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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)

TITLE: Throw Away
By Betty Castleberry


Eddie Ray Younger hadn’t noticed me, but why would he? Late bloomers didn’t get noticed. Besides, just about every girl in Cottonwood drooled over him. Then one summer I blossomed like a mesquite after the last frost, and all of sudden Eddie Ray knew I was on the planet.

The first time he offered to drive me home from school, I said yes. From then on, we were tight.

Daddy refused to smile when he gave me away to Eddie, suspecting, rightly, that a grandchild was already on the way.

Mama hugged me and talked through her tears. “Sherry Jo, if you ever need to come back home, you know our door is open.” I told her that wouldn’t happen.

The first couple of years were okay. Eddie worked in his uncle’s shop changing oil and rotating tires. He gave me his dented sedan and bought himself a classic muscle truck. He painted her candy apple red and called her “Agnes.”

Baby Max looked like his daddy, and Eddie spent time every evening playing with him. I was grateful for the break, although Eddie never touched a diaper.

I’m not exactly sure when things changed. I just know that one Saturday I came home from grocery shopping and found Eddie in the back yard with some of his friends, polishing off a case of beer. I put Max down for a nap and went outside. “What’s goin’ on?”

Kent, Eddie’s best friend from high school, smashed an empty beer can in his hand. “Hi, Sherry Jo. How ya been?”

“Fine.” I turned to Eddie. “I thought we were going to the movies. Mama said she’d watch Max.”

He ran his fingers through his hair. “Baby, I thought it’d be more fun to stay here and barbecue. I’ll grill and you make potato salad. I don’t think we can afford a movie anyway.”

It was all I could do not to say, “But we can afford to feed these guys?”

The next thing I knew, we had barbecues practically every weekend. Eddie’s buddies ate our food and drank beer till after midnight. Some of their wives and girlfriends came too, barely covered up, and laughing too loudly.

Now and then they all came back on Sunday afternoon and did it all over again. Eddie showed up late for work a few times on Monday morning. If he hadn’t been working for his uncle, I know he would have been fired.

One Sunday morning I got up early and flipped on the closet light.

Eddie rolled over in bed. “Turn that light off.”

I ignored him and looked through my outdated dresses.

He pulled the covers over his head. “C’mon Sherry Jo, I’ve got a headache.”

“Course you do. You stayed up drinkin’ till two. I’m lookin’ for something’ to wear to church.”

“Since when do you go to church?”

“Since today.”

I pulled out something I thought was presentable, then woke Max and dressed him. We went to church and stayed for the pot luck dinner. Feeling guilty, I fixed Eddie Ray a plate.

He was watching football when we got home. He glanced up and got in a dig. “Did you get saved?”

I dropped the plate on the coffee table and went to Max’s room to change his clothes.

Not long after that, I joined the Cottonwood Victory Church. Eddie Ray refused to go with me, sayin’ there wasn’t nothin’ but a bunch of hypocrites there.

That’s about the time I began hearin’ stuff around town. Haley down at the light company asked me if Eddie Ray had a blonde cousin.

I kept my eyes and ears open and things began to fall in place. How many people do you think actually need an oil change after nine o’clock at night?

The clincher came when Wednesday night prayer meeting let out early. I just got Max in his car seat when Eddie Ray’s shiny truck sped by, leaving me lookin’ at the tail lights and a blonde sitting right up against him.

Max munched on animal crackers while I drove out to the sticks. Pulling off my cheap wedding ring, I decided it wasn’t worth hocking. I barely hesitated before I threw it out the window.

Max squealed from the back seat. “Frow ‘way.”

Something hit me in the back of the head. I picked the soggy, headless lion out of my hair.

I looked at my naked ring finger and cried. “That’s right, Maxie. Throw away.”

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This article has been read 788 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/24/09
Well-written story. I'm hoping for Chapter Two.
Jae Blakney04/27/09
Wow, I'm impressed. Fits the theme beautifully and great voice.
Gerald Shuler 04/27/09
Well written. This does cry out for the next chapter. If she becomes a Christian then this was only the end of the beginning. I enjoyed this.
Bryan Ridenour04/27/09
Well written...Left me wanting to read more of the story.
Jan Ackerson 04/27/09
A masterpiece of atmosphere and setting--wow, you're good!
Joy Faire Stewart04/27/09
Excellent story-telling. I enjoyed how it moved along with so many interest elements unfolding, great MC.
Carole Robishaw 04/27/09
I agree with all the comments left so far. A very good story.
Carol Slider 04/27/09
This is SO good... and the characters are so real. I agree, it needs a sequel! Very good work.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/28/09
Great writing. You do pathos just as well as humor. Your characters are so real I think I've met them.
Chely Roach04/28/09
Wow, this was SO excellent! Perfect balance of drama with a touch of humor...like the headless lion. Life is so like that; something strangely funny in the midst of disaster. Loved this!
Myrna Noyes04/28/09
Wow! This story has the definite stamp of a gifted writer! It has such an authentic feel, and the ending was so sad. My hat is off to you! :)
Beckie Stewart04/29/09
You had me captivated with this story from the start. It is well-written and agreed. Would love to see a second chapter.
Loren T. Lowery04/29/09
I wonder if a parent truly knows what these following words mean to a child
"Mama hugged me and talked through her tears. “Sherry Jo, if you ever need to come back home, you know our door is open.” "

You captured so much in this piece, how'd you do it in only 750 words? This is beautiful in its pathos. I am at once saddened by the disillusionment of the marriage, but encouraged by the grace your MC found by coming to Christ. God bless the church!
Kimberly Russell04/29/09
This is the kind of real-life drama I enjoy reading. You did a great job and made me want more- excellent.
Karlene Jacobsen04/29/09
I like the title. I had a different ending in my head, but was glad for the one you provided. The guy needs to grow up.
Joshua Janoski04/29/09
You really made me care for your MC. I felt as though she was sitting face-to-face with me and telling me her story. I sure hope she found a good Christian man to take care of her.Good job with characters in this one. :)