying for you- and you wife.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
c clemons07/18/05
Very good story, although it was mentioned to John about Hope's way of placing stickers on people. The conclusion was very rushed. Enjoyed it though.
c clemons07/18/05
**Correction** it wasn't mentioned to John
Nina Phillips07/18/05
(he-he) I think it is suppossed to remain annonymous. Very good suspense, and came to wonderful conclusion.
God bless ya, littlelight
dub W07/20/05
Yeah, I can see much missing here, I have the same problem. The ending probably is not as contrived in the expanded essay. Work on it and post it in FW Article critique group.
Shari Armstrong 07/20/05
A very well written story -and a very smart little girl!
Brandi Roberts07/21/05
Good story, a little much on the dialogue for me (but that's just me, eh?) Thanks for sharing!