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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas Gifts (11/13/08)

TITLE: A Gift of Hope...
By Misti Chancellor


Jean stood by the window and shivered as she looked out on the frozen winter scene. All along the street Christmas lights twinkled against the white blanket of snow. The ice-laden tree branches sparkled ominously in the gray winter dawn. With a shudder, she stepped away from the window and curled up on the couch. Tears pricked her eyes as she thought about the dream that had startled her awake half an hour ago. “Dad,” she whispered, “I miss you so much. I worry about you, alone, out there who knows where. You just weren’t the same after Mom died and you lost your job 3 months ago. Oh, Dad… where are you?” Tears fell in earnest as she rested her head on her knees. “God, you know where he’s at. You know how he’s doing. You know what’s happening with him. Please, please, PLEASE, give him the gift of hope…”


John Robertson’s hand trembled as he held the pen. Wads of paper were scattered around the room, evidence of his frustration. Tears dropped on the pages, smearing the ink. He gritted his teeth, his knuckles white as he tried to form the words. “Oh, honey… how can I do this to you?” An agonized groan slipped from between his lips as his head dropped forward onto the desk. He lay there for a long time, his sobs echoing in the dark room. He stood, pacing, restless. He reached, then reconsidered, and then reached again, only to pause. He balled his hands into fists in frustration, willing himself to reach out again. Trembling hands held the gun. He looked and then quickly set it down, only to be drawn back to the only solution he could see to the problem. Turning, he stumbled back to the desk, and picked up the letter. “Honey, I don’t know what else to do. I miss your mother so much, and I feel like such a failure. As hard as I’ve tried, no one wants me. There’s no job… no future… no hope… and I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore. I wish there was some way out, but I feel so alone. Please forgive me. Love always… your dad.” The paper crumpled beneath his fingers. “No!! I can’t do this,” he thought, and trembling fingers touched cold metal.

The phone rang. John turned and listened as the answering machine came on and played through to the beep. “Hi! This is David Jacobs. I’m trying to reach John Robertson about a job he applied for a month ago. We’ve been sorting through the applications, and we believe that he qualifies for the job. We’d like to set up a time for an interview…”

The gun clanked against the floor as a tiny flicker of hope welled up and cut through the darkness of John’s despair.

**Note: For many people, the holiday season is not one of joy, but one of despair, and this is especially true in hard economic times. Take time to reach out, care, and instill hope in those around you. It may save someone’s life.

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This article has been read 458 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Cox11/20/08
Very good story....you created good tension holding my attention and it is definitely a truth that this time of year is a tough time for many.
Marlene Austin11/23/08
Very clear descriptions of the emotions felt by the MC. IMHO, the author's note was unnecessary and left the reader with "the author's message", rather than letting the story relate the message. :)
Marita Vandertogt11/23/08
Wow - very powerful writing - you bring the reader right into the father's despair. Excellent job!
Catrina Bradley 11/24/08
The emotions of both characters are wonderfully portrayed. I'm left with a sense of awe at the power of prayer.
Teresa Lee Rainey11/26/08
Wonderful job of making your characters real. The message in their story was powerful all on it's own.
Marijo Phelps11/26/08
Powerful writing! The other side of christmas for many. How about a sequel?
Loren T. Lowery11/26/08
Hope is indeed the greatest gift we can offer one another. Your story illustrates this beautifully, powerfully. Than-you for writing it!