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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: birthday (05/23/05)

TITLE: The Inner Wave
By Sally Hanan


She chased the moon’s reflection as she drove along the shore, her foot pressed hard to the pedal; the gentle flow of the river in stark contrast to the fear that pounded through her heart ventricles at approximately 110 times per minute. Jennifer’s mother-in-law had just called to tell her that the game was up and Mark knew everything. He had gotten up for a glass of water and seen the evidence. She would need to watch her back, as he had flown out the door with a speed she had never known existed.

Mark gained some ground on her little 2 door, his old Beamer smoothly grabbing the road with each tire rotation. His lust for his intended prize pervaded every conscious thought, all reason lost within his core. Jennifer had taken everything from him-even his own mother's unending trust, stripped him of his manhood, and degraded his status with the rest of his family. This time she would pay. This time he would show them all…

Jennifer heard a squeal of brakes on the corner of Asphalt and Tarmacadam St. and lifted her eyes quickly enough to see his bumper hit the curb. She did not, could not stop; frantic alarm simply hastened her desperate flight to town.

“Jesus, oh Jesus, help me, I’m sorry for my sin, I promise I’ll do anything You ask, just let me get there safely. I know I’ve let you down Lord, I know I’ve been less than what you’ve required, but if my life has any value then make Mark’s car stay back until I reach safety. Why is he acting so psycho? Should I have gone through with the separation? Should I have let him keep on cheating? Should I have continued allowing Daniel to watch his father shout at me and hit me? Now this?? HELP ME LORD!”

Bright lights beckoned like a starry night sky; the city of loud noises, sweet smells, and security. This early in the morning traffic was minimal. She gripped the steering-wheel more tightly as if to show God that her prayers were sincere.

Daniel, her little one, lay sleeping like the young and almost sinless cherub that he was, at Grandma’s house. His subconscious mind was completely unaware of the chase his father was giving Jennifer on the city roads. He was also ignorant of the fact that Daddy had not been working a job with long hours and night shifts over the last few months.

Daniel’s birthday would begin in a few hours. He would be four and motherless if Daddy ran Mommy off the road in his rage. His birthday would be one of confusion in Grandma's trembling arms.

Jennifer screeched to a halt, her safety zone in sight. Drawing in a huge breath as if it were her last, her shaking hand yanked the keys and slammed the door. The noise of a car raced down the street, coming closer….

The car slammed into park beside her car. The driver’s feet hit the ground, hard soles clipping the air.

Jennifer ran for her life across the parking lot, fingertips pressed into the faux red crocodile skin of her purse. The sweat from her hand made it slither.

The noise of footsteps…


More footsteps….


Jennifer proudly stood first in line at Uncle Sam’s posh toy store for the first day of their annual super summer sale, and she was ready to be Daniel’s proud Momma, the one who had gotten him the toy he wanted on his birthday. The customer behind her was not Mark. There was no way Daniel’s daddy could ever beat her this year. For once, Jennifer could claim her rightful place as favorite parent of the day.

Back at Grandma’s house, Uncle Sam’s catalog lay idly on the kitchen island, Daniel’s present circled in red marker beside the sale’s opening day and time. Grandma shut it with a smile. Jennifer had just called her to say she was on her way home with her 70 % off prize buckled into the back seat. She also happened to mention the fact that she had passed Mark waiting for the tow-truck, and had given him a little drive-by inner wave as she slunked down behind the steering-wheel.

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This article has been read 1364 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Deikun05/30/05
I was completely confused by the ending of this story. Did I miss something? It went from a race for her life against an abusive husband to a birthday gift?
Lynda Lee Schab 05/31/05
The piece was a little confusing. If written a little differently, it could have been a humorous story but the part relaying the previous spousal abuse was sobering. The ending, to me, seemed an attempt to lighten up the story, which until that point was on the brink of intense and even sad. There wasn't clear focus throughout. But by either ending it on a more serious note or by changing the tone of the story to humorous,it could be very good.
If you're completely confused about what I just said, please email me and I'll try to explain myself a little better. LOL
Blessings, Lynda
Cheryl Thompson06/01/05
Unless I have completely missed it, I believe this article may at first sight give the impression of a victim of abuse...but I found something else through the words... parents racing to the store, even to the point of running each other off the road, in order to become...the favorite parent...the one who got the birthday present the child wanted..
Grandma...obviously in on it from the beginning...Right?
I think this was a clever article.
Maxx .06/04/05
I'm thinking that the drama of the first 2/3 of the story was so strong that it drowned out the more humorous ending at the bottom. I'm guessing that the parents are seperated (or near seperated) and thus competing for the "favored" status of their child. This was demonstrated by the race for the toy. It has an undercurrent of sadness ... lacking parental unity and love. It hurts the humor side (I had the same problem in "The Other Woman" in Favoritism). Strong descriptions... and way to grab the emotions! You had a thriller and didn't recognize it! lol! Certainly nothing to be embarassed about!
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/04/05
It was a rather shocking end, but over-all I really enjoyed it!
Debbie OConnor06/05/05
I agree with Maxx and Amy, this is a gripping read overall. Just needs a little tweaking to be a stunner.
Nancy Hardy06/06/05
This piece is exceptionally written with the only thing missing being, perhaps, an addition sentence or two in order to segue into the unveiling of the true nature of the nail-biting chase. I loved the change-up ending.
Joanne Malley06/08/05
Wow, what awesome writing...Amazing, just amazing!