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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)

TITLE: Lime-Green Castles
By Amy Michelle Wiley


The lime green of the sign across the way brings everything back like it was yesterday. I had been sitting on the front porch with a lime popsicle. My tongue reached for the sweet coolness, my feet tapping to the little tune I hummed.

I can still hear the phone ring, the murmur of my mother’s voice answering. The footsteps as she walked toward me are so clear that even now I almost turn to look behind me. They are the sound of coming uncertainty, of pain so deep it still twinges.

Mom sat beside me on the wooden steps. Her face was grey, twisting in a way I’d never seen. Silence stretched out until it touched the edge of infinity.

The words that finally came out of her mouth shattered my childhood. “Mark,” she’d whispered, “your brother’s been…taken.”

For a time I couldn’t breath. I asked no questions. Perhaps I needed no answers. Facts wouldn’t change the truth. The remains of my popsicle puddled at my feet, pale green against the dark concrete.

The clarity of my memory ends there. The next days, years even, were filled with police questions. Searches for the red pickup that had driven away with my brother. Drawings of the man we didn’t know. Minds wracked, trying to remember something, anything that might help.

And always dead ends. Hopes that were dashed to the ground, so often that hope nearly died, laying stagnant at the bottom of our souls.

Yet there was a different kind of hope. It was what kept us alive, helped us out of bed each morning. That hope was our faith. It was the knowledge that wherever Tommy was, wherever Tommy wasn’t, God was too.

I spent much of those first few years away in my mind, filled with memories and fantasies about me and Tommy. Tommy and I. Always they were set in the castle we’d created.

That castle had dominated all the real life play we’d had. By the time of Tommy’s kidnapping, it had become something even more solid than that, for it had become a part of heaven, a part of our relationship with God. We’d spent hours talking about the castle we’d have in heaven, and how we’d walk the halls in the very presence of God. Perhaps Jesus would even teach us to ride horses.

Somehow as I look back, it’s as though I see the castle through lime green glasses. The most prominent of the tapestry patterns are always green, and even the stone walls themselves have a lime hue. I know my mental distance caused my parents even more worry, but it was the way I coped.

At some point during those later years, I overheard something that changed all of us. “Sometimes I pray he’s not still alive.” Mom’s voice had been apologetic, tears straining just below the surface. “I feel guilty feeling that. But John,” I could picture her leaning closer against Dad’s chest, “to think of him in heaven is so much easier than to wonder of the horrors he’s gone through.”

After a silence her voice had continued, so faint I could hardly hear it.

“They keep telling us to go on with our lives, but when I go on I forget to pray. And if he’s still alive he needs us to pray every second.” Sobs had come then.

Dad’s words were full of pain, but something stronger, too. “Ellen, God is there just as much wherever Tommy is. It’s time to let go. It’s time to give him completely over to God.”

From then on, I spent less time in the castle. My grades came back up, and I graduated high school with honors.

Now the three of us sit once again in the police station. Across the street the green sign turns in a lopsided circle, advertising The Dragonfly Café. A man arrested for another crime confessed to several murders, the police told us. Tommy was one of them. After so long of uncertainty, I don’t know what to do with this knowledge.

The policeman comes out now, holding a plastic bag. “The dental records agree,” he tells us. “These are the things they found with him.” He sets the bag on the table gently.

Then I see it. It’s a plastic candy wrapper, filled with scribbles. I can just make out the words.

“I’ll be in the castle’s north court, riding horses with Jesus. See you there.”

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This article has been read 2697 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter04/12/07
Oh - I've got shivers in my spine and tears in my eyes. I do hope this is entirely fictional. I loved the lime green castle motif and the way you wove in in. Very skilfully told.
Pat Guy 04/12/07
It's no fair that this is so good! I barely could breathe! Whew! Thank you for giving us closure! Bravo to you!
Shari Armstrong 04/12/07
Well written story, glad it didn't have a typical "happy ending".
Mo 04/12/07
The ending made me teary.
Sheri Gordon04/12/07
This is really good. Great story, and great writing. I was sitting with the popsicle from the start. What a terribly sad ending -- but it also made me smile. Picturing the little boy riding horses with Jesus made my heart glad.
Loren T. Lowery04/13/07
Beautifully and tenderly written. And, my bet is that he is in the north court riding horses with Jesus.
Betty Castleberry04/13/07
Wonderful. Touching. I loved it.
Sara Harricharan 04/13/07
Gave me goosebumps. How sad and touching at the same time. That last line really packs a punch. There's a bittersweet note to this that makes it so real. ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/15/07
What a wonderfully imaginative tender mystery--totally captivating!
Joanne Sher 04/15/07
Exceptional description. Your title is wonderful and the story lives up to it, and more. This felt amazingly real.
Esther Gellert04/16/07
This is so well written that I finished it with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.
Jan Ackerson 04/16/07
Absolutely gorgeous writing! You continue to astound me.
Kate Grey04/17/07
Jacquelyn Horne04/17/07
Oh! How sad. I know closure is good, but I wanted more for Tommy. I guess that means you really got your story across. Good job.
Marty Wellington 04/17/07
Wow - I'm breathless. You had me captivated from start to finish. Extraordinary story-telling, as always. Bravo~
Cheri Hardaway 04/17/07
I couldn't contain the sob that escaped my throat when you revealed that Tommy was murdered. This was an awesome story! There are so many good ones, I'm thankful I'm not a judge! Thanks for sharing. Many blessings, Cheri
Rita Garcia04/17/07
I had to grab a tissue first! Sad with the light of Jesus shinning through. Master writing all the way.
Val Clark04/17/07
I remember reading this can't think why I didn't comment. A truly beautiful story.
Cassie Memmer04/18/07
Great writing. We really learned who Mark was and how he felt, and how he dealt with what was thrown at him and the family. We were inside his head and heart all the way through. Though some may actually live this horrid nightmare, I hate sad endings. LOL! I'm glad this time, it's fiction. A wonderful piece, as usual!
Tabiatha Tallent04/18/07
Great writing. I loved it from beginning to end.
Helen Paynter04/19/07
Congratulations. By far the best piece I read this week. (Certainly better than mine.) I'm glad this (almost) got the recognition it deserved.
Debbie OConnor04/19/07
Well done, Amy! Congratulations on writing a terrific and very moving mystery.
Sara Harricharan 04/19/07
Congrats Amy! ^_^
Catrina Bradley 04/19/07
Congrats, Amy! Well deserved honors.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge04/19/07
Every mother's fear, and a reminder how it effects the rest of the family too. Congratulations!
Bonnie Derksen04/20/07
Amy, Amy. I cannot believe how far your writing has come. Congratulations on your double win. Very, very deserved.
God has blessed you with such an incredible gift of creativity and skill.
Amazing story indeed.
Sharlyn Guthrie04/20/07
What a horrible tale to tell, and yet you did it artfully, beautifully, even. Congratulations!
Emily Ritter04/21/07
Beautiful, you're teaching me how to write. I don't know if you experienced this happening, but from the way it is written, I would think that you have. Beautiful display of how real God is.
Dara Sorensen04/25/07
I can't stop the tears from flowing! It just makes me think, "what would I do if that had happened in my family and if that had been my sister?" That last line definitely made me lose it...great job in pulling the reader in to the story!
Dixie Phillips06/09/07
Good night! Did God bless you with a huge writing gift or what??? EXCELLENT!
Carolyn Crook04/01/09
That was AMAZING! Wow have you got talent! Thank you for sharing your gift.