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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)

TITLE: Waking Up is Hard to Do
By Cris Cramer
04/08/11


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A sudden burst of noise startled me awake; the raucous buzz came from the plastic box beside my bed. I groped for the fastest button to make the alarm clock shut up and huddled back under the covers, drawing them close around my face.

I had little enough reason to get out of bed. No job to go to today, that excuse having ended the week before. The freedom was nice for a while, but now the weight of having no replacement was starting to weigh heavily. What now? What next? How would I figure it out?

Another burst of noise. Another slap at the snooze button.

I curled up under the blankets, brooding over the dreams I'd woken out of, not yet faded. They were a confusing mish-mash of people and places from different times in my life, my late colleagues at work side-by-side with people I'd known years ago in school, an office that both was and wasn't my old office, situations that had seemed totally normal during the space of a dream, now revealed as absurd. My waking, rational brain didn't know what to make of my circumstances; it seemed my unconscious brain didn't either.

I sighed, buried up to my nose in flannel sheets. It was cozy in bed. All of the hard questions were waiting for me out there, outside of my warm blanket-cocoon; I didn't want to leave it and face them.

The alarm blared. I hushed it a third time, claiming another temporary respite, and rolled over.

With no useful answers about the future, I sent my mind backwards instead. I thought about the past year, all of the small events and circumstances leading up to the present day, the day my alarm was trying to drag me out to face. New friends and connections. A new church family, after several years of not belonging to any church. Rediscovered, reclaimed hobbies, newly recognized as gifts to explore and nurture. Deep conversations with good friends about things they valued in me, things I had not been able to see before. Material and financial adjustments, changes in attitude, intention, priority. A whole pile of coincidences that helped to make today merely hard, rather than crushing. I closed my eyes and breathed deep, remembering.

The alarm cleared its electronic throat at me again; I had the impression that if it had been created with feet, one of them would be impatiently tapping. Eyes still closed, I flailed behind me, searching by feel: nightstand, glasses, base of lamp, alarm clock. Snooze button. Blessed quiet.

I returned to pondering my history, considering the picture that I had not been able to see while pacing off the days and weeks. I could see more of it now; the tracks of a bigger design, working itself out in the daily spaces of my life. Losing my job was a hard blow, but it opened room for new things -- new work, new opportunities, new perspectives, new faith. Looking backwards, I could see the gentle, subtle outbreak of grace, flowing across my life, working to make everything new. Was it over? Had it given up on me? Not a chance.

Looking toward the window, with the sunlight peeping around the edges of closed blinds, I thought about the quiet, constant, ongoing work of God. It didn't exactly make the uncertainty and fear go away, but it made them somehow easier to accept. It made them loosen their grip. It was a start; I'd take it.

The alarm called one last time and I sat up, squinting to find the switch to turn it off. I stretched and tossed back the covers; a new day and a new life lay ahead. Time to get up and face them.


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This article has been read 329 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Gwen Plauche04/14/11
I really like this work - your writing style really pulls the reader in. Good descriptive word choices - plus I really relate to the subject! Thanks for sharing your work!
Cheryl von Drehle04/14/11
you definitely capture the alarm clock syndrome! I like the well paced movement in your story, from the overwhelming urge to hide through the awakening of God's grace and on into a more hopeful future.
Lillian Rhoades 04/15/11
I'm not sure if you covered the topic, but you certainly covered the contemporary issue of unemployment. I noticed a few sentence structure adjustments needed, particularly in seventh paragraph. God does use the oddest times to teach us what we need to know. Thanks for that reminder.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/16/11
I like the pacing of your piece. You made good points in an interesting way.
Shirley McClay 04/16/11
Well done. I love this line "The alarm cleared its electronic throat at me again" Creative! I did get the outbreak theme in your story.
Debra Hindman04/17/11
Attractively written faith-building story that will powerfully construct hope in hearts! Thank you!
dub W04/18/11
I liked your personal descriptive work. Be careful of the preponderance of gerunds and past participle phrasing. The sting of "ing" rings in the ears and covers the work of past tense. Good job, I really liked this piece.
Loren T. Lowery04/18/11
This read as written by one who has experienced this situation. It all "rang" true. I liked the flow of the piece as it built upon itself to find the lay off was but a temporary set back. The turning point, I think, was when you wrote: "A whole pile of coincidences that helped to make today merely hard, rather than crushing." And then to conclude with watching God unfolding in a new day, bringing new hope. Great job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/19/11
The title caught my eye and then my heart felt for the anguish of the MC You did a good job showing her frustration by slapping the snooze button. More scenes like that will turn this good story into a great one. So many people will really be able to relate toyour MC on many different levels. Good writing made A good story. :)

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/26/11
Congratulations for placing 14th in level one!
Debra Hindman04/27/11
Cris, who of us cannot relate to your memory-evoking alarm clock story...

"I sighed, buried up to my nose in flannel sheets. It was cozy in bed. All of the hard questions were waiting for me out there, outside of my warm blanket-cocoon; I didn't want to leave it and face them."

I loved your descriptive writing. Thank you!