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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)

TITLE: Shifting Shadows
By Cheryl Harrison


Torrents of wind scraped the branches of an overgrown honeysuckle bush against the window screen. Bright flashes of lightning streaked across the midnight sky followed by peals of rolling thunder. Muted beams of light flickered through the rain-streaked glass, while just outside the window a set of bamboo chimes danced furiously in the wind. Shifting shadows on the wall, though caused by the lightning and dancing chimes, seemed to be the only movement in the room.

Across from the window a little girl shivered in her bed. Her fear of darkness intensified with each lightning flash. She curled her body into a tight-fisted ball underneath the covers, hoping the heavy handmade quilts would protect her from strangers in the night. Lightning flashed again and a shadow in the corner of the room seemed to move closer to her bed. She squinted into the darkness unwilling to let her guard down. Afraid to move or breathe, she waited for daylight.

Seconds later, a shuffling sound from the opposite corner of the room pushed her past the edge of fear. She sat bolt upright and cried out for help. It wasn’t long before the door to her bedroom swung open. Light from the hallway spilled into her room, driving the scary shadows away. Then with one flip of the light-switch all shadows vanished completely. Able to move and breathe again the little girl reached for her mother.

“Did you cry for help?” her mother asked.

“Yes” the little girl replied as she cautiously looked around the room for signs of the intruder. “I heard something moving around in my room.”

“Don’t be afraid,” her mother said. “It was probably that overgrown honeysuckle scraping against your window screen again.”

“No!” the little girl insisted and then hurriedly pointing across the room she added, “I heard something over there.”

Her mother looked at the handmade vanity standing in the opposite corner of the room. It was a beautiful heirloom, passed down in her family from generation to generation, beginning with her Great-Grandmother. A shadow of movement beneath the lace fabric suddenly caught her attention. She looked closer, peering through the delicate floral design of the fabric, and began to grin.

“Well, lookie here” she exclaimed, “I think I found your intruder.”

The little girl’s heart skipped a beat. “You did?”

“Yes” her mother said as she knelt next to the vanity. She lifted the lace and reached for something beyond the little girl’s line of sight. When she stood up, the stricken look of fear on her daughter’s face relaxed.

“Shadow!” the little girl giggled, “What are you doing in here?”

The steel gray cat jumped onto her bed. “Oh mama, you were right” she said, “I didn’t need to be afraid.”

“It’s time for both of you to go to sleep now,” her mother said as she tucked the quilts around her daughter. “If you need help again, all you have to do is call.” Then she added, “And remember, there is someone else who hears your cries for help. He is the Lord, the light of the world. He is your refuge and strength and an ever-present help in trouble*.”

“Yes mama”, the little girl nodded with agreement, “that reminds me of what Grandma used to say. Something like, ‘where there are shadows, there is always light’”

Her mother paused at the door, “Very wise words to remember”, she whispered as she turned of the light.

The comforting sound of Shadow’s purring helped the little girl drift off to sleep. Nothing had changed. The shifting shadows were back and the storm continued to rage, but she was not afraid. All was well, because she knew where her help came from.

“My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121:2 (NIV)

*Psalm 46:1

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This article has been read 1042 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Edy T Johnson 03/01/06
This is a real gem. I can just imagine reading this to my grandchildren, and seeing their attentive eyes widen, because they identify with the little girl in the dark, alone. Good writing!
Pat Guy 03/01/06
Good job writing! Loved this story!
Kate Wells03/02/06
As an expression of deep pain and of being trapped by bad decisions...this is good. I could see your dilemma because of your words.
Jessica Schmit03/02/06
This is a winner. I loved this piece. Incredible writing. (Does this belong to you Cheryl?) Great job with your descriptions. I could see everything you described. Awesome!
Jan Ackerson 03/02/06
You took me right back to when my girls were just like this little gal. You really did a good job portraying her fears.
Kate Wells03/03/06
Sorry...I left my above comment on the wrong story!
clicked the wrong link... I think. My comment for *this* story is... Great job!
I could feel every emotion and see what you described and even smelled the rain! I loved this... Kate~
Jeffrey Snell03/05/06
Excellent job! You set the mood and surroundings very well; the child's fear was palpable--we've all been there! Nice work taking an everyday situation and revealing how she grew in her young relationship with the Lord.
Shari Armstrong 03/05/06
Well done, nice build up to the lesson :)
Beth Muehlhausen03/10/06
A nicely-told story that took me back to my own childhood - and the "monsters" that lived under my bed. I'd jump 10 feet out just to miss being snagged by one! And there was an awful, very scary storm when I was tiny that left scars...such thing can see very real to a small child.

Your message is a good/important/healing one, and you delivered it in an appealing way. Way to go!!

Paula Carrigan09/12/06
Reminds me of the stories that used to be printed in magazines they gave us as kids in Sunday School, but more deep. Nice.