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

TITLE: 'Tis So Sweet
By David Story


Max stood across the street, observing the ‘others’ like him who had gathered. Some were on the same side of the street that he was. Some were even on the church grounds.

They all watched the man walk up the steps, and enter the sanctuary doors.


Trying her best to ‘do’ her face, the young girl continually stepped between her mom and the vanity in the church restroom. Although they were the only ones there at the time, and there were two mirrors, little Amy would only be satisfied if she used the one her mother was using.

In the background an organ began to play.

“The service is about to start, Honey.”

Amy smiled as she pretended to fix her hair. “I’m almost done.” She stopped for a moment and listened, her head cocked slightly to one side. “What’s that song?”

The woman listened for a moment to the melody coming from the large organ pipes in the church sanctuary. “Oh, I love that one,” she said, and smiled as she thought of the old hymns and the joy they brought her. She waited for the chorus, then began to sing…“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more!”

The little girl smiled. “You sing pretty, Mommy.”


A picture perfect moment, in a picture perfect church, but unfortunately, in a not so picture perfect world…

The gun blasts shook the floor of the bathroom, and in the blink of an eye the woman and little girl’s world turned upside down…


The tears came almost immediately, and although the mother’s first instinct was to protect her child, she desperately wanted to know what was happening beyond the bathroom door.

Another round of gunfire, followed by screams and cries, changed all of that, and the woman grabbed her daughter and went into the nearest stall.

She placed her hands over her daughter’s ears as the blasts and screams continued.

And then, they stopped.

Through tears, “What is it, Mommy?”

“I don’t know,” the woman answered in a whisper. “But right now I just want you to be quiet. Can you do that?” She was finding it very hard to control herself. “Can you do it for Mommy?”

Amy shook her head. “I can, I can.”

“That’s my little girl.” A moment of silence, as the woman tried to gather her thoughts. “Alright then, here’s what I want you to do, okay?”

Amy looked up through the tears at her mom.

“I’m going to go into the church to see if I can find out what’s going on, and I want you…”

The tears suddenly became cries, “But…I don’t want to be by my…”

“…it’ll be just for a moment, and I’ll be right back.”

Amy thought about it, and an idea registered. “Will you tell me the words to that song again?”

The woman smiled, and began to sing. “‘…Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more!’ Now you try.”

The little girl began to sing, miraculously remembering each word and note.

“That’s wonderful. Now stay here, don’t move.” She grabbed her daughter by the shoulders and kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll be back.”

Amy waved bye to her mother as the door closed in front of her. She began to sing, until another gun blast, this one much louder than the others, forced her to stop…

She picked up the hymn again, and with each note the fear began to vanish, the tears dried, and her confidence was restored.

Finally the bathroom door opened. “Mommy, is that you?”

The stall door creaked open, and the barrel of the gun was the last thing little Amy saw…


The stall door creaked open, and the barrel of the gun was the last thing little Amy saw when suddenly two arms seemed to protrude out of the smoking barrel. Amy sighed as they slowly reached out and picked her up, and began to carry her away.

Max smiled as he felt Amy’s arms around his neck.

“You’re taking me to see the man the song is about.” It was a statement.

Max rubbed his hand across Amy’s head, as she leaned against his own. “That’s right. We’re going to see the Master.”

Max began to whistle a familiar hymn as he walked out of the church. He stopped for a moment to wait on the ‘others’, before beginning their journey…home.


'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Text: Louisa M. R. Stead, c. 1850-1917
Music: William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921

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Member Comments
Member Date
Virginia Gorg09/02/06
Is Max an angel? Quite a gripping story - nice the way you tied the song into Amy's statement.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/02/06
Very good at suspense and mystery...but did the mother die? What had happened? Who was Max? Who were the people outside? Too many questions unanswered for me...but great writing. Thanks.
Edy T Johnson 09/04/06
It seems to me that Max and the "others" are angels. Their assignment must be to wait [rather than to stop the man entering the church] and carry the victims of the gunman off to Heaven. I appreciate the back and forth views, like a movie, but as good as the suspense, characters, and descriptive writing, I find the ending less than satisfying. I know tragedy is part of living, but I find it so frustrating. Just my particular bent. Very good writing, nonetheless!
Allison Egley 09/05/06
Wow. Like others, there were a lot of unanswered questions in the story. I'd like to see this expanded. Also, I think you could have done witout reapeating the line towards the end, and just gone on.
Jan Ackerson 09/05/06
This is great! I like the repeated partial line, it helps the reader with the POV switch. I love the way you set the scene with such a sweet, routine moment and then slam us with the shocking violence. Really, an outstanding story.
Joanne Sher 09/06/06
Wow - you really took me by surprise with this! You did an excellent job of setting up the peaceful scene and totally CRUSHING it with the violence! I was on the edge of my seat! Very well done!!
Rebecca Livermore09/06/06
You did a great job on this. I enjoyed your descriptions and the way you set the stage for what happened. Like others, I got a bit lost at the end and would have liked to have know "the rest of the story." Keep writing!
Debbie Sickler09/06/06
I liked how you described Amy trying to 'do' her face. It was a cute picture to set us up for the surprise of gunfire. At first, I thought that Max was a member of a S.W.A.T. team, but then with the lines of the song, realized he was an angel to escort the victims. Thanks for a well written and creative story. :)