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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: Tributaries
By Jeffrey Snell


"What a lousy, wet morning. Another lousy day; just what I needed." The clerk took note of the middle-aged attorney's muttering while he punched the register. The man stared out at the rain-peppered river coursing alongside the embankment.

With a squinty grin and silent prayer, the clerk handed the man his change. "Every day we live to help somebody is a good one, sir. I pray yours today is unique!"


Removing his hand from the mouse, the attorney answered on the second beep.

"Mr. Brecker, I have a young lady in the waiting area inquiring about a pro bono case concerning family abuse and adoption."

"Cyndy, you know we don't do pro bono! Tell her...." He paused, pondering the clearing clouds outside his eleventh-floor window. After a deep breath, he resumed. "Alright, Cyndy, send her in please."


"You don't have a clue what I go through every day, do you! All you care about is what you want!" He pitched his book across the table, knocking another like it to the floor.

"Kevin." Cyndy felt tears begin as she reached to her husband. "I want to understand. I just... I've been so stressed out by work. Honey, please forgive me."

Kevin stared at the floor. After a lingering moment, he gazed at her, softening.


The mammoth girder glided upward as the crew prepared to pull it down into place. Kevin glanced at his younger partner and gestured.

"So? How are things at home?"

Jensen replied with a crestfallen grimace. "Okay, I guess. You know, she wants a baby so bad. But her doctor said...." He broke off as the beam began swinging around. "It's really messing things up."

"Hang in there, kid."

"How are things with you guys?"

Kevin replied as he hooked the cable supporting the girder. "Better, kid. We've talked the last few nights till like three am. I guess our pastor was right. We haven't talked like that in a long time. It was great! Grab the other side!"

Jensen helped align the steel beam and glanced at his partner, hope flickering in his eyes.


"Kris?" Jensen approached his wife of three years in their yellowed apartment kitchen.

She turned sparkling green eyes toward him, something in his tone kindling anticipation. "What's up, J?"

He leaned diffidently on the counter. "You know how you're always saying me going with you to church would help our marriage?"


The sermon titled "Psalm 46: The River and the City of God" concluded, and Jensen and Kris held hands to the coffee corner.

"Hey Kevin, what's up?"

Jensen's work partner handed him some coffee and motioned to a man standing beside him. "Jensen and Kris Hansen, this is David Brecker. David is a family law attorney." The three shook hands and Kevin touched Jensen's shoulder. "David was just telling me about a case he worked on that resulted in a baby girl being put up for adoption."

Kris' eyes lit up and she gripped her husband's hand.

David nodded, grinning. "That's right. Kevin tells me you might be interested in adopting?"

As the four made their way to the parking lot, excitement began to infuse them all. They sensed God's touch and presence leading, carrying them by currents of wisdom and grace out of their tributaries to His stream. They stood together, and their laughter drifted like a mist over the grounds and across the flowing river.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Kaylee Blake 09/09/06
This is a really great story! I loved how you tied everything in, how the clerk started that string of kindness! Although, I really didn't think it had enough of the "river" topic in it.
Brad Paulson09/10/06
I really liked the format, little snippets of reality telling a larger story. Well done. I got tripped up on the sentence where Jensen says, "Me going to church" Even though that may be an accurate depiction of how someone might speak, you might want to re-word it to make it easier to read. Nice Job
Marty Wellington 09/11/06
Well, I think I got the symbolism you were seeking. The tributaries (short vignettes) feed into the larger river (the final coming together of all the characters). Very nicely done, though upon first read I was having a bit of trouble following all the little stories. It's probably me, I'm just not quite focused yet today. I did like your technique--very unique.
Joanne Sher 09/11/06
Loved the way you weaved all these tributaries together - great approach! I also got a bit lost with who was doing what the first time through - but I figured it out by reading it again. Great dialogue! Enjoyed this!