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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)

TITLE: When communication is impossible.... write!
By Melissa Lindsey


Mindy's fingers stabbed furiously at her computer keyboard as she poured out all the pain that her mother-in-law's words had caused. The woman was impossible. Helen Rodgers was four foot eleven inches tall in heels, but her lack of stature didn't stop her from saying whatever was on her mind regardless of how it might affect those around her.

Mindy again replayed the conversation with Helen and Tom from two months ago, trying to figure out the words that would soften Helen's heart.

Mindy's husband Keith, Helen and Tom's only son, had started drinking heavily after the loss of his job.

Mindy had tried to be a loving and supportive wife. She had assured Keith over and over again that this was a hidden opportunity….. a God-given chance to find a job that he loved.

Keith wanted no part of it. He had become resentful toward God years ago and blamed God for everything bad in the world.

Mindy loved Keith, but even love had its boundaries.

One evening, Mindy had arrived home from work to find Keith drunk yet again. It was only five o'clock in the afternoon!

This had to stop! Mindy had cried out to God over and over again begging Him to help Keith get a grip on the situation. Yet, Keith wouldn't turn to God. Instead, he had turned to alcohol.

Mindy grabbed the glass of Jack Daniels sitting on the counter and dumped it down the drain.

Keith's eyes found hers and the anger that flashed there terrified her.

In all of their twenty three years together, Mindy had never seen her husband like this.

Keith grabbed her by the throat, and pinned her against the wall.

Mindy knew that this man was not her husband. Keith was one of the most loving men that she had ever known. If Keith could move outside of his alcohol controlled body and see what he was doing, he would be so remorseful for his actions.

Mindy knew that Keith truly didn't want to hurt her. He was just coping with his own hurt in the wrong way, but even while she knew this in her heart, it did not alleviate the terror that she felt in that moment. She knew that alcohol robbed people of the inability to think rationally and had no idea what Keith's next move would be.

Keith looked into her eyes and finally released her, breaking down into tears, telling her how sorry he was and promising that he would never do this again. The problem was, Mindy had heard this story at least a dozen times and Keith had not made good on this promise. In fact, the problem had grown worse.

After yet another sleepless night, Mindy woke early and drove to her in-law's house.

Tom and Helen, following their normal routine, were having coffee in their sun room. Mindy poured herself a cup and joined them.

"My, what brings our favorite daughter-in-law out so early?" Tom smiled.

"I have some bad news."

Tom and Helen waited anxiously, looking at one another and then back at Mindy.

"I've made a very difficult decision. I need to give Keith his space as he works through his issues. He is drinking every day and the problem is getting worse. I'm moving back in with my parents temporarily."

Helen was on her feet before the last word was out of Mindy's mouth.

"How dare you, you selfish wench," exclaimed Helen. "You only think of yourself! Have you ever once stopped to think about all that Keith has been through in the last year?"

"Helen," Mindy began……

"Get out of my house!"

Mindy looked at Tom. She could see the tears brimming in his eyes, yet he seemed to not know what to say.

Mindy left the house without looking back. Her heart was broken. She was as close to Tom and Helen as she was to her own parents.

Months later, Keith had fully recovered. He turned back to God and secured a new job.

Mindy had moved back in and they were seeing a marriage counselor. Everything was back to normal other than the fact that Helen still wouldn't talk to her.

Mindy refused to give up. There was more than one way to communicate and Helen could listen to her words on paper if she refused to discuss it like an adult.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/30/10
This was a gripping tale to read. Sometimes a hand-written letter is the answer. Your story rounded me to thank God (and them) for giving me the most amazing in-laws.
Jan Ackerson 10/31/10
I was especially intrigued with your most minor character--Tom. Just that glimmer in his eyes made me want to know more about him.

Consider using that kind of 'showing' when you write characters in future stories. I also felt that the 'letter' aspect of this story was perhaps not as important as it might have been to the story.

Your story made me thankful for so many things in my life--thank you so much!