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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: The Stalker's Curse
By Chely Roach


My stalker looms outside my window. Though he evades my sight, I sense his menacing presence. My peripheral vision catches just a glimpse, but all that remains when I look is the circle of fog on the pane from his stale, sulfur breath. I hum a hymn, and the stalker flees.

After three days of rain, the hymns and prayers can no longer keep him at bay. The stench of my stalker wafts under my door. Alas, I no longer have the strength to fight him. The downward spiral begins. This curse—this genetic shrapnel—is like a thistle spur in my shoe; I am unaware of its existence until I lean on it just so. The searing pain brings me to my knees. My stalker delights in irritating the shrapnel, until the wound is a festering boil, abscessed and pustulant. I curse this curse. I curse the rain.

A weeping willow is my family tree. This same stalker had preyed upon its weary branches—bending them low—bruising their tender flesh. He infiltrates the deepest roots with a slow, rotting disease, and then ecstatically watches the malignant splotches spread to its furthest leaves.

My mother’s mother was his first casualty. He whispered evil, vile thoughts into her ear; she held the blade over my mother’s throat. A twisted sacrifice—not like the obedience of Abraham with Isaac—this sacrifice was to Wormwood, who rejoices in all suffering. But the Keeper of the Book, the Creator of the stars, held His protective hand over my mother that day. The moment before steel could penetrate newborn flesh, a seemingly random intercessor stepped in. My week old mother went into foster care and her mother to the asylum. The stalker detonated his initial bomb, spewing shards of scourging shrapnel amongst the tender willow. I curse this curse. I curse the rain.

My mother—Mary—grew up in the house of a wicked woman named Rose. The stalker sowed insanity into Rose’s mind; she sadistically tormented Mary in indescribable ways. She was purposely cruel. She was broken. She did the stalker’s bidding, grinding salt into the every growing fissure on Mary’s soul, breaking her spirit in agonizing daily increments. I curse this curse. I curse the rain.

By her early forties, the stalker was an ever increasing presence in my mother’s life. He sucked the joy out of the blessings of her marriage and children. The stalker devoted decades to his favorite subjugate; coaxing her to eat his poisoned apple, drenched in double malt whiskey. Year by year—drop by burning drop—under the weight of her tormentor, the apple began to look ever the more appetizing. He softy breathed his venerable half truths, “I can free you from this relentless pain…you have suffered so much…peace is just one bite away.” She finally took of that apple, and as she drifted away from her earthly vessel, he was still persecuting her, “Go on, you weakling. Go to your God. Now I will start on those three.” Her last vision was him nodding toward the bedside photo of her children.

“No…” she weakly gasped. Only a trice later, she was in the presence of the Keeper of the Book. He spoke her name from its pages, as a bittersweet tear shone in His scintillating eyes. Her thousand pieces of fractured shrapnel lay at His holy feet. I curse this curse. I curse the rain.

So here I sulk—submerged in this spring storm—scowling at my stalker, who savors his grasp on yet a third generation. I have tried my best to remove any foothold for him to grasp. Determined to remain sober, and prayerfully worship the rightful King of kings. I command him in the name of the Lamb, to leave me alone; release my siblings. Get out of our weeping willow tree. He laughs at my invocation, and nods toward my children’s door, “You can’t guard them forever…I have enough shrapnel for them all.”

The thistle burrows deeper. “No, you’re wrong…this will end here. I will not tell them of you, and what you have done to our tree; nor the sins of my mother, or her mothers, either. I’ve seen letters I wish I could unread…words I long to UN-hear…knowledge of your deeds that I’d pay to unlearn. With the Armor of God, I will shield them from your plans beyond my death…because when it comes to you, evil one, ignorance is bliss.”

I'll break this curse. I'll love the rain.

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This article has been read 2321 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Wistrom05/01/08
Haunting and so well done. I loved your repetition, it tied it all together so well. I feel we may have a placer with this talented creation.
Jason Swiney05/01/08
Dark and deep, not one to read right before going to sleep. I liked the imagery produced throughout the piece, and I enjoyed the tiny morsel of hope you left at the end.
Tesiri Moweta05/02/08
Great piece. I liked the flow and the repeated line - very creative. I can relate with creating a new order in a family and you've pictured it so well. Welldone!
Beth LaBuff 05/03/08
Your title aroused my curiosity. Wow! This story is very gripping. I like this, "This cures--this genetic shrapnel--is like a thistle spur in my shoe," and your reference to "Wormwood". I like the repitition of your "I curse this curse. I curse the rain." Then your ending, "I'll love the rain." Amazing writing with this!
WOW! I cried as I read this piece. And yet, I was captured by your words and phrases. You have a fantastic talent, Michelle. Every phrase presents a vibrant picture. God has brought you from depths I can barely imagine. You are surely a wonderful trophy of God's loving mercy.
LauraLee Shaw05/05/08
oh, Woooowwwwwwww. This hit me big time! What an impacting, powerful piece for those of us with passed down strongholds. This ending was one of my favorites ever in this kind of piece, because it left the reader with magnificent hope:
I’ve seen letters I wish I could unread…words I long to UN-hear…knowledge of your deeds that I’d pay to unlearn. With the Armor of God, I will shield them from your plans beyond my death…because when it comes to you, evil one, ignorance is bliss.”
Irvine Saint-Vilus05/06/08
Great work. Your imagery and personifications are the sign of a mature writer. And your content and mood is wonderfully deliberate. Keep up the good work.
Joy Faire Stewart05/06/08
Oh my, this is so powerful and incredible! Excellent writing.
Mandy White05/06/08
Michele, this is a remarkable piece. So many families suffer from generational addictions and abuse. You painted that picture perfectly and ended with a promise of breaking the cycle. Masterful writing.
Sheri Gordon05/06/08
This is really, really good. Your descriptions of the horrendousness of the stronghold are incredible.

