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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: A Kiss for Her Baby
By Dee Yoder


The piping hot water in the sink is turning my hands a lobster red. I pull a casserole dish from the sudsy water and run the sponge over and around the rim and surfaces. My shoulders ache from the tension and stress of the day, and I can’t wait to finish this last chore.

As I rinse the glass under steaming water, I suddenly remember where the dish came from. I examine the gold rim and the bright red flowers that are centered on the creamy white middle. She held this dish…and she washed it clean, just as I’m doing…maybe one hot summer evening like this one, after a supper of tuna casserole or, maybe, home-made macaroni and cheese. I place the glass container carefully on the drainer board.

The darkened window above the sink reflects my shadowy face, and I stand still and stare into the past for a minute, trying to imagine my tall husband as a little boy. Did he help her set the table? Would he remember the food she’d prepared in this bowl? Did he laugh with her; stand beside her as they washed and dried the dishes together?

I look around my own modern kitchen and take a swipe at a bead of water on the countertop. The floors are swept, and the dishes are done. The house is quiet at last and I smile at the neatness and order that I know will disappear again in the morning. I turn out the lights on another hectic day and amble down the hall toward bed.

When I come to my son’s room, I stop and peek in. His dark head is snuggled deeply into his pillow, and his blanket is stretched tautly over his long body, one foot sticking out, as usual, for “air” at the bottom of his bed.

Where did my baby go? I can’t resist bending over him to stroke his hair. I used to do this every night. I smile at him and place a kiss on my fingertips to transfer to his cheek.

As I turn to go, I think about whether she did this, too. Did she stand over the bed of my husband in his teen years, watching his lanky form while he slept, regretting the passing of time and wondering, like I do, “Where’d my baby go?”

The question remains in my head as I slip into bed beside my sleeping spouse. His face is pressed tight into his pillow, and his snores are yet on the gentle side. Though I’ve seen many photos of him as a child, it’s difficult for me to imagine this slumbering giant beside me as her son, her boy, and her baby. I sigh as I watch him rest.

My husband had not been my favorite person today. We’d argued and disagreed over every little thing. I’d thought he was too bossy and he’d thought I was too nagging. He’d gone to bed in a huff and I’d been glad he was finally out of my hair.

His hair is ruffled and sticking up and I reach out to smooth it down, but I hesitate. I’m still miffed with him, and the anger I harbor makes me turn my back to him instead.

The devotional I meant to read this morning is lying face-up on the bedside table, so I grab it and open my Bible to Isaiah.

“… you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandied on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…”*

As a mother…comforts her child…. Hmmm.

I glance back at my husband and think about his mother. I’d never met her; she’d died long before he’d married me, and I’d often wondered if she’d like me. I notice my husband’s eyelashes fanned gently on the bend of his rough cheek. Their soft texture is all that remains as a testament of his little boy face; the face she stroked and kissed at night; the face she loved so much and held so dear.

I feel tears come to my eyes as I remember the harsh words I said to him today. Would I want my son’s wife to say those things to him? No, of course not. She wouldn’t want her son treated this way, either.

I quietly lean down to kiss his cheek as he sleeps. Twice.

“That one was for your Mama. And this one is for me,” I whisper.

Isaiah 66:13, The Holy Bible, NIV

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This article has been read 1191 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/15/08
This is such a "real" slice of life with outstanding description. I absolutely love this story.
Karen Wilber05/15/08
I love the progression of thoughts in this piece and how you reveal her feelings as she gains insight about the different relationships. Wonderful!
Peter Stone05/16/08
I liked the way you slowly revealed the day's happenings through the mother's reflections. Good to see God's word get through to her in the end.
Joanne Sher 05/16/08
This is just beautiful. Your images are crisp and so visual they're tactile. Your ending, also, is PERFECT. Beautiful.
Lynda Schultz 05/17/08
Wonderful—a "quiet" story but with a powerful message.
Lyn Churchyard05/18/08
This story was so easy to read as it unfolded line by line. I particularly loved your descriptions; especially "The darkened window above the sink reflects my shadowy face, and I stand still and stare into the past for a minute"
Beautiful piece of writing!!
Joy Faire Stewart05/18/08
Oh, I love this beautiful story and its message. Great opening paragraph and the rest flowed perfectly.
Jan Ackerson 05/18/08
Dee, this one just left me in utter awe. Not only one of my favorites of yours, but one of my favorites here, ever.
Laury Hubrich 05/18/08
Oh Dee! This is truly magnificent! Wow! You captured so many feelings that we all share. Wow! This is truly a great piece of writing.
LaNaye Perkins05/18/08
Wow. You are definately a master at telling a story. I felt like I was right there watching the scenes unfold. Wonderfully written!
Yvonne Blake 05/18/08
Ahhh... you made me cry!
I love how you compared your imagined thoughts of your husband's childhood to your own son.
I like to look at my husband sleeping too. **smile**
Betty Castleberry05/18/08
This is so tender and so sweet, and well, just so GOOD!
I loved reading this extremely well-written story.
LauraLee Shaw05/18/08
Amazing. I am moved beyond the adequate words. I won't slip into bed beside my husband without remembering this...Mega BRAVO.
Sally Hanan05/18/08
Beautifully done, and you clinched it all with your last sentence.
Mariane Holbrook 05/18/08
This is so lovely that I've run out of adjectives even before I start. An amazingly beautiful piece, Dee.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/18/08
What a neat and fresh perspective on the topic! I'll think of this next time I'm a little miffed with my hubby!
Dave Wagner05/19/08
Good job. A few too many adjectives and adverbs for my taste, but nothing that risked sinking the boat. I enjoyed these lines:

- "I stand still and stare into the past for a minute"

- "his snores are yet on the gentle side."

I liked the ending as well, with the two kisses. Very nice. Thanks for submitting it.
Marita Thelander 05/19/08
Ah, tenderly written. Such sweet images you protrayed for us to share with you.
Debbie Wistrom05/19/08
This is exquisite- "Their soft texture is all that remains as a testament of his little boy face;"

Sheri Gordon05/19/08
Dee, this is absolutely beautiful. I love it, love it, love it. This brought tears to my eyes, and a thump in my throat. Excellent writing.
Joshua Janoski05/19/08
A beautifully written piece. I loved the voice, and I loved how she took the time to think about how her mother-in-law would have acted. That really showed the great care and concern that the MC had.

Thank you for sharing. It was a real pleasure to read. :)
Sara Harricharan 05/21/08
Beautiful! I love the last lines, it fit this scene just right. I especially loved how you started out in a familiar enviroment, the kitchen. lol. Great job! ^_^
Dianne Janak05/21/08
Touching, tender, authentic, relateable, .. WOW... You got me on this one. Not having sons, I have actually said the reverse to my husband..but this one hit me between the eyes. Sometimes I think .. what if she knew I had said such and such? OUCH... Got me ... in a good way... love writing that does that .. THIS WAS EXCELLENT
Beckie Stewart05/21/08
That was a different and tender way of approaching the subject. I like it.
Joanne Sher 05/23/08
Congratulations, Dee, on placing 11th in your level and 15th overall. Great job!