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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)

TITLE: Shadowland Insomnia
By Bryan Ridenour


Mr. Phil crawled over the sleeping form of his wife and padded off in pursuit of a midnight snack. Green, leafy and nutritious were the only options, nothing appealed to the taste buds. “For once,” he moaned, “I’d like to have a nice….”

Dim light revealed a small shape toddling towards him. “Sam,” he thought, “it must be Sam.” Mr. Phil gently turned his son in the other direction, nudging him back to bed. “It’s the middle of the night, Sam,” Mr. Phil informed, “you need to go back to sleep.” Sam plopped back down into a sleeping heap, joining a brood of slumbering siblings. Mr. Phil pecked Sam gently on the forehead and soon, soft whistled breaths puffed from each, a peaceful slumber underway.

“Ah, to sleep like a child,” whispered Mr. Phil, a smile tugging at his lips, not reaching weary eyes.

He silently crossed the passageway and slipped back into bed with his wife. “Honey,” she mumbled groggily, her words becoming garbled, “aguiooasoj k jkapk pkapk p.”

Mr. Phil elbowed his wife softly, chuckling, “I can’t understand you dear.”

“Oh,” she said, more alert, “Can you snuggle with me? I’m a little cool.”

Mr. Phil slid close to his wife and she sighed a gracious thanks. “Dear,” she began, “What’s wrong? You’ve been restless tonight.”

“I’ve been worried about tomorrow,” he admitted. “It’s going to be a hard day.”

“Why?” she asked gently.

“It’s my first time to stand in for dad since his retirement. That makes me really nervous.”

“What worries you the most?”

“Well,” he began, propping himself up to face his wife, “there’s the press. Television crews and newspaper reporters will be everywhere…millions of Americans will be watching live.”

“Just be your cute...charming...self and all of America will fall in love with you.”

“No,” he interrupted. “It’s more than stage fright. What if I get it wrong?”

“Get what wrong?” she asked, swallowing a yawn.

“The weather. What if I’m no good at forecasting the weather? People are counting on me,” he moaned, climbing out of bed to pace the floor.

“Dear,” she responded soothingly, “Sit here,” she said patting the side of the bed.

“No matter what happens tomorrow, you have a wife and six wonderful little ones, and when you get back home, you will still…be…our…hero.”

Mr. Phil relaxed into his wife’s embrace.

“God takes care of the sparrows,” she whispered. “He’ll take care of you too.”

“Thanks, sweetheart.”

Mr. Phil nuzzled his wife’s cheek and nestled back into bed, counting his blessings. After a few deep breaths and a quiet prayer, Mr. Phil drifted towards a restful sleep.

“By the way, dear,” Mrs. Phil cooed, stroking her husband’s bristly face.

Mr. Phil stirred slightly, turning to his wife. “Yes?” he mumbled.

“How would you like to be a hero to another litter?”

“What?” he asked alarmed, sitting straight up.

“We’re expecting!”

Mr. Phil catapulted out of bed and dove to his knees, landing on the cool damp earth.

“Honey, what are you doing?” Mrs. Phil gasped.

“Praying for sunshine!” he exclaimed

“What for?” she said, not understanding her husbands request.

“I need to see my shadow in the morning. With that kind of news, six more weeks will come in handy in building another den!”

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This article has been read 701 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 04/30/09
LOL! Great bit of humor in here. I loved finding out who Mr.Phil really was and his wife was a delightful character. Great job with this.
Seema Bagai 04/30/09
Extremely clever. Loved this piece. You had me fooled to the very end.
Jae Blakney05/04/09
My impressions as I read it: "Mr. Phil" is odd--why not use first names? Why would a TV station hire the son of a retiring weatherman? You called the floor "earth." But then I got to the end. You were right all along and I was wrong. Never saw it coming. I love it!
Lollie Hofer05/05/09
You too had me a-wondering why things didn't quite fit right. I'm a sucker for a good, surprise ending!
Shirley McClay 05/05/09
Oh my goodness... you pulled me in right from the beginning and totally got me! Great writing and awesome twist! LOVED it!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/06/09
A delightful romp all the way through!
Chely Roach05/06/09
Got me, too! Great clues, but I didn't put it all together till the end. Well done!
Lynda Lee Schab 05/06/09
Very cute story with a great twist. I don't quite understand the connection to the topic, though. Is it just me? Regardless, it was a fun read!
Shelley Ledfors 05/06/09
Love it! I figured out "Mr. Phil"'s identity fairly quickly, but that took nothing away from this delightful tale. Very well done!
Beckie Stewart05/06/09
LOL! That was great! Loved it!
Mona Purvis05/06/09
Entertaining story. lots of fun. I didn't see the connection to the topic. Might just be me.
Genia Gilbert05/07/09
Loved your entry. Can tell you love animals and have a viewpoint from kids (have read your profile:)). I too, had a little trouble connecting your story with the topic. I got the "hard" day part, but thought maybe the "soft" part was Mrs. Phil's arms and soothing reassurance. ?? Anyway, congrats on making the top 40!