I was a little confused by the "ignorance is bliss" line, 'cause I think too many people are overtaken by satan's demons because they pretend he doesn't exist. But I'm not sure that's what you meant. I'm thinking that line means that sometimes it's best not to know all the details of the evil--but to put on the armour and just fight.

Awesome job, and I love the very last line.
Jan Ackerson 05/06/08
Excellent, excellent, excellent. This must have been very difficult for you to write--my hat's off to you. Did I mention--this is EXCELLENT.
Joshua Janoski05/06/08
Wow! I think this piece is one of the best I have read from you so far, Michele. You have a wonderful vocabulary, and you definitely utilized it in this piece. I could feel the pain in this as I read it.

I enjoyed your comparison of the family tree to a Weeping Willow. That description fits the family and gives the reader insight into the decades of struggles that they have faced.

Mental wounds often cut deeper than physical wounds, and this story conveys that. I appreciate you giving hope at the end, because in God, there is the power to break generational curses.
Joanne Sher 05/06/08
This is incredible, Michelle. Wow. I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. Very powerful.
Myrna Noyes05/07/08
This is excellently done! What a tragic story, but there is a potent message here,too. Thank you for sharing this!
Marita Thelander 05/07/08
Michele...from pain often comes our best works. This is very well written. Appreciate you sharing in such a deep, emotional way. Thank-you for blessing us with your talent. I feel led to be praying blessings on you and ALL your hands find to do.
Sara Harricharan 05/07/08
Wow! This is great, one of your best yet, I think! I liked the descriptions, the details everything. My favorite touch was with the weeping willow though-I like weeping willows and could relate to what you described. Nicely done and I like how the italics change at the end to be that the MC will change this and she'll love the rain. Great job! ^_^
Lauryn Abbott05/07/08
Michelle, I don't think I can say anything that hasn't already been said. This was brilliant and I cried through it. What a great mom you are, to determine to break the generational curse from touching your children!My own mother suffers from depression, which is why we're not close. I try to be mindful of her illness, but sometimes it's hard too when she's hurtful. Thank you for this amazing reminder that it's not her and I'm not wrestling against flesh and blood. You have such talent and I am always captivated by your words. God bless you and your children, my friend!
Jeffrey Snell05/07/08
Vivid descriptions, I appreciate your treatment of the spiritual world as as real (if not moreso) as the physical. Some interesting choices made by the protagonist--is this a true story?
Sheri Gordon05/08/08
Congratulations on your EC. This is so powerful, and one of my favorites this week.
Dusti (Bramlage) Zarse05/08/08
Wow. Chills. I must say I have never before thought of Satan as a stalker, but that is exactly what he is. Very powerful depiction. The Bible compares him to a prowling lion, but in a world where lions are rarely the threat they once were (the only lions most of us see are in zoos), I think you've done a wonderful job of giving us an analogy that DOES terrify us--someone hawking our every move with the sole intent of causing us pain and hounding our destruction. And I like the reference to Wormwood, I'm assuming from C.S. Lewis. I think Screwtape Letters is another haunting work. So many people, Christians even, refuse to believe Satan exists, when in truth he should be our greatest fear, and it is only with the power of Christ that we are able to overcome at all. As you well pointed out, the Bible doesn't outline spiritual armor merely to paint a beautiful picture. From someone who has seen the power of an addiction, and knows what it means to pray for forgetfulness (a release from the shame and the constant reminder of how little you deserve God's grace, God's own "forgetfulness"), well done.
Tessy Fuller05/08/08
I was intimately drawn into this piece as I was cascaded from one emotion to another. I could feel the stalker clutching onto his victims and as the story ended I felt the release as chains were broken under the burden of prayer - with a vow that you will break the curse and love the rain. I too, felt this was your best so far - the imagery was powerful. I think the most genius part you employed in this was image of the "stalker" Always lurking, always waiting... Thank you for a piece straight from your heart.
Loren T. Lowery05/08/08
I am in awe of this piece, both its writing and its message. Everything about it speaks of emotional turmoil, courage and final breakthroughs. The word confrontation comes to mind after reading this, knowing that if we are to deafeat the enemy, we must face them and not turn away. This is what this piece (to me) so well instructs. Congratualions on your well deserved placement. Loren
Sally Hanan05/08/08
What an excellent piece of writing here Michelle. it must have made you sweat blood to make it so good. Your fighting spirit shines through and I can almost see you gritting your teeth and wielding your sword in sporadic triumphs, and even when you are down it lies by your side ready to rise again. Congratulations.
Debbie Roome 05/08/08
Wow! Incredible writing and such a heartfelt message. I won't forget this in a hurry. Well done on your EC.
Debbie Roome 05/08/08
Wow! Incredible writing and such a heartfelt message. I won't forget this in a hurry. Well done on your EC.
Debbie Roome 05/08/08
Wow! Incredible writing and such a heartfelt message. I won't forget this in a hurry. Well done on your EC.
Rachel Hogbin05/08/08
I am speechless (and this doesn't happen often). I was very young when your mother died, and can remember how much pain you were in, and hearing my sister talk to my parents (who were normal then) about it. I am very sorry for your loss, and please know that you are in my thought and prayers. Writing this has to make you feel like a weight has been lifted. The extent of your wiriting abilities amazes me.

