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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)

TITLE: And then ...
By Tim George


Faces, distorted and unfamiliar, kept fading in and out of Angela’s field of vision. Garbled sounds, like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon, filled her head with an indistinct roar. Flashing images of plastic bags, metal rods, and various unidentified objects passed by in a dizzying hodge-podge of colors.

“What is happening to me? Someone please help!” More confusion arose as Angela realized her words made perfect sense as they left her mind but returned to her as more garbled noise. Her thoughts bounced around in her mind like ping-pong balls dropped to a concrete floor rattling to a stop in random places.

A face suddenly popped into her field of vision and she screamed. But no one heard. The face wore a mask and shouted unintelligible questions at her in a deafening barrage. Bits and pieces of words poked their way through the maze of confusion. “Name ... fingers ... how many?

“Why do you want to know how many fingers I have,” she whispered, too tired to shout any more. And then, darkness. Swirling grays and charcoals clouded Angela’s eyes. The darkness was punctuated by occasional and sudden intrusions of brilliant light. But the lights lasted only for brief moments and then gave way to more shades of darkness.

Men in white coats and women in purple and green tops came and went. From time to time one would call her name. She spoke but they couldn’t hear. No matter how much she tried she couldn’t make them understand that she was still there.

“I’m still in her,” she cried. “Why can’t you understand? I’m in here and I need someone to help me.”

More faces, familiar faces. “Mom, dad,” Angela whispered. Smiles marred by tears were all that returned. Another man stood beside them; one of the men in a white coat. He shook his head and placed his hand on her mom’s shoulder. Together they walked away from the bed but Angela could distinctly hear the last few words that came from the man’s mouth as it moved in slow motion. “No hope.”

Angela screamed but no one could hear her. She was alone in a sea of entering and exiting faces. At last, in exhaustion, she quit crying for help and allowed herself to believe what she had heard; “no hope.” And she slowly sank into the oblivion others had already diagnosed.

Darkness; and then, a jolt of light. Angela’s whole body tensed and then relaxed from the shock. What was happening? Why couldn’t she just sink into the blackness and be left alone? And then, another jolt, even stronger this time. She opened her eyes expecting to see more white coats and foreign objects.

To her surprise, all she saw was knuckles. Ten, nearly white wrinkled knuckles covered in age spots and wrapped around the rails of what she now understood was her hospital bed. A voice, frail from too many years of use, rose from beside and beneath her. Someone was gripping her bed rails and saying something.

Again came that jolt of light and everything sprang into perfect clarity. She remembered the family outing, the car wreck, the ambulance. Everything from then to now was jumbled up like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle strewn randomly across a table. But now … as though she had just found the corner pieces to the puzzle, things began to make sense. She recognized her grandmother’s voice and eighty year old knuckles. And she listened.

“Father,” beseeched the aging woman, “You have promised ‘hope does not disappoint.’ My hope is in you and I know you will give this dear child another chance to find her hope in you. She didn’t know what she was saying the other day. She didn’t mean those words of disbelief pumped into her head by those professors of hers. Please, give her one more chance to believe on you!”

The clarity in Angela’s mind became a clarity of soul as she cried out in silence to the one she now knew was her only hope. Whether he allowed her to reenter the land of the living did not matter. All she knew was he was her hope for eternity.

And then?

Angela closed her eyes in peace unafraid of what was next. Hope does not disappoint and she knew whatever was next would be the best for her.

And then!

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Member Comments
Member Date
dub W05/11/06
Powerful until the end - it softened, I think a moving essay like this needs to end up - not necessarily positive but up nonetheless - Fairly well written throughout, very visual.
Sally Hanan05/13/06
Yes, you do description well. I agree with Dub on the ending - it needs to be as power packed as the rest of the story. I'd stop at "eternity" and rewrite that paragraph, perhaps changing her heart as her grandmother prays.
Sherry Wendling05/16/06
Excellent! This piece carries the reader like a river. I loved the jolts of light she sees as Grandma prevails at the Throne. For the best ending punch, I'd consider ending with, "All she knew was he was her hope for eternity." Great work.