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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: “Troubled Young Child”
By Frank Salerni


“Troubled Young Child”

The winds blew steady as the sails tore under the intense pressure. The salt stung hard as it replaced the saline within my eyes. My hands were so cold that my fingers ached with pain as I held on to the hemp rope that tethered the ships only lifeboat. I clung to that rope for my retched life.

I remember kicking a man away from reaching up and grasping it as he swam the surface of the water soaked deck at my feet. The creaking of the ship was almost music to my ears as I let the boat down into the icy sea. The flashes of lightning illuminated vast whitecaps, and the cries for help were buried in the crack of thunder.

As Capitan of the vessel I was NOT going down with the unsavory crew. My dog stared over the rail barking, pleading, but I paid her no attention. This was the last I ever saw of the “Maiden’s Voice.” She was a fine vessel, but now, torn asunder at the unscrupulous hands of the sea.

The rustling of paper broke the silence of my own thoughts as I reached into a bag of corn chips. I took a sip of soda.

“Hey Rasmus, fetch. I watched as my dog bounce off of my bed to snap the chip I hurled out of the air.

Before returning to my homework I stretched and yawned loudly. My thoughts, once again were back at the sea as I continued to spin a tale of pirates and treasure.

… Alone in the dark, hoping for sight of land, wondering if my breath could withstand the night air, I heard a momentous splash next to my lifeboat. It was Scully, my rudder mate. He grabbed the aft rail as I plummeted his bony knuckles with my wooden oar. He wailed as he swallowed a good portion of the oceans nectar and as he began to vanish from my sight I spoke.

“Ye are vermin, Scully. Ye are not fit for the likes of a Great White!”

His moans were almost instantaneously silenced by the oceans undertow.

My bedroom door flung open as my little sister barged into the self-gloom of my troubled writings, and startled, I nearly fall off my bed.

“Tanya, I’m gonna…”

“Gonna’ what, Ethan?”

“I’m gonna’… Ethan paused and tapped his pencil against his front teeth before commenting… “I’m gonna’ burry you up to your neck in sand, and let the crabs eat at your face if you don’t get outa’ here!”

Just then, the phone rang and Ethan picked it up saying, “Hell-o?”

“Hey, Toby.”

Toby was always trying to get one up on Ethan. Once Ethan put walnut shells on a cats paws, filled them with paraffin wax, and then slid the cat on to a frozen lake. Toby then released a dog just to watch the cat panic at the attack.

I think I’m gonna’ gross out Halley tomorrow in creative writing. Oh, mine is about pirates and stuff. How ‘bout you? Yea, hangings are cool… any spilled guts, or giant grizzlies ripping flesh, or evil demons? Well, I need to get back to work, but I wanted to know if you were going to church tomorrow? Ok, see ya’ in Sunday school.”

Ethan daydreamed for a moment and thought, “I can’t wait until tomorrow when Jimmy and I eat a worm in front of Halley’s friends. I think I love her. What am I saying? I wonder if there were any pirates in Jesus’ time here on Earth? When I grow up I’m gonna’ hang out with all the science geeks, so I can dissect frogs!”

As he looked into the mirror he felt the spikes on the top of his jet-black hair and then flexed a bicep. His manor of dress matched all of his friends even though they thought they were unique individuals. They all dressed “Goth” and were pierced at a very young age.

What would become of this 12-year-old boy, bent on gore and hate?

Ethan grew up to be Pastor of “Crossroads Christian Chapel.” He married Halley’s sister, Julie, a missionary to Africa with Toby as his best man. He served eight years as a Chaplin at Community Hospital’s W.E.D.C. “Ward for Emotionally Disturbed Children.” He came home faithfully each night to his wife and three children.

I guess you can’t always tell a book by its cover…

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Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 02/07/08
I like the way this story ended, but it had a lot of POV shifts (from first person to third, etc.) Those distracted me as I read. I think, with a little polishing, this could be a very effective testimony story-especially with teens-of how God can use anyone, no matter what kind of life they've led! The last line is certainly true for many Christians!
Joanne Sher 02/07/08
Great descriptions. I felt like I was right there with these guys. Good message, though it seems, to me, that maybe it is the opposite of the proverb. Maybe not, though - regardless, a good read for sure.