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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)

TITLE: The Bullet Hole
By Lisa Holloway


The bullet hole never bothered me until I loved him. He faced away from me in the swimming pool, splashing water and playing with us in a way that was rare for him with his quiet nature. Yet there it was, staring at me, sunken and scarred in his shoulder.

And I had all my father's guilt to bear for it.

My father had shot my father. Calling the victim my stepfather didn't change that. He was the one there doing the hard stuff day by day. He was the one who forgave me for breaking the window glass in a fit of wordless anger and who dealt with all the baloney six kids can dish out day after day. He was the one who dressed up and went to church with us on Sundays, simply because my mother thought it was important--and my mother was important to him.

One bullet through the rear window, glass opening to accommodate its violence. Another bullet, more accurate than the first. The blue station wagon jerked and stopped. This man who would become my father in my heart leaned through the door, spitting blood.

My father held his weapon at the ready as he made his way methodically across the empty yard. His own friends sat in another car swigging beer, enjoying the show, doing nothing.

Did he even notice I was there before my small body hung from his arm trying to stop him as he raised the rifle for another shot? Did God see us there, each struggling in our way to make time move backwards? He must have. The rifle jammed and my father left in a car full of onlookers.

Only minutes later, I stood alone in an empty yard, watching the ambulance leave with my new father, leave with my mother, a confirmation that our lives would never be normal.

But the years went by and life became normal--hectic, loud, and full of drama instead of the peace I always wanted . . . but normal. We were a family, for better or worse.

My new father taught me responsibility, watched me graduate, bought new tires for my car when I was too proud to ask for them.

My blood father battled alcoholism and the demons of his past almost up until his death, but we found forgiveness and a closeness that surprised me. His unquestioning acceptance embraced me during times of confusion.

I called them both Dad and avoided speaking of one in front of the other. I loved each for himself and knew my affection was returned. But who's to say which is more my father? Blood is thicker than water, but surely there's more to being a parent than blood or a whole world of children wouldn't be aborted, abandoned, and abused.

I had two fathers . . . and they both loved me well. And I thank God for them both.

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This article has been read 783 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Wistrom04/17/08
Your title intrigued me and your first line had me. What a great story, true or not. If true you are truly blessed. Keep up the good words.
Holly Westefeld04/17/08
I was hooked from the title onward, and glad to learn that God brought blessing through each relationship.
Sheri Gordon04/18/08
This memoir was captivating from the beginning. Some very wise words in here.

Personally, I would have avoided the "blood is thicker than water" cliche--your words and thoughts stand on their own.

Nice job with the topic.
Debi Derrick04/19/08
Wow. Powerful commentary on the truth of finding peace in difficult relationships. Nicely done.
Beth LaBuff 04/20/08
You definitely caught my attention with your title. Then I was taken off guard with , "My father shot my father." What a heart-breaking, life-changing situation your describe. I love how you describe what your life became, "normal--hectic, loud, and full of drama…a family." Your "for better or worse" comment is perfect here. You were blessed to have your "new father." And blessed in showing forgiveness to your biological father."
Gregory Kane04/21/08
I particularly enjoyed the flashback here, although you also have a nice touch for misdirection. As has been said your penultimate paragraph is a bit clichéd. Even the alliteration of “aborted, abandoned, and abused” detracts from rather than adds to the flow of the story. But all in all the story sizzles with creativity and compassion.