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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Expose (08/22/13)

TITLE: The Hidden
By Mike Newman


In rural Colorado, on a stretch of land where people with money pay handsomely to ensure other people with money are at a respectable distance, sits a home framed in timber atop a pine-clad hill. This crown of forty fenced acres brings an abrupt end to a drive that switches and slides up the slope. Wrapped around the home like a low-slung belt is a cedar porch, with carved rockers on either end as its twin revolvers. Great mahogany double doors open to a brief hall, revealing a sweeping staircase with polished rails and walnut risers.

Above are eight rooms, seven with thresholds that only the housekeeper crosses. The exception that William sits in is as dark and lush as the lips of a forbidden lover. His leather club chair turned to a stone fireplace that crackles and pops as it slow burns Rocky Mountain birch logs readied last fall. Firelight sends shadows dancing across vivid landscapes hung frameless along the walls. Windows closed and drapes drawn to stay the scent of pine and distant wildfire, he presses his bare feet into the cool hide of a bear-skin rug. Watching all of this, because William cannot, is the mounted head of a buffalo. An endless stare through eyes of glass.

Best disease ate his sight, giving him the same glass eyes that now peer down on him. When it found him as a child it chewed away his central vision first, leaving him in an outlined world that refused to reveal the already-eaten middle meat. During the few years before it took more (his affliction was a greedy thing, not satisfied with its initial portion, but returning for another meal) he was always darting his head around, positioning what he wanted to see so that his sideways vision would catch it. At the time, being limited to the peripheral had so frustrated him that he often wished it had taken all of his sight in one big bite. Now, his desire granted, he scorns the fool that he was.

His affluence has surrounded him with all of life's finest, but the appetite of the thing behind his eyes has robbed him of exposure to it.

The door opens and he hears his wife, who he has never seen, come to his side.

"Aren't you hot?" Margaret asks, kneeling beside him and laying a hand on his knee. "Your legs are burning up."

"Chilly evening."

"But its June."

"Yes it is."

When depressed, which is more often than not the last few years, he is curt and borderline rude with her. He knows this hurts her, and the guilt that it brings only serves to sink him deeper into his funk. She is about to play out her part in what has become a Sunday evening ritual; a routine that agitates him at the thought of its coming.

"Why don't you come with me to the evening service? Daryl will be speaking and you've always thought of him as a decent man." Margaret withdraws her hand as she asks, and he recognizes this too as part of the weekly act. He knows that she is bracing herself for his rejection, that it is easier for her to take if she is not touching him.

"I have zero interest in what is being said down there, by Daryl or anyone else."

She looks away, into the deep glow of the fire, with a wistful smile and tired eyes ... or so he imagines. In his mind's eye he sees every line and angle of her face, knows each expression that plays out on her lips. He can see her break slowly into a laugh or close her eyes and ready herself for a cry. Knowing that what he sees and what she is really like are two very different things stokes the furnace of his depression.

"You really don't see the beauty that is all around you, do you?" she asks.

William only stares with his dead eyes.

"This stuff around us, that I get to look at, that you have spent barrels of money acquiring, is exactly that ... stuff. The real deal, the stuff of eternal consequence, is what I have been trying for years to expose you to, and you don't need your eyes to see it."

He hears her move behind the chair, feels her hands on his shoulders. "William, God has taken your eyes, but won't you come with me ... and see?"

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This article has been read 382 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 08/30/13
Wow - this was so powerful! The last line really got to me. Excellent piece!

God bless~
Judith Gayle Smith09/02/13
Beautifully expressed. Tragic, the blindness that replaces the wonder, and the refusal to regain the wonder, preferring to remain in darkness. Heartbreaking, to gain the world - and have nothing.
Noel Mitaxa 09/02/13
You have very skilfully built the atmosphere of tension, with the last line hurtling out of the screen with zinger force. This should rate extremely well.
Virgil Youngblood 09/02/13
The excellent descriptions, story flow and "gotcha" ending made this an enjoyable read. You didn't have the word count to play with but I wondered about the source of the MC's wealth, if his depression had persisted since childhood, and how he had obtained such a darling wife; all the back story. You made me want to know and that is the sign of a good writer. Well done.
Samantha Arroyo 09/03/13
Breathtaking. You have such a way with words - every thought was crafted beautifully. The ending was so convicting. LOVE it.
lynn gipson 09/03/13
I echo the "Wow!" Excellent writing here. Thanks for a well descriptive story that grabs the attention. Blessings...
Bea Edwards 09/03/13
Just stunning! I was held enraptured by your storytelling skills. I can see this a the prologue to a great novel.
Ellen Carr 09/04/13
This story is skillfully and beautifully told. It had the 'must-keep-reading' power that made it a great piece of writing. Very well done indeed!
lynn gipson 09/05/13
Congratulations on your very well deserved 1st place win and EC! Now you can move up to Advanced and blow my socks off in passing me! So happy for you!
C D Swanson 09/05/13
Congratulations! God bless~
Yvonne Blake 09/05/13
Congratulations on your EC! I love the descriptions and the atmostphere and, of course, the great ending. Keep up the good work!
Linda Goergen09/05/13
Congratulations Mike on your well deserved 1st place level and EC win! You are definitely a word artist! This story certainly fits the old saying “There is none so blind as those that will not see.” Great job!
Charla Diehl 09/05/13
I was captured from the opening sentence to the conclusion of this intriguing piece. The MC was a prisoner in a jail he created--loved the punchline at the end. You leave the reader hanging as to what his decision was--did he go. Maybe a sequel will be answering our questions.
Congratulations on winning in your level and making the EC list.
Noel Mitaxa 09/05/13
Congratulations on your win, which is so well deserved. You are destined for many more wins, as God blesses you and others in the growth of your writing ministry.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/05/13
Congratulations! Happy Dance!!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/05/13
Wow this is a powerful story. You did a wonderful job with your descriptions. I especially liked the line where peopel with money...It says a lot. For me personally, I think some of the landscaping was overdone. Once I met your MC I was totally pulled into the story and eager to read more about him. It's hard to put so much into only 750 words. Your message is an intense one and I'm delighted to see you moving up the ranks so quickly. You have been a wonderful breath of fresh air and I enjoy reading your work.