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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)

TITLE: Swapping Dads And The Art Of Five Finger Discounting.
By Val Clark


I looked casually around the newsagents. Mr Cole was busy at the cash register counting out change. Mrs Cole was facing the gift shelf, stacking ceramic donkeys pulling carts of colorful fruit. One swift move and the magazine was tucked securely under my shirt. I drifted out of the shop. Once out of sight I transferred it to my school bag where it joined the chocolate bar Iíd previously liberated from the adjoining shop.

It wasnít really stealing. We all did it. I remembered with happy nostalgia brazenly taking handfuls of chocolate from shops with my brothers. The shopkeeper knew who we were, knew who our dad was. ĎIíll tell your old man!í But we knew dad would just laugh and say the shopkeeper was stupid for leaving stuff where kids could get it. Look after number one, that was his motto and thatís what he taught us to do.

That was five years ago. Weíd moved half way across the world and here the shopkeepers werenít so intimidated by my dad.

I loved my dad but I didnít realize until I was older that he was a criminal. I donít mean big time, like breaking peopleís legs if they didnít pay up criminal. He had mobile morality - it moved around to suit his needs. And when it came to other peoples property, well, if they left it where he could get it, it was no longer theirs but his.

Being very poor didnít make things easy; so poor that we went without water and electricity for months because the bills couldnít be paid. Before store detectives and CCTV became the norm, if I wanted something that my parents couldnít afford I used to steal it.

This way of thinking sat quite comfortably with me until another Parent took me under his wing. Turning my face to another Father for nurturing turned my worlds upside down; bringing into focus old habits that had to be dealt with. Old habits that were firmly ingrained. Even with a new Father it was hard walking into a shop and seeing things on display and knowing that, with a little subterfuge, they could be mineÖ.

Mr Cole was on the phone, face creased, scribbling furiously. Mrs Cole was at the cash register. I began flicking through the magazines. When I found the one I wanted, I looked casually around the newsagents. Mrs Cole was now to my right, tidying the pile of Womenís Weekly magazines. She turned away for a second, my eyes flicked over to the counter. Mr Coleís eyes were still down. I didnít even need to think as I found a home for the magazine under my shirt.

But I was learning fast that my new Father was imprinting his law upon my heart. Thou shalt not steel. Oh, so much easier to say than do.

Mrs Cole turned back to me. I was sure she could hear the unexpected tell-tale beat of my heart and see the betraying blush on my cheeks. She returned to the cash register where a customer waited.

Remember what you learnt, child, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. I am faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able to endure but will, with the temptation, provide a way of escape that you might be able to endure it.

I pressed the magazine against my tummy. Why canít I have this?

I am faithful. Here is your way of escape. No one will see you. Put it back.

The exit was only a few steps away.

I am your Father, now.

I let the magazine slip back onto the pile and browsed my way to the door. Mrs Cole blocked my passage out.

She tapped imperiously at a sign SHOP LIFTERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. ĎYour bag.í

She upended my bag. A ragged math book, Macbeth, cloth pencil case, plastic lunch box, sports uniform and a novel from the school library spilled out onto the counter.

I opened my smart mouth to berate her for falsely accusing me, but no words came out.

Bony fingers poked at my clothes and felt my pockets. ĎI know your tricks, girl. Iíll be watching you like a hawk. Now, get out.í

Grateful for my reprise, I hastily pushed my things back into the bag and left.

Sadly, my dad never understood my shift of allegiance from him to a Father who would lead me in the paths of righteousness.

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. KJV

Exodus 20:15
Thou shalt not steal. KJV

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This article has been read 1071 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Corinne Smelker 11/23/06
I liked this one because I can relate. When I was young my parents would leave me at a pool all day with no food and I found myself rummaging among the lockers looking for money to buy bread. No matter the reason or the justification, it was stealing, but it took years for me to overcome that feeling that I was owed something just because it was there, and someone else had something I didn't. Becoming a Christian went a long way to changing that, but it was still hard.
Marilyn Schnepp 11/25/06
I also can relate - BEFORE I met Jesus I had no "litle voice" whispering; AFTER I met Him...that little voice seemed to Shout! What a difference He makes in our lives. Nicely told story - and "Masterly" written.
Joanne Sher 11/26/06
Can I ever relate to this one too - both the stealing and the "voice." Such great detail and description. I was right there!
william price11/27/06
I never had a problem steeling, but I have heard His voice before in situations whre I needed to. Very creative take on the topic and expertly executed. Excellent job once again. God bless.
Cheri Hardaway 11/29/06
I love your artful use of descriptions, such as "mobile morality!" This piece is well-written. There were a couple missing apostrophes and 'steeling' should be 'stealing,' but other than those small things, you have an excellent command of the English language. Nice work. Blessings, Cheri
Shanti Singh11/29/06
Thank you for sharing this. Thank God for the voice that whispers, and at times even shouts, when we do the wrong thing!
Pat Guy 11/29/06
This was a really good read Yeggs! I can't relate of course ;) at any time in my life, but I sure enjoyed it! :)
Donna Haug11/29/06
Love your title! A little note: "Being very poor didnít make things easy; so poor that we went without water and electricity for months because the bills couldnít be paid" We're missing a complete sentence after the semi-colon. Fascinating to get under the skin of someone with stealing problems. I've met a couple in our youth pastor days. Thanks for the insight.
Bonnie Derksen11/29/06
Don't you love the way the Holy Spirit stirs up words of Truth to spur us on to obedience?? This was a great testimony to the transforming work of God in the lives of His children. You wrote very believably as the MC still had a little bit of a struggle but surrendered to her Father in the end. Well written and prompts me to thank the Lord for never giving up on growing us up. Good job.
Donna Powers 11/29/06
Very enjoyable read and a good comparison between the two "dads". Thanks for sharing this
Myrna Noyes11/30/06
The struggle that went on in the girl's mind was very believably written! We have all "been there" before, and I'm glad she surrendered her will to her new Father!
Suzanne R11/30/06
I love the contrast between the earthly father and the heavenly one. The drama at the end with the MC not being caught shoplifting was effective too. The title is perfect. WELL DONE.