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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)

TITLE: Memories at Dead Wood Cove


“Where’s Daddy?” Caroline asked, rushing in.

“Gone fishing,” her mother answered.

Elizabeth smiled to herself, thinking how her husband Danny often answered that way. It was his way of saying, who knows and who cares? Today was his first day out after weeks of terrible gout and Elizabeth was happy for him to steal a few peaceful hours on the lake. They had bought the house when they first married almost thirty years earlier and it still held that same romance they shared for each other. Caroline and Jimmy were born in the front room and the lake brought joy to them all.

“I’m serious, where is he? His boat’s gone and a storm’s coming.”

Elizabeth snapped out of her reverie and looked out the window. The bright clear morning had turned dismal. Her eyes strained to see across the murky water. It’s not like Danny to stay out in bad weather, Lord.

“Call Jimmy; he’ll know what to do.”


Two miles up the lake was a cove where bass loved to play around a clump of dead trees. Danny steered around the point and set down his anchor at the edge of the cove. He secured the bait and cast his line.

Danny popped a drink can and pulled his tattered fishing hat over his eyes. Danny was never good at waiting; that’s why he fished. It always slowed him down and taught him patience. Lizzie, as he lovingly called her, had made him wait two whole days after he asked her to marry him before giving him an answer. He remembered bringing Jimmy to the cove while the midwife attended to Lizzie at Caroline’s birth.

He closed his eyes and his mind drifted with the boat. It was nice to be retired from town mayor and to have no deadlines, no meetings, and no phone calls. Jimmy suggested once that he should run for office and fish for votes—to be a fisher of men. “Well it’s Biblical!” Jimmy had protested seriously. Danny had always been a believer but back in the early days he had kept his faith private. Jimmy had always been more vocal about the things of the Lord. It hadn’t surprised anyone when he’d declared he was going to be a preacher.

Caroline was different. Danny pondered the years she was away from God, her family, and reality. It wasn’t until her car accident up north that things changed for the better. Thank you, God, for sending Michael. He isn’t just a wonderful doctor; he turned out to be a man true to His faith in God. Danny smiled at the memory of his daughter’s home-coming and turning her life back to God. The engagement announcement was the biggest shock but they had all adjusted. She…


Danny opened his eyes toward the sound. His drink can had blown into the water. He reached for it but the wind caught it, making it skim across the top of the water. That’s when he noticed the storm clouds overhead and the water splashing about him.

“Now you’ve done it,” Danny told himself, reeling in his line.

He pulled the starter cord of the motor but nothing happened. In disgust he pulled up anchor and reached for the oars. In those few short minutes the small boat drifted further into the cove. Using an oar, he pushed away from a jagged stump, but the wind spun the boat, propelling it into another. Danny didn’t see the low-hanging limb until it slammed into his forehead.


Jimmy looked worried. “It’s not like Dad to be out in a storm.”

“Well, where does he usually fish?” Caroline’s voice trembled.

Jimmy grabbed his father’s binoculars. “I’ll drive around to the lookout at Dead Wood Cove.”

Elizabeth had been standing at the window silently praying, waiting for Jimmy to drive over from the parsonage. “I know he’s OK, son. Just find him and bring him home.”

“I will Mum; just keep praying.”


Jimmy parked his jeep at the end of the cul-de-sac overlooking the cove. By the time he arrived at the edge of the small lookout, he was drenched. Straining to see through the driving rain, he scanned the eerie cove through the misting lenses. A streak of lightning flashed across the water. In its brightness he saw his father frantically scooping water from his boat. His mother was right. He’s OK. Thank you, Lord. Jimmy ran back to the jeep and radioed for help.

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This article has been read 1162 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 02/08/07
Whew! Tense! Great build up and in keeping the reader 'hooked.' ;) Good atmosphere, dialogue and ending! Loved it!
Shari Armstrong 02/08/07
Except for my being a bit confused at first who's POV it was going to be(mother or daughter) a great reflective story about a family. Good tension, not knowing till the very end what happens :)

I like the change of pace between the rest of the family's quick sentances, and the husband's rambling, relaxed thoughts :)
Sara Harricharan 02/08/07
I wanted a mystery/action story and this sure delievered! I enjoyed the building suspense and the climax ending with the bolt of lightening. I noticed one spot where an extra space would have helped with the suspense. Just before he got hit in the head, skip that down another space, it usually holds more impact. The POV was a little tricky in front, trying it from the daughter's point of view, or first person instead of naming the mother. I thought it was pretty good though! ^_^
Rhonda Clark02/08/07
Good job. I like this story. It's a nice change of pace.
Valora Otis02/08/07
I loved this entry. The build up was great! I would add more lively conversation at the beginning to grab your reader. Loved the tension build up. This little gem has heart.
Kate Grey02/08/07
Very fun story! I was a little confused figuring out who the characters were--maybe naming Jimmy as the son in the beginning might help.

You did well at showing the motivations of the characters.

I like the story. :)

Kate Grey02/08/07
Oh, sorry! I do see the ID of Jimmy right at the beginning. My bad.

Still a great story. :)
Jesus Puppy 02/08/07
Well done story, except I would have had the son find the father floating in the boat unconscious with a smile on his face, mumbling as he is drug onto shore.. "You should have seen the one that got away.."
Kathie Thomas02/09/07
Loved the story with all the different characters - wish I could do that but fiction just doesn't come easily. Well done.
Amy Michelle Wiley 02/09/07
Great story! I was a tad confused as to who all the characters were at first, too, but I figured it out. :-)
Marilyn Schnepp 02/10/07
A very nice piece, and with a nice ending. Writing was excellent, and I enjoyed the family atmosphere. Good job.
Jan Ackerson 02/10/07
Yep, lots of suspense here, and I like the hint that Caroline will "come around."
william price02/10/07
Super job. One of your best. Glad to see you entering again. God bless.
Betty Castleberry02/10/07
You had me "hooked." I was hoping for a good outcome, and you delivered. This would be a good piece to expand, showing the family dynamics, and what happens to Caroline. Nicely done.
Sheri Gordon02/10/07
I also think this could be just a part of a bigger story. Just this little bit makes me want to know the characters' stories ... they already intrigue me.
Jacquelyn Horne02/13/07
I liked the way the tone changed when the scene changed. Good job.
Leigh MacKelvey02/13/07
I enjoyed this all the way!
I feel I got to know this family by all the little extras you wrote about each one. Great job!
Esther Gellert02/13/07
I really enjoyed this. It felt like a snapshot of a bigger story, and I felt connected to the characters from the brief glimpse we got of their lives.
Cheri Hardaway 02/13/07
I loved the characters and felt drawn to them. Your writing made me want to know them. The story kept my attention. I felt the ending was a bit quick, but I'm sure it had to do with every writer's challenge -- the dreaded word count!! Great job! Thanks, Cheri
Joanne Malley02/13/07
This is such a pleasant read...and I'm so glad for the happy ending! Good job! Blessings, Jo
Laurie Glass 02/13/07
You hooked me, then reeled me in with this one. :) I, too, was glad for the happy ending - you had me worried there for a bit. :)
terri tiffany02/14/07
Great job! The characters were so very real and vivid! Loved the emotion and the pace of it.
Loren T. Lowery02/14/07
Great job of building tension, mixing the emotions of the characters with the encroaching storm. I liked the way you were able to show the depth of each of your character's feelings>
T. F. Chezum02/14/07
Great job, great characters ... I enjoyed the read.