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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Escape (01/02/06)

TITLE: A Brief Escape
By Venice Kichura


“Herman escaped!" Eight-year-old Robbie squealed to his grandmother who was in the kitchen, packing his lunch and brewing her morning coffee.

Sally Watson was still exhausted from last night. After helping her grandsons with their homework and refereeing squabbles, she was so spent she’d fallen into bed with her house dress still on.

Following her grandson into his bedroom, she stared at the wide-opened hamster cage, as Robbie cried and pointed….. “Nana, Chad let Herman out, again…I’m gonna KILL my brother!”

“Too late---Chad’s already boarded the middle school bus….And, not before my morning coffee,” she muttered, half-asleep.

Blasted rodent! How come he gets to escape while I’m still trapped in this house? I should be carefree at my age….Travelin’….Not raisin’ kids, again….Too old for this job…….!

Just as Herman, she felt trapped and wanted out.

Stooping down to her freckled-face grandson, she looked squarely into his tear-stricken blue eyes and comforted him, “I’m sorry about Herman. But we’ll have to catch him later.”

Then, she shot her bifocals down her nose, meaning business. “You have to go to school now….Better hurry or you’ll miss your bus.”

Robbie stared into her time-worn face, grabbed his backpack, and cast one longing gaze at the empty hamster cage. He left, refusing her hug. With his face to the ground, he trudged to the end of the driveway as his bus chugged down the street.

Meanwhile, Sally went back into the kitchen and whispered a prayer for Herman to crawl back into his cage. She also prayed both boys would stay out of trouble. It wasn’t easy raising two hyperactive boys. Especially when you’re 64 years old and alone.

The boys’ mother, her drug-addicted daughter, Ellie, was at a Christian drug treatment center. Sally had taken in her two grandsons so they wouldn’t become wards of the state. Praying daily for her daughter, she was growing weary….and doubtful. Just as she hadn’t heard from her daughter, she also hadn’t heard from God and wondered if He heard her prayers.

But at least, for now, she was alone, at last! Aww…..The sweet sound of silence…Except for the soft rumbling of an escaped hamster climbing through her kitchen pipes.

“If you’re smart you’ll get out of this house and never come back!” Sally yelled through the wall, tackling a sink of dirty dishes.

Sally had been saving her widow’s pension checks to travel with the Keenagers, a group of young-at-heart seniors. They’d been planning a bus trip to Canada when school was out. She desperately needed a break, but didn’t know what to do with the boys.

And, recently, she’d been reading some steamy romance novels and entertaining thoughts of finding a charming, older gentleman, running away and never coming back. It was her escape from her stressed-out life, although she knew the novels didn’t glorify God.

The ringing of her cell phone broke through her thoughts.

Recognizing the number she answered, “Good morning, Christy.” It was her next door neighbor, a young mother and pastor’s wife.

Christy was frantic. “Sally! Charley’s choking---You know the Heimlich maneuver!”

“Coming!” Sally said, flying to Christy’s house.

Sally grabbed the small child and gave his upper abdomen a swift upward thrust, as he coughed up a marble.

Picking up her toddler, the young mother, still quivering, cried, “You saved his life! How can I ever repay you?” She clung to her little three-year-old son, holding him as if she’d never let go.

Later, calming down over coffee, Christy said, “God has put you and the boys on my heart, Sally….I was going to ask you if your grandsons would like to take advantage of scholarships to attend The King’s Kids’ Kamp when school’s out.”

Sally couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. “That would be awesome…..Thank you!” God is hearing my prayers.she thought, hugging Christy.

Once home, her phone rang, again. Through tears, her daughter, Ellie shared how she’d found Jesus and was graduating from the Christian drug rehabilitation program next month. Overwhelmed with gratitude, Sally was speechless, and then chatted for an hour.

No more trashy novels…I’m getting into God’s Word, again, She vowed, bowing her head as she hung up the kitchen phone.

Walking back into Robbie’s room, Sally stared into the hamster cage where Herman had returned, happily, churning on his wheel....She slammed the cage door and did her own happy hamster dance.

Thankfully, it was only a brief escape.

And so was hers. They had both come back home.

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This article has been read 1016 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 01/09/06
An enchanting, heartbreaking story that is so true to life...and very well written!

I was moved to tears...but God does answer Knee-Mail!..and even Herman returned. A very Nice Read!
Thank you.
Michelle Burkhardt01/09/06
Wonderful, touching story. I loved how the Hamster came back. We all need to come back now and then. Great Job.
Anita Neuman01/14/06
You portrayed your character's feelings very well - and the comparison to the hamster was great! I think your ending was a little too pat, but I know that word limit really makes it tricky. Good work, though.
Linda Watson Owen01/14/06
Charmingly real! A delight to read! (That must have been my 'cousin' Sally! haha!)
Kenny Blade01/18/06
I really enjoyed this. I like the fact that I could "see" what I was reading. You are a great painter. I also don't really know what a "pat" ending is. It ended the way you wanted it to... and you are, after all, the author. I look forward to reading more of your work.