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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)

TITLE: Stinky Poo


Thirteen-year-old Sarah stood in the kitchen doorway; arms firmly folded. Defiance kindled her annoyance. Tension grew as she watched her mother fill the dishwasher. “I’m not going.” Sarah declared. “Give me one good reason why I should.”

“It’s only going to be a month. Please Sarah; you know your father needs this cruise to help with his recovery.”

“But Aunt Carla…stinks.” She knew it wasn’t a nice thing to say but it was true. Everyone knew it.

Sarah remembered their visit to her Aunt Carla at Christmas. She lived in a sun-bleached clapboard house in an old neighborhood. With no car, she walked once a week to the store and post office. Her only apparent regular visitor was a nurse every Wednesday. Sarah recalled the embarrassment she felt when they took her smelly aunt to the Christmas service.

Her mother’s voice drew her back to the present. “I know how you feel about your Aunt Carla but she’s close to school. You won’t be with her all day every day. Even church is nearby and you can phone Pastor Jim for transport to youth group.”

Sarah unfolded her arms and opened her mouth to respond stopping short at the sight of her father staggering in from the yard. His mouth drooped on one side and spittle hung in mid-air about two inches from his bristly chin. She turned and ran to her room throwing herself onto her bed.

Minutes later the door open. She turned her head toward the sound. Sarah’s red eyes met her mothers’. “I want my daddy back.”

“You will, Sarah. The doctor said it will take time and this cruise will help. He’s fortunate the stroke didn’t affect his walking.”

“Okay, I’ll go to Aunt Carla’s.”

Sarah ate her breakfast in silence ignoring her aunt sitting opposite. The kitchen smelled musty and mingled with the naphthalene which lingered in the air throughout the house. Neither had spoken much since she had arrived three days earlier. In the evenings the only sound had been the tinkling of silverware against old dinner plates while they ate their evening meals. The spacious sunroom, consisting of a large comfortable day bed, a closet and an antique table, is where she would stay… out of Aunt Carla’s way.

“Would you like something special for supper tonight?” Aunt Carla asked. “I can make hamburgers and chocolate chip cookies; your father’s favorites.”

Packet macaroni and frozen pizzas her aunt had prepared previous nights, invaded Sarah’s already depressing thoughts. “That’s okay; whatever you want?”

Aunt Carla rose to her feet and wheezed heavily; her foul breath caused Sarah to cringe. The older woman took her breakfast plate to the sink and stood with her back to her niece.

Sarah felt a pang of unexpected guilt. She finished her breakfast and hurried to collect her things for school. Her aunt was still at the sink when Sarah passed the kitchen on her way out. She heard her aunt sniffle and watched as she removed a tissue from her pocket. Leaving the room noiselessly, Sarah step outside and closed the door.

“Sarah, what’s ya doin’ at Stinky Poo’s?” She looked up to see a face disappear back through the window of a passing school bus.

Keeping her eyes downward, Sarah began walking in the direction of school. She quickened her step and almost immediately bumped into someone approaching from the opposite direction. Sarah uttered an apology and knelt to pick up the items the woman had dropped. Sarah lifted her head and realized this woman was the community nurse. “Oh, you must be going to see my aunt.”

“Yes, I’m Jenny and you must be Sarah. Carla’s been so excited about you coming to stay. Um…I overheard that boy. I’m sorry. It must be hard to hear people say such nasty things about your aunt. They just don’t understand that some forms of terminal lung disease cause the body to produce odor from dying cells.”

“What? Oh…yeah. I…I…I better get to school.”

Sarah’s heart pounded and her breathing accelerated but it had nothing to do with her vigorous walking. She began to cry thinking about the terrible things she had said and thought about her aunt.

Oh God, I’m so selfish. Help me to be a friend to Aunt Carla. Please look after Daddy and make him well. I think you have a few things to teach me while I’m here. Let me learn…

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This article has been read 872 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 04/24/08
This is a very good story. We all need to know the rest of the story, so to speak, before we are so quick to jump to conclusions, not just kids. Very good writing!
Beth LaBuff 04/25/08
This one tugs on the heart. I think this lesson in compassion is good for all of us. (I think I'll have my daughter read this, she's interested in nursing). I like this sentence, "Defiance kindled her annoyance." Your ending is good and welcome. Your title is cute/fun. I really like this.
Sheri Gordon04/26/08
Wow--that was an unexpected ending. I think your story really illustrates that we often don't give kids enough credit. If Sarah had been told the truth about her aunt, their time together would have been much different. She really did have a compassionate heart.

