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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)

TITLE: A Life of Pain and Misery
By Daniel Kane
01/11/10


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My life has been one of constant pain and misery. From the very beginning I have been ignored and neglected. My real mother didn't want me, and so after my birth she had dumped me in the river to drown. It happens to many babies, but I, unlike most children, actually survived.

I was 'rescued' by an old man who mistook the sack I was in for a lump of wood he could sell in the market for a few pennies. It would have gone for firewood, most likely, or he might have used it to patch up a hole in his house. As it was, however, when he first heard the weak wailing from inside the sack, his initial reaction was to dump me back in the river. But something made him keep me, and took me home to his daughter, whose own child had just perished from the cold.

Now, you might think that I was fortunate to be saved. But I think I would have preferred to have drowned. For just a few weeks after my new mother received me, some men visited the house and demanded rent. Of course, the family had nothing to give them, and so instead the men took my new mother and me away to work for them. I obviously couldn't do any work just then, but those were evil men. Before I was four years old they had me slaving away making match boxes, a job that even young children can do well enough. It wasn't the sort of life I would have wanted, but at least my mother loved me.

However, life got worse, and by the time I was seven I was slaving nineteen hours a day. I most definitely do not enjoy spreading manure over rich folks' gardens, but that was my job, and I had to do it. I had heard that God loved me, though it was hard to believe it in my circumstances. My mother had persuaded me it was true, but despite that I didn't plan to continue living this way. A week before my eighth birthday I ran away to sea. It wasn't uncommon for boys to do this. Generally, though, it was a bad idea. Most of us had a worse life at sea than we did on land. I know I did.

I didn't have the cash to pay my way on to a ship I barely had enough to keep myself alive. So instead I became a stowaway. It wasn't as nearly as easy as I'd hoped. I managed to live in the ship's hold without being found for about a week, living on scraps of food filched from the stores, but I was discovered very quickly. The captain of the ship wasn't at all happy that I had sneaked onto his ship, and the first thing he thought of doing was throwing me overboard. I only survived because their cabin boy had just died of scurvy, and they needed a replacement. Unfortunately for me, I didn't know the first thing being a cabin boy, so I had to learn how to tie knots in taut ropes in the middle of a thunderstorm, I had to learn to sleep on a pile of rough, scratchy rope, and I had to learn to do any task without complaint. To top it all off, I was horribly seasick. Soon I realized that life on waves wasn't for me, and I was longing to run away to land.

I didn't get the chance. One foggy night the helmsman who was steering the ship had had a few too many mugs of ale, and steered the ship right into sharp, jagged rocks. The ship stuck fast on the rocks, and in just a few minutes had been smashed apart by the pounding waves. I found myself stranded in the freezing sea with no sign of land for miles in every direction. I tried to swim in the direction that we had been sailing, but badly cut my legs on the rocks. I knew then that I had no chance of survival, and so I just gave up. As I slipped beneath the waves for the last time, I remembered and accepted my mother's words of salvation and peace. Then I saw darkness.

Now I'm in front of heaven, gobsmacked by the shining splendour. And as I look at it, I feel certain that there will be no match boxes or steaming piles of dung in here.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Colin Swann01/17/10
Wow, misfortune after misfortune - unbelievably so. Yet some do really have lives that are unbelievably bad and sad - Thanks for reminding us. Colin
Jan Ackerson 01/18/10
Wow, this reads like the synopsis of a Dickensian novel!

I've started a class in the FaithWriters forums for Beginner and Intermediate writers. I'd love to see you there--look for "Jan's Writing Basics".

This was spot on topic--well done.