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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fellowship (among believers) (10/11/07)

TITLE: Rest In Peace, My Heart
By Jan Ackerson
10/17/07


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The grass had long grown over my husband’s grave—but the plot in which I buried my heart was dug fresh every day. My fault—the accident was all my fault—yet my lungs still expanded and contracted fifteen times each minute, stubbornly insisting that I continue to live. John was turning to dust now, and a sheen of dust blurred every surface in my home and in my soul.

A letter from my agent brought the bittersweet taste of irony to my throat: my second novel was outselling my first. It seemed that there was great appeal in owning a Christian chick-lit book written by a woman who had killed her husband. Additional printings had been ordered. The publisher was talking about a series of five books, each centered on a different women’s club.

The letter closed with a handwritten note: Come to lunch with me, Amanda. You have to leave the house eventually, you know. Are you working on the new book at all? I’d love to read a few more chapters some day soon…first of next month? I’m praying for you, girlfriend…Theresa.

I glanced at the stack of yellow pads on my desk—the first five chapters of my third book. Its working title: The Milk and Honey Cookbook Club. My main character was Melodie, a chirpy and headstrong entrepreneur who’d been causing trouble for me even before the accident. She was too pert, too quirky, too everything-I-had-never-been. Now I thought of her with a snort of derision—you wouldn’t be so spunky if you lost your jolly, curly-haired husband, would you, Melodie? You wouldn’t hang out with those Scripture-spouting estrogen factories if you were responsible for the death of your soul mate, would you?

And there it was—a way out of my writing slump. Christians shoot their wounded, I thought. Let’s see how Melodie’s Cookbook Club treats her now. With a row of freshly sharpened pencils close at hand, I started on a new yellow pad.

A few cruel pencil strokes later and Melodie’s life lay in ruins—husband and child both lost because of her foolish inattentiveness. At the start of the fourth page, I introduced an antagonist: Doris, a newcomer to the Cookbook Club, complete with a biting and judgmental spirit.

Over the lines of several yellow pads, Melodie and Doris waged their angry battle. The other girls in the Cookbook Club had their hands full with those two. I didn’t recognize my own writing. The characters were richly layered, their emotions raw, their lives exposed and their spirits bleeding. My previous books had been sugary fluff, but this was substantial, moody and dark.

I wrote for days.

I ate little and slept less.

And then it was over.

I slept for twenty hours and awoke ravenous. I slipped into too-loose jeans and a baggy sweatshirt and bought a quart of mint chocolate ice cream to celebrate. With the carton in my lap, I re-read the last page of the last pad.

…and as she watched Doris, Melodie realized that she was a stranger now. No longer a woman consumed by bitterness and pain, the love of three godly women had bestowed on her an unfamiliar softness, a lovely pastel glow.

Doris and Joy laughed together at the latest photographer’s proofs, and Louise and Clarissa hurried over to join them, the quartet of women’s heads bending over the desk. Auburn, blonde, silver, chestnut—I should join them, Melodie thought absurdly. My hair is black.

She took a step, but her stubborn heart shouted “No!” and she stopped, breathing deeply, struggling with her obstinate spirit.

The women’s voices faded—Melodie found Doris’s gray eyes—and they spoke to her of forgiveness, redemption, love.

Melodie took five more steps, and Doris squeezed her hand as she stepped into the shining circle of friends.


A glob of pale green ice cream dripped onto the yellow paper; I had forgotten to eat. If not for the backward slant of my awkward left-handed penmanship, I wouldn’t recognize this as my own work. This was not what I had intended to write. I had created a character to kill Melodie’s spirit, but Melodie and Doris, with their little Cookbook Club, were disinterring my buried heart.

I would call Theresa in the morning.


