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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)

TITLE: Away!
By Catherine Craig


For her, Time hangs in the balance.

She can’t fathom her good fortune. He’s forgotten it – the key. Enticing, suspended from its hook, beckoning, daring her.

She looks at the clock. Only ten minutes. What if he comes back – early?

What if she never gets another chance?

Her mind; working now, hadn’t earlier. Words – eerily floating in and out of her consciousness – had been disjointed, incoherent, not connecting. Something had snapped.

She can't take it anymore. She can't take him anymore.

A cough from the other room tears her from her feverish thoughts. Tiptoeing, peeking in, and at the sight, tears brim and spill over. She runs her tongue along her lips, tasting their saltiness, flicking them away, desperate to gain control. Three children – her children recovered now from strep throat – eyes glued to the television, rest, oblivious of her turmoil.

No time.

The hour and minute hand, like two soldiers standing at attention, mock her; the second hand sweeping time forward. Tick-tick. Tick-tock. Phone on the table where she’d last set it. Lists, phone numbers called in anguish – asking, begging for answers. All pointing to the same feat – “Leave,” they’d said.


She looks down, places her palm softly against her tummy – so small, so helpless, so innocent, unaware. Safe.

The key. Taunting, wooing her.

Her breath catches. Time stands still. “Run!” something inside of her screams. Reaching out, fingers closing around the cool metal surface. Grasped tightly now, its edges bite into the palm of hand. Slipped from its hook.

Panic. Run!

Door clicks behind her – key in ignition. Heart racing; the taste of bile as the engine roars to life, then backing up. Fear – more fear than she’s ever felt. Almost there – keep going – she tells herself.

What if?

“My babies!” she gasps out loud. A blanket of pain like a thick black shroud takes her breath away. When she can breathe again, she whispers, “I’ll be back – I promise – to get you!”


Right food hits the gas pedal. Tires against pavement squeal. Almost there – almost to freedom – still no sign of him. Hysteria. “Help me!” she prays. Mouth forms words, but no sound. “Help me, please!”

Out of the parking lot. Cheeks flood with warmth, lips dry. She jerks the steering to the right, and car obeys, taking her away, away from pain, away from betrayal, away with baby.


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This article has been read 342 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Judith Gayle Smith02/24/13
Very disturbing. So much turmoil, fear and anguish. The ending was not satisfactory for those who anticipate happy endings. Beautifully written.
C D Swanson 02/24/13
Wow...this was intense from start to finish. You truly did a great job of depicting a "turmoil" within the MC as the internal dialogue is exquisitely detailed. The racing of thoughts and the desperate feeling is evident in this whole piece. Brilliant writing.

God bless~
Catherine Craig 02/24/13
Thank you.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/26/13
Wow this is such a powerful piece. It really drew me in and I could feel my heart pounding. I wasn't sure about the style at first, but it didn't take me long to realize I liked the almost poetic feel and it added to the drama.

The only red ink I have is with some of the punctuation. You may want to get a book like Strunk's element of style to help sort out the rules of the semi-colon and em dashes.

I think this was a great take on the topic and it held my attention from beginning to end. I also liked the open ending, where you allow the reader to decide if she made it back to rescue the other children. Nicely done--riveting.
Alicia Renkema02/27/13
This was great, riveting ; heart pounding story telling. My heart is still racing... I will say that this story was not good for my blood pressure or heart rate. But it was excellent writing as it kept me on the edge of my seat. Boy do i hope those other kids stay safe and are rescued soon. All I could think was, if she was that afraid of this man, how could she leave her children there with him? That was the only thing that bothered me, but I realize that #1 it happens, and maybe she needed to leave to get help for them. I hope so.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/28/13
I just wanted to leave another comment. I try not to read comments before I leave my feedback to help me judge it without bias. It seems some were disturbed by the ending, but often women may have to leave the kids behind. She stood little chance of helping the kids if her husband killed her. You made it clear that this was likely her only opportunity to escape. The baby in utero was in imminent danger so she needed to protect that child, while praying God will watch over the other three until help arrives. This is a powerful piece for domestic abuse and the choice women must make everyday. The ending leaves the reader with an uncomfortable feeling and hopefully that will help drive the message home and keep it in our minds. A happy ending doesn't always happen in the world and I think it would be easier for people to dismiss your awesome message if it were wrapped up in a bow. This is just my opinion, but I wanted to share it. God bless. :-)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/28/13
Congratulations in ranking 8th in level two!
Catherine Craig 03/09/13
The story is true, and for the young mother in question, there was a happy ending. For the children - in that situation - there were serious complications. But, in each of their lives, they will all testify of the grace of God and how He brought them through. The unborn child survived, and she grew up to be a joy and delight, a new beginning.