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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Barbeque/Cookout (09/06/12)

TITLE: The Pathway to Smoke
By Laura Manley


“I don’t know which way to go.” Karen kneeled down and tied her scuffed-up tennis shoe. She and her six-year old sister, Meagan, were lost and the afternoon sun was about to retire. They had been separated from their parents for over two hours, according to Karen’s watch.

“I’m getting hungry.” Megan bent over as though she was in pain. “How are we going to get out of here, Karen?”

The two approached a fork in the road. “Now what?” Karen scrunched up her nose. She didn’t have an answer for Meagan, yet she had to be the brave one. After all, at eleven, she was much more mature than Meagan. But Karen had to admit she was troubled too by the turn of events.

Karen was directionally challenged… in other words, she still hadn’t figured out where the sun came up or all that stuff she was supposed to have learned in school. She did determine, however, that down was a good thing. At the fork, she and Meagan turned to the left since the road lead down toward the water.

The two shuffled their way through rocks and leaves and debris left by other hikers and campground visitors. Karen so wished she had listened to her mother not to wander off away from the camp. But she couldn’t wish her way back to their camp.

As the sun continued its descent, Karen began to pray. “God, we’re lost. Won’t you please help us to find our parents or allow them to find us? Please keep my sister warm and able to keep up with me. I love you, God. Amen.”

They continued down the steep terrain when suddenly Karen smelled something in the air. It was familiar yet she couldn’t recognize it.

“I smell something, Meagan?” She brushed the dirt from her leggings as she picked herself up from tripping over a stump. Meagan, concerned for her sister, didn’t answer immediately.

“I don’t think so.” She drew quick breaths through her nostrils and stared out into space as if that would bring the smell to her.

“Well, I do. It smells like something cooking… food – you know?”

The sisters continued down the hill until Karen noticed smoke. “Look, Meagan. I’ll bet that smoke is from whatever I smell cooking. We could be close to finding mom and dad.”

“I’m cold, Karen.” Meagan pulled her thread-bare cardigan around her small frame. Karen ignored her whimpering as she concentrated on the smell in the air and the smoke.

Just then Meagan tripped on something. It caused her to catch her toe on a rock and down the hill she went rolling. She stopped suddenly when she landed against the base of a tree. She began to cry. This time, Karen didn’t ignore her little sister. She pulled out a Kleenex from the pocket of her stained jacket.

“Here, Meagan, let’s get as much dirt off you as we can. Are you hurt?”

“No, I don’t think so. The two hugged one another, a scene which any photographer would relish. Such love and sweetness between the two sisters.

Meagan jumped up from the ground. “Karen… I do smell something. It smells like somebody’s having a barbeque.”

“I think you’re right, Meagan.” She stood and pointed her nose up, sniffing the air in an attempt to find out where this barbeque was coming from.

Karen took Meagan’s hand as they continued on down the trail. She found a large log in the road and balanced herself like a contestant in an Olympics competition. She suddenly jumped off the log, let go of Meagan’s hand and stood at the edge of what seemed to be a well-used path. She thought she saw movement.

“Come on, Meagan. Let’s investigate.” The two ran down the path. Sure enough – just over another slight hill, they could see what appeared to be a family barbeque. They continued their journey until they stood in the sights of the family and the remains of their dinner.

When the mother of the children who spotted Karen and Meagan took notice, she was full of questions. Their parents had been through there not long before looking for them. After some small talk, they walked the two to their parents’ camp. When they spotted them, they ran into open arms.

“Well, this calls for an old-fashioned cookout, I’d say,” said their thankful dad. Then we’ll discuss punishment for little girls who wander off from their parents’ camp. They all laughed spontaneously.

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Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 09/13/12
This was such an adorable story. It brought to mind when I was seven years old and lost at the beach with my big sister!

Good job of builing the tension and describing the little girls emotions.

Nicely done. Thank-you!

God bless~
Marie Hearty 09/13/12
Some very good descriptions and quite suspenseful. You did a good job.

God bless you :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/14/12
This is a good story. You do a nice job of showing the older sister's concern and take charge attitude. You also did a nice job of building the suspense.

I can see in some spots you are working on showing instead of telling but if you could do that even more it would turn a good story into a great one. The first line is good and an attention grabber but if you had added some more action it would have been even a bigger hook. For example: Karen bent over and pretended to tie her shoe, but she really wanted to wipe away the tears before her little sister spotted them. Glancing at her watch, her stomach did flip-flops when she realized they had been separated from their parents for two hours.
I tried not to change the actual scene but do it in a way where it hopefully will let the reader picture the emotions that would be running through her mind.
Even this line does some showing: Megan bent over as though she was in pain
But what does as though she were in pain look like? Is she wrapping her arms around her tummy and groaning or perhaps she bends over and bites her lip and squeezes her eyes shut.

You have done some great showing in this piece, I just want to see even more because it is such a delightful story. I think the ending was great. When writing for children a common mistake many adults make is they have the adult resolve the conflict. But you didn't fall into that trap. The adults guided but it was the courage and smart thinking that led the girls to the fire. I also liked how even though Mom and Dad were delighted they were back safe and sound, a punishment still loomed on the horizon. You have a delightful story in this one!
Loren T. Lowery09/17/12
So much to like about this piece. The common sense the girls used (downward paths, following the water) when lost, remembering to ask God for help, and finally following their nose. Do you think God may have sent the wind in their direction as an answer? Nice job!
Joanne Sher 09/18/12
A fun story - enjoyed the interaction between the sisters.
Bea Edwards 09/18/12
What a fantastic story that was truly believable. Well done!
lynn gipson 09/18/12
Oh, I loved this story. Having wandered off and gotten lost a few times in my life I could feel what they were going through...thank God for the BBQ smoke! Great Job!

God Bless!
Noel Mitaxa 09/18/12
Great pictures and emotions flow through here, for you have caught the thoughts and feelings of the two sisters so well. A good natural close wrapped it up well.
lynn gipson 09/20/12
Congrats! Very, very good entry....hope you are feeling much better by now?

God Bless, Lynn
C D Swanson 09/20/12
Congrats. God bless~