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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)

TITLE: 100% Angel
By Joanne Sher


“Are you looking for anything in particular, sir?”

A tall lanky blonde with horn-rimmed glasses and a bright pink nametag with “Angela” emblazoned on it approached the man – he couldn’t have been older than 21, really – as he stared blankly at the baby clothes hanging on a circular rack in front of him.

“Oh, um, yeah, I am. I was just thinking and got a bit distracted. My wife is in the hospital with the baby, and I need to find an outfit for him to go home in.”

“So, your wife didn’t take care of that before? Most moms pick out that outfit when they’re still in their first trimester.” Angela bubbled.

“Marilyn was on bed rest most of the pregnancy.” The man’s voice was soft and strained.

Angela nodded. “So, can I help you pick something out, Mr….?”

“Just call me John.”

“OK, John. What exactly are you looking for?”

“I think I’ll know it when I see it. All I know is it has to be preemie sized, and definitely for a boy.”

Angela smiled and pointed toward a rack to their left. “The preemie clothes are over there. Do you want me to help you pick something out?”

John shook his head. “I think I can handle it. Thanks, though.”

Angela walked toward the cash register, keeping John in her sights out of the corner of her eye.

The woman at the register smiled as Angela approached. “Hey, what’s up, Angie?”

“Not sure, Darlene.” Angela leaned her arm on the register. “That guy over there is picking out an outfit for his newborn son, but he sure doesn’t seem very excited about it.”

Darlene shrugged. “Maybe it was an unwanted pregnancy. At least he’s buying the kid something.”

“True, I guess.” Glancing into the sales area, Angela noticed John walking toward the register. “Better scoot.”

John approached the register, placed a small blue outfit on Darlene’s counter, and then reached into his back pocket.

Darlene smiled. “Did you find everything you needed, sir?”

John nodded. “How much do I owe you?”

“Your total comes to $15.27.”

John pulled a $20 bill out of his wallet and handed it to Darlene. John took the change she offered and shoved it into his wallet. He grabbed the outfit, which Darlene had placed in a bag, and walked out.


The beeps and buzzers in the NICU were quite active. John walked over to a blonde who was leaning over an incubator in the middle of the room. He rested his hand on her shoulder and squeezed.

“Anything new, sweetheart?” John’s voice was barely above a whisper.

She sighed. “The same. He doesn’t have much time now. Doc said he won’t make it through the night.”

John wrapped his arms around his wife’s delicate frame. “I got it, Marilyn. I hope it’s what you want.”

“Oh, John, I’m sure it’s fine.”

Marilyn turned and faced her husband, looking into his eyes. “You really don’t think it’s silly, going and spending money on an outfit for him?”

John caressed the side of her face. “Of course not, Mari. Our little Benny needs a home from the hospital outfit, even if it isn’t our home he’s going to.”

The two embraced for a good two minutes.

John broke the silence. “So, do you want to see what I picked?” he whispered in her ear.

She let go of him, and nodded. John pulled a blue bunting out of the bag. The front of the outfit was adorned with the words “100% angel.”

“Oh, John, it’s perfect!” She kissed him gently on the cheek, then bowed her head.

“Heavenly Father, thank you so much for my wonderful husband, and for giving us Benjamin, even if it was only for a short time. Comfort us in this time, and help us to know that our little angel is going Home – to a better home than we could ever provide.”