Rachel Hogbin (Chrissy's little sister)
Lollie Hofer05/08/08
I don't know what to say that hasn't been said before but did want to express my awe in reading this story. What I like is the hope that begins to rise with the ending...God is indeed greater than any destroyer or Wormwood that is out there...it is a spiritul battle...and only He can break the power of the evil one. This reminds me of the "This Present Darkness" book series.
Betsy Markman05/08/08
Very candid and real. I could relate in many ways, even though my "stalker" isn't alcohol. I understand the feeling of sin lying at the door, waiting to pounce. Thank you for sharing so honestly.
Kris Paglusch05/08/08
You have a truly God-given talent to paint a picture with words. Every time I read one of you articles I learn something more about you and I am very thankful for that. "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Love ya, Kris
Myrna Noyes05/09/08
CONGRATULATIONS on your level win and your EC! I am not surprised at all! :)
Peter Stone05/10/08
What an amazing article, I am simply boggled at how deep the story goes in terms of symbolism and typology. Can't wait to see more work from you.
Jan Ackerson 05/25/08
Chely--I'm going to feature this in the Front Page showcase for the week of June 2. Look for it on the FW Home Page, and congratulations!
Joshua Janoski06/02/08
This is still, in my opinion, one of your best pieces on FaithWriters. You have such a great gift of writing from the Lord, and I'm glad to see it being showcased this week.
LaNaye Perkins06/03/08
You left me breathless with the intensity of this piece. The imagery and emotion touched me so deeply Michele. I wish I had adequate words to express how much I loved this.

Congratulations on your showcase, it is well earned my faith writer friend.

Debbie Wistrom06/03/08
I was struck anew by this second reading. So happy for you that such a deep and moving piece will be read again and by new readers. Congratulations on your very talented showcase.
Joanne Sher 06/04/08
I said it once, I'll say it again. Astoundingly amazing. Wow.
Norma-Anne Hough06/05/08
Awesome piece of writing. Really touched me deeply. My stalker was alcohol, yet Jesus was stronger and brought me through. I'm glad my children were aware of it as it has put them off going down the same path. Bless you for having the courage to share.
Sharlyn Guthrie06/05/08
I'm so glad this entry was featured. I missed it the week it was recognized. Excellent, excellent portrayal of the evil one. Powerful and well-written!
Beth LaBuff 06/06/08
Michele -- Congrats on having this piece as the FW 500 Frontpage Showcase article!
Lynn Jacky 06/06/08
Hi - congratulations and an interesting take on Spiritual Warfare - Thank you for sharing and excellent writing.
Catrina Bradley 06/14/08
I had to read this twice - the first time through I was so enraptured I read too fast. I am in awe of your talent, and your courage to write this piece that can only come from your heart of hearts. If it doesn't, then I'm even more in awe of your talent. Absolutely superb.
Dee Yoder 06/29/08
Wow! I missed this, but what a story and what powerful images you've created in this story. It's both bone-chilling and bittersweet. Great writing!
Amy Stanbury08/18/08
You have the heart of a poet. Well done for making something as abstract as spiritual warfare through our family and generations, accessible and real. I liked the image of the family tree as the weeping willow. Made we wonder about my family-what would be our symbolic tree? very good.
Catrina Bradley 10/12/08
Chely, I'm so glad you posted this in Jan's class, cuz I missed it the first time around. Stunningly good! You gripped me around the throat with your writing. I'm still choked. Wow!