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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)

TITLE: Salty Friends
By Madonna Hooper


“Ouch mum, take it easy. I thought this cream was supposed to help my sunburn. Are you sure you’re not using bleach or something?”

Jocelyn Stevens smiled. Todd had always been a likeable, fun-loving, sensible boy but how long would he stay that way? She’d heard horror stories about other teens and as each year progressed so did her anxiety.

She was also anxious about Todd spending so much time with Jimmy Galant. There was something about Jimmy that made her uncomfortable.

Her son rolled over to have lotion applied to his chest and shoulders. Jocelyn gasped at the crimson-colored flesh before her.

“I told you to stay out of the sun. You’re as red as a beet young man. You must have been lying in the sun for hours.”

Todd winced, forced a smile and allowed his mind to drift back to the events of the previous day.

It had been a perfect day for the beach; glowing sand, sparkling water, cotton wool clouds dancing in the sky. Todd sat on the beach while Jimmy dragged a large stick in the sand, leaving what appeared to be a gargantuan snail trail.

“Todd, come here. The water feels kinda warm, kinda cool. And check out the waves! Just the right size to dive under.”

Todd knew he would not have peace until he acquiesced.

He stood on the water’s edge and let the foam lick his toes. Jimmy appeared beside him like an excited puppy. “Race you to the buoy. Last one there’s a rotten egg!”

“Jim, why do you have to be so childish? Grow up will ya?”

“What’s wrong with you man. Seriously, you haven’t been yourself lately. Talk to me.”

“Get lost Jimmy. What are you a girl or something?”

Todd felt his face grow red. Jimmy was a good friend but sometimes he really annoyed Todd. He always wanted to talk about ‘deep and meaningful’ stuff and Todd just wasn’t that type of guy.

Escaping under a wave, Todd felt the salt water sting his eyes. Ouch! It also stung the tell-tale cuts on his wrists and abdomen. He’d always wondered how salt water could be such a powerful healing agent, yet cause such pain. Apart from the ‘sting’ aspect he loved everything about the ocean; the way it smelt, the way it crawled inquisitively into his mouth, the invigorating touch it provided.

Standing knee-deep in the water, Todd’s gaze become more fixed, more focused and he became increasingly pensive and morose. His heart pounded against his chest in unison with each crashing wave.

He walked slowly and deliberately against the surging waves, eyes focused on the horizon. He walked further and further, deeper and deeper until he could no longer feel the sand beneath his feet. He waited for the next wave to take him under and under he would remain. As he waited the ocean seemed to echo his thoughts.

“Yes” whoosh
“Nobody cares” whoosh, whoosh
“Stay under the next wave” crash, whoosh
“Stay … under”

Todd let himself sink beneath the surging water. He felt its strength overtake him.

Scenes from his life flashed before him and at that moment Todd felt somebody grab him under the arms and raise him from his watery coffin. That was all he remembered.

When he came to, Jimmy was leaning over him, soaked from head to toe.

“Todd, thank God you’re alright!”

Todd tried to speak and managed a hoarse whisper.

“Don’t … don’t tell anybody. Promise you won’t tell anybody.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking about that my friend and you know what a big mouth I have. I promise I won’t tell anybody on one condition.”

Todd didn’t have the energy to voice his rising frustration.
“What … what condition Jimmy?”

“That you see my pastor and talk to him about what was going through your head today.”

Todd closed his eyes and felt the sting of the residual salt water. He winced. He licked his sun-scorched lips and tasted saltiness. He touched his arm and felt salt clinging to his skin. Salt, salt, salt! It just wouldn’t leave him alone!

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This article has been read 831 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Deikun07/11/05
Wonderful entry.This was so well written! It's the kind of story that makes us realize that we often don't know the ones love as well as we think. Also reminded me of how God rescues u when we really don't think we want Him to.
dub W07/11/05
Yeah, this is one of the good ones. Well done, and thank you. A real thought provoker.
Shari Armstrong 07/11/05
Well told and nice ending, but I'm confused as too why the mom didn't like the friend.
Lynda Lee Schab 07/12/05
After reading the first time, there were a couple things that didn't make sense to me. I also didn't understand what mom didn't like about Jimmy. Then, after reading a second time, I understood it was Jesus in him that made her uncomfortable, and then the whole story came alive to me. The only thing I would change is to make it clearer that it's Jimmy who is speaking at the beginning - he wasn't clearly introduced into the story at that time. But this was a great piece with a wonderful message.
Blessings, Lynda
Lynda Lee Schab 07/12/05
Scratch that thing about Jimmy not being introduced. My brain must not be functioning yet this morning. Went back and re-read a third time and caught the introduction of him dragging the stick through the sand. Sorry! (blush)
Suzanne R07/12/05
Wow. Well done! Yes, I had to go back and re-read it but that was because of the surprise factor - went back and realized what had really happened. Well done!
Val Clark07/14/05
I think this story has stacks of potential and with some reworking could make a really provoking piece. Like the nuance references to salt. I am confused, though. Are we to assume Tod attempted suicide at some time and yet his Mom seems unconcerned and sees him as a fun loving, sensible boy. For me the lines between the characters are also too blurred.
Nina Phillips07/14/05
This is a great story. Wonderful. The first sentence just grabbed me, because it was something a young teen would say. I think you caught the essence of many young people today. I was glad that you had a "Jimmy" in / to the article. Very nicely written. God bless ya, littlelight
Beth Muehlhausen07/15/05
This rocking, rolling description was great:
“Yes” whoosh
“Nobody cares” whoosh, whoosh
“Stay under the next wave” crash, whoosh
“Stay … under”
Maxx .07/15/05
This is such a good story...probably top 8... so good that I'm going to nit-pick. I think the mom shouldn't be in the story at all. Her role is unimportant and she confuses the issues. Then the story could be told without the flash back. Make it real time and the story grows in power and reality. But, it is already great. We'll see just how great on Monday.
Deborah Porter 07/18/05
Madonna, I've not been able to stop by and congratulate you on your excellent wins lately (you did EXCEPTIONALLY well in the Best of the Best ratings - be encouraged!) but definitely wanted to pop back in today and let you know that Salty Friends made it into the semi-finals for the "beach" challenge. So well done again. Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)