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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Enter (02/27/06)

TITLE: The Road to Freedom
By Deanna Wessel



There must be some kind of mistake. The simple instruction summons me, scratched with a black crayon on a piece of torn cardboard. The makeshift sign hangs askew, moving back and forth with the slightest breeze. Tied to a gnarly old wood post with a piece of frayed and dirty twine, it dangles unevenly. The marker stands next to the practically hidden entrance of an obscure footpath, nearly covered with twisted vines.

The gentleman from town told me to come this way—the man with the bright, dancing eyes and infectious smile. The man with the gentle spirit and kind heart had used his finger to draw a map for me in the dust. He’d found the road to Freedom and told me how to find it too. He said he’d traveled on it a great distance and had come back to tell others where to find it.

I carefully followed his directions. Go to the end of Main Street, turn right onto Side Street, and walk three blocks. Turn left on the pathway just beyond Mrs. Timmons flower garden. I did all that. I’ve gone exactly where the man said to go. He promised that the road to Freedom was here on the left, about fifty feet beyond the lower garden gate.

There must be some kind of mistake. This can’t be the right road. In fact, it doesn’t look like a road at all. It’s more like a narrow dirt path worn over the years by people or animals walking on it one at a time—single file—through the grass. It doesn’t appear to be an even path, as far as I can tell. It starts off smooth enough, but soon dips into a little valley just beyond the tall grasses and winds aimlessly through an unkempt meadow. If I squint I can barely see where the path crosses to a rocky hillside just as it meets the horizon. Is that someone in the distance, walking toward the rocks?

Something must be wrong. Surely this can’t be the road to Freedom. Where is everyone? I’d imagined there’d be hundreds, if not thousands of pilgrims headed for the distant village called Freedom. I’d expected to see a paved concrete boulevard, smooth and wide, with plenty of room to travel beside fellow seekers. Why was the path so narrow and the entrance virtually hidden? Wouldn’t it be easier to find if there was a map with a giant arrow showing “You Are Here?”

Scratching my head, I decide to go back to the bench by the garden gate. I’ll just sit and take in the view for a while…wait for someone else to come along. I really hadn’t planned on heading out for Freedom all alone.

Come to think of it, there are too many things left undone back at my house. Laundry sits piled nearly to the sky and dirty dishes crowd the kitchen sink. My checkbook needs to be reconciled and a trip to the market wouldn’t be a bad idea. Truthfully, I don’t really have time to wait for someone to join me on a journey through uncharted lands…and I’m sure the quaint hamlet of Freedom isn’t all it’s cracked-up to be anyway. Maybe I’ll go another day.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Val Clark03/10/06
Well done! Your character had a distinct 'voice' that remained consistent throughout the story and your description gave me a strong sense of the place your character was in - very visual. Your thumb nail sketch of the old man was just enough to make him real. So sad, isn't it, that the path to Freedom is often not explored for the most inane reasons. yeggy
Jan Ackerson 03/10/06
A beautiful and sad allegory, written with a deft touch. I like the present tense, which is difficult to pull off. Bravo!
Helen Paynter03/10/06
This must be a winner. Beautifully written, and a surprising ending. It reminds me of my friend who like your characer,is just too busy and pre-occupied to follow the road to Freedom. Etrnally tragic.
Lynda Schultz 03/10/06
Excellent description. Sad but true that so many people put off entering because they don't like the looks of the entrance, the prospects of the journey, or figure that there is still plenty of time to do it "later". Well done.
T. F. Chezum03/10/06
Well written. It is sad and true that many have turned back because they do not like what the path looks like.
c clemons03/12/06
Liked this up to the last paragraph. Instead of a choose life or death, heaven or hell scenario, the last paragraph made it seem trivial like "freedom or what should I cook for dinner tonight?" Anyway that's what I thought. You are a good writer though.
Andre Kingston03/14/06
I thought this was quite well done. Not only are so many people like this about present life adventures, but even more are like this about their future life adventures. This is also how Mariam was about Jesus' visit. He was there and she was busy cleaning. (Not sure I would be different, but...) I saw a comment that this piece left the choice a little too trivialized, but I found it accurate from many people's point of view. Only for the grace of God, it is not accurate in mine.

I think though, the person could have done a little more wavering from I should go to I shouldn't go. I mean "There are those dirty dishes, but road to freedom" instead of a steady talking oneself out of it. Or maybe have the narrator walk down the path a bit, then turn back.

It is powerful as is and I probably should leave it at that. Thank you for sharing.