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

TITLE: A Bedtime Vigil
By Rachel Dorsey


Tim moved his finger to flick the switch to “off” but a noise from under the covers of his son’s bed alerted him. He turned aside to investigate the source of the noise.

“Gavin, go to sleep now.” Tim shook his head as Gavin wriggled under the covers and giggled.

“Daddy.” Gavin peeked out, his wide brown eyes pleaded with Tim with a request that couldn’t be denied. “ Read me a story. One more, please!”

“Alright. Just ONE and you promise to go to sleep, soldier?”

Tim casually scanned the small bookshelf beside the bed. The titles all seemed too familiar and nothing leaped out at him. Feeling a tug on his pants, Tim glanced at Gavin and sat down by his small son. He rubbed his hand over his chin which was sprouting some bristly hairs. Time for a shave, buddy. He noticed the window was slightly open and the cool air snaked through, blowing its invisible wings into the room.

“Hey, Gav. Did you open the window?”

The boy shook his head fiercely. His brown eyes blinked in wonder. Tim sighed as he took few steps to reach out and pulled down the window. A shiny orb like a suspended jewel drew Tim’s eyes to the sky. He realized what he was staring at was a full moon. It was so blue, oddly like a blue-gray scarf covering the huge dull rock. He motioned for the boy to come up to the window. Tim laid a hand on Gavin’s shoulder and pointed toward the bluish sphere.

“Daddy, it looks blue.”

“Looks like it. You remember the story about God making the sun, the moon, and the stars? “Pointing to the moon, Tim recited the beginning of creation from Genesis by heart, his soul thrilled at the words.

“God made the moon!” Gavin pumped his fist in the air. “God made the sun! God made the stars! Boom a boom a boom!” He exclaimed, shaking his fist several times like an Olympic champion.

Laughing, Tim boosted his son in the air and flipped him over his arm with his other arm. He loved it when Gavin was excited about the Bible stories that he could remember. They settled back on the bed and Gavin was quiet for a moment. Too quiet, Tim thought. He ruffled the boy’s dark hair in an affectionate manner.

“You alright, lil’ buddy? Tired?”

Gavin shook his head and hugged his stuffed bear, Teddy, tighter to his chest. His favorite Toy Story jammies hung loose on his skinny frame. He looked up with a questioning glance and mumbled into Teddy.

“Can Mommy see the moon from up there?”

The question seemed like an anvil dropping in Tim’s chest where it continued to sink to the bottom of his soul and even further if it could. He shut his eyes as a memory of his late wife, Lanie, loomed up in his mind. Beautiful and blonde. Gavin had her doe-brown eyes and Tim’s dark hair. She used to sing to Gavin while sitting in her favorite rocker until she fell asleep holding him in her arms. One of the songs that Tim vaguely remembered was “Once in a Blue Moon”. Perhaps he wasn’t ready yet to remember. It had only been a year since Lanie died in a terrible car wreck and the loss was still a gaping hole in their lives.

“I’m sure she is sitting with Jesus somewhere and they’re probably talking about the moon He made. It might seem very small from up there. You know a blue moon is very rare thing.”

“Do… do you think she can see us?”

“Uh- yeah, I guess so-”

“I miss her. Why can’t she come back here?” Gavin pointed to his chest, “It hurts real bad here.”

Tears slowly gathered at the corners of his shut eyes. He knew he had explained it countless times yet he felt helpless as he did then. He drew Gavin in a crushing hug.

“Remember what I said before? Mommy is with Jesus now.”

“Daddy…” Gavin yawned, traces of tears glistened on his cheek. “They prob’ly sitting on top of the moon.”

Tim gently laid him in his bed and pulled the quilt over his shoulder. He walked toward the door and flicked the light switch off. In the darkness, only the bluish-gray moonlight was visible- streaming down on Gavin’s sleeping face. He whispered a silent thank you to the Lord above for their blessings.

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Member Comments
Member Date
diana kay01/13/11
wow! i really don't think you are going to be in the beginners for long! This piece had everything in it and you managed the story beautifully, the relationship between dad and child, the dialogue the description, the blue moon, the Christian message, what could they possibly mark you down on??
still there seem to be lots of great pieces at this level this week.
i really feel that you enjoyed writing this!
Verna Mull 01/15/11
This was very well written. A beautiful story of love.
Sarah Heywood01/15/11
Fabulous work! I felt like I was right there in the room with the father and son. Very professionally done and well-written!
Lillian Rhoades 01/15/11
You had all the right ingredients for a great story, and you wrote it with style, realistic dialogue and added a great title.

" 'Mumbled into the Teddy Bear. Can Mommy see the Moon up there?'" When I read the above, my heart did a palpable flip. What an unexpected and powerful lead into the rest of the story. That so accurately describes how young children communicate when dealing with tragic events. So well done!
Michael Throne01/18/11
This is excellent. Your flow is easy and natural; you pulled us in and made us care about your characters. The ending is good, almost bitter-sweet, though sincere. You’ll be moving up soon.