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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)

TITLE: Marks From the Beast
By Ruth Neilson
08/05/07


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“Something needs to be done. I can’t keep on living like this.” Elizabeth stated with the pale blue dustpan in hand. The bruises from tonight’s argument stood out against her porcelain coloring. But that was normal—she probably deserved it.

I watched as her weary form bent to begin the nightly clean up of our home. Valuables were none existent in my home. Shattered glass shimmered in the dim light and I quietly watched my wife sweep up her mess.

“Elizabeth, our son didn’t doing anything wrong.” I stated, walking past her. “I’ll see you in a little while.”

A clatter filled the air as the broom and dustpan hit the floor. I spun around to gaze at my lovely wife. “No...” She whispered as we made eye contact.

“What did you say, Elizabeth?” My voice took on a dangerous tone.

Her doe eyes blinked twice as she stood. She was trembling but I had to admire her for her bravery. “I said no, Jon.”

She moved to pick up the broom and shuffled to the closet. “What did you say, Elizabeth?”

She remained quiet, making shuffling movements as she pulled a bag out of the closet. My hands clenched into fists as I crossed my arms over my chest. She didn’t look at me and I closed the distance between us.

Elizabeth stood her ground and a rough smile crossed my lips. I raised my hand, waiting for her flinch before I struck her.

***

I stand there, knowing that I have to get out. Knowing that I have to endure his anger one last time, and for all I knew, it might be the end of my life. According to my husband, Jon, our son never does anything wrong, even when he throws the vases against the wall, shattering them, and then following in his father’s angry path.

Today is the final straw. For the first time, I ordered my daughter upstairs and to lock herself in her room for her own safety. And today is the day that I knew I had to escape from here.

My husband’s fist makes contact with my cheekbone and I struggle to keep my feet underneath me. I need to keep standing, at least for my daughter’s sake.

Jon strikes me again, over and over, until I crumple to the floor. I can hear his smirk as he popped his knuckles and stalked towards the stairs.

“Clean yourself up, Elizabeth. I will see you in a few minutes.”

I remain there, waiting, bidding my time. I can’t leave without my daughter, and I can’t get her until Jon is sound asleep. It is only a matter of time now.

Precious time that I wonder if I actually have...seconds drag by and finally, I can hear his snorting snores. It was now or never. I wince and pick myself off the hardwood floor, I know I need to move quickly.

With more strength than I know I have, I run up the stairs, and tap three times on my daughter’s door. It is our signal. It is safe, for now.

“Momma,” she whispers as I grasp her hand.

“Not now, dear. I’ll explain everything later.” I retort, my voice equally as low.

A neighbor has offered us help, a refuge from the anger that lives in this house and now, I am going to take advantage of it. Safety is my concern.

First, to the neighbor, then... my mind freezes. I didn’t know where to go from the neighbor’s house. It doesn’t matter, I have to get my daughter out of here—now.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 08/10/07
Good decision, one others in the same position should take before it is too late. A needed reminder, well done.
Jan Ackerson 08/13/07
Sad and all-too-frequent.

I'm not sure that the switch in POV is effective here. Consider staying either in Jon's or Elizabeth's head for the whole piece. And you're a really good writer--I'll bet you can think of a way to give this commonly-told story a new twist of some sort.

You've created realistic characters, with a deft touch for dialogue.
Dee Yoder 08/13/07
I think the POV of the abusive husband is a unique voice. I agree with Jan, the switch from one POV to the other distracted me from the story for a bit. But, I like the bravery of the wife and her worry about rescuing her daughter. It's sad that too many times, the sons are already absorbing their father's ways of dealing with anger. Your story certainly fits the topic and strongly brought the destruction of this behavior to my attention!
Ed VanDeMark08/13/07
Like the others, the change in POV set me back a bit. Once I got use to it, it worked ok, not great but definately ok. So often we hear there is more than one opinion, or there are two sides to every story. You gave us that valuable insight. I do think the change would have worked exceptionally well had you had several chapters to work with. The story of sposal abuse is a story that needs to be told and re-told until it finally gets through. You told this story with an air of familiarity I hope comes from a keen immagination and excellent writing skills, as opposed to first hand experience.
Kristen Hester08/13/07
Great writing. I wondered why if she was going to leave him did she stand up to him and get beat up one last time? I thought she should have just agreed with him and then left when he was asleep. But this is very good. I kind of liked hearing both sides of the story. It made it interesting.
Joanne Sher 08/14/07
Very visual piece. Not sure how I feel about the POV change - but your descriptions and characterization were excellent.
TJ Nickel08/16/07
character flaw/inconsistensy in the antagonist, but tough subject dealt with...I applaud you writing this and there is a great deal of good writing shown.