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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)

TITLE: You Think You Got Problems?


My name is Ed. I’m a smoker but not a drinker—it would get in the way of my gambling. I guess I got the gene for addictions. That’s what my wife used to say. She sure stuck with me, but when my temper got outta control—in her opinion—she kicked my sorry butt out. I remember standing on the front porch steps, telling her nobody was gonna tell me what I could and couldn’t do, that I was leaving her, and I walked away without even wanting to look back. I was free.

I’m a fat-headed, old coot as my granddaddy used to say, so it took me almost four years to admit the one thing I didn’t want to admit. My kind of freedom was lonely.

It was time to change. I started with a certain relationship with a certain Almighty, but I can’t say I had the purest of motivations. Somehow I just knew He'd dog the dickens outta me if I didn’t put Him first. So I did.

Next I found support groups. There was Smoking Cessation for my two-pack-a-day habit; Gambler’s Anonymous to keep me off the track; and Anger Management for the problem I didn’t think I had. As luck would have it, they’d finished construction on this center where I could attend all three meetings—a couple of ‘em back to back. I also visited the seniors who played Bingo, and shot hoops with a group of high school boys.

After having been an outsider for so long, I derived a certain pleasure in being with people.

“Hi there, Marsha,” I’d say to the receptionist.

“Hi, yourself. Anything shocking happen today?” Being an electrician, I get that more times than I care to recall, but from her, I didn’t mind.

Once, she said, “They’re already upstairs—Martin’s having some crisis with his nicotine patch.”

“Yep, page came an hour ago—got here as fast as I could.”

On that day I realized there was indeed devilment regarding my temper. Martin had seriously over-patched himself—again—and I fumed at his irresponsibility. My fist went clean through the flimsy wallboard like it was Styrofoam. That had never happened in my house. But our walls had been made of plaster. From that point on, I took Anger Management more seriously.

A year later I was working up the nerve to ask Marsha out for some yuletide cheer, but she was an evasive little hen. The Saturday night before St. Nick’s visit, I donned a new suit, bought a dozen red roses and a bottle of champagne—which I had to brown bag on account of the AA people.

Marsha hung up the phone when I walked in, and boy did she smile.

“Don’t you look like Dapper Dan?”

I took a deep breath, pooling my courage, and said, “What smells so good?” I inhaled again and my nostrils quivered. I forgot about Marsha as I sought to separate the aromas and put labels to them. Ginger and pumpkin. I could also make out butter, onion, celery, and garlic—stuffing.

“What’s going on?” I asked Marsha. I hadn’t had home cooking in years.

“Senior’s Christmas Dinner. Might surprise you to see who’s cooking it.” She pointed in the direction of the kitchen. I hurried down the checkered hallway wondering if—hoping it was—my little Shirley. Through the porthole on the swinging door, I spied my five-foot-nothing estranged wife.

I flushed with happiness. I looked at the flowers and champagne in my hand and tried real hard to think of something nice to say as I shouldered the door open.

“What are you doing here?” I said, gruffly.

“Making Christmas dinner for the seniors like I do every year.”

“I didn’t know you cooked like that.”

“Not surprising—all that smoking—kills the senses.” She dropped a lid onto an industrial-sized pot of mashed potatoes.

“I’ve quit.”

“I know—Marsha’s been giving me updates.” Shirley had the nerve to laugh at my perplexion “We’ve been friends since high school, Ed.” She sprinkled cinnamon on yams. “Marsha’s told me how you’ve been hangin’ on her.”

“I figured there wasn’t a snowball’s chance you’d ever take me back.”

“So you’ve got trust issues on top of everything else?”

That’s when I attended the “Believe Again” seminars. Meanwhile, Shirley cooked for me every day like it was Christmas. Which brings me to where I am now.

“Hello— my name is Ed, and I have an eating problem.”

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This article has been read 916 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leah Nichols 10/23/08
This one is cute! And it has a great storyline....I'm definitely a sucker for a romance....Nice work.
Jan Ackerson 10/23/08
I love, love, love Ed and his unique voice, and this change-of-pace entry in a week that's kind of a sugar overdose. Fan-TAS-tic!
Seema Bagai 10/23/08
A funny story. Great voice and character.
Celeste Ammirata10/27/08
What a well-written, witty, creative take on the topic. I smiled as I read it. And laughed out loud at the last line. God Bless
Sharlyn Guthrie10/27/08
Your characterization is excellent. I enjoyed the twists and turns in this story. Great job!
Sheri Gordon10/27/08
Love the ending, and Ed's voice. Very unique entry for this topic. Great writing.
Beth LaBuff 10/27/08
LOL -- " 'Anything shocking happen today? ' Being an electrician…" and "Martin had seriously over-patched himself." :) Your ending is "classic"… Love it!
Betty Castleberry10/27/08
This was a well written, fun read. I didn't see the ending coming. Good work.
Karlene Jacobsen10/27/08
Hello, my name is Karlene, and I am a sucker for a good romance. This is great, I especially love the surprise at the end- Marsha and Shirley are friends, I was hoping they would reconcile in the end. Thanks.
Kristen Hester10/27/08
Oh this is such fun. I loved the subtle humor throughout. This stands out. A+
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/28/08
How clever to use all the different meetings to tell the changes in the character, with the last meeting being the cleverest of all! Great voice and characterization.
Scott Sheets10/28/08
Great characterization and suberb ending. EXCELLENT!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge10/28/08
What a fun read! Well told, great pace, and a surprise ending too :)
Marijo Phelps10/29/08
What a hoot! Enjoyed the MC and how real he was and the irony!
Marlene Austin10/29/08
Wow, what a roller-coaster ride you put on the reader's emotions regarding "Ed", from disgust to pity to happiness and all within a 750 word limit! Great job. :)
Laury Hubrich 10/29/08
I like how you brought this full-circle. Also love your ending. Good job:)
LauraLee Shaw10/29/08
This is FANtastic! Entertaining! Creative! Engaging! Love it from title to end, and Ed is someone I'd like to meet. ;) REally!
Lyn Churchyard10/29/08
Great characterization and voice. Very different take on the topic. Loved the last line... very witty.
Joshua Janoski10/30/08
I always enjoy the voices that you present in your entries. I also love the twist with his wife at the end. Oh, and the last line is the best. :)

Great job, as always.
Sharon Kane11/18/08
Gregory and I looked up some of your other entries after your recent correspondence. We loved this, and we both laughed out loud at the end! A brilliant blend of pathos, humour and hope.
Betty Castleberry06/26/11
This is just as good the second time around. Love the fun voice!