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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Once in a Blue Moon (01/06/11)

TITLE: The Chance of a Lifetime
By Justina Page


By January of 1991 our family had not reached the impressive size it was destined to be. In anticipation of growing our offspring, we were looking to transfer from our snug two bedroom apartment to a home with a fence and yard. Buying a home was our intention. While I was out on the hunt, I ran across a sign in a yard that said “House For Rent”. It was a four bedroom, two bathroom house with formals, a kitchen, a den, and garage. The yard was gigantic and fenced. I quickly jotted down the number and raced home to share the news with my husband.

Our new home would be 4151 Sue Ellen. There was no lease signed. My husband and Mr. Guillory sealed the contract on a handshake. Our game plan was to stay there for a year or two. Enough time to save up for the dream home we desired. Before we knew it, four more sons were added to the crew and we had spent eight years on Sue Ellen. Mr. Guillory made it especially appealing to stay. He was quick to do any repairs needed. He even started a savings account for our three oldest boys. He was obviously smitten with the kids. We did not see him as the landlord but a favored family friend. The house fire threatened to shred that friendship to pieces. Even though the source of the fire was never officially declared, the cause of the fire still existed. The death of a child, injury of multiple family members, and the total destruction of a home is a massive burden to lie on any human’s shoulder. Mr. Guillory took that load upon himself.

Periodically, my husband would pass on messages from Mr. Guillory and his inquiries about how Ben & I were doing. I acknowledged them verbally but inwardly I ignored them. I knew he was seeking forgiveness. I wasn’t ready to release him. I couldn’t help but remember the gray tape that covered some wires in the attic my husband told me about. He had asked Mr. Guillory to take a look at it. It was the one thing he never did. I concluded that the cause of the fire was the faulty wiring in the attic that he neglected to look into. It was his fault.

I was at home in the den reclining on my comfortable cream leather sectional when the phone rang and Jonathon raced to answer it. “Page residence”, Jonathon answered in his adult voice. “Hi Daddy..Yes Sir. Mother it’s Daddy Man.” It was not the conversation I expected. My husband had called to tell me that Mr. Guillory wanted to see me. He wanted to apologize face to face. I had made a conscientious decision to forgive him but the idea of seeing him made me question the sincerity of my proclamation.

My husband had made it home from work, dinner was finished, and the boys were in their rooms playing. My stomach was in knots. How did I really feel about this man? At 7pm sharp there was a knock at the door. I smiled in spite myself. Mr. Guillory, always punctual and a man of his word - except the time I needed him most. The emotional tug of war had begun before he even got inside of the door. My husband embraced him in the foyer for a long period of time. I overheard him telling him it was alright. My heart softened. It was a tough road and a long journey ahead of us but we were coming out as victors. God was taking care of us in a miraculous way.

In an instant of clarity I realized that Mr. Guillory was not okay. He was wounded, deeply sorry, and desperate for forgiveness. He entered the den where I was sitting and froze. His eyes were red and watery and he didn’t utter a word. His trepidation was apparent. My heart went out to him. I held the key to the prison door he had enclosed himself in. Without thinking twice I waved him over and we embraced. It didn’t even have to be said. We were basking in a sea of forgiveness. The currents were electrifying. It was a simple decision that eased the tension of a very complex situation. The decision to forgive. Forgiveness had washed and refreshed all of our souls. This was the chance of a lifetime; a time to free a soul by simply forgiving.

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This article has been read 472 times
Member Comments
Member Date
diana kay01/13/11
this story touches so many chords with me. forgiveness is such a challenge in the circumstances and yet as you say forgiveness is freedom for both the recepient and the giver.
I sense there is much more to this story than the word count allowed.
thank you for sharing i know how difficult it is to lose a child
Nichole Hall01/13/11
I love the theme of forgiveness in this piece. The last couple of paragraphs were written with great emotion and I could see the seen of reconciliation unfolding in my mind.

It was a bit difficult for me to get into the the piece at the beginning. I felt the description and size of the house wasn't needed to get to the heart of the story. I did however like the relationship the family had with the landlord. This seemed essential to your story as forgiveness is often most difficult when we've been wronged by people we are close to. Good job!
Charlotte Seymour01/13/11
You did a good job describing human conflict both internal and external. The first two paragraphs were much weaker...the flow was awkward. I didn't catch the connection to the weekly topic either.
Lillian Rhoades 01/13/11
If this is a true story, I'm so sorry for the loss of your child. The story was packed with detail, and at times, great creative style. Keep an eye out for sentence structure. Not sure if you use Microsoft Word, but the program usually alerts you to "fragments." For ex. "Our game plan was to stay there for a year or two." (Here's the fragment). "Enough time to save up for the dream..."
It's also difficult to write in first person without beating the "I" to death. Consider making two sentences into one, to cut down on so many sentences that begin with "I" Ex. I knew he was seeking forgiveness, but I wasn't ready to release him."

Loved the focus on forgiveness and how you tied it all together with a great ending.
Kim Hamlin01/13/11
What an incredible story, I hope it wasn't true. The main issue I see is the sentence beginning with: "The house fire threatened to shred that friendship to pieces." should definitely have been a paragraph by itself.

Great Job!!
Glynis Becker01/13/11
Forgiveness is probably the most difficult of all the things we're asked to do in relationships. You've written about it beautifully.
Patsy Hallum01/13/11
Good Story, should you have mentioned the house fire first to give in a stronger opening? Keep writing!
Bonnie Bowden 01/14/11
Powerfully written, an important story to tell.
Sharon Laughter01/14/11
I see alot of potential here - a couple of things: This was more like a letter to a friend who had known you for years to whom you decided to share your journey on forgivness. Remember the reader knows nothing so we ARE confused...Try writing backwards - as if you had only one paragraph for your entire story. Then two. This will force the most important facts to the forefront. You have possibility for several stories in this one...
Sarah Heywood01/14/11
I always enjoy your work! This one made me cry - such a tender story about the power of Christ's forgiveness through us.
Verna Mull 01/15/11
This was a beautiful, sad story. My heart goes out to you if this story was actual. So glad you were able to do the thing that would produce healing to you both.
Jody Day 01/18/11
Good message. I would like to have seen you start with the fire. Keep writing!