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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)

TITLE: Jolee
By Joy Faire Stewart


A swirling breeze stirred the wind chimes into a frenzied tinkling of tiny bells, which sounded like the sudden jarring crash of cymbals to my poor straining ears. I sat on the front porch, trying to calm the anxiety welling up within me. The hours dragged slowly by, stretching my nerves like a worn rubber band, threatening to snap each time the phone rang.

It seemed to ring dozens of times that day. Friends offered support. A radio station picked us at random to participate in a music survey. An aluminum siding telemarketer was especially persistent. Each call sent my heart racing as I waited for my husband, Chad, to answer and then give me the thumbs-up or thumbs-down signal.

“Let’s just go into the house,” I sighed. “I’ll occupy myself till . . . ”

The piercing ring of the phone sent Chad racing to answer. He shook his head in response to my questioning look. “No, Leona, we haven’t heard anything yet . . . yes, she’s holding up okay . . . please tell everyone we appreciate their prayers.”

I stalked into the house, so preoccupied with frustration, I almost tripped over a large object in the foyer. Earlier that morning, I had braved the steamy confines of the attic where colonies of silverfish and spiders thrived, to retrieve an old, faux-leather suitcase. The plan had been to pack away some winter clothes, but now, I kicked the grimy suitcase wishing I could pack away my turmoil.

Chad drew me to the sofa, trying to still my fingers as they plucked threads from the cushions. I gazed at the tangled threads. “There’s enough thread here to knit a scarf.”

“Well, maybe a small one,” he kissed my nails, bitten to the quick.

Chad and I had been married nearly a year. From the beginning of our relationship, he had accepted and loved my daughter, Jolee, giving her unconditional love her biological father, Ray, had not.

I marveled when Jolee invited Chad to her tea parties. “No, Daddy,” she admonished, “You hold the cup this way.” He tried to mimic her delicate fingers only to have the small, plastic cup slip from his calloused hand.

Jolee was always in motion, except while asleep or when Chad counted the freckles sprinkled across her tiny nose, telling her each was worth a million dollars.

Ray never remembered Jolee at Christmastime or her birthday. He told friends I wouldn’t allow him to visit or phone her. The saddest part of all was that he had never seen her.

For the second time that morning, I washed his-and-her coffeepots. (Chad likes regular coffee, but my weakness is Georgia-pecan flavored). I began cleaning out the refrigerator, unaware I had thrown all the contents into the garbage except for the ketchup, until Chad said, “Honey, I really did want that tuna and spinach casserole!”

It felt good to laugh. Then, I jumped when the phone rang again.

“Mom, we haven’t heard anything yet,” Chad gazed at his watch. “But he still has three hours and 22 minutes . . . hold on a sec, you can tell her.”

“Hi, Mom,” I gripped the receiver. “No, I’m not doing very well.”

“This Bible verse helped me this morning, and it might help calm you, too,” she began to read. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

God gives us special people in our lives—Mom is one of mine.

The house was unbearably quiet the rest of the afternoon. Chad caught me staring at the phone.
“Honey, a watched phone ain’t gonna ring!”

“A watched pot doesn’t boil,” I retorted.

The clock on the fireplace mantel chimed . . . three . . . four . . . five o’clock. The time had ended.

At 5:14, the phone rang. I held onto the kitchen counter for support, watching Chad lift the receiver as if in slow motion. Tears streamed down his face.

“Yes, I understand . . . thank you for calling.” Slowly, he turned and stared into my eyes, both calloused hands slowly rose into a thumbs-up sign as a broad grin spread across his face.

“Ray didn’t contest my adoption of Jolee,” his voice broke. “Tomorrow morning, the judge will sign the order making me her legal dad.”

Outside, a gentle breeze stirred the tiny bells once more.

Bible Scripture: Hebrews 10:36 (KJV)

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This article has been read 948 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sunny Loomis 07/25/08
I liked this. I thought Jolee was in the hospital. Very well done. Nice surprise at the end.
Helen Dowd07/28/08
Oh, did you ever have me in suspense. I wondered, what was going to happen? Was there about to be an execution? Oh no, what a relief! an adoption! Great climax! What a wonderful job you did to keep the climax up until the end. You have talent!...Helen
Betty Castleberry07/28/08
Whew! I thought she was missing. Nice job with the suspsense. I enjoyed reading this.
Lyn Churchyard07/28/08
Super suspenseful story! My first thought was that Jolee had been kidnapped by her biological father. Oh wow, this was so good. You had me hooked from beginning to end.
Catrina Bradley 07/28/08
The heart stopping suspense shows someone who hasn't gone through a situation like this realize just how life-or-death serious it must be for parties involved. The tiny little details add so much to the story.
Amy Michelle Wiley 07/29/08
Whew, I wouldn't be surprised to see this in the winning circle come Thursday. Great job at building the tension and then the pleasant surprise for the ending.
Lynda Lee Schab 07/29/08
Halfway through, I guessed that Jolee was having a baby and they were waiting for the call announcing the birth. With the teasers about her "real" father and Chad, I should have guessed! What a wonderful ending. Great entry!
Holly Westefeld07/29/08
The suspense was well-done. But where was that little bundle of energy all day, anyway?
Sharlyn Guthrie07/30/08
Your first paragraph is an excellent lead in, and you've included many wonderful details throughout. You kept my interest as the suspense continuted to build. I'm glad this story has a happy ending.
Lauryn Abbott07/30/08
Oh, this was a wonderful story! You brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing it!
Shirley McClay 07/30/08
Excellent! I had no idea where this was going and was THRILLED at the ending. Awesome writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/30/08
The suspense was awesome here. I thought Jolee was finally on a visitation with her biological father. Masterfully written.
Mariane Holbrook 07/30/08
The suspense was killing me! If this doesn't place high, I'll be very, very surprised.
Very good job!
Sara Harricharan 07/30/08
Oooh, you got me! I was really expecting the daughter to be in the hospital or something here. I'm so glad it was a happy ending and with all that suspense. Whew! Nice job! ^_^
Pamela Kliewer07/30/08
You really had me wondering what they were waiting for! Wow... great story. I love the details throughout, especially this one:
Chad drew me to the sofa, trying to still my fingers as they plucked threads from the cushions. I gazed at the tangled threads. “There’s enough thread here to knit a scarf.”

Tying the beginning and end together the way you did, was perfect (the chimes)!
Joshua Janoski07/30/08
I was worried that someone was seriously hurt. Nice way of surprising the reader, and it was a lot happier ending than what I was expecting it to be. Thank you for sharing this.
Scott Sheets07/31/08
Great Writing! You kept the suspense high 'til the very end. Congratulations, as well, on your 1st place award.
Loren T. Lowery07/31/08
Three cheers for this loving family and three more for your well deserved win. What a delightful, heartlifting story. Loren
Patricia Turner07/31/08
The suspense was unbearable, just as it should be for a great read like this! Thanks and Congratulations on a well deserved win!