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

TITLE: Soldier of the City
By April Bailey


Malachi lay in bed and traced the long keloid across his chest, his small hand rising and falling with shallow breaths. A few rounds of gunfire outside had exhumed the memory of that night a year ago; the night he’d learned what grazed meant. He didn’t know a bullet could do that … cut into a person and leave them alive. He’d thought for sure, when one ripped into his body last June, he would join his brother and uncle in death.

No matter how often he heard it, he never grew accustomed to the melody of the city at night. The eery quiet, while void of sounds of nature, was interrupted frequently by harsh voices, the screeching of tires or gunfire. It didn’t make for a good night’s rest and, even after three years of urban living, Malachi still missed the country. The song of the city dissolved his peace while that of the country ministered to his soul.

More shots. A little closer. Malachi’s breath caught in his throat and he slid out from beneath his sheet to the floor, crawling backwards, entrenching himself amidst the dustballs under his bed. There he cowered, praying for safety, until sleep claimed him.

Hours passed, resurrecting just enough hope to allow Malachi to emerge from his place of refuge. It was not yet morning, but a growling stomach encouraged the boy to visit the kitchen, where he stopped and sighed at the sight of a woman. Lisette, his mother, was sleeping on the floor again. The boy worked loose a bottle from her fingers and poured the last swigs of smelly liquid down the kitchen sink, dropping the glass in the trash with the others.

“Oh, Mama,” he said sadly, sweeping tousled hair from her eyes.

Lisette smacked her lips and moaned before returning to oblivion. Malachi looked toward heaven and whispered words of protection over her. He left and quickly returned, covering her with a comforter from the living room. He hated leaving her on the floor, but he’d learned his lesson the last time—there was no lifting Mama.

A few crackers helped to tame Malachi's raging stomach and he yawned. The lateness of the night hung heavy on him, bringing with it the promise of deep sleep. Malachi returned to his room, spending the short walk conversing with God.

“You’re a prayer warrior, Mal,” his aunt had once told him. He’d never heard that term before and liked the sound of it. A prayer warrior. Sounded like a soldier. His father had been a soldier before he died, but in a different kind of war. Malachi waged war in the city, with his words.

Engrossed in the soaring of his spirit, Malachi climbed back into bed, doing what prayer warriors do. Somewhere in the night, distant gunshots resumed, but the boy held fast to his sheet, willfully ignoring the melody of destruction outside his room. Despite the sleepy burning of his eyes and tingles of fear that sought to overtake him, softly, Malachi began to sing.

He praised God and thanked him for the mother he so loved and for their home together. In this small corner of the inner-city, the young boy's song rose to the heavens. Instantly, a flash, white hot, encircled Malachi in an impossible brilliance, as his voice was joined by a multitude of others, blending as one to praise the Father. But there came no chaos or fear with this light. Instead, it brought peace, and the beautiful music welled up around him with force and power. The song of the city had been drowned out by this heavenly melody, the music of eternity. Prayer warrior. Malachi smiled. No longer would he be afraid, this soldier of the city, for he knew he did not fight alone.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Rebecca Livermore08/31/06
I love this sentence, “No longer would he be afraid, this soldier of the city, for he knew he did not fight alone.” Beautiful! I would suggest a brief explanation of things like the word, “keloid.” I have no idea what that is, and knowing would add to my understanding. All around this was a beautifully written piece that enabled me to clearly visualize things. Good job!
Cassie Memmer08/31/06
A keloid for others who may not know is a type of scar, an almost overgrowth of scar tissue, if I remember right.

This is very well written, and held my attention throughout. I liked how you used melody and other synonyms. i.e. the melody of the city. Very touching. A young prayer warrior amidst the hard city living. Great idea and creativity!
Virginia Gorg09/02/06
Wow - well done, riveting, and reads like you were there. Good job.
Edy T Johnson 09/04/06
This is very real, urgent, "you are there" writing. A satisfying read, you paint endearing characters as well.