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This article has been read 1524 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 10/19/07
Wow, this is so, so good and rich in lessons to be learned.
Joanne Sher 10/19/07
Such depth here - and much to learn from it. Wonderful writing.
Leigh MacKelvey10/22/07
You turned a "pitiful feeling" MC into a woman refreshed and renewed by Chrsitian fellowship. She wrote herself out of her "horrid" guilt and emotions. A very clever and well written story using the topic and one of the great benefits of writing, release of one's feelings, in a most unigue way!
Joy Faire Stewart10/23/07
You captured the essence of grieve in the very first sentence. You can feel the MC's sorrow. Excellent!
Betty Castleberry10/23/07
This is defintely something writers can relate to, but it's more than that. I like your MC's healing and realization. Well done.
Debbie Roome 10/23/07
The hair colours really caught my attention! Lovely story with lots of depth.
william price10/23/07
Extremely rich and above well presented. The only thing, I didn't spot one spoonerism :).
Masterful again. God bless.
Laury Hubrich 10/23/07
Jan, this is so totally different than some of your other writings. You didn't make me giggle once. What's up with that? :) This was so good. We were really able to get into the MC head. Thank you so much for sharing with us!
Laury
Linda Watson Owen10/23/07
So remarkably creative! You never cease to amaze me. How do you spell masterfully versatile and spellbinding? I'd spell it 'J-A-N'!
Dee Yoder 10/24/07
I KNOW I read this, so where did my comment go?! Oh well. It's so good, I just wanted to keep right on reading. This is such a unique perspective on fellowship! I really enjoyed the interaction between the book character and the author. Wonderful.
Deborah Engle 10/24/07
So much story in 750 words, and done so well. Great story and great writing, as always. I had a feeling this was yours.
Beckie Stewart10/24/07
Oh my goodness....this is powerful.....I will have to read it over and over to catch all you are trying to say here.
Sara Harricharan 10/24/07
And yet another favorite for me. ^_^ I really like this one, especially the ending. The MS is just so real, I almost thought it was me who would react like that and slash across a perfect story into something like that, but it's so much better. Love the bit with the chocolate mint ice cream too. ^_^
Loren T. Lowery10/24/07
This is so good on so many levels - bravo on such a great story and lesson.
George Parler 10/24/07
How many times have we read, for the first time, what we were really writing. What-a-story. Wonderful job.
joe hodson10/24/07
Excellent! I really liked this one. It was creative and different in a uniquely good way. Very good.
Kristen Hester10/24/07
What an original idea. This is wonderful. I enjoyed each word. Your writing captivated me and didn't let me go. Great job!
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/25/07
Wow, this was a powerful story. I love it! I'd love to read the book. ;-)
Sara Harricharan 10/25/07
***Congrats!***
Mariane Holbrook10/25/07
An entry like this is the reason I read your challenge article ahead of every one else's. You are truly in a class by yourself. I cannot tell you, without gushing, how much I admire not only your flawless work but its genius quality.
Sheri Gordon10/25/07
Congratulations on your EC, Jan -- again. :) This story is really good, and the writing is excellent, as always.
Teresa Hollums10/25/07
Wow!! You are truly a real writer with a powerful message to those who have experience true depression. I am so impressed with your way of expressing your thoughts. Your depth and maturity sounds truly earned. Surely, surely you will try to publish something if this is a sample of what you do all time. Please let me know if every you do actually publish something. I promise you that you will definitely have l buyer and devoted fan. You have a gift and God gave you that gift. Please share it!!
Amanda D'costa10/25/07
Awesome. I'm lost for words.
Dawn Thomason10/26/07
Jan -
This is INCREDIBLE! I can almost picture myself being the MC - a "closet attacker". That you for the beautiful picture of forgiveness. Thank you also for teaching me, from a distance, how to become a better writer. You didn't use the word fellowship, but you captured it perfectly. God bless!
Dawn
Alisa Wagner10/26/07
I love your intricate sentence structures. I'm trying to examine your punctuation, so I can gain some confidence and stretch a little in my writing. It's easy to get comfortable, but I'm challenged to do better! I wonder how difficult it is to get every page in a book to read like this article.