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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hot and Cold (04/09/09)

TITLE: Hot And Cold Running Water
By Fiona Dorothy Stevenson


“….. hot and cold running water …..” The phrase in the advertisement drew Loretta’s eyes like a magnet. An inner city dweller for forty years, she lived in a tiny ‘up-and-down,’ a two-story apartment with two small bedrooms upstairs and barely adequate living space downstairs. Her home was one of twelve adjoining apartments set within spitting distance of the road in front with a narrow enclosed garden at the back. She could not remember any building that did not have hot and cold running water.

Loretta was due a period of overseas leave, an anachronism from the time when the firm she worked for had attracted staff members from England and Europe. This was a period of three months fully paid leave, to which the normal three weeks annual leave might be added. It came into effect every five years to enable workers to visit family and friends in the countries of their origin.

Loretta and an older cousin had bought the apartment together, easily sharing their lives and holidays for more than thirty years. Now her cousin was dead following a sudden, severe illness, and Loretta faced her overseas leave with little enthusiasm. She bought the travel paper without knowing what she intended to do, scrolling through the advertisements of tours, holiday homes and travel guides. In the unclassified section, this advertisement had caught her eye.

Her interest briefly quickened by the promise of hot and cold running water, Loretta read the advertisement through. A farm cottage situated not far from Himeville. Where was Himeville? A telephone number given, but only to ring after seven at night. She folded the paper with a sigh and made herself a cup of tea.

After her evening meal she faced the matter again. She might just as well take one of those tedious travel tours through the eastern Cape, and maybe spend some time in George or Knysna with her camera. She thought of Evelyn with her canvasses and paints, and the ever-ready tears welled anew. She brushed them aside and reached for the paper, turning the pages once more and once more finding nothing that appealed to her. Perhaps the cottage near Himeville …? “At least,” she thought, “it does have hot and cold running water!”

With a glance at the clock she picked up the phone and dialed. It said after seven so perhaps eight fifteen was not too late.

A gruff voice answered and for a moment she hesitated before asking for details of the cottage to let.

A farm cottage, but across the road and up the hill a fair distance from the main farm buildings. Electricity had been installed a year ago. Milk, bread, eggs and farm produce were available at the farmhouse for a small charge. And in answer to her hesitant query, yes, the hot and cold running water was a recent innovation. Before that it was necessary to pump the water into buckets, carrying it a short distance into the house. But now an electric pump had been installed taking the water to a tank, and from the tank it was piped into the house. Beautiful water it was, spring water from the hills behind the house. Crystal clear, it was, fresh and sweet. Nothing like that wretched town stuff loaded with chemicals to make it safe. This water was pure nectar.

His lyrical description of the water caught her imagination. In her mind she saw the cottage and the hills, and the tap with its diamond drops of water. She would spend her overseas leave at the farm cottage. More questions were answered, practical issues discussed. Harry gave the phone to wife Emma who was better able to answer certain of Loretta’s questions. Finally the matter was concluded: Loretta would take the cottage for three months from the second week in May.

Loretta put down the phone with a shaky chuckle. She looked at the notes she had made: what she was required to take with her, directions and distances, signposts to look out for. What had she got herself into? But one thing was for sure – she would have hot and cold running water!

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This article has been read 351 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bryan Ridenour04/16/09
Very well written and descriptive...nicely done.
Charla Diehl 04/16/09
I think I want that cottage! Nice story woven around the topic.
Gregory Kane04/17/09
An interesting insight into the mind of a lonely individual. So often we think of vacations as exciting times but as your story points out, this is not always the case.
I wasn't sure where your MC was based. I'm guessing RSA but really it could be anywhere. Knowing this detail would have helped me to fix the details of the story more easily in my mind. Nicely done.
Lollie Hofer 04/17/09
You did a good job of weaving this week's theme into your story. I like how this story is entertaining without there being a calamity of some sort. Well done!