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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)

TITLE: Sara's Sack
By Aaron Morrow
05/21/08


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“Sack! Get in here you stupid cull!”

Sack seemed to be measuring our distance as I retreated deeper into the lake. His doe brown eyes lingered on Sara, shivering in my arms, and he let out a short whimper. Then he slowly turned to face the menacing cloud coming out of the tree line.

“No…” Sara cried as I pulled us both under. I watched in horror as Sack launched himself upward and disappeared into the thick swarm.

Beneath the lake’s surface, memories of three summers ago flooded my mind.

*****

“Sack this cull and drown ‘im.” Pa handed me the wiggling newborn. His warm little body stretched and squirmed as he nosed around my hand looking for a teat. Pa was giving me a man’s job, but even at nine, I still trembled at the thought of killing.

“Yessir.” I looked at the disfigured whelp in my hand. He must have been squashed inside Molly because his back hips were all splayed like a frog.

I turned around to find Sara standing there with tears in full bloom. Her yellow hair ribbon bounced as she shook. Sara was just five, so she didn’t understand Pa’s first rule of raising coonhounds: “If they can’t hunt, they can’t eat.”

Quick as fox, she snatched the pup and ran to the house. A few minutes later, Ma came marching in. Ma and Pa had words, and the next thing I knew, Sara Carver owned the homeliest coonhound in Jefferson County.

Pa and I took to calling him “Sack” and giving his hanging backside a kick to remind him of his place with the real hunters, which always made Sara stomping mad.

She named him “John”, after the man in the Jesus story that never seemed to get out of the water. The name was a good fit because, even though that dog couldn’t hunt a lick, and walked around hunched down like he was dragging a stump, with those frog legs he was the swimminest hound I ever saw.

Seems like every day, spring to fall, they were at the lake. Sara couldn’t swim, so Sack was always fishing her out. Sara never said anything about it, but lots of times her yellow hair ribbon would be drooping wet as she trudged home with the cull waddling beside her.

Sometimes, after chores, Sara would tell Sack all the stories she could remember. Sack would look at her like he was soaking in every single word; he even cocked his head at the exciting parts. And every night, Sack snuggled close to Sara and so that he could bury his muzzle in her long brown hair.

*****

Even from under the water we could hear Sack’s muted howls of pain. Once every few minutes, I would lift Sara out of the water for a quick gulp of air. We didn’t open our eyes for fear of getting stung, but the sickly drone of buzzing from the shore told us that the ‘jackets were feasting on poor Sack.

*****

This morning started like most, Sara followed me to the fishing hole. I remember getting so mad at Sack for scaring the fish with all his paddling about, that I threw every sharp rock that I could find at him. He finally got out of the water when Sara started crying because she was so mad.

That set me off even more, and I started throwing rocks in the trees. I must have hit a whopper of a nest because I heard the ‘jackets before I saw them. I figured it was time to make myself scarce, so I started galloping for the water.

Sarah was still moping and tending Sack. I grabbed her so hard that her hair ribbon flew right off. But, Sack didn’t move, he just watched us go.

*****

The next morning, I went back to the spot where it happened. There were dead ‘jackets carpeting the ground. Near where Sack musta landed was a trail, but not to the water’s edge.

My eyes traced the trail to the twisted remains of Sack, his frog legs still splaying out from his battered body.

I choked back tears as I realized that Sack never even thought to escape, instead he had been saving us from my foolishness. And when the end was near, he spent his last breath to be near his only love.

There, beneath Sack’s tattered muzzle, was Sara’s yellow hair ribbon.



He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected by men. A man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not…we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. Isaiah 53:2-3,4 NIV


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This article has been read 464 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Carol Sprock 05/22/08
I really liked how you maintained continuity with the ribbon--the last line even game a bit of a chill because it was so fitting in showing Sack's devotion. A very minor thing made me pause a bit too long: "but even at nine, I still." It didn't make sense to me that a nine-year-old boy would be considered a man. I probably would have deleted the "even" so it read "but at nine." Rather picky point--feel free to ignore me! You used excellent figurative language to sketch the characters. I particularly enjoyed the phrase "tears in full bloom."
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/24/08
What a beautiful analogy to the Scripture at the end is this eloquent story. Outstanding.
Shirley McClay 05/26/08
SO tragic! Very well done! Creative and heartbreaking.
Debbie Wistrom05/26/08
Creativity shining bright here. So many details, embellished this. I felt rewarded by reading this. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 05/27/08
I like the "scene changes"--they make this move along quickly, almost cinematically.

It took me a while to sort out the characters and to work out who was narrating. On the second read, it all plunked into place.

Joshua Janoski05/27/08
I really liked the scripture verse at the end. It gave me an entirely new perspective on the story. Very sad, and yet it parallels the sacrifice made by Christ very well. Oh, and it is well written too. :)

Thank you for sharing! I enjoyed the read.
Joanne Sher 05/28/08
Oh wow. Wonderful, WONDERFUL characterization and descriptions. Very, VERY well-done.
Sara Harricharan 05/28/08
This is incredibly sad. I wanted to read it for the name, but the story was so heartbreaking. I felt so bad for John/sack. Good job with the emotions.
Cheri Hardaway 05/28/08
This was breathtaking. Well done! I love the scripture at the end; perfect. And the scene changes kept the pace going. As I read from scene to scene, it was like watching a movie. A real tear jerker, with an outstanding message on many levels. Excellent piece. Blessings, Cheri
Lyn Churchyard05/29/08
Oh my, this was just wonderful. I loved the relationship between the Sara and Sack and how he "Sack would look at her like he was soaking in every single word".
You brought tears to my eyes with the final sentence: "There, beneath Sack’s tattered muzzle, was Sara’s yellow hair ribbon." Great story, well done Aaron, very well done.

Sara Harricharan 05/29/08
***Congratulations!*** Awesome writing! ^_^
Betsy Markman05/29/08
Very good. Sad, but not maudlin. Well done.
Joshua Janoski05/29/08
Congratulations on placing 15th overall with this entry, Aaron!
Sharlyn Guthrie09/04/08
Impressive writing! This story brought tears to my eyes. I knew your name was familiar from Faithwriters, so I had to come chech out some of your writing. Keep it up. It's excellent!