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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)

TITLE: The Door, Ahead
By Maxx .


I reached. The knob, door knob, moved. My fingers scratched the wall, breaking already chipped, splintered nails.

My breath caught in ragged gulps. “Jimmy no. Jimmy, no …”

The knob seemed to float, drifting upward into an ever thickening pitch. It glinted, reflecting flames in the scuffed and grimy finish … like gemstones in a jewelry store choked in mud. Diamonds … like the one Jimmy promised …

Falling. My head hit the floor. I covered my face. “I ... I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.” Tears pulled at my already swollen cheek.

The dishes in the kitchen. The sink, spattered. I needed them cleaned. He hated dirty dishes. My belly clinched. If he finds them …

“Jesus loves me, this I know …” The words deep in my throat, hidden, from a childhood long stained and misused.

I twisted the knob, crawling to the hall.

My hand hit glass, shards sliced my palm as a gasp ripped through me. The broken frame, the picture, shattered on the floor beneath the scar on the wall. “No …” I hadn’t cleaned after he threw it.

The photo shook in my trembling grasp. Disneyland. Beaming by the Matterhorn. Jimmy had been so kind. Bought me a Tinkerbell necklace. “Oh, Jimmy …” I traced his form, perfect eyes, the smile that was never there anymore.

He’d thrown it, the frame, the picture, our memories … at me. I slumped against the wainscot, kissing the image of Jimmy as my shoulders curled.

I ran bloody fingers over knotted hair. He liked me pretty for him. It was my fault. I hadn’t brushed, no make-up. He was home early. I should’ve been ready in case. “Stupid girl. Stupid! Stupid!” I hit my forehead with my palm again, again, again.

“They are precious …” I bit my lip. “They are precious …” The words spit and caught. “Not true, can’t be.”

Smoke curled from the bedroom, a condemning serpent.

“I’ll try harder. Next time. My hair and the vacuuming.”

He’d hit me … as usual. His beer wasn’t cold enough. I never remembered when to put it into the fridge. But he hadn’t seen the dirty clothes, heaped by the washer.

His mother was an Army wife. Laundry every day. Folded, stacked.

I closed my eyes, pressing them against my knees, swaying, shuddering. So wrong. Images of a steeple, a white dress, a castle in the clouds flickered as if from an antique projector. Promises. Lies.

Fools gold.

I’d tasted the whiskey on his lips, tongue. “Jimmy, no.” I’d pushed. “Jimmy, no.” He was stronger. Drunk … even drunk … especially drunk.

“Ungrateful,” his voice was a growl, dark, evil; his words a slime of malevolence. “I’ll take what’s mine anytime I feel like it.” He laughed. “Pathetic.”

I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. Not again. Snarled hair, swollen cheek, and tears burning, ever burning, tormenting. Hell inside ...

… suffocating me, ME, everyday.

He’d passed out, finished, drool slick about the harsh stubble of his chin. The whiskey spilled, pouring from the bottle, drenching him, the sheets.

My dress had been torn. I looked bad. I’d stumbled, straightening my disheveled clothing over wobbling legs. Sore, tired … isolated. I’d reached for the sewing box.

Must be pretty for him.

I lifted the plastic lid.

The stink of stale sweat and flowing alcohol had twisted with anger and fear.

Somehow I knew there was supposed to be more, yet hope had died.

On the tray, thread, needle, scissors …

… matches.

Nausea crippled me. He was going to see the laundry.

I’d lit one …

… and fled.

The smoke detector screamed from the hallway ceiling above.

The picture fell from my hands, lost in the growing maelstrom of fire and ash. “Jimmy, I’m sorry …” Sirens drew near. I clawed the wall and stood. “They are precious in his sight.” I faltered in the thickening gloom. “Precious in his sight,” I coughed. Could it still be true? The door, ahead.

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This article has been read 1112 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Catrina Bradley 02/01/08
Stunning. Her conflicting emotions are expertly portrayed - her love bordering on worship, her fear, and her hatred of her husband, her hatred of herself that her husband has instilled in her. Her desperate attempt to hide her "wrongs" from him. "Jesus Loves Me" woven through the story, and her hope that it might be true.

