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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

TITLE: Hope for a Tired Crank
By Bryan Ridenour


I stand in the corner, head tilted to one side, unblinking. People in. People out. No one glances my way. Boredom is a way of life. Once upon a time, friends cheered when I came out to play. Onlookers merrily sang my song at the top of their lungs, eyes glued to my door, anticipating my lively dance. Over and over again, they sang and I danced. One might think I tired of such repetition, but this is not so. Those who watched smiled and laughed. Laughter brought me joy…a joy that is now a distant memory. My mind refuses to recall the words to the song…my song. The tune is shrouded in a foggy haze. Snippets tease me in my dreams, but then disappear with the dawn.

I’ve spent hours wondering why I’ve been discarded, tossed aside like a ragged shirt or a holey pair of socks. I miss entertaining an audience. Maybe, it’s time to retire…at least rest. I need assistance to my room and no one stands ready to help. I miss my room…my hideaway…my refuge. However, going there alone is not an option. I need a gentle nudge and then off to sleep I go.

Voices in the hall, grab my attention. The door cracks open, two people slip inside to investigate the room’s contents. One I know well, the other, a young pig-tailed girl, I have never met. The stranger scanned the room, eyes darting from one novelty to the next, lingering on some, ignoring others. Then, our eyes met. Did I detect an attraction? Her gaze sped on, hesitated, and drifted back to me.

“Would you like to play?” the little girl asked, smiling.

My smile answered ‘yes’.

She playfully scooped me up and swung me round and round. This is not my conventional manner of play, but I don’t complain. Smiles and giggles turn my despair to cautious hope.

“Let’s sit on the floor,” she said, plopping in a dizzy heap.

She pushed me into my room but not for sleep. She knows I am most fun when I make a grand entrance. Memories of the melody, fragments of the lyrics swirl in my mind, and then I hear my song, almost forgotten. My anticipation builds, but I must wait for the right time. When my excitement can be contained no longer, I dance. The pretty little girl cheered and clapped and we lost track of time, replaying the routine over and over again.

“Sara,” someone called. “It’s time to go home.”

She stood up, cradling me in her arms, placing me on a cluttered shelf.

“Bye, little Jack,” she said, waving over