Home Read What's New Join
My Account Login

Read Our Devotional             2016 Opportunities to be Published             Detailed Navigation

The HOME for Christian writers! The Home for Christian Writers!
The Official Writing Challenge



how it works
submission rules
guidelines for
choosing a level


submit your entry
read current entries
read past entries
challenge winners

Our Daily Devotional HERE
Place it on your site or
receive it daily by email.



how it works   Submit

Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)

TITLE: Afraid of Everything But Dinosaurs
By Jan Ackerson


I am watching the morning news when my eyes flick over to Gabe, playing on the floor with his plastic dinosaurs. He has paused, motionless, with a pterodactyl hovering just inches over the carpet, and there is a furrow of worry between his eyebrows. On the television, a reporter is saying …and little Krystal Hughes has now been missing for eight days. Police are questioning Krystal’s mother…Gabe lowers the pterodactyl and reaches for Boo, his faded floppy hat with a row of several small grommets. He rubs a grommet on his cheek and whimpers.

I click off the news report and join Gabe on the floor. Picking up his T. Rex, I shake it near Gabe’s freckled nose and make it talk in a ridiculously high-pitched voice. “Hey, Gabe,” squeaks T. Rex. “Want a snack? I do!” T. Rex nibbles Gabe’s nose until he swats it away with the tiniest possible smile.

“Don’t eat my nose!” Gabe takes T. Rex from me and sets it behind his back. “Can I have peanut butter apples, mama?”

Happy for Gabe’s rare little smile, I take both of his hands and pull him to his feet. “I’ll go make your snack, Dino Boy. Will you go down to the playroom and put T. Rex and his friends away? After your snack we’ll go for a ride.”

Gabe’s eyes widen when I mention the playroom, and he shakes his head. “No, mama. I don’ wanna go downstairs.”

I put down the jar of peanut butter, about to scold this uncharacteristic defiance, when I see that Gabe’s face has drained of color, doubling the number of his freckles. “Why don’t you want to go down to the playroom, sweetie?”

He has twisted Boo so hard around his pudgy index finger that I can see one knuckle purpling. I kneel beside him and he cups my ear with his other hand, whispering a single word: cricket.

I remember…yesterday we were in the playroom together, looking for Gabe’s triceratops, when a strange noise had sent him flying into my arms. I’d searched for a long time, hampered by this chubby five-year-old who was clinging, monkey-like, to my neck. When I’d finally located the cricket, Gabe refused to look at it, and he nearly pulled me up the stairs in his panicked determination to escape.

“Okay, little one,” I say, and I try to imagine how I will fill this day and the next and the next and the next with activities that will not worry my little boy.


Troy has worked a few extra hours today, so Gabe is already sleeping when his daddy walks in the door. I linger in Troy’s embrace for an extra beat, reveling in his smell: clean sweat, wood dust, linseed oil. Several seconds into the hug, Troy lifts his head from my hair. “Why isn’t Gabe upstairs in bed?”

I turn around and look with Troy at Gabe, asleep on the couch with Boo tucked under his chin. “He wouldn’t go upstairs. There’s a shadow on his bedroom wall that looks like a clown.”

Troy smiles. “I guess that’d bother me, too. What else worried him today?” He perches on the arm of the sofa, one hand resting on the curve of Gabe’s back.

“Let’s see…” I count them off on my fingers. “Going down the stairs, riding in the car with the window down, eating the lollipop the bank teller gave him, Mr. Soames at the post office…”

“That the guy with the nose hairs?”

“That’s the one.”

Troy nods. “Me too, son,” he murmurs. “Anything else?”

I continue enumerating Gabe’s fears. “Cheez-Whiz, the billboard for Stokes Realty, the knife I used to cut his chicken, and going up the stairs.” I sigh. “What are we going to do? He’s afraid of everything these days. He won’t go up, he won’t go down—pretty soon he won’t go out, either.”

“It’ll pass, Julie.” He gathers Gabe in his arms and carries him up to his bedroom. I stand in the doorway and watch as Troy undresses our sleepy son, then manipulates his floppy arms and legs into dinosaur pajamas. Gabe stirs for a second, whispers papa, and somehow manages to find Boo on his pillow, even with his eyes closed.

Troy tucks the blanket around Gabe’s shoulders and sits on the edge of the bed. When Gabe’s breathing becomes deep and slow, Troy reaches out with one thumb. Tenderly, my husband smoothes the furrow between his son’s troubled eyebrows.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.

