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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)

TITLE: Red-y for a Change
By Marc Smith


Anger. Extreme anger. My very short and volatile temper had been a weakness of mine since I was a small child. Apparently some things never change. My mother used to warn me, “That temper of yours is going to land you in big trouble one day if you don’t learn to control it.” Boy was she right.

It was a fairly typical Friday night for me. My friends and I were getting together to “throw-back” a few drinks and play a little poker. My best friend, Patrick, and I were stopping off at the store before the festivities to pick up a few drinks, when something happened that changed my life forever.

“An ‘excuse me’ would be nice,” demanded a low gruff voice.

The command originated from a rather large burly man who was entering the store as we were leaving. We had bumped shoulders passing through the door as I was leaving and he was coming in.

“Pardon me?” I inquired in my standard condescending tone.

“Typically, when someone runs into someone else, an apology is customary,” he reiterated.

“How about I give you a …” my sentence was cut short by the feel of Patrick’s hand on my shoulder, stopping my progression toward my antagonist.

“Remember what your probation officer said about the next time you get in trouble, Jack”, Patrick gently reminded.

He was right, it wasn’t worth it. All I had to do was turn around and walk away. I had every intention of doing that until…

“That’s right, listen to your buddy and hit the road, Jack,” the man sneered.

That was all it took. The next thing I remember, the stranger was laying on the ground, blood streaming from his head, with the pulsing of ambulance lights filling the once empty street.

The next image was one I hoped to never see and hope I never see again. It was the picture of my mother standing solemnly on the outside of the ominous gray bars of my holding cell, hands folded in front of her, with a look of loving disappointment on her face that only a mother could give. The roar of the cell door sliding open reverberated off the cold dank walls as my mom strolled gracefully to my side, sat down on the cot next to me, and gently took my hand.

Without lifting her head she simply stated, “It’s time to change, Jackson.”

Her voice was soft and comforting, but the urgency and authority in it were inescapable.

“Mom, I not in the...” my sentence was cut short by her finger tips on my mouth.

“This time you are going to listen to me. For years I have watched and prayed while you threw your life away with this temper and attitude. Today I prayed specifically that God would bring you to a place where your need for him would be very clear. I believe he has answered that prayer, and he has been preparing your heart for this night, Jack.”

For the first time since she entered the cell she looked from the floor and her tear filled eyes met mine with a passion that made me turn away. She tenderly reached out and turned my face back to hers.

“Contentment and peace can only be found at the cross of Christ, Jack; you know that. And the only way to the cross is recognizing your need for a Savior. Well look around you, son, you killed a man. Whether you meant to or not, you killed him, and the only one who can help you now is God. He wants to help you. He sent his Son to die so that he could help you.”

She was right, and I did know it. Suddenly it all became very clear. God had been working in my life to bring me to this place and show me without a doubt that I needed him. I broke down and sobbed for what felt like hours. Right there in that dark little cell, clinging to my mother’s hand, I submitted my life in service to God.

So now, here I am, sitting in a court room awaiting a sentence to a crime for which I am completely responsible, but glorying in the fact that I am forgiven and loved by God. That’s my life’s story. Once driven by insatiable anger, now wrapped in unconditional love. I guess you can say I went from seeing red, to being covered by it.

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This article has been read 333 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sylvia Brown10/09/09
Vrey Good!
Jan Ackerson 10/10/09
The first half of this was excellent and really drew me in.

I wonder if it'd be more compelling to end with the mother telling Jack what she prayed, and then leaving, for Jack to come to his own realization. If you scrapped the last few paragraphs, you could work more on the opening story, which is excellent. Then you can allow your readers to draw the inevitable conclusion.

Very good writing skills--thanks for this strong entry!
Mark Bell10/11/09
This would make an excellent longer work. Lots of room for expansion and development. And, at the same time, it is a strong, stand alone story as is. Nicely done. One suggestion, where the build up for the story is so much of the story, try to put a little more in the resolution and wrap-up. No question though, this was a very strong piece.
Colin Swann10/13/09
Really thought this was a good solid entry. Hope to be able to enjoy more of this interesting writing from you. Colin
Laury Hubrich 10/14/09
Great message. Wonderful job.
Loren T. Lowery10/14/09
Nice and taughtly written. The prayer of a mother can be very effectual it seems, what happens to the recipient of those prayers depends on his/her own free will. Here, it seems, the MC definitely made the right choice.
Aaron Morrow10/14/09
Very strong entry. One of those stories which suffers somewhat under the 750 word rule because it seems like, as other commenters have mentioned, there is so much more in the underlying story which would have increased its connection and depth. As a previous commenter mentioned, the story may have benefitted from a little more detail and history on the MC and perhaps less closure. It seemed a little too "neatly" wrapped for the obviously "messed up" MC. Regardless, the writing was very tight and very promising, I look forward to more!
Joy Faire Stewart10/14/09
Excellent opening paragraph drawing the reader into the story. I found the story compelling and thoughtfully written.
Pamela Kliewer10/14/09
Very compelling story. Well done.