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This article has been read 1364 times
Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood03/08/07
This story haunted me--sad but beautiful. The dialogue brought all the characters to life and made them real to me. I could also see them clearly through the vivid descriptions--especially the first saleslady. I was also drawn in by the unusual--and so perfect--title. Very moving. Terrific job!
Erin Brannan03/08/07
So sad. My brother was a preemie, but luckily he made it. Still, I know how hard it was for my parents and I think you conveyed the bittersweetness very well. Great job!
Marilyn Schnepp 03/08/07
A kleenex please. Oh, such an adorable, but sad, story - and told so beautifully; from the shoppinng of the garment to the end. Indeed, 100% angel!
Loren T. Lowery03/08/07
Was heartened to read the love and faith of this familiy expressed so well by your writing.
cindy yarger03/09/07
Very moving. Good job.
Virginia Gorg03/10/07
Well written with a good command of language. Heartfelt - attention holding. Sad. I thought of the mistaken notion the store folks had for him.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/10/07
This sad sory is presented excellently with strong characters. Good job!
Bob Zoellner03/10/07
A well-written piece. A lot of emotion in a relatively small amount of space (I guess that word limit makes us do that). Good job,
Marilee Alvey03/10/07
This was a very touching story with a heartfelt message. Very nicely done!
Helen Paynter03/11/07
Oh, very sad. I do hope it's not in any way autobiographical.
Nit-pick - I think the mother is just a wee bit too accepting for this point in the bereavement. Just my opinion.
But the tears in my eyes testify that this was powerful writing.
Jacquelyn Horne03/12/07
This would be a sad time for any parent. Knowing God in such a situation is a plus. The writing is good.
Crista Darr03/12/07
*Gulp* This is so sad, yet so touching. Your opening could be stregthened. Pull your reader in and make them curious--maybe by emphasizing the man's strange behavior (show, don't tell). I love your very strong ending. Well done!
Jan Ackerson 03/12/07
I think you did a particularly good job with John's characterization. Sad, and tenderly written.
Betty Castleberry03/12/07
What a touching story. I kept hoping the ending would be that the doctors were wrong, and they got to take the baby home.
You kept my interest throughout. Very well done.
Mo 03/12/07
Read the comments 1st & knew how it would end, & still it made me teary. Yes, perfect title.
william price03/12/07
WIll the real Joanne please stand up. What range you have. A beautiful heart rending story. But give me a clue next time to bring some klenex. I'm glad you didn't tell us how the story ended, cos I choose to believe the baby went home with the parents. Excellent title and well written.
Jen Davis03/13/07
Granted, it’s late, but I did not see that coming, Joanne. A father picking out an outfit for his son to go home in. This was a beautiful story. So very sad and sweet. The title grabs the reader’s attention and is perfect for the piece. Great job!
Rita Garcia03/13/07
You portrayal of the characters is so realistic, I love the exchange between these new parents. Masterful storytelling! Now where are my tissues.
Sara Harricharan 03/13/07
Simply beautiful and heart-stirring. I liked the contrast of the different view of John from Angela's POV and then when he showed his wife the outfit. 100% Angel indeed. Great job! ^_^
Catrina Bradley 03/13/07
I can't believe I cried again. Wait, yes I can - your writing keeps improving, girl! I love love love this entry.
Cassie Memmer03/14/07
Very nice story. I figured out early on what was happening, but still the story kept me reading. Great job!
Patty Wysong03/14/07
Oh! So good and heart wrenching! Good descriptions and dialog. Now I've got to go get a tissue! Good job.
Brenda Welc03/14/07
Kleenex please.......My son was born 2 weeks early with the umbilical (sp) cord aroud his neck 3 times--this was a very moving story. Your piece had very good flow!
LaNaye Perkins03/14/07
Awesome story! I felt like I was right there, you drew me in. Great job writing!
Myrna Noyes03/14/07
Such a sad,sweet story! Well-done!
T. F. Chezum03/14/07
Sad story, but very well written. You put a lot into 750 words. Great job.
Sandra Petersen 03/15/07
I dared to hope you weren't leading this story in the direction I thought it was going. But you led me right up to the end and did it with such overtones of mercy and feeling that I don't regret reading it. This was so tender. I hope and pray that this will bring healing to someone who has been or is in this desperate situation. You expressed it all so very well.
Julie Ruspoli03/15/07
My niece Emily was a premie and is in heaven also. The story really brings those feelings back. I keep thinking about the sales lady though, this story should remind us not to judge others to quickly. Good job!
Julie Arduini03/15/07
You did a great job here because you have me grieving with the parents and yet I can't seem to shake from my mind the salesclerk and her judgment. Very well done, and the title was perfect.
Bonnie Derksen03/18/07
Wow! What a poignant story.
Very well written. As your reader I felt you take my hand and lead me through, showing me and not just telling.
I love the prayer at the end because it proves the Source of your MC's strength. It is always so good to read of our God's power working in the lives of ordinary people.
I add my "Well done, Joanne" to the long list of your readers.
Keep on writing for His glory.