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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)

TITLE: The Golden Locket
By Debbie Roome
07/12/08


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Is this the end, lying in this concrete shell, my cheek pressed to the ground? Sand has swept through naked windows and absorbs my life, drop by drop as it seeps from my chest. The desert air sears my lungs and I long to close my eyes and give up.

Remember me, Cal. Look into my face and remember what you’re fighting for.

My chest is burning, throbbing. Nearby, the sounds of gunfire ricochet through walls, echoing death and destruction. One of those bullets has ripped me open and even now, life drains from me.

Remember me, Cal. Look into my face and remember what you’re fighting for.

“Uhhh.” Every movement is agony as I try and pull the locket from round my neck. The chain snaps but the golden heart is safe in my hand. I struggle with fingers, clumsy and slow to flip it open. I remember, Celine. I remember. Her face smiles out at me, heart-shaped with chocolate hair streaked with amber. Clear green eyes reflect the smile that touches her lips.

Remember me, Cal. Look into my face and remember what you’re fighting for.

I close my eyes and memories stream through my mind. Our first walk along the beach with sand squishing between our toes. Our first date and the many that followed. I think of the delicate fragrance that surrounds her and gentle hands that sooth tension from my neck. I remember our wedding day and the tiny life that now grows within her. I can’t give up. She needs me and I need her.

Remember me, Cal. Look into my face and remember what you’re fighting for.

The pain is worse now. Crushing, as though an elephant is rolling on my chest. I force my eyes open and see the stain is spreading through the sand, widening and darkening. I remember, Celine. I want to come home to you.

Footsteps are pounding up the stairs and fellow soldiers surround me. Firm hands probe and assess and I feel a tear splash on my cheek. “Stay with us, Cal. You gotta fight.”

The war has done that to us. On the outside we are tough and invincible; the face of combined strength and courage. On the inside, we are soft and broken. Living in the midst of death and hatred has cracked us like the husk of a coconut, allowing the sweet milk of brotherhood to flow among us. Our relationships are deep and we would die for one other.

Remember me, Cal. Look into my face and remember what you’re fighting for.

“We’re going to move you, Cal. I’ve given you some pain meds and we’re going to get you back to base.” Agony flares as I’m rolled gently onto a stretcher and consciousness fades.

Hours pass in a jumble of pain and bright lights; of tubes, bandages and stainless steel . My buddies tape the locket to my bed rails and I see her face as I drift in and out of life.

Remember me, Cal. Look into my face and remember what you’re fighting for.

I sense that time has passed as words swirl around me.

“Better treatment back home.”
“Rehabilitation.”
“Sedation for the flight.”

“The locket.” I whisper. “Must have locket.” I slip into a dream of Celine and home and sweet memories flood my mind. I have to survive for she is waiting for me.

Remember me, Cal. Look into my face and remember what you’re fighting for.

The bed feels softer and the walls are a different shade of clinical white. Am I home? Have they moved me yet? I try and focus on the bed rail, eyes searching for the locket. Celine’s face is there, heart-shaped with chocolate hair streaked with amber. Clear green eyes reflect the smile that touches her lips, but there’s no frame of gold.

Gentle hands embrace my cheeks as she bends down to kiss me. “I love you, Cal.” Tears wobble in her eyes and I lift a shaky hand to catch them. “You came back, just like you promised.”

A slow smile spreads across my face, warming my wounded heart and healing the pain. “I listened to you, Celine. I remembered you and our memories kept me alive.” I soak in her gaze as she whispers the words once more.

Remember me, Cal. Look into my face and remember what you’re fighting for.


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This article has been read 952 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 07/17/08
Beautiful! The repetition of that one phrase tied things together so well.
Betsy Markman07/17/08
Wow, this is excellent! I think you have a winner here!
Venice Kichura07/17/08
I agree---think this one is, indeed a winner!
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/17/08
Your story is awesome--unforgettable.
Sara Harricharan 07/18/08
This brought tears to my eyes! I'm so glad that he made it, that he came back and that she was there for him and everything. The descriptions are just fitting and I loved the repeating line, to remember what he was fighting for. Lovely! ^_^
Joanne Sher 07/19/08
The repetition is simply masterful, and the descriptions are so vivid. I felt like I was right there. Excellent.
Dolores Stohler07/19/08
Magnificent writing! I felt the pain of this soldier as though I were lying there myself. I have such respect for our military; their courage is what patriotism is all about. It is Christlike self-sacrifice. Well done.
Chely Roach07/20/08
This was PHENOMENAL! I loved the line, "Living in the midst of death and hatred has cracked us like the husk of a coconut, allowing the sweet milk of brotherhood to flow among us."Wow...just, wow!
Julie Paulsen07/20/08
Reading this was like watching a Hallmark movie...only better! Excellent!
Mariane Holbrook07/20/08
This is SO good! It this one doesn't win big time, I'll be very surprised. Kudos!!
Lyn Churchyard07/21/08
I can hardly add to what others have already said. Brilliant, masterful, wonderful. The repetition of that one phrase - perfect.

I liked the gentle link (whether on purpose or not) "... the golden heart is safe in my hand." and then at the end, "Gentle hands embrace my cheeks"

Well done.
Glynis Becker 07/23/08
Masterfully done. I love the softness of the words you chose, but the power behind them is exquisite!
Loren T. Lowery07/23/08
What a beautiful, heart-wrenching piece. I, too, liked the repition of the phrase as it was subtle, but necessary, like that of a heartbeat. I esp, like this sentence because it seemed to sum up what you article was saying "My buddies tape the locket to my bed rails and I see her face as I drift in and out of life."
I think you have a winner here! Loren
Joshua Janoski07/23/08
"Her face smiles out at me, heart-shaped with chocolate hair streaked with amber. Clear green eyes reflect the smile that touches her lips."

I really liked the above description. This was an amazing love story. This one not placing would be a crime. Masterful writing!