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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Like a Fish Out of Water (10/24/13)

TITLE: Getting Along Swimmingly . . .
By Judith Gayle Smith


We were raised to be scrubbed clean virtuous in thought and action, shunning deviant magazines, all things pornographic, hating the contamination but not the one who contaminates. Soap and water at the ready for "potty mouth."

Our frightening father, when he died at age thirty-six, left behind a small fortune in Child Pornography magazines. Mother burned every last one of them in the incinerator. We small girls drowned in her tears.

I didn't understand why mom cried so much, why she put up with daddy's womanizing, drinking and beatings. I know she didn't believe in divorce when children are involved. She wouldn't partake of the drinking, and could ill endure the physical and emotional abuse. Swimming in a sea of lust and booze, our daddy was.

My older sister is still frightened of men.

I vowed I'd never marry someone who could hurt me so much.

Mom remarried daddy's best friend, my sister's godfather, because she didn't want us vulnerable young girls to grow up without a father. Mom had sadly endured her parents' divorce because of her father's adultery when she was a impressionable and confused nine-year-old child. Still waters deeply run.

Too young to understand, I didn't know why mom became terribly agitated to find men's magazines with centerfolds smuggled into our home. When our new dad started fondling us girls, we became confused and angry. Dad tried to swear us to secrecy, telling us how much it would hurt mom if she knew. Threatening to call the police and tell Mom when she returned home from grocery shopping quickly calmed those very troubled waters.

I became extremely wary of men I could not read.

My first marriage proposal was off-handedly suggested by an inconsiderate young man who had his eye on our dad's trucking business. Flunk. He was my determined, handsome escort to both our Junior and Senior proms. He found someone else willing to marry him, and word came to me that he was that most miserable of loathsome wretches, a wife beater. Close call. Several years later she intelligently divorced him and he came calling. We had dinner at Knott's Berry Farm, and I lost my contact lens in the soup du jour. He then took me for drinks and dancing. The Polka. I couldn't Polka. He arm twisted me to the dance floor totally against my will. I turned him down the second time. Threw him back in the dating pond.

I drowned hopelessly in love when I turned twenty-two. To a man I met in church who did not use me as an object of his lust, who treated me like the perfect lady I yearned to be. We married four years later. Still a virgin after four years of wedded "bliss", I was frustatingly untouched physically, desperately gasping like the proverbial fish out of water emotionally. We had a true pathological-symbiotic relationship, he needed, and I needed to be needed. Mentally we communicated swimmingly, but were oceans apart spiritually and physically. I floundered helplessly . . .

I took an unbelievable flying leap the following year, 1973, running away to the wilds of Canada in a Ford Van driven by a dark "Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights-type" brooding health nut hippie who made Elvis Presley look positively anemic. Surprisingly, we met through my parents. I was, I thought, throwing my life away, giving myself to a man who had seven hundred pounds of grains and nuts in Boaz, his van. But God had made other plans. He kindled a sympathetic beingness of the two of us. We grew to love each other with Jesus as our Center. His Living Water is warm, welcoming and comforting.

We are now aging grace-filled because of Him. We anticipate being the blessed Koi of His Pond. Actually, there is nothing fishy about this. We have finally found Whose, What and Where our true Home is, and therefore we have chosen His fishbowl to splash in happily ever after . . .

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This article has been read 241 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Danielle King 11/04/13
Good heavens above! You've certainly had a lot of disturbing life experiences to draw upon for the topic. Your detailed portrayal of the characters leaves nothing to the imagination, but I had to smile at the end paragraph. I pray you'll be happy splashing in God's fishbowl ever after. Don't forget the swimsuit! Great writing.
CD Swanson 11/04/13
Wow! If this is a true account of your life, I can only say once again, God had his hands on you to bring you through it all!

Your story had my stomach in an upheaval as I read all that you've gone through, but smiled at the end when you finally found "your pond to swim in" happily ever after.

Thank you for sharing this emotional story.

God bless~
Virgil Youngblood 11/04/13
A well written memoir. One small stumble for me: was there a divorce or annulment in your marriage just prior to 1973? A little clarity here would remove that question. Thanks for sharing such personal memories.
Sarah Elisabeth 11/05/13
You covered a great deal of territory on a difficult topic in a short span. Good job not jumbling things together. You gave just enough in each frame before moving on.

I did feel like I was drowning a bit by midpoint with all the water metaphors. I know it's easy to do when you're writing to a topic, but trimming a few back will make them all more meaningful.

Good job, keep writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/05/13
You really packed a lot of details into only 750 words. You definitely held my attention from beginning to end.

You may want to consider focusing on just one or two of the stories so you can do it justice. It was a bit hard to jump from scene to scene. Also try not to use as many of the topic words. A lot of people are taking the topics literally, instead of the implied meaning of being uncomfortable in your surroundings.

You really connected with me. I could feel the pain of the MC and wanted to reach through the page and hold her tight. You were open and honest with a difficult subject. Good job!
Steve McClure 11/06/13
A sobering story. It definitely held my attention. Nice job of presenting (and resolving) a personal tragedy. And God bless.