This article has been read 1055 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/09/09
You've painted a lovely family picture with your words.
Chely Roach04/10/09
On a smaller scale, I was a Gabe; this piece stirred some of those confused, panicked memories in me. But because I am a parent now, this melted me. I adored the detail of "Boo", and the last line left me aching for Gabe's parents. Loved it...
Carol Slider 04/12/09
This is so beautifully written, and so true to life! It reminds of my little boy who is terrified of flies, and used to be terrified by drive-through car washes. Fortunately, these things do pass. (And I LIKE the title!)
Karlene Jacobsen04/12/09
I remember being afraid of walking across the room because my brother told me Satan can see through the floor. I was about 5 then too. Glad those things pass.

This was very tender. I agree about the title though. Need some salsa?
Beth LaBuff 04/12/09
As you've hinted (with the television reporter), there are some fears that are justified. You made me want to grab Gabe and hold on to him, and his little T. Rex. I liked the parents response to his childhood fears.
Shelley Ledfors 04/12/09
The fears made this charming little boy all the more endearing and true to life. And I appreciated his wise parents. A lovely, tender family story!
Connie Dixon04/12/09
This is a great story - and a wonderful example of showing, not telling. You always do that so well. How about this for a title:
Phobias From a Five-Year-Old
(Just kidding)
Bryan Ridenour04/13/09
Loved the story and especially the compassion exemplified by mom and dad. Great job!
Sonya Leigh04/13/09
Ah, those nose hairs that can turn a child's world up on end.

I loved the mom's compassionate approach to helping her son. Great little story, told in the spirit of God's heart for children. There's such a parenting sermon in there without so much as one preachy word. Well done.
Sheri Gordon04/13/09
I love the compassion from the mom, as I'm sure this could get very frustrating day in and day out. As always, your excellent writing puts the reader right in the scene--experiencing everything with the characters.

Maybe you should put more thought into your title next time. :)
Kristen Hester04/14/09
Wow! I loved this story. So tender...and real. I have a son who suffers from anxiety and it's exhausting. I keep wanting to "fix" it. This really spoke to me. You parent's were great examples to me!
Henry Clemmons04/15/09
and endearing to the point of just having to say, "Wow!"
The story was so captivating I had to read it again to note how great the charcaterization is, the mood, the symbolism, the identification and the ministry of kindness and love. Oh yes, I loved this.
Ruth Ann Moore04/15/09
A beautifully tender story. The mind of a child can be a difficult thing to understand; trying to find the basis for their reasoning. I enjoyed how you portrayed the plight of the mother. A great read.
Rachel Rudd 04/15/09
Awww! Exactly what mothers (and fathers) are for....really like this, Jan! Very sweet!
Diana Dart 04/15/09
I'm warm from this story - the scene that you paint, the emotions, the humour tucked into the tenderness... it was all so sweet. How do you do it???
Beckie Stewart04/15/09
All I did was feel so bad for this little boy so afraid of so many things and could not help wonder why? Well-written piece of course.
Yvonne Blake 04/15/09
so touching and loving...

I like the way the parents so patiently deal with his "worries"
Pamela Kliewer04/15/09
I didn't get anything submitted for this topic, but decided I wanted to read some entries and this is the first one in the forums for tossing a brick... well done! This story is so tender and I love the portrayal of compassion toward the little guy from his parents.
Kimberly Russell04/15/09
I especially liked the fact that the parents didn't discount his fears, shame him, or ridicule. If only more parents would take note. Nicely written.
Peter Stone04/16/09
Sweet, touching, and so realistic. Kids can be so worried by the most trivial things. Priceless how one minute Gabe wouldn't go downstairs, and then the next, wouldn't go upstairs. (I was scared of clowns too as a kid.)
How times a week do I hear my kids scream, "Papa, spider!" And rush to the room only to find something 5mm long. Or, "it's dark near the toilet - can you come?" Most of these phases do pass with time and developing maturity, but not all do. Sometimes Biblical and Spirit guided counselling are needed to overcome the phobias. (Learnt that the hard way.)
LauraLee Shaw04/16/09
Masterfully written. You melted my heart.
Joshua Janoski04/20/09
I have always been scared of clowns and thought they were creepy. I bet that man with the nose hairs was plenty scary too. LOL. Cute story. Reminded me of how all children (and even some adults) have strange fears.
Joshua Janoski04/20/09
Oh yeah, I was also scared of the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. Sorry, but I had to throw that one in there. This story reminded me of all my childhood fears. :)