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

TITLE: One Happy Family
By Lauryn Abbott


Analeigh heard the door open, immediately tensed and prepared for battle.

“Sorry, I’m late. There was a…” began Dave as he came in, putting his things down.

“Save it. There’s always something. Dinner’s on the stove,” she interrupted coldly.

“Oh, I’d hoped I’d make it on time so we could eat together. Sorry, I’ll dish myself.” He looked at the meal which had grown cold and dry and thought about not eating at all. Yeah, that’d go over well, he thought.

“No, eating together would require you being home at dinner time. Don’t worry, the kids are gone. We don’t have to pretend we’re having a nice ‘family’ meal.” She knew she sounded angry and bitter, but didn’t care.

“Look, I’m tired; it’s been a long, hard week. I don’t want to fight.”

“Well, maybe I do! Maybe then we could communicate! Maybe if we fought a little there’d be something left of this sham of a marriage!” Analeigh was ready for this. Something had to change and she’d force the issue if she had to.

“I’m not doing this! Not tonight. You know, I’m not hungry anyway, I’ve got work to do,” said Dave crossly, as he put down the plate and left the kitchen.

“No! Don’t you turn your back on me”! In disbelief she watched him enter his office and close the door. “Coward!” she yelled, as she felt the hot sting of tears beginning to fall.


Dave heard her leave, looked around his office and cried out to God. Lord, how has it come to this? I know I still love her, though I really don’t like her right now. Or myself for that matter. What is the answer? Things can’t continue this way. Lord, I need an answer. If I must wrestle with you like Jacob did, I will, but I need an answer! With that, he lay on the floor, prostrate before his God and prayed, waiting for the answer.

Finally he got up, wiped his face, drank some water and made a call. Then he grabbed his Bible, went to the spare room, which had been his lately and closed the door.


The next morning, he smelled coffee and pancakes. He showered and cautiously entered the kitchen. Analeigh made breakfast and was waiting for him.

“I’m sorry,” she said wearily. “I thought maybe we could spend the morning together and talk.”

“Oh, I wish I could, but I have a meeting. This afternoon maybe?” he replied hopefully.

Shaking her head she said, “Forget it. I should have realized you’d have something. Of course you don’t remember, but I have to take the kids to the city to go shopping. It’s been planned for two weeks now. We’ll be back late. Enjoy breakfast.”

She got up and quickly turned so he wouldn’t see her tears. He grabbed her and hugged her to him, saying, “I’m really sorry. This will change. I promise.”

Analeigh pushed away and mumbled, “Yeah,” as she left.


The next morning they pulled into the driveway of the church. Getting out, Analeigh looked at the kids, “Remember, we’re one happy family,” she said dryly.

“Yeah, yeah, we know the routine,” was all she heard as they quickly left to find their friends.

“Good morning, how are you?” asked Diana as they approached.

“Good morning! We’re blessed, how are you?” Analeigh replied with a big, bright, forced smile on her face. “Dave, I’m going to talk to Diana, then get seated, okay?” She turned and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.


Church had just begun, but Analeigh wished it were over. The sermon was about honesty, integrity and who you were behind closed doors. Blah, blah, blah, she thought, looking at her watch. The pastor stopped talking.

“Folks, this is my last sermon for awhile. I spoke to the Board yesterday and I’m taking a leave of absence. Most of you think I’m a fairly decent preacher, and I appreciate that. But I haven’t been a very good husband or father. God has shown me that I have to take care of my most important ministry first – my family.”

Dave looked around the congregation, his eyes finally resting on Analeigh. He could see the tears in her eyes. He continued, “I’ve asked for forgiveness from the Lord. I ask it now of you. And more importantly, I ask it now of my family.” Between the tears and the nods, he knew he had his answer.

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This article has been read 615 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw08/21/08
What courage that pastor had, and what a great way to approach the topic. Yes, those of us in ministry can be guilty of duplicity above them all because we don't want to ruin our witness OR we're ashamed. That point certainly hit home with me. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 08/21/08
Great ironic title, and a really good twist to the story. Very well done.
Marilyn Schnepp 08/22/08
A unique way to bridge the subject - with a neat twist at the end. The writing itself could be tightened up a bit, but otherwise, nicely done.
Joanne Sher 08/24/08
I was DEFINITELY not expecting that twist! I was thrown a bit by POV shifts, but I'm really not sure how else you could have handled this. Very engaging entry, with great characterization all around.
Chrissi Dunn08/25/08
Well done - I wasn't expecting the ending. This was very well written and the dialogue was good.
Cheri Hardaway 08/25/08
A remarkable and unexpected twist at the end! Great job! Loved it. Blessings, Cheri
Catrina Bradley 08/25/08
I honestly did NOT see that ending coming! and I love it! I was almost crying with them. The story flowed well all the way through and had me in its grip. Super job!
Marlene Austin08/25/08
You caught the "hurt" on both sides clearly and well. I'm so glad your MC was close to God and able to overcome his own hurt and pride to bring reconciliation to his family. Good job. :)
Chely Roach08/25/08
WONDERFUL story! Must admit it had me a little teary at the end...I was not expecting the big twist at all! Great job!
Leah Nichols 08/26/08
I was not expecting that twist! Great job in covering the topic and presenting a real situation that others can really relate to.
Laury Hubrich 08/26/08
Oh my, I only hope every pastor would take such a drastic step to save their family but sadly, I don't think it happens. Wonderful writing!
Yvonne Blake 08/27/08
So sad...but I'm sure it's common in many homes. Hooray for the pastor to be an example of making his family his priority. Well done.
LaNaye Perkins08/27/08
This was really good. I loved everything about it, including the surprise ending. Well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/27/08
I really enjoyed this story and was very happy with the twist at the end. Excellent writing.
Patricia Turner08/27/08
Your ending snuck up on me but I love how it did. :) Very real, very good writing!
Helen Dowd08/27/08
This was good. "One Happy Family." I wonder how many "happy families" there are out there. What a good lesson the pastor gave. I am sure things will change for this couple. Wish the story could have gone on, but WORD restrictions, I know!...Great story. I loved it. Glad I can't relate. Glad that my husband and I have always been able to discuss our feelings to each other, but I know so many who don't, and can't...Helen
Sheri Gordon08/27/08
Wow, the ending really surprised me. Nice writing, and very good job with the topic.
Pamela Kliewer08/27/08
Wow! You drew me in and I couldn't wait to see how things were going to turn out. What a surprise ending. Any pastor who would do that is worth his salt. Well done!
Karlene Jacobsen08/27/08
WOW! This is great! So many can relate to the charade played at church. It is so important to be transparent. That's where true healing can begin in families and friendships alike.
Ellen Dodson08/28/08
Great job with conflict and resolution!! I love it when the ending surprises me!!! This is an engaging, purposeful story. What a wonderful, brave husband. Congrats on your placement!!!!