Love it!
Marita Vandertogt02/02/08
Wow - for lack of a better word. This is extremely intense and very well done. It's sad to think some women probably live this kind of life, or variations of it. I found this very powerful -excellent excellent writing.
Annie Wurth02/02/08
Oh this is terrible! Oh this is awful! Did she get beaten and abused and then burn her husband / lover? Did I miss something? I actually feel sick!
Hanne Moon 02/02/08
Awesome writing. Perfectly portrays the conflicting emotions of abuse. Sometimes we need to be jolted back to the reality of our fallen world. You have done an excellent job with this!
Joanney Uthe02/02/08
This is soooo realistic: from the emotions to the triggers of his anger being such little everyday things. You do a great job bringing to light a very dark reality, and interspersing hope into it. This is powerful writing.
Paula Titus 02/02/08
Speechless - this is just brilliant.
Laury Hubrich 02/02/08
Okay, Annie brings up a good point. This is sickening but it is good for us to remember that women all over suffer abuse like this every day. This is very powerful, especially to get such a negative response! Keep up the great writing!
Sherry Castelluccio 02/02/08
This is stunning in its reality. If it's fact (the author actually lived this life) it's amazing how well those feelings were expressed. (To put it mildly.) If it's fiction, it's incredibly perceptive. Either way, it's absolute genius. Well done.
Betty Castleberry02/02/08
Shocking realism with vivid descriptions. This is very well done.
Amy Michelle Wiley 02/03/08
Very realistic feelings (from what I've heard) of her blaming herself. So terrible and sad. Very powerfully written.
James Dixon02/03/08
This is just the kind of well written, edgey writing the Church needs from time to time. Thanks.
Karen Wilber02/03/08
Vivid and, unfortunately, real. Stunning portrayal of the thoughts of an abused woman. All she had to hang on to were the words of two children's songs.
Pam Carlson-Hetland02/03/08
Absolutely breath-taking in realism. So very well written.
Laurie Walker02/04/08
POWERFULLY written. You can sense her fear and confusion through her scattered, frightened thoughts. It's never easy to write about, even if you haven't experienced it personally. I can't begin to tell you how deep this touched.
Debbie Wistrom02/04/08
How true to topic and how bold of you to go there. Thanks for the REALness of this sad story.
Sara Harricharan 02/04/08
wow. I think you more than nailed the topic here. There is so much emotion in your MC, it spills over into the reader with every line. The hope at the end, it's there, I think. Really descriptive writing! ^_^
Joanne Sher 02/04/08
Wow. I think I just stopped holding my breath. I'm still trembling. This truly is masterfully done.

(I really, REALLY wish you hadn't used the phrase "fool's gold", because the judges HAVE to mark you down for it)

Mary Hackett02/04/08
This story was drastic. Wow. It takes some courage to write something that intense. The end didn't really bring closure to me. I wasn't sure if she tried to save her husband or just got out herself. Help, anyone?? Still, a very good story!
Pat Guy 02/04/08
I had a feeling ... and I figured it wouldn't take you long.

Great job Maxx ... now ... I'm on my way back to find something wrong ... hold on a minute ... and it won't be easy in an entry of choppy thoughts.

Okay ... so only a nick-pick.

" ... and fled." At first I thought she had fled the house.

I know, I know ... the next line places her in the hallway, but that was the best I could do. ;-) *sigh*

So, I guess, it's just almost, but not quite, close enough to perfect. ;-)
Linda Watson Owen02/04/08
Your ability to put your readers inside the MC's head and to actually suffocate us there (as she was emotionally and physically) is awesome writing indeed! Not surprisingly, given who the author is, this piece shakes us to our toes with its stark dose of dark reality while offering that ever present but faint glimpse of light throughout. Remarkable writing!
Jan Ackerson 02/05/08
Another Maxxterpiece! Your imagery is stunning, and this could be held up as an exemplar for "showing."
Beckie Stewart02/06/08
This is absolutely heart wrenching to me because I know that this is too often not just a story, but someone's life and pain. This was well done.
Loren T. Lowery02/06/08
I don't think there is anything sadder than the loss of hope. When dreams are shattered by deceit and forces we are unable to control. That is until we know true hope can never be lost. What you have written is gripping and tangible in the anquish of your MC. The message unmistakable.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/06/08
absolutely awesome story of pain as a result of the truth of this proverb.
william price02/06/08
I really liked it. A story that needed telling. It prompted me to pray straight away. God bless.