Nice job with the topic. And I love the title.
Ruth Neilson04/26/08
This is actually really heart breaking for me. I hate the fact that sometimes it takes a person a harsh wake-up call like that for them to realize how valuable a person is to them...
Joanne Sher 04/27/08
I wasn't expecting that ending! Your characterization was very good - and I love your descriptions - so subtle, but definitely getting across the message you were attempting to portray. Nice job.
dub W04/27/08
Well done. The last line of the prayer says it all.
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/27/08
Very good message, and written well, too. Many of us don't stop to understand why people are the way they are.
Joanney Uthe04/28/08
Excellent story with a great message. Great characterization also.
Lynda Schultz 04/28/08
Assuming that the information is correct (and I am) I didn't know that lung cancer could do that to a person. Obviously no one else did either. I wanted more information about why the other members of the family didn't know about the lung cancer, how the stroke happened, and about the difference tha turn-sround in attitude might have made. Sounds like you have a short story in here somewhere.
Yvonne Blake 04/28/08
Wonderful story, teaching a great truth! This would be great as a SundaySchool paper article for junior age kids. (although we all could be reminded to look at others as God does)
Jan Ackerson 04/28/08
Wonderful title, great story, peopled with realistic and sympathetic characters.

A few semicolon issues here and there, nothing major.

I enjoyed the pacing of this, and the mixture of dialogue and action.
Debbie Wistrom04/28/08
Great story here. What a tough girl, should grow into a beautiful person on this inside. Touching ending, how many prayers like this are prayed? Not enough. Keep up the good words.
Betty Castleberry04/28/08
This made me think, and made me feel compassion for the aunt. Your piece is wonderfully written. Thumbs up.
Joshua Janoski04/28/08
You kept my curiosity up the entire time as to why the aunt smelled. it's so true that we mustn't judge people before knowing all of the facts about them.

This was a wonderfully written story. I appreciate you sharing it. :)
Chely Roach04/28/08
What a profound piece, with a universal message. Very nice...
Loren T. Lowery04/28/08
Thank goodness for the prompting of the Holy Spirit, even if it takes this guise: "Sarah felt a pang of unexpected guilt" Compassion and empathy can only come from one source and Sarah was slowly learning this. This story seems to hold a much broader range with its rich setting and characters.
Sharlyn Guthrie04/28/08
Empathy is difficult to learn at any age, but it sounds like your MC just got an effective lesson in it. I've never heard of the lung condition before. Thanks for telling us about that, too.
Willena Flewelling 04/29/08
Sarah's a great kid with a lot on her plate. She's going to pass those tests with flying colours, and her aunt will find a young friend in her.
Colin Swann04/29/08
If this is not a winner I'll eat my chocolate hat!!!
Karen Wilber04/29/08
A real defining moment for the MC--caught me by surprise too. Nicely done.
Peter Stone04/30/08
Excellent story, with a real gut-punch ending that I did not see coming. Encouraging to see the MC learning to look beyond herself and seek how to be friends with her aunt.
Dee Yoder 04/30/08
Oh, poor Aunt...but at least her niece had an awakening moment before it was too late. I didn't know that about lung disease, but it makes sense. What a touching story.
jodie banner04/30/08
This is a great story to remind people not to be judgemental. You did a wonderful job capturing the attitude of a young girl.
Joy Faire Stewart04/30/08
Excellent story with a wonderful message. Great ending.
Sara Harricharan 04/30/08
Oh, so sad! I do hope that Sarah learns a bit more from staying at Aunt Carla's. I felt sorry for both of them, it was like there were two emotions dancing closer then farther apart between them. Great job with this! ^_^
Patty Wysong04/30/08
What a good story! Such truth tucked in here, too. Good job!
Marita Vandertogt04/30/08
Great storytelling...you seemed to have packed quite a lot into 750 words. Great descriptions, with a good message at the end.
Pam Carlson-Hetland04/30/08
Excellent story, great writing, wonderful message. And I even learned something about lung cancer. Good job!
Pamela Kliewer04/30/08
Wow. This story has a great message. You told it well, holding my attention from beginning to end.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge04/30/08
Well written, compelling, touching, and convicting. Blessings, Angel
Catrina Bradley 04/30/08
Awww, I just love how this ended! I like Sarah; I'm not sure most teens would have learned the lesson. You can tell she's a Christian. Good characterization! The dialog sounds entirely natural, and the story flows well.
Mandy White05/01/08
Wow Chrissy, this was a great story. A wonderful lesson in compassion.
Lyn Churchyard05/02/08
Great story Chrissy, I loved that Sarah sought the Lord's guidance with her Aunt. Congratulations too, on placing 10th in your level and 31st overall. Well done girlfriend!
Beth LaBuff 05/02/08
Chrissy -- I was so glad this placed in the top 40! Congrats!