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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)

TITLE: Life is but fog...
By Elizabeth Cain


Martha, a twelve year old orphan, smiled as another gust of wind blew through her auburn hair. She and her friend Rachelle were running across the filthy street, Rachelle in the lead. Martha, with an ever present smile on her face, was trying to catch up. Normally, it wasn’t this hard, but this time, she felt more drained, then her breaths began coming in short gasps.

Rachelle looked back a moment. “Pick up the pace, Martha! You’re falling behind!” She looked back again, slowing down a little, “Martha? You alright?”

Martha slowed to a staggering walk as she struggled to catch her breath.

“You’d better not be fooling around!” Rachelle said threateningly.

The last thing Martha heard was Rachelle screaming her name as she collapsed.


Light overwhelmed Martha for a moment as she opened her eyes. Martha couldn’t remember anything for a moment, but it slowly came back to her. She heard voices on the other side of the room. She recognized the voice of the orphanage headmaster, Mrs. Saunders. The other voice was unfamiliar but she recognized the sights and sounds of a hospital so assumed he was the doctor.

“…I’ve finished examining her,” the doctor was saying, “and I think she has a hole in her heart.”

“What? A hole?”

“It’s allowing the oxygen-rich blood to mix with the blood without oxygen on its way to the lungs. Her heart has to work extra hard because the blood keeps going back to the lungs before making its way through the body. It’s called Ventricular Septal Defect, or VSD.”

“Can that be treated?”

“Yes, but I don’t have the proper equipment here. Martha will need to be sent to another hospital, one with doctors who specialize with this sort of thing.”

“How long will it take get an appointment?”

“Generally around six months.”

“…Does she have that long?”

“So long as she is careful to eat enough to sustain her body’s high energy demands, and is kept inactive. But the hole is one of the bigger ones I’ve seen, and with the air being as polluted as it is, I really can’t say if she will be alright or not.”


The months passed by, but none of the hospitals had an available appointment for Martha. She was unable to go outside and play, and had to stay inside from dawn to dusk. Martha wished she could play with her friends, but she never complained. She was as joyful as she’d ever been before and would always bring a smile to everyone’s face.

After the third month she started to feel weaker than before. She started spending more time staring thoughtfully out her window, and sometimes would write things down in her journal. As two more months passed she became too weak to even get out of bed, but still she remained a joy to the other children’s lives. Even the teachers enjoyed her company, though they started to worry even more about Martha’s health. But there was nothing they could do except wait and hope the doctors could get to her name on the waiting list soon and fix her heart.

Their hopes were in vain. After eight months the doctors finally got to Martha’s name on their list… But she’d died three weeks before.

Her death saddened the residences of the orphanage. Everyone in the building had loved her cheerful smiles. As the children and teachers went through Martha’s belongings they found her journal. She’d written beautiful poems and many thoughts she’d had during those last months of her life. The last thing she wrote was:

“It seems like life is but fog; a clouded view of reality that is soon carried away by the wind. I look forward to being able to see clearly, with the fog no longer skewing my view. I look forward also to meeting my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can’t wait to talk with Amy Carmichael and the apostle Paul. I bet I’ll even see George Washington! I can only imagine how many other siblings I shall have—ones who are not famous but were courageous just the same. The thing I look forward to the most, though, is being able to see my Father’s face. I shall no longer be an orphan when He finally takes me home.

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Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp05/20/10
This was so sad but great! I was enthralled with what was going to happen to Martha. Your ending with her Journal was positively heart warming!
Karen Macor05/23/10
I liked this. I wondered where you were going with the story but the ending tied it all in nicely. Pulled on the heart strings.
Mildred Sheldon05/24/10
AMEN! You did an outstanding job and your story held my attention from beginning to end. It tugged at my heart strings and brought a tear to my eye but in the end everything fit together like a well worn glove. Excellent job. Keep writing and God bless.
Dusti (Bramlage) Zarse05/24/10
What a bittersweet ending. Martha's life may not have been long and her words may not have been published, but they made a difference to those around them. Great story.
Maria Kana Santos05/25/10
Oh! This is so beautiful ( I mean the ending too.)! Martha's journal warmed my heart. I loved your writing style all throughout. You have the gift of writing. Very well written. Thank you. God is faithful.
Margaret Kearley 06/01/10
I agree with all the comments on this beautiful yet heart-rending story.
I too loved Martha's journal entry and her longing, above everything else, to see her Father's face. I remember reading a true story some years ago, very similar, of an 8 year old who had a shining faith and affected many lives before she died. What amazing miracles God works - not in ways we always expect or desire. Thank you for such a lovely story.
Gregory Kane06/05/10
This was well written with a lovely, inspiring message. I felt that the doctor's explanation was a bit forced. His explanation was technical and complicated, yet the headteacher didn't query anything he said. I appreciate that you used it as a device to set the context and move the story forward. But I think it would have sounded more natural by being simplified or by having the teacher interrupt more. I hope that this is a helpful comment. Aside from that it's a good story. Well done.
Tori Porteous07/05/10
This was a VERY well written article, a very sad but yet heart warming story that is very true. And it gets you thinking about how greatful that we should be to still be able to play outside with no pain or restraint. This was a very beautiful short story, and I always love the short stories that you write, and I can't wait to see what you have for us next!

Yours Truely,