Tick, tick, tick….Cate rolled over and stared at the bedside clock in disbelief. She had been lying in bed, wide awake, for hours…mentally reviewing every sentence, weighing every word, considering every punctuation mark. Oh, gee! She hoped she had not used too many exclamations points! She was a sucker for explanation points, but the judges didn’t like them. She stuffed a pillow over her face and groaned out loud.
“Will this night ever end?” she moaned. “This is when it pays to live in the Pacific Northwest. I can see the results at 6:00 a.m. rather than 8:00 like my Southern friends.”
Cate crept out of bed and found her robe. She would tiptoe into the kitchen and make a cup of tea, without disturbing her husband. Then, she would read for a while. Kate took a cautious step forward only to feel herself tumbling over Rainy Day, her Old English sheepdog, who had decided to camp out on her side of the bedroom floor for the night.
“Whoa,” she cried as her arm hit the night stand, knocking off a pile of books.
Frank tumbled out of bed in alarm, as Rainy Day barked wildly. “What going on?” Frank bellowed in a tone that set the cats flying from the foot of the bed. “Cate, are you okay? It’s the middle of the night. Why aren’t you sleeping? You said that you were exhausted.”
Cate looked sheepishly at her husband and apologetically at her dog. She rubbed her arm. Thank God, it was only bruised.
“I’m sorry, Frank. But, it is Wednesday night,” Cate replied, as if that explained everything.
Frank sighed heavily. “Come back to bed, Cate. You can’t keep stressing this way, even if it is Wednesday night. I thought that you were going to pray about your attitude.”
“Oh, I have prayed repeatedly, Frank,” Cate assured him dramatically, climbing back into bed. Rainy Day jumped up next to her and licked her sore arm consolingly. “I just can’t get any peace. Let’s face facts. I’m driven. I’m competitive. I’m addicted to blue ribbons.”
“Well, what about checking your motivation…putting it all in perspective…honing your skills…having fun…enjoying the opportunity to creatively express yourself?”
“You’re right,” Cate consented. “I am making way too much of this. It’s just that M.J. said that she would be saving a seat for me in Advanced and it looks like I’m destined to be a permanent resident of Intermediate forever.”
Frank threw back his head and laughed. “Surely not, forever. You have done really well in a short period of time.”
“That’s before they changed the challenge style. I found it so much easier when different genres were assigned. But, now, they just toss out words like ‘confident’ and ‘happy’. All my stories are starting to sound the same. Oh, pooh! I just can’t adjust to that type of writing challenge.”
“You know what, Cate? Even if you stay in Intermediate forever, I will still love reading your stories and so will our friends and relatives. Now, let’s get some sleep, okay?”
Cate cuddled up next to her husband. Rainy Day settled down again on the bedroom floor, visibly relieved that the situation was, at least, temporarily resolved. The cats slunk back onto the bed, one by one.
Hours later, Frank awoke with a start. Cate had overslept. Frank was happy that his wife was finally getting some rest. She was such a perfectionist and worked so hard on those stories of hers. Actually, he had never liked fiction written by female writers. Women always feminized their male characters. But, he had to admit, Cate had talent and he was proud of her.
With a heart full of hope for some emotional respite for his wife, Frank booted up the computer.
“Let’s see. What was the name of that site? Beliefwriters? No that wasn’t it,” he muttered. “Ah ha! There it is.” Frank clicked on the Intermediate level.
Frank’s shout could be heard all the way to the bedroom as his wife flew down the hall with Rainy Day at her heels.
“Second place,” Cate trilled, rapturously. “I’m on my way to Advanced! Wait until M.J. sees this!”
Cate savored the sense of accomplishment and the thrill of seeing the blue ribbon residing proudly at the top of her story.
But Cate’s happy moment was short-lived as she took a close look at the new weekly writing challenge.
“Oh, no,” she wailed. “I will be in Advanced forever…”
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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