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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)

TITLE: Behind The 13th Street Recreation Center
By T. F. Chezum


Caitlyn locked her car and headed toward the recreation center. “I really hate it when you go on vacation, Melissa.” She sipped her latte. “How did you talk me into opening? I must be crazy.” She fumbled for her keys. “And now I’m talking to myself.”

A rustling caught her attention. She walked to the side of the building, but there was nothing there. She heard the noise again; it came from the back patio.

“Oh, Lord. There’s someone here.” Caitlyn’s heart raced. She crept to the corner and paused for a moment. “Is he singing?” The tune was hypnotic, and beautiful. She stepped around the corner to see who was there.

A slender young man stood near the barbeque. His eyes grew large when he saw Caitlyn watching him. He grabbed a knapsack and ran off.

“Hey, wait.” Caitlyn chased him a short distance.

“You’re kidding? I would’ve absolutely freaked.” Christy set her purse on the counter. “But what were you thinking, Cait? You should’ve just called the police.”

“He wasn’t hurting anything,” Caitlyn said.

“It creeps me out knowing there’s a weirdo like that hanging around.” Christy grabbed her compact and checked her makeup.

“I don’t know. There was something about him.” Caitlyn began humming the song she heard earlier.

“What are you doing?” Christy asked.

“What?” Caitlyn looked puzzled.

“You were humming,” her friend huffed.

“I was?” She smiled. “The guy was singing this song, I can’t get the tune out of my head.”

Caitlyn looked at her clock. “Go back to sleep, dummy. It’s not time to get up.” She rolled over, staring at the wall. The song soon found its way back into her consciousness and she began to hum. She threw the blankets off and scuffled to the shower. “Maybe he’s there again.”

The young lady pulled into the lot and parked. “Please let him be here.” She walked toward the patio, trying to remain quiet. As she neared the back of the building the familiar music once again graced the morning air.

She crept closer.

The young man stood near the sink. Caitlyn struggled to see him through the morning gloom.

“Hi.” She stepped from the shadows. “Please, don’t run off.”

“I’m not stealing or anything.” The slender man grabbed his backpack.

“It’s okay, I believe you.” She sat on a near by bench. “My name’s Caitlyn.”

“John. I’m John.” He stepped closer. “I only use the barbeque and sink. You know, to get ready for school.”

“You can’t cook at home?”

“I don’t have a home.” He set his belongings on a table. “And you don’t lock your facilities.”

“What happened?” Caitlyn brushed the hair away from her face.

“My mom lost her job.” John sat on an adjacent bench. “She moved in with my aunt in Cleveland.”

“I’m sorry.” She gazed into his blue eyes.

“Cleveland isn’t that bad.” The young man grinned.

Caitlyn laughed. “No, silly. I’m sorry things aren’t going well. Why didn’t you go with her?”

“It’s the middle of the semester.” He hung his head. “I told my mom I had a friend to stay with so she wouldn’t make me leave.” He clasped his hands behind his neck. “She gave me what money she had to try and help.”

“What are you studying?”

“Music,” he said. “I’d like to teach kids someday.”

“You seem to have the passion for it. What is that song you sing?”

“My grandma sang it every night before I went to bed.” He raised his head and began to serenade.

“Ben nog mijn kind.
houd uw mening bij vrede.
Laat uw zorgen weggaan.
God is met u.”

“That’s wonderful. What language is it?” Caitlyn smiled.

“It’s Dutch.” He stood and straightened his shirt. “It means:

Be still my child.
Keep your mind at peace.
Let your worries go away.
God is with you.”

“Wow.” Caitlyn gasped. “I liked hearing the melody, but knowing what the words mean…It’s absolutely beautiful. Where did you learn…”

“My grandparents moved to this country when my mom was a baby.” He grabbed his effects. “I better go. I won’t bother you anymore.”

“You’re always welcome here.”

“No. I can’t stay.” He turned to walk away. “I can’t afford it anymore. I tried my best.”

“We need a maintenance person here.” She stood up. “It doesn’t pay much, but…”

“You would hire me?” He turned back toward Caitlyn.

“Only if you teach me that song.”

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This article has been read 857 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth Muehlhausen09/01/06
This is a softie - a refreshing story with a sweet innocence to it.

I liked the Dutch rendition of the song...made the image of the grandmother come to life. :-)
Rita Garcia09/01/06
This is why you are in the master's level. Heartwarming and filled with hope.
Lynda Schultz 09/01/06
Jan Ackerson 09/01/06
I agree with the other commenters--this story is gentle and precious. I wish I could hear the melody Cait heard!
Bonnie Derksen09/01/06
I loved the way you wrote the dialogue between the characters. So natural and captivating. My father was born in Holland so this touches my daughter-heart. I agree, gentle and lovely. Very well done.
Debbie Sickler09/04/06
I enjoyed this too.:) The only suggestion I'd make would be to add a bit more location info where the two ladies were talking. I wasn't sure if it was inside the rec center moments after the incident or at one of their houses later. (you refer to them as friends, rather than coworkers, which added to my thought of it being somewhere other than the center.)

Your dialogue was good and natural sounding. I also liked the surprise of the song being Dutch. It added a little unexpected twist. :)
Teri Wilson09/05/06
Of course you would write a story about getting a song stuck in your head! lol

I liked this. The Dutch was a great addition. Nice job.
Venice Kichura09/05/06
This story kept my interest---great job!
Joanne Sher 09/05/06
Great dialogue and description. This definitely kept my interest from beginning to end. A very sweet story. I also liked that the song was in Dutch. Wonderful job!
Joanne Malley09/05/06
This story doesn't need the "extras." It's got it's own sweet, down-home melody that rang softly in my ears. Great job. :) Blessings.
Rebecca Livermore09/05/06
What a sweet, sweet story! Very touching. Thank you!
Donna Powers 09/06/06
Great story and such a touching ending! Thank you for sharing it!
Shari Armstrong 09/06/06
A wonderful story -one minor thing - "The young lady pulled into the lot and parked." this shifted your POV, suddenly we were looking at her, instead of seeing what she saw. But, other than that, well done. (oh, and Cleveland's really isn't THAT bad, if you like living in the city ;) )