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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hotel/Motel (09/12/05)

TITLE: Of Mansions and Hotels
By Julianne Jones
09/17/05


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April 1840

Kate threw a withering glance at the man standing at the top of the gangplank, eyeing up the women as they passed. It was because of the likes of him that she was here in the first place.

“Welcome ladies,” he bowed extravagantly, “to the Hotel Surrey. Finest floating hotel in all of England.” The men lined up along the rail laughed at his joke.

Fools, Kate thought, Every one of them.

Careful not to draw unwanted attention, Kate kept her eyes lowered. A hand on her shoulder caused her to freeze but it wasn’t until she saw the Bible held out to her that she looked up into the understanding eyes of a young man. She shook her head. What good was a Bible when she couldn’t even read?

My, my! I heard conditions had improved. Both a surgeon and a religious instructor on board.

*********

February 1985

Sandstone blocks, hand-hewn by convicts and bleached from years in the sun, felt cool beneath my touch. I glanced up at my husband.

“I can’t do this.”

“Yes you can. I’ll be there.”

I shifted my gaze from his face to that of the dark-suited young man approaching.

“Ready?”

“No.”

My husband gently took my hands in both of his.

“She’s ready.”

*********

July 1840

Placing her bundle on the makeshift bed, Kate looked around. A long narrow room with a fireplace at one end was now home to fifty-three women.

The infamous Female Factory. I won’t be here long.

Tomorrow they would be forced to line up: human livestock for the men to inspect and fight over. She had no intention of becoming just any man’s possession.

Perhaps one of the big houses. Or a hotel …

*********

February 1985

Hand beneath my elbow, my husband gently guided me toward the seats reserved for us. I felt like screaming as I acknowledged silently the greetings of relatives.

Oh grandmamma …

*********

September 1840

Kate glanced warily at the tent that was now her home and sighed wearily. They’d erected it close to the soldiers’ barracks - too close.

At least I fare better than the men. They have to sleep chained together outside. I have a tent and a bed. Not that a tent will provide much protection.

*********

February 1985

Taking a deep breath, I looked around. The sun streaming through multi-paned windows set high in sandstone walls cast patterns across the wooden floor, planed smooth after a century of use. Beside each pew, engraved plaques told the story of the church’s history. Faded by time, I could barely make out the names of those on the plaque nearest to us …

Erected to the memory of Samuel and Kate …

*********

January 1841

Kate spun around at the sound of someone approaching. She had learnt to be wary of the slightest sound, the smallest movement. But instead of the soldiers or settlers who usually forced their attentions, she found herself looking into the kindest pair of eyes she had ever seen.

In one hand he held a Bible and, as she shook her head, recognition dawned in his eyes.

*********

February 1985

With a start, I brought myself back to the present.

“… Her favourite passage of Scripture was from the Gospel of John: ‘ In my Father’s house are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you.’* She once told me that dying was like making plans for a vacation: we book ahead to make sure we have secured accommodation at the motel of our choice. Heaven is a little like that. We have to be prepared – we can’t just arrive and expect a place. We must first make a booking and the only way we can do that is through Jesus Christ.”

A smile tugged at my lips: it sounded just like her.

It’s okay, grandmamma, I’ve booked ahead.

*********

September 1843

“I’m afraid it’s all I have to offer you. It’s not the Windsor Hotel.”

Kate looked around the clean, but small, one-roomed hut.

“Perhaps when they’ve finished the church they could –“

Kate placed a finger to Samuel’s lips.

“It’s perfect. I don’t need a mansion.”

*********

April 1985

“She wanted you to have this.”

Brushing the tears away I reached out for the Bible that had been her great-grandmother’s and stared disbelievingly at the inscription on the flyleaf:

To my darling wife, Kate,
Who has a mansion in heaven - John 14:2.
Love Samuel.


*********

* John 14:2 KJV


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This article has been read 984 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Donnah Cole09/19/05
I think there's more to this story that needs to be told and probably if the word limitation was lifted, you would have done so. Unfortunately, I had a really hard time figuring out what was actually taking place here. I was able to understand the familial relationship, but just didn't quite get the setting/location.
Melanie Page09/19/05
I get it and I think it's great, but I agree that it's the basis for a much bigger work. My history is a little shaky on this one, but you were referring to the Female Factory in convict NSW? Is it a true story?
Karen Ward09/19/05
I guess more background would make it an easier read, but I got it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sentimental, a subtle telling of what must have been an horrific journey. I liked the ties to the future.
God Bless, Karen
Jan Ackerson 09/21/05
Beautifully done...the story may be unfamiliar to us Americans, but the beauty of your two parallel stories was very evident.
Debra Brand09/22/05
Write more! Great job!
Alexandra Wilkin09/22/05
It took a paragraph or two to realise that you were telling the grandmothers story in parallel to the grandaughter, but this was excellent and I would love to see you expand this and explore the conditions of the female convicts that were shipped over from Britain. You captured the dialogue wonderfully well in that first paragraph. Lovely, really, really liked this and a personel favourite in this section. God bless.
Anita Neuman09/22/05
I'd love to see this expanded beyond the 750 word limit. You've given us a taste of a great story, and now I want more!
Garnet Miller 09/22/05
I was a bit confused as to what was going on. The parallels were masterfully done, but more background is needed. I was in the dark.
Shari Armstrong 09/23/05
Very well done!!!
Jan Warrick09/24/05
The flashing back and forth is like Ted Dekker writing. It takes some getting used to, but I love that style. You did a good job here. I too would like to see this story in a longer version with more details and history. Great job!
Suzanne R09/25/05
Yes, I agree - excellent work. I too like the parallel stories, although also took a little while to work out where you were going (New Zealand?). I love the way the parallel stories converged. I'd also like to read a fuller version without the word limit.

If you want some constructive feedback, I'd just say that the hotel/motel theme was perhaps slightly forced. Without it, the story would have read just as well. Maybe even better.

But truly, I really loved it. Well done!
Pat Guy 09/25/05
I think it's time to move up dear Juli! Great work!
Deborah Porter 09/27/05
Julianne, being an Aussie, I knew exactly where you were going, but as one commenter said, the connection with hotels was a bit loose. That did have an impact on your rating. Also, my brain was going into overload trying to work out the chronology. If Kate was alive in 1840 (and at least in her late teens), then it's unlikely that her granddaughter would be alive in 1985 - unless she was very old... and the way it was written didn't quite strike me that way. But again, being an Aussie, of convict stock myself, I liked the story. With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)