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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bon Voyage (09/05/05)

TITLE: Returning Home
By Beth Bullington


“Sharon, Do you want coffee?”

“Hello! Do you want any coffee?” Maggie watched Sharon sit at the table staring into space. Maggie knew that today was going to be a difficult day for Sharon but the prayers had been that it would also be a wonderful day.

Sharon quietly replied. “just a little.”

Maggie poured herself some coffee and sat silently across the table from Sharon.

After a few minutes of silence, Maggie quietly said, “I’m here if you want to talk.”

Sharon looked up from her cereal and said, “just keep praying this is going to be one of the most difficult days in my life. I know it is the right thing to do but it sure is hard.”

The ride to the airport was a quiet one. As they approached the terminal, Maggie began to pray. “Lord, I just lift up Sharon to you at this time. I pray that you will just go before her, prepare the way as she meets with her family. We thank you for how you have been leading and we pray that she will continue to follow you. Amen” The “Amen” was spoken as they drove into the airport.

It was a quick hug good-bye. Sharon clutched her ticket tightly as waited her turn in line. She didn’t have many things to take with her, just one suitcase with a few clothes. She really didn’t have much materially to show for the last 5 years of her life but she did have a new heart.

Five years ago she had just graduated from college with a degree in interior design. The plan had been to work for her father in his company as a designer designing office and commercial space. She worked that summer and then she received her portion of the settlement from her grandmother’s estate. Sharon decided that she was not going to stay in that little town and keep working, she was going to see the world. Her first stop was Italy and then to Paris and then two years ago with a little bit of money left she moved just a few hours from where her parents lived. At first she had kept in touch with her family but as the years passed she just stopped contacting them.

A year ago things had gone from bad to worse. She had lost her job and just could not find another one. She even ended up living in a shelter. It was there that she met Maggie and the others from the church. Maggie shared the God’s love with her and helped her develop a personal relationship with God.

Sharon continued to search for a job but nothing that would be full-time and give her the benefits she needed. She thought of how her father always needed assemblers to work in putting the office layouts together. It would be a full-time job and included benefits. Sharon had prayed about it and talked with Maggie.

Now she was on her way home. She would go and apply for the position as assembler with her father’s company. She had looked on the Internet and seen that he was hiring. Sharon’s plan was just to go, apply for a position, and then talk to her father.

“Do you need a map of the area?” the rental car agent asked Sharon.

“No, I am going home.” Sharon replied with some boldness. She wasn’t sure what she would find but knew it was in obedience that she was going returning home.

The drive to the company office was a familiar one. Sharon pulled into the parking lot at 2:30 and parked in a visitor parking space. She sat in the car for a few minutes praying for the courage to enter the building.

As she walked into the lobby, she noticed that not much had changed. She approached the receptionist someone she didn’t know and as she was about to ask for a job application she heard in a loud voice, “Sharon, welcome home. I was sitting in my office and saw you walk across the parking lot. Your mother and I have been waiting for you to come home.” Her father was running to meet her.

"Let’s go find your mother and sister and go to the Seafood Market for a celebration."

Sharon knew that she was home. It wasn’t an easy journey home but she was obedient and excited about continuing this journey which had only just begun.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/12/05
A prodigal daughter! Nice, original idea. This sentence--"just keep praying this is going to be one of the most difficult days in my life" needs a period or a semicolon after "praying", otherwise, it sounds like she is praying for a difficult day! Love the reconciliation at the end.
B Brenton09/13/05
It's ok. I didn't really feel how she must feel or any other characters, for that matter. If you just tweeked it a little to put more of the character's feeling in, then it would be up there with the outstanding lot in this pile. :) Anyhow, Bravo and God bless.
sandra snider09/14/05
I agree with what the two writers above said.
Deborah Porter 09/21/05
Beth, I want to encourage you with your writing. This was a nice take on the prodigal story, but it needed a little bit of tweaking to really get the message across. But that's what being a Level 1 writer is all about - having the opportunity to have a go, grow and develop.

I was acting as a Level 1 judge for this particular topic, and I did make a note of a couple of things in particular.

The opening two sentences of dialogue were a little confusing. Because it was on two separate lines, the reader didn't automatically register that it was the same person talking. To overcome that, you could have done it like this:

"“Sharon, Do you want coffee?”

Maggie watched her friend sitting at the table and staring into space. She knew that it was going to be a difficult day for Sharon, but had been praying that it would also be a wonderful day.

Still holding the coffee pot and waiting for a reply, Maggie tried again. "Hello! Do you want any coffee?"

That's just a rough idea of how to tie things together in a way that sets the scene and keeps the piece flowing in a smooth and clear way.

Another thing, always watch to start dialogue with a capital letter, for example, "Sharon looked up from her cereal and said, “just keep praying..."

That "just" needed to start with a capital. Also, as someone mentioned, you needed a fullstop after "praying."

Another thing that most of us fall into fairly easily. Keep an eye out for the word "just." If the sentence can stand without it, then leave it out. Like I said, it's a very easy crutch to lean on (I know I'm guilty from time to time). If you read through your story, you'll see that you use the word "just" rather a lot.

Anyway, it was a good story and with a bit of editing, it would have been even better. Be encouraged - I believe the ingredients are all there, and now it's a case of mixing everything together to get the perfect end result. With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)