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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: Trepidation's Shadow
By Dara Sorensen


April, 1869

The early spring wind howled outside the Symington household. Though it was afternoon, the sky resembled nightfall. The darkness mirrored the feelings within young Sophie’s heart.

She walked unsteadily to the parlor where Father had summoned her. Her hands and forehead were clammy; the dread she felt added to her already queasy stomach. She knew Father discovered her secret: she was with child—and unmarried.

She had seen the signs weeks before—the nausea, the tightening of her corset, the lack of her menses. She’d tried to hide it, but her constant absence from the breakfast table raised suspicion.

Oh, God in heaven, what am I to do? Only He could help her now.

She stopped at the entrance of the parlor. Father stood at the far end of the room, looking out at the streets of Yokohama.

“Father? You…you asked for me?”

“I believe you know the reason I called you here this morning.” He turned from the window, his dark green eyes conveying the fire that Sophie knew burned within him.

She remained silent, averting her eyes from his imposing form.

“Throughout your seventeen years, I’ve given you everything--money, connections, lessons from the finest tutors.” His heavy footsteps echoed on the hardwood floor. “I’ve given you a comfortable life.” He stopped in front of her, inches from her face. “Look at me now, Sophia.”

She moved her eyes to meet his. Every part of her shook in his shadow.

“Tell me: How have you shown your gratitude? By getting pregnant by an Oriental!” He roared.



His hand hit her right cheek, the force of the slap sending her to the floor.

“That indecent affair with the Iesada fellow wasn’t enough for you.” He kicked her, sending a shot of pain throughout her body. “You disgraced me further by conceiving his child!” He grabbed a handful of her auburn hair and picked her up. “You will shame this family no more!” He let go of her hair, thrusting her head down in the process.

Sophie whimpered. “Father…I’m sorry…”

He ignored her plea. “I am calling a doctor today to rid us of your…problem.”

“No!” She clutched her stomach to protect her unborn child from such a fate. “I won’t let you!”

“You made your choice the moment you shared your bed!” He grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her upstairs to her room, throwing her inside. “Expect the doctor in three hours time.” He slammed the door, locking it behind him.

God, please don’t let him do this! He can’t kill my child…

“Miss Sophie.” She turned to the quiet voice of her maid, Miyu.

“Miyu-san! How did…”

Miyu held a finger to her lips and held up a key. “We leave tonight, Miss Sophie.” She looked behind her and locked the door again, handing Sophie a simple well-worn dress. “I hear everything.”

“I don’t understand…”

“No time, no time,” Miyu spoke quickly, her English heavily accented. “We leave now for family in north Tokyo.” She began to undo the buttons on the back of Sophie’s dress.

“Why, Miyu-san? Why are you doing this for me?”

Miyu stopped and looked at her. “You are like sister to me. And now I help my sister.”

“But you’ll never be able to come back…”

“You need help more than I need job.” She smiled sadly. “Turn.”

Sophie nodded, amazed at the sudden turn of events. Miyu helped her dress quickly and unlocked the door. “We go this way, “she said pointing towards the back staircase.

“But won’t the other servants see us?”

“Yes, but they love Miss Sophie as much as I do. They will let no bad thing happen to you. Come.” She grabbed her hand and led her down the hall.

Time seemed to stop as Miyu led her from her house through the busy streets of Yokohama and Tokyo. The sun had nearly set by the time Miyu had pointed out her family’s house at the end of the street.

A sudden sense of apprehension came over Sophie. “Miyu-san…Miyu-san, what makes me fit to live with you and your family? I’m just a strange foreigner to them.”

Miyu squeezed her hand. “You have no need for fear any more. You and baby will be safe.”

Sophie smiled for the first time in months. “You’re right, Miyu-san. There’s no need to fear now.” She squeezed Miyu’s hand and went forward, the promise of a new life a few steps in the distance.

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This article has been read 1121 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sheri Gordon08/30/07
This is really good. Very well written. Your dialogue and descriptions put me right in the middle of the story. Good job.
Kathy Bruins08/30/07
I like it. It kept me interested and wanting more. Great job!
Gabrielle Morgan08/31/07
Very well written story. I was impelled to read to the end. It dealt well with the abortion issue and trust in God to answer prayer. Well done!
Jan Ackerson 08/31/07
Great title, really evocative story. I'd love to know more about these people...why were they in Japan? Why was the servant so helpful? What will become of the heroine? More, please!
Rhonda Clark08/31/07
Wonderful!! You had me all the way through. I could feel the angst and fear; the father's anger. This was absolutely great.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/01/07
Your story is so well written that it invites anger for the father, sympathy for the mc, and gladness for the servant with her solution. It also leaves the reader with a desire to know more.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/01/07
The "Date" in the beginning made me think that in the end we would know the Great Person this "problem" baby became. I don't know why, but I was disappointed that I didn't have a name to go with the story. Well written.
Mark Bell09/02/07
Draws the reader in early. Strong emotion. Good dialogue. Kept me reading to the end, and left me wanting more. Well done. I hope the rest of the story is coming soon.
Dee Yoder 09/03/07
Very well written and described. The setting is exotic, the characters are richly drawn, and the plot is intriguing. The makings of a good story!
Sherrie Jackson09/03/07
This story definitely could be expanded, with all the historical and cultural textures waiting to be explored. Your dialogue was great and the action, well-described.

It was tough reading the paragraph where father abused daughter, but it certainly made me care and I was happy at the conclusion. Excellent job this week!
Joanne Sher 09/03/07
Excellent sense of place as always, Dara. I also would have loved to hear more "backstory" - is this a novel waiting to happen? I'd buy it! Very compelling.
Jacquelyn Horne09/03/07
Very heartwarming story. I wanted it to go on!
Myrna Noyes09/04/07
Very interesting, absorbing story! I liked your title, your characters, your plot. I would have liked to know what happened to the baby's father, among other things. It would be nice to be able to read more! :) Good job!
Lynda Lee Schab 09/04/07
Oooh...I was so caught up in the story I found myself hugely disappointed when it ended. Great dialogue, wonderful pacing. Well done!
George Parler 09/05/07
Woo-hoo! This is great. What an emotional ride that was; anger, fear, sadness, and joy. Well done.
LaNaye Perkins09/05/07
Ohhhh, I wish this were a book so I could sit down and read it for hours. Awasome writing!
Marty Wellington 09/06/07
Congratulations, Dara! This was a most enjoyable read - but then yours always are. Bravo!
Sheri Gordon09/07/07
Congratulations on your highly commended. This was one of my favorites.