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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)

TITLE: Skeletons
By Glen Goddard


Key: "a small metal instrument specially cut to fit into a lock and move its bolt."

When I was a child of about five, the World War to end all wars had just ended. My father moved us to a small farm outside of a community called Crossed Keys, Pennsylvania. The farm had an old white house and red barn. The barn became my favorite play area. Bales of hay were stacked under a loft. Next to the loft on the first floor were several empty stables and a tack room. The loft area had more bales of hay and some very old and musty equipment laying around. And there were pigeons … lots of pigeons who were never appreciative of my disturbing their roosting area. Their old eggs that never hatched and stank to high heaven when broken, became my source of ammunition at imagined invaders of my castle.

It was here were I developed a fascination with keys. I loved poking around that old barn. By the time I was six, I had a ring of them four of them ... the old fashioned kind that I knew were once used to unlock secret cabinets, dungeons and cellar doors. When God assigned my DNA, he gave me a large dose of imagination. That is why I knew the my keys were connected to mysterious people. I knew that every one of the keys that I discovered held some old mystery that would be dangerous to uncover. Somewhere in a movie I had heard the term skeleton key and so that is what I called all of them. Just the word skeleton brought up intrigue and untimely deaths in my mind.

My keys were ornate in design and made out of heavy iron. They generally had a long barrel with one end that unlocked something and the other end was the end that was held. As I grew up the keys morphed to the Yale lock type. Because they were boring to look at to my young mind, I knew that they were unimportant. My mysterious keys soon became lost as much of my childhood things did as I grew toward manhood.

The “skeleton” keys of my childhood soon became important again. Fast forward sixty-five years to 2007 when my wife and I moved to South Africa. I quickly discovered that almost all of the locks on modern doors were made of this same type of key. The keys were shiny and new but it was still déjà vu back to my childhood!

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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/21/13
I absolutely loved this. I thought it was a great take on the topic all the way to the name of the town. I admit it seemed to perfect of a name, but sure enough there in Google was Cross Keys PA. :-)

I don't think you needed the first line. It set the wrong tone for the story. I thought it was going to be more like an essay. Instead I might suggest something like this: Crawling on my belly, I held my breath to prevent the dust from assaulting my lungs, suddenly my eyes spotted the enemy. I reached around and lobbed an old pigeon egg into the air. Once it exploded, the old tom cat ran out of the barn.
Something like that would grab the reader's attention, paint a picture and pull them into the story.

I think many people can relate to having a set of keys around and imagining all kinds of delightful adventures. There are definitely interesting and boring keys--much like most things in life, I suppose. I think your fast forward to South Africa was a fantastic way to bring your story full circle. This was a charming read.:-)
C D Swanson 02/22/13
This was so clever and so entertaining at once. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.God bless~
Richard Hicks02/24/13
I loved your description of the barn/castle. It really drew me into your story, and I could see myself as a child playing in the barn with the keys you described. I liked the last paragraph, but I wanted to read more about how you came across the new keys and the revelation or the reminder of your childhood keys. Just my 2 cents, hope it helps. God Bless and thank you.
Alicia Renkema02/26/13
What a clever take on the topic. Nice and straight forward but one I had simply forgotten, a "childhood fascination of keys." I think everyone has them which is why this story is so relatable. The picture you create early on of you in the barn with the keys is great. I am with Shann, I would loose the first line. I would also loose most of the second to the last paragraph with the exception of the line that talks about the keys in your imagination looking ornate and like they were made of iron, that is important. I would then take the suggestion of Richard and continue this very intriguing read about these "new found keys" that remind you of the ones in the barn. Very different piece, I liked this a lot. Blessings