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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Home (01/09/06)

TITLE: And I Am Alone
By Paul Potenza
01/15/06


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AND I AM ALONE

It is the early 70's and I have left home to find the horizon. I am living in “Residence” at Our Lady of Providence Seminary and it is Thanksgiving Day. The Dorms are empty and for my Holiday Meal, I ingest a bottle of YooHoo and a slice of semi-warm pizza from a vending machine.

AND I AM ALONE

Later in that turbulent decade I set off on foot to “discover myself” hitchhiking. I walk through the Bronx at midnight and maybe three days and nights later, I am laying in a gully outside of a place called La Porte, Indiana, in the pouring rain.

AND I AM ALONE

I get arrested that same year in a place called Canton, Ohio. They give me three days to think about breaking the law again and as they print me and put me in the cell, I say to myself, “There’s nothing to be scared of. And the cell door slams on this first of many times in jail.

AND I AM ALONE

In 1977 I go to a place called Parris Island and undergo some times that make jail look like a day at Disneyland. One night I am standing “Fire Watch” and it is about 2:30 in the morning. All the other recruits are sound asleep, with visions of Drill Instructors dancing in their heads...I am the only soul conscious at the time.

AND I AM ALONE

The Marine Corps absorbs me as it will and sends me to places I didn’t know existed. I stand watch on board many ships with my only companion a rifle, and by now, feeling lonely seems like it is a normal and natural thing, like taking your next breath. On a bright morning in Potenza, Italy, I look out on the splendor of the Italian mountains and realize that I am sharing this experience with myself.

AND I AM ALONE

The noise and destruction of war are deafening in Beirut. The Days are long and hot and the nights are longer still. Silence can be deafening too when the only thing that breaks the quiet is the sound of the wild dogs. I sit in my bunker and look at my world, waiting to be replaced by the oncoming duty.

AND I AM ALONE

I am finally coming back to North Carolina after two sweltering months in Central America after what was deemed a Police Action/Peacekeeping Force. There are no bands or yellow ribbons, but it’s good to be home. The bus driver dumps my gear and myself about a quarter of a mile from where I need to be. He tells me that he’s not allowed to get any closer. I shoulder my pack and weapon and head for the armory. Smiling, to myself I think, “Welcome Home Marine, same old stuff - different day”.

AND I AM ALONE

The letter in the mail box said that she wanted a divorce. Oh well, What could I expect? It’s been years since I’ve seen her anyway...But still...

AND I AM ALONE

The Marine Corps doesn’t want me anymore. They don’t consider my style worthy of the high standards set by the “Soldiers of the Sea”. I drink too much, smoke too much, fight too much...I don’t look like what they think a Marine should look like...so they’ll give me a firm handshake and thank me for my sixteen years of service and show me the gate.

AND I AM ALONE

My father’s voice sounded strange the other day. I could tell that he and Momma wanted to express something to me that they didn’t have enough words to express. Words can be like that sometimes. But I got the message.

I WAS NEVER ALONE

I THOUGHT I WAS MY OWN MAN AND COULD STAND ALONE. I THOUGHT I WOULD GROW OLD AND DIE BY MYSELF. WHAT A FOOL I WAS. A BRAVE BUT FOOLISH CRUSADER WHO WAS JUST THICKHEADED ENOUGH TO THINK NOBODY CARED.

No words could have ever replaced the sound in my parents’ voices that day, and I pray that I will always carry the feeling that that sound gave me in my heart. Because that sound was the sound of someone saying COME HOME, WE LOVE YOU, WE WANT TO BE A PART OF YOU, WE’VE SEEN YOU WITH ALL YOUR WARTS AND WE DON’T CARE ABOUT THEM - WE CARE ABOUT YOU!

And if God grants me the favor of keeping that feeling in my heart

I CAN NEVER BE ALONE

AND I AM HOME


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This article has been read 508 times
Member Comments
Member Date
donna robinson01/20/06
I like the style this was written in as it gave the reader quick cold looks into a life, his thoughts.

I liked the way this story wasn't sugar coated, but stark in what life was like for him.

Yet, here at the end we find the tender spot that never hardened in him and we suddenly see a new person and find we like him very much. Good read
Marilyn Schnepp 09/24/06
Still reading these remarkable exerpts from a Man's Life and Times...great writer! Great human being with a very witty and brilliant mind. All spells Talent with a capital "T".
Edy T Johnson 09/29/06
This is so powerful, and you did such a great job setting up the reader for the ending. I think this story deserves to go places.