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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Confident (07/05/07)

TITLE: Filling the Void with Purpose
By TJ Nickel


‘Fantastic! Now for an oxymoronic metaphor. Yes, yes, repetition, that’s it, terrific: ‘the void became so destitute that it overflowed with purpose.’ See, see, you can be a writer. I told you, show up for fifteen minutes and I’ll get ya goin’– the best writing teacher since…The Page. Next client is waiting in line, now go sell your novel.’


‘The line out there, the, uh…’


‘Ugh, the line withered into...’

“Rodguh, I need ya!”

Roger locked up his computer and opened the office door only to find Maddie’s volume triple.


He rounded the corner, shoulders slouched and face defeated, and stood in her sights atop the stairs. Maddie held her breath for an entire half-second. “Rodguh, how many times duh I have to call ya?”

“I was writing, hun.”

Roger called Maddie ‘hun’ because she liked the ‘uh’ sound. It was an ingrained element of her personality gifted by her parents at birth, electing to spell her name ‘Matilduh’ in what would be the beginnings of a lifelong lesson in confidence. Roger thought it was silly, but his attempts at calling her Maddie were as unfruitful as any other recent attempt he made at curbing her rigidness. ‘Hun’ provided her the sound she loved, and thus sufficed.

“Oh yes, your writing. Anothuh best seller I’m a certain.” She turned to hide her snickering face, but Roger was enough of a writer to see through her backside.

He finished the stairs and replied meekly, “Yes, hun, probably another failure, but I’m trying.”

“If tryin’ won awards or incomes, I’d be a millionaire fuh doin’ all I can tuh get ya to put that evil computuh in the trash.”

“Should I be reduced to using a pencil?”

“Don’t ya get smart with me. Yah been passed over three years now, and it’s cuz yah spending yah nights and weekends writin’.”

“I used to put in the hours and you complained I was never here.”

“Women come tuh know just how much they really need a man around. I need ya to run to the store fuh me. Ya must need some quirky gadget for yah computah, or anothuh how-to book on writin’ (she ate the smirk without turning this time). I need some snacks for the kids tuhmorruh. Go get me some.”

Unable to address the order, he replied with, “Why do we feed kids snacks at church? They get donuts after.”

“Just quit analyzin’ everything in hopes of findin’ a novel idea. Snacks.”

“Hun, how do you still go to church?”

“Rodguh, ya just lack confuhdence, not God. That’s why ya write instead of earn. Ya gotta get some spine back in ya. I felt it when I wrapped my arms around ya on our honeymoon. Ya had a firm spine then, but it done left ya. Now, go get me them snacks, will ya?”

His left foot twitched, but he cowered as conditioned. He drove away as the winter’s dusk was settling. Maddie, performing her routine investigation, entered his office and unlocked the computer (password = ‘maddiehun’). Poor soul done lost his confuhdence intuh the computah.

Roger returned home with a large, open box and set it on the counter.

“Ya clean ‘em all out of how-to’s? Where’s the snacks?”

Facing her, he replied, “I didn’t get the snacks.”

Roger rushed up the stairs.

“What ya mean ya didn’t get me the snacks? Rodguh!”

He was out of sight, making noise in the office. Maddie remained planted. Roger swiftly returned with a boyish grin, holding the PC in his arms.

“What ya doin’, Rodguh? What’s in the box?”

“Your confidence, Maddie.”

Roger lifted the PC over his head with both hands, then sent it crashing into the tiled, kitchen floor. Parts shattered across the room and Maddie shrieked in horror; a spark from ignition.

Roger turned and began making his way up the stairs. Feeling her question stare through him, he replied confidently, “Up tuh bed. Church in the mornin’, and don’t see us-uh sleepin’ much tuhnight, hun.”

The current of his consonance weathered Maddie’s rock face a million years, giving it smooth curves, and the rekindled fire in her eyes melted the ice from her upper lip. She hurried up the stairs, leaving the shrapnel on the floor and the box unchecked.

There in the box sat an angelic typewriter with a nearly blank page held round its platen. A third down the page were three words filling the void with purpose, ‘MATILDA THE HUN.’

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This article has been read 933 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 07/12/07
Wonderful characterization and dialog! I read this twice, drew new things out of it the second time...and the last three words are perfect. Love the phrase "oxymoronic metaphor", however did you think of it?

These characters are rich and intriguing. Great job!
Dee Yoder 07/13/07
"...enough of a writer to see through her backside." That's my goal! I LOVE this story. It has layer upon layer of stuff that points to a pro wordsmith. That last line is perfection.
Julie Ruspoli07/13/07
I've read it three time and still don't know what to say except Amazing, simply Amazing!
Beth LaBuff 07/15/07
This is soooo funny. I love your "oxymoronic" word too. :) You have a creative imagination! Thanks.
Joanne Sher 07/17/07
This has such VOICE, such atmosphere. Love it!
Sharlyn Guthrie07/17/07
Good for Rodguh! I think I know this couple :-)

Such detail and depth. You are a skilled writer.
Sara Harricharan 07/18/07
Awww! I liked this ending (even though I feel sorry for his computer-heehee) Nice twist on the end and I liked the dialouge. Good job. ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/18/07
I enjoyed this very creative story. Your characterization is marvelous.
dub W07/18/07
Great characters and the dialog was wonderful. Hope this essay goes far.
Loren T. Lowery07/18/07
Handling this kind of dialect is no easy task and it looks as if you've done a fine job with an enlightening story unfolding as well. Nice job!
Catrina Bradley 07/18/07
Love the story, love the title, perfect ending. (I winced when the computer hit the floor, tho.) Great job!
Jacquelyn Horne07/18/07
I'd say Rodguh became confident!
Dixie Phillips07/18/07
Very creative and unique! Made me smile all the way through UNTIL HE BROKE THE COMPUTER.... YIKES! But I got my smile back because of the last line.
Terry R A Eissfeldt 07/18/07
As always enjoyable and fun. I know for me I need to read it a few times to try and find all your wit and charm that is layered so lovely in amongst strong words and phrases. I love smart writing!
Well Done!
Benjamin Graber07/20/07
I like it! Great job bringing the characters to life...
Linda Watson Owen07/20/07
I love it! and I dare say, Hemingway would too! ;-)