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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: Half Child
By Aaron Morrow


“He’s gone. It’s over.”

My mind, still fuzzy from my fourth beer of the evening, tried to grasp the meaning of the words.

“What?” I asked without really needing an explanation, but to stall until I could think clearly.

“Your dad, he…he isn’t coming home…he’s staying with her.” My mother’s voice trailed off to a dark and profoundly isolated corner of her memory.

Silence, born of emotional strain and the anticipation of my response, lay on the line like a rain-soaked blanket.

Her words began to congeal in the pit of my stomach, and rage washed over me. The beer and the blind anger combined, and I prepared to vomit out the words that, in my clouded mind, would obliterate any trace of my stepfa…no…my “former” stepfather, Cliff.

I took a deep breath and willed the words to erupt…

Shpap! I felt the sharp pain ripple across my cheek. Immediately, my mother drew her hand back as though she had touched a flame, as shocked by her action as me. She began to cry.

I was seven at the time, and it was the only time I ever recall my mother lashing out in anger. I remember hearing the ‘Stones’ “Angie” from the Bug’s tinny speakers. I looked at the piece of paper by the emergency brake; it had my name on it with a number next to it.

“Mom, what’s that?”

“It’s a check, honey”

“It’s my money,” I said, as puffed up as a seven year old can get, “give it to me!”

When I was older I realized that paper was a monthly reminder to my mother of a father I would never remember and a husband she would never forget. They were young when they married and I was the treasure of their union. Jay, like so many, never came home from ‘Nam. All my mom had left of him was a Purple Heart, a folded flag and his unmistakable progeny - me.

I later learned from relatives that she lived a bare existence for years while raising me on those checks I was so inclined to claim. I also learned of the terrible compromises of a single mother made for our survival.

And through all the burdens my mother loved me.

After years of subsistence living, my mother met and eventually married Cliff. My mom had once again found love, but we soon found out that Cliff’s family was all about blood kin.

I remember sitting on the patio at a gathering of Cliff’s family, my new family, and listening to the matriarch of the clan counting all of the grandchildren and great grandchildren. And she counted out loud naming each child as she went...”and Rhonda is fourteen, and little Tyler is fifteen…” and she looked at me as I listened intently to find out what number in the sequence I would get….

“…and David…that makes fifteen and one half” she smiled brightly at me as though I should have reveled in her very recognition. At that point, all that went through my mind is “this is my lot in life, to be half a child.”

I looked at my mother who wore the pain of my relative worth to Cliff’s family on her face, and I looked to Cliff expecting him to say something, but his reply was a simple “That’s a lot of rug rats grandma, how do you keep track of them all?”

In an attempt to reclaim my “lost half” I began seeking acceptance in any way I could, with anyone I could. No compromise was too great, no act of depravity too deep.

And through all the pain I inflicted, my mother loved me.

She was forced to watch and weep as I sank into the darkness of pot and sex in my early teens, graduating to cocaine addiction by high school.; as I dropped out of high school and threw away opportunity after opportunity that she never had to go to college; as I committed myself to destroying the very life that she had sacrificed so much for me to have.

And through all the pain I inflicted, my mother loved me.

As suddenly as all of the words to curse Cliff materialized, they vanished. I set down my beer for the very last time and spoke the only words that I could form through the tears:

“I love you, mom. I'll be there soon.”

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This article has been read 531 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 05/03/08
Good story but a bit confusing as you went from past to present. I had to go back and read it again. Good descriptive writing.
Helen Murray05/03/08
What a brave story! What a tribute to a mother's faithfulness to her task!
Patty Wysong05/03/08
Although a little confusing, the message is strong and clear--and what a message it is. It's sad that this happens so often.
Joshua Janoski05/06/08
This was sad and powerful at the same time. Situations like these are all too common nowadays.

I thought your title fit the story perfectly, and I enjoyed your word usage. You have a nice vocabulary of words at your disposal, and you aren't afraid to use them to tell your tale.

Thank you for sharing. This was a good read.
Joy Faire Stewart05/06/08
Your story is so heart wrenching and your writing expresses it so well. I could feel the hurt and disappointment especially being referred to as "half child." You have a gift for writing with emotion.
RuthAnn Cornelson05/06/08
Good story, well written. Your ability to express emotion has made me think of how I have sometimes treated my brother's "step"children. This will make me think a bit more from their POV at family gatherings. Thanks. Good job.
Willena Flewelling 05/06/08
This brings back a few memories. Interestingly enough, my stepfather was also named Cliff, and his mother never considered us three older ones her grandchildren. Only our "half"-sister and "half"-brother received Christmas and birthday gifts from her. She never treated us badly otherwise... we just weren't considered her son's children.
Marlene Austin05/07/08
"my mother who wore the pain of my relative worth" - WOW! Such a play on words. You have a gift of being expressive in a natural way in your writing. I am grateful to be able to read your material, so I can learn from your example. :)
Sara Harricharan 05/07/08
What a sad thought and to be told literally that, "Half a child". So sad. The back and forth POV's require a slow read, but the ending made it better. Nice job. ^_^
Debbie Wistrom05/07/08
So sad to be thought of like this. Wonderful telling of a sad situation. Great job.
Joanne Sher 05/07/08
Very good descriptions, and a great portrayal of the situation. This was very vivid.
Holly Westefeld05/09/08
I concur with the comments above.
After this paragraph, and before returning to the present, a break with *s or -s would help indicate a time change.
"I took a deep breath and willed the words to erupt…"