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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Reason for the Season of Christmas (12/04/08)

TITLE: Train Wreck and Truth
By Debbie Roome


It seemed to happen in slow motion; the train rearing on shaky legs, twisting, tumbling, plunging, slamming into rocks below.

When my vision cleared, the carriage was crumpled to half its size and I was lying face down amidst a jumble of metal struts and ripped vinyl. Unbelievably, my iPod earphones continued to belt out Joy to the World. I dragged them off and the sounds of people moaning and crying drifted through my ears instead.

I tried to gather my thoughts. My legs were trapped, buried in wreckage, but I could feel hot needles of agony snapping through them. My back felt like a massive bruise and my nose was throbbing and moist. I watched as blood splattered beneath me, a minor haemorrhage of life.

The train had been nearing the end of its run and there’d only been one passenger in my carriage. She was lying a couple of feet away, her face pale, body limp. “Are you alright?” My voice came out as a harsh whisper. Carefully I changed the position of my upper body and reached out a hand. A faint pulse fluttered in her wrist but blood was spreading, widening beneath a deep gash in her arm.

Apply pressure. My first aid training struggled to the surface and I looked for something to pack round her wound. The only thing in reach was my shopping which lay scattered like confetti around the carriage. I pulled a new, $150 dress towards me and balled it up, positioning it under her arm and wedging it in place with a shoe.

The effort drained what strength I had left and I dropped my head to rest on my hands. An hour earlier, I would never have sacrificed that dress for a stranger. I gazed at the trappings of Christmas, spilled from my shopping bags. Strands of blue tinsel lay draped across crushed seats and golden stars were sprinkled everywhere. Silver and green baubles mixed with shiny candy canes and my bottles of champagne had broken. The contents were running across the debris in a sticky river, fizzing and gleaming as they did so.

It all seemed so inconsequential, so shallow. I’d always been a Christmas addict and Mom would scold me. “Don’t get so caught up in the world, Tori. Remember the real reason for Christmas.” I didn’t take much notice. Christmas was a time for wild parties and drinking; a time for running up credit card bills and indulging myself.

“There’ll be time for God later.” I would say to Mom. “Leave me in peace, for goodness sake.” Tears rolled from my eyes as the pain in my legs intensified. How could I have been so blind? What would happen to me if I didn’t make it out alive?

I realized then, that I was bleeding heavily myself; a red fountain that pumped and pulsed from my left leg. “Oh God, Jesus, forgive me for my foolishness. Forgive me for focusing on the trivial and unimportant. Forgive me for making Christmas about me when it’s really about you.” A wave of dizziness gripped me, even though I was lying down. “I don’t want to die, God. I’m begging you for a second chance.” My eyes followed the stream of blood as it snaked from my leg. It pooled with the river of champagne and together they flowed over buckled flooring and round clumps of glitter and shattered baubles.

I caught my breath when I saw where the trail ended. Above the hole through which the liquid was draining, a cross rose from the mangled debris; a warped, bent cross, fashioned from the frame of a seat, but still a cross. A single rope of golden tinsel was hooked around it. An incredible feeling of mercy and grace washed across my heart. “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for coming to earth as a newborn and dying that I might live. Thank you for being the real reason for celebrating Christmas.”

In the distance, the wail of sirens rose and fell as an army of help converged on us. I closed my eyes and let consciousness drift away, confident that my life was now safe in the hands of Jesus.

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This article has been read 1253 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Connie Dixon12/13/08
Very compelling and realistic descriptions. I loved the recollection of her mother's warning not to get "caught up" in the world. The time for God is now - tomorrow may be too late! Great story and writing.
Teresa Lee Rainey12/16/08
I love this line " I watched as blood splattered beneath me, a minor haemorrhage of life."

Compelling, well written, real. . .
Carole Robishaw 12/16/08
Your descriptions were really well done, I felt like I was right there, I no problems seeing it in my mind. Well done! Good story, good connections, excellent writing!
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/16/08
You've presented an awesome story of redemption with wonderful imagery.
Karlene Jacobsen12/16/08
The imagery, the descriptions, all of it, is excellent. I could see it vividly.
Pamela Kliewer12/16/08
Wonderful tear-jerker. This is so well told and leaves me so grateful for the gift of Jesus, that we can receive at any time. I'm so glad you had your MC 'wake up' and receive before it was too late. I love the gold tinsel hooked around the cross - that speaks volumes.
Joanne Sher 12/16/08
Incredibly intense and vivid descriptions. I was absolutely engaged. Exceptional.
Sharon Kane12/17/08
Awesome descriptive writing. The opening line had me hooked and I couldn't let go. The sense of chaos, the incongruity of Christmas paraphernalia in the middle of the wrecked train... fantastic.
Her remembering her first aid training and improvising with a dress and a shoe, left me with a mixed reaction. It was a nice touch and added to the sense of desperation of the scene, but the first-aider in ME was screaming, "Don't move you silly girl!"
The image of the cross and revelation of grace were beautiful. God is soooo patient with us! I loved it from start to finish.
Janice Fitzpatrick12/18/08
"Wow" is all I can say. This is indeed such a beautiful inspiring and though provoking story. Loved the descriptions! Congrats on the win hon!
Sheri Gordon12/18/08
Wow. Congratulations on your 1st place. This is written so well, and truly does illustrate the real reason for the season. Nice job.
Dianne Janak12/18/08
Congratulations Debbie! Well done. I was so moved by your piece that while driving today I was thinking of the proverbial train wreck some of us made of our lives before we caught hold of God's message to us, and the drama it took to get our attention. This story has so many levels, and is powerful in its message of salvation. Hope you go celebrate your much deserved win!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge12/18/08
Oh what an awesome story on the meaning of life, as well as on the meaning of Christmas. Congratulations on a well deserved EC.
Catrina Bradley 12/18/08
Congratulations, Debbie! I echo all of the comments you've received. Inspired, masterful writing. I can't believe you thought you missed it with this one!!