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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)

TITLE: A Bucket of Ice Chips
By Debbie Roome


Chloe opens the door and laughter spills out in a warm puddle of light. “Hayley, Brian, come on in. It’s so good to see you again.” Her embrace is gentle and soft and stirs my withered spirit.

You’ve forsaken your first love, Hayley. Come back to Me.

I shrug off the words that swirl through my mind.

“Robyn and Mark are waiting to meet you. They’re new to our church and of course you remember James and Simone.” Smiling faces greet us and I feel welcomed and drawn into their circle of friendship. Brian stands behind me, radiating attitude.

You’ve forsaken your first love, Hayley. Come back to Me.

Chloe’s fiancé, Simon, takes her hand. “We’ll eat straight away so we can get into the games. ” The couples bow their heads. “Loving Father, thank you for the meal you’ve provided and thank you for times of laughter with friends. Be with us tonight and bless our fun. Amen.”

I soak up every word. It’s so long since I’ve been in company and my spirit feels dehydrated; a brittle sponge longing for the moisture of love.

You’ve forsaken your first love, Hayley. Come back to Me.

Chloe has cooked a fragrant Thai curry and serves plate-loads of rice and green salad, drenched with chicken in peanut sauce. I enjoy the food but my attention is focused on the couples around me. Their love is evident in the way they smile at each other. The gentle love pats and the way their hands brush and linger as they enjoy each other’s touch.

I think of Brian and his hands. Hands that bruise and crush and hurt. He seemed to be such a gentleman when we met, but things have changed since then. I remember Chloe’s warnings. “He’s possessive, Hayley. A real control freak and he doesn’t love God. Please be careful.” I turn to look at him and his face is shadowed with anger.

You’ve forsaken your first love, Hayley. Come back to Me.

I stopped going to church a few months ago. I couldn’t face my friends after I moved in with Brian. I knew they wouldn’t approve but I was convinced he loved me. Now I’m not so sure. I try so hard to please him but nothing’s ever good enough.

He leans over to me, putting unnecessary pressure on my hand. “I don’t like the way Simon looks at you. If it happens again, we’re leaving.”

You’ve forsaken your first love, Hayley. Come back to Me.

“I thought we could start with charades.” Hayley announces after the plates are cleared. “I’ve always wondered what the word meant so I googled it.” She pulls a slip of paper from her pocket. “Charade - a ridiculous pretence which is so obvious that it does not deceive anyone.”

It’s like a bucket of ice chips sloshing down my back as things fall into focus. The unease I’ve been feeling, the dissatisfaction, crystallises into one bleak fact. My relationship with Brian is a charade, a farce, a hollow shell that lacks reality or life. There is no love, only control and manipulation. I feel panic rising as I realise how stupid I must seem to Chloe and my friends.

You’ve forsaken your first love, Hayley. Come back to Me.

My eyes fill with tears. Do You really want me back, Lord? Can you forgive me for what I’ve done? I stand and mumble an excuse about dirt in my eye.

Chloe finds me in the bathroom. “I’ve been praying for you, Hayley. I believe God wants you to come back to Him. He can give you a new beginning and hope for your future.”

We both jump as angry fists pound on the door. “Let’s go, Hayley. I’ve had enough.”

I twist the key in the lock. “Pray for me, Chloe. You were right about Brian. I need to get away from him .”

Peace washes through me as she prays and I feel my parched spirit soaking in life. “You’re my first love.” I whisper. “Forgive me for drifting away, Lord. I love you.”

Outside, Brian is cursing and shouting as the men pull him from the bathroom door. Chloe takes my hand. “Mark is a policeman, Hayley. We’ll make sure Brian doesn’t hurt you.”

Joy and sorrow mingle in my heart. Sorrow for Brian and the consequences of my sin. Joy for the restoration of a real relationship.

Quiet words well within.

I love you too, Hayley. Welcome home.

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This article has been read 824 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betsy Markman08/21/08
Good job. Glad she got away from him!
Lynda Schultz 08/21/08
The repetition is a good tool. You captured me from the beginning and held me right to end. Very good.
Joanne Sher 08/23/08
Wonderful characterization, and I love the "refrain" throughout - very powerful reminder of what is really going on. Very well done.
Laury Hubrich 08/24/08
This entry is full of hope. Very good:)
Beth LaBuff 08/24/08
I especially liked the paragraph about the ice chips... superior writing displayed in this.
Cheri Hardaway 08/25/08
Great title, and great depiction of Hayley's revelation from the Lord. Very satisfying outcome. Nice work. Blessings, Cheri
Sharlyn Guthrie08/25/08
I like the way you wove the definition of the topic word into the story. Good plot and character development throughout.
Leah Nichols 08/26/08
Amazing job! Most excellent writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/26/08
I loved your story of God's seeking and forgiveness. You showed His persistence and His love so well. Excellent writing.
Anne Linington09/03/08
Enjoyed this entry and the well executec characterization; It fulfilled the charade theme exactly and could prove thought-provoking to many with unsatisfactory relationships. Congratulations.