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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Fame (05/10/12)

TITLE: Unfathomable Fame
By Laura Manley


Kate painstakingly flipped the usage-worn pages of BRIDE Magazine as she sat next to her mother on the front porch of her childhood home.

“Oh, Kate, that’s getting closer to the look you want,” said Kate’s mother, Florence, as she watched Kate’s finger tap on the wedding dress pictured. A smile crept onto Kate’s face.

“I think you’re right, mom,” Kate said as she earmarked the “find.”

Kate Williams was going to be the bride of Willie Cooke whom she met at the Bible College they had both attended. Willie had been eagerly awaiting a church to call him as their pastor for the past year, but nothing had surfaced. In the meantime, their wedding would be a reality in less than seven months.

“Let’s take a break. I’ll make some lemonade and then we can continue,” said Florence as she stood up from her seat in the porch swing. She looked crisp in her freshly-ironed apron that hugged her rotund waist. Kate didn’t respond because she knew her mother well enough to know one wasn’t necessary.

As the front door closed with a swishing sound, Kate’s cell phone rang. It was Willie.

Inside Florence busied herself with the task of making lemonade. As she stood cutting up the lemons for the drinking glasses, she heard the front door slam.

“M-O-T-H-E-R!” cried Kate. Were those tears her mother heard?

Kate reached the door of the kitchen and nearly collapsed before making it to one of the brightly colored kitchen chairs. She sunk her body into it and clutched the edge of the kitchen table.

“What’s the matter, Kate?” Florence asked.

Kate could not speak through her sobs. Her mother poured her a glass of lemonade and set it down in front of her. “Here, drink this, Kate and then please tell me what has you so upset.”

Her hands shaking uncontrollably, Kate lifted the glass to her lips.

Florence was beside herself, watching her only daughter in such obvious emotional pain. But she knew Kate would speak when she could. She sat down in the chair just opposite Kate and waited for something other than sobs to come from her daughter.

Kate finally broke the silence. Memories cascaded through her mind in an attempt to relive the past with Willie.

“Mother,” began Kate, almost in slow motion. “Just after you came in the house to make lemonade, Willie called. He’s broken…”thoughts of the decorations she was preparing for the church, the photographer, the cake-tasting appointment she and Willie would…her mind wouldn’t let her go any further!

“He’s broken what, Kate?” Florence could no longer sit patiently waiting to find out why her daughter was so distraught.

“Willie has broken our engagement!” Kate blurted out. Unrecognizable wails manifested themselves within the depth of Kate’s soul as the sobbing began again.

Florence sat motionless; helpless to comfort her daughter. It seemed forever before Kate could speak again, until…

“Apparently Willie feels I fall short of his expectations for a pastor’s wife. I guess it isn’t enough that I’m a teacher, play the violin and piano and have been a soloist in church since my childhood,” said Kate with a twinge of anger in her voice.

“Oh, Kate,” was all Florence could manage to roll off her tongue. Unlike her daughter in most instances, she was speechless.

“I don’t know who or what has gotten him to where he is at the moment, but…” Kate didn’t finish the sentence.

“But what?” asked Florence.

“It was like talking to a stranger, mother. I’m not sure if I ever really knew him. He seems to have lost focus on his role as a pastor. It’s like he’s looking for fame as a preacher, rather than looking at what being a pastor actually encompasses,” said Kate as she slowly drew her hand across her forehead.

Devastation had set in. She stared out the huge grease-hazed kitchen window for several minutes. Almost as quickly as the tears had begun to flow, a sudden calm came over Kate.

“I was sitting here thinking, mom and Mark 1:28 came to mind…And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. Let’s pray that Willie will humble himself and seek God’s will for his life. He won’t be happy until he does. ”

“My heart is like a sponge soaking up my tears, but it will heal as I seek the Lord’s refuge.” Then, with resolve, she twisted the white gold solitaire from her left ring finger.

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This article has been read 429 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 05/18/12
This was a different take on the topic, very different. It was clever, fresh and totally unexpected. It shows that life sometimes can take an unexpected turn. And, that all stories do not have a happy ending.

I liked that the two of them prayed for the young man, irrespective of what had happened. No bitterness, just a serene acceptance.

Good job! I really liked this entire piece.

God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/18/12
This is a great story. I was intrigued immediately because my daughter is getting married in a few months.

One thing you want to try and do is keep the POV to just one character. The reader should be able to see into Kate's mind and know what she is thinking but not both characters. This is a hard idea to wrap my head around because I always felt if the story was told in 3rd person than the narrator could see that Kate was talkative and her mother a more introvert. However, I've been told by experienced authors that unless it's a novel where the chapters might be from one character's POV and the next from a different, then it's important to only see into one character's mind. You can use words to describe what the other character is doing or what she might look like if she is angry but not actually tell the reader what is going on in her head or what her personality is like..

I hope that helps a bit describe what I'm trying to say. The story itself was a delightful read. My heart just broke for the MC. For one thing what kind of a man breaks up over the phone? That was a perfect touch. I liked how once she got over her hurt she was able to pray for him. You did a wonderful job of presenting the topic in a fresh and interesting way.
Joe Moreland05/21/12
I thought this was a good story. Strong character development from both the mom and Kate and excellent dialogue (one of the hardest things to write).

There are a few things that others have already covered you can work on (I agree that 750 words is not enough time to cover two POVs), but you have talent for characters and dialogue and that goes a long ways in my book.

Good job!
Allison Egley 05/21/12
Great job with this. Loved the story line.

A few others have already pointed out POV. One thing I'd recommended is trying to get rid of dialogue "tags" like "she said" or "he said." For example, “I think you’re right, mom,” Kate said as she earmarked the “find.” could be changed to Katie earmaked the find. "I think you're right." It's clear who's talking, so you don't need to say "Kate said." Also, if you DO use tags, keep the traditional order. "said Kate" just sounds a bit odd. It's not how we talk, and it just feels a bit unnatural. I hope that wasn't too much "red ink." :)

As I said, I loved the story itself. Seems like this could be expanded a bit.
Helen Curtis05/21/12
Well, you had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through! I 'ditto' what everyone else has said; not just the red ink, but the applause for a wonderful story. Great job.
lynn gipson 05/22/12
Good story, I'm not sure i could have prayed for him just yet...but then im still a work in progress. thanks for this i enjoyed it.
Graham Insley05/22/12
What sort of a preacher would this guy make? Break up over the phone indeed.

I love it when the story comes alive and you want to kiss or thump one of the characters. proves you told a good story.

750 words doesn't allow full development, so my next comment may not apply with more words.

I found the jump from shattered tears to an insight of the real man to be too quick. If he was like that I'd see her starting to have some questions herself and some hints of this could have helped.

But a great story. Thank you.