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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: Dreams Forsaken
By Peter Stone


“So why am I here, exactly?” queried my nineteen-year-old niece as she sat next to me. The lantern I had placed beside us cast flickering light throughout the abandoned tannery’s darkened interior. Eerie, dust-laden cobwebs clung to every wooden beam, workbench and table, causing her to shudder.

I glanced at her innocent face untouched by grief, and wished yet again that I had been born in her day rather than mine. “For emotional support.”

“Then I’m not in any danger, Aunt Margryte?” she asked unsurely.

“Of course not, Geruscha,” I said while smoothing down a ruffle in my threadbare black mourning dress.

“Do you know who owns this place?”

“I used to. Well, I guess I still do.” Memories of better days from decades past superimposed themselves over broken chairs and dilapidated benches. I bit my lip to keep deep inner pain at bay.

“So why don’t you sell it? Seems structurally intact; surely there’s a tanner who would buy it from you?”

“You ask a lot of questions, Geruscha,” I protested.

“You did ask me to come tonight,” she pouted.

“So I did. I keep this place because it suits my purposes on the odd occasion, such as tonight,” I answered after a moment.

Geruscha’s next question died on her lips when the front door swept open to admit a badly scarred man dressed in the garb of a common mercenary. I laid a hand on her forearm to reassure her.

Aged wooden floorboards groaned under unaccustomed weight as the man approached us. Cold eyes met mine, and then studied my niece as though she was a horse for sale. “Who’s this?” he grunted.

“This is Geruscha, my niece,” I replied in an icy tone that matched his expression.

“Why is she here?” he snapped.

“Well, let me see,” I said dramatically, “perhaps to add some light to these enchanting clandestine meetings we have.”

Returning his attention to me, the man slapped a cloth purse on the run-down table before us. I refused to give him the satisfaction of acknowledging the money.

Anger flashed briefly in his eyes. “Will you not even inquire as to my progress?”

“Oh, why not, since it obviously means so much to you. Tell me, what you have achieved of late?”

He held up three fingers. “It took me nigh on three years to comb every inch of Stühlingen, but thirteen more of our enemies have been brought to justice.”

I leaned forward slightly, careful not to overbalance the rickety chair. “Do you feel better now? Did you find this gratifying?”

He was not impressed. “It is not about satisfaction. It is about justice.”

“You mean revenge,” I clarified.

“Whatever,” he snarled. “You know this has to be done, Margryte. Those men must be brought to justice for the magnitude of their crimes. I will not permit those murdering vermin to do such heinous deeds and then simply melt back into society by assuming new identities.”

A cloud of dust swirled upward into twinkling lantern light as I plucked the purse from the table. “That was twenty-five years ago. When will you tire of this quest?”

“When I’ve found them all, Margryte, and not before,” he said before quitting the tannery without a backward glance. He vanished into the midnight air.

My niece found her voice. “Who was that man, Margryte?”

“My husband, Geruscha,” I admitted.

“Walther Sighard? I thought he perished in the Peasants’ War of 1525,” she exclaimed.

“That’s what he wants them to think, Geruscha.”

“Them, Aunt Margryte? You mean the leaders of the revolt?” she pressed.

“Not just the leaders, Geruscha, all of the insurgents who perpetrated the massacre of Weinsberg. In the past twenty-five years he has hunted down and slain over ninety of them,” I answered from a great distance.

“But, Lady Margryte, you sound as though you disapprove. Did not those rebels kill your parents and two of your sisters, as well as thousands of our people?”

I nodded. “Yes, they did. But you know? I had thought us lucky when we survived. We still had each other, two darling little boys, and this tannery. I wanted to get on with our lives, but not Walther. He became obsessed with revenge--an obsession that cost him not only a loving family that needed him--but also his dreams and future. Tonight was the fifth time I have seen him in twenty-five years.”

“I don’t know what to say, Aunt Margryte.”

“Just walk me home, Geruscha.”


Romans 12:19 (NIV) Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18 (NIV) 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.’

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This article has been read 1451 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 02/21/08
Excellent lesson in well-written story.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/21/08
The descriptions really work to establish an atmosphere of mystery. Then your conclusion perfectly illustrates the adage for this week.
Seema Bagai 02/22/08
A captivating story. I was drawn in and riveted throughout.
Patty Wysong02/22/08
There was no way I was going to stop reading this! You put me right there with them. What a waste of life--excellent example of the topic. (and I loved the historical setting!!)
Lyn Churchyard02/23/08
Very well written. How sad to want revenge so much you would destroy your own family. Right on topic.
Debbie Wistrom02/23/08
Very intriguing and right on topic, did this have some actual history behind it? Vivid descriptions of the tannery.
Glynis Becker02/24/08
I was completely gripped, wanting to know so much more. Vivid descriptions and dialogue are all well done.
LauraLee Shaw02/24/08
I am captivated by the way you developed the setting which put me right in the middle of the scene. Your descriptions of the details as well as the behaviors are perfectly placed in the piece to bring the proverb to life. Without a doubt--masterful.
Sally Hanan02/24/08
This was a great example of hatred and revenge. My favorite line was: Memories of better days from decades past superimposed themselves over broken chairs and dilapidated benches. And you did the em dashes right!! :)
Beth LaBuff 02/25/08
Amazing story...eloquently written. I would love to hear the pronunciation of the names. I only worked out who the man was a couple sentences before you revealed his identity. This is perfect for the topic.
Joy Faire Stewart02/25/08
Great first paragraph, drawing the reader into the scene. Riveting story and perfect for topic. Excellent!
Jan Ackerson 02/25/08
You are SO good at this! I don't understand how anyone can find history boring--they need to read your work, which places us right in the scene. Masterful.
LaNaye Perkins02/25/08
What a wonderful and historical piece of writing you have here. Awesome work.
Catrina Bradley 02/26/08
I like this - and I wish I knew my history better. :) Good job spinning this mysterious tale.
Sara Harricharan 02/27/08
oooh...a good mystery! The dark and stormy night, the mysterious person...and oh, yes, of course a lady in black! ^_^ I liked this! My only note is once her niece called her Lady, instead of Aunt. Was that deliberate? The ending was good-nice job! ^_^
Shirley McClay 02/27/08
Haunting and chilling. Wow. I want to read more!
Loren T. Lowery02/27/08
A very compelling, atmospheric read, not to mention a great history lesson. You make learning a joy! Your descriptive writing style is top drawer. One thing to note when you are making a conditional "as if" phrase, such as "looked at her as if..." use the conditional verb were and not was. Other than that this was simply grand, use of native names and all!
Joshua Janoski02/27/08
You make me want to study the history behind this story after reading it. I can defintiely see why you are in the "Masters" category. This was masterful writing indeed! Very suspenseful. :)
Sheri Gordon02/27/08
Wow, this is excellent writing. You had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning. Wonderful example of the topic.
LauraLee Shaw02/28/08
Patrick Whalen02/28/08
It is always so very tragic to see how the desire for revenge can twist and warp a person cuasing them to waste their life. Very moving and an interesting read.
Sara Harricharan 02/28/08
***Congratulations!*** Awesome writing! ^_^
Sheri Gordon02/28/08
Congratulations on your EC, Peter. This is very good.
Sharlyn Guthrie02/29/08
Excellent and compelling! Congrats on your EC.