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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)

TITLE: The Promise
By Jim Hall


The black and white cruiser slipped away and out of sight like a hearse offering finality to all hope and promise. Her son was on board.

How could this have happened?

He had hit his mother, his own mother. What son would do such a thing? He had done it before, but, that was years ago and he was just a toddler. She had read the books; the experts had assured her that he would grow out of it. Don’t confront, be positive.

He had kept hitting. It was cute. It was funny.

It wasn’t funny now.

The officer said that he had robbed a store. That he had injured the clerk. Could her son have done that? Surely not. He had stolen before. When Mom said no but he really wanted that toy. He took it. She didn’t punish, she explained. It was embarrassing.

It was humiliating now.

School attendance had become a rarity. He just wouldn’t go. When he did she often received a call. What had he done now? He had skipped before. He was so young. She talked. She begged. She tried to make him understand. She reasoned but wouldn’t chasten. It was just a phase. It was irritating.

It was serious now.

The names that he called her, the horrible things he said. He cursed her. He spat on her as he yelled. It wasn’t the first time. It had started when he was but a child. He needed to express himself, that’s what the books had said. Don’t hinder his expression. It was startling.

It was shocking now.

What was that in his pocket? What did the policeman find? A baggie? Drugs? How could that be? She had taught him better. She had warned him of the dangers. It could kill, didn’t he remember? She had found something in his pockets before. They were only cigarettes. He explained that they weren’t his, that they belonged to a friend. She had believed him. Now she wondered; were they?

Reality bit deep.

Why did the officers have to be so rough? They had used a tazer. Was that necessary? Couldn’t they have just redirected his defiance? That’s what the PHDs had said. She could nearly always make him comply. When he was young it was easier. Just offer some candy or a trip to the park. Now she would offer money, or use of the car. It worked; he would do what she wanted. The preacher had said to use a rod. She never would. Her way was better.

Now she wept.

His hair was long, eyebrows pierced. His pants hung low, held up by his hand. Posters filled the walls of his room. Rap was the music of choice. She made sure it was only the good kind.

The other parents at church didn’t allow such things, not even earrings on their sons. Didn’t they realize that they must allow freedom? Allow them to be their own person? Surely they are stifling their creativity. She would never do that. She knew better. She could turn to the page number where this truth was taught. After all, it was written by a professional.

The cruiser as gone, all was again quiet. She walked into the empty house and sat on the empty couch. There was no rap music playing. There was no yelling. Nothing was being thrown and the sting in her cheek would soon fade. Hopeless tears slid down her face and she wrapped her arms around her stomach as an empty shield against the pain.

As she lifted her eyes they fell on a bulging bookshelf. Two full sections boasted the knowledge that had brought her to this day. They were written by the very best authors. They had the answers.

Slowly her gaze shifted downward to lone leather cased Bible sitting forlornly on the coffee table. She thought of a promise, she had quoted it many times. It had gotten her through the darkest of days. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Could she still hold to that promise?

Her face fell into her hands as the answer exploded in her heart. “Train up a child…”

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This article has been read 540 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Wistrom01/10/08
Ooh, how my heart aches for this mother. Thanks for the courage to tell this tale. Send this off, many people need to hear this message.
Temple Miller01/10/08
Powerful story. Good choice in seperating the periods of time with the one sentence paragraphs. You made the story easy to follow and the sections flowed well. Nice work!
Jan Ackerson 01/11/08
Oh, excellent, just excellent!
Marita Vandertogt01/11/08
Great format - great story - excellent writing - and a powerful message - you pretty much have the whole package here.
Terry Ann Stevens01/17/08
How I wish I could write this on the heart of every young mother in the world, starting with my own daughter! What a great story.
Joanne Sher 01/18/08
Congratulations, Jim, on placing first in your level. By the way, your entry also was 39th overall. Great job!
Daneda Heppner01/20/08
This article has a powerful impact. The short sentences between paragraphs helped maintain the emotion and move the piece along. I wonder how it would affect people who have tried to raise their children the "right way" but still have them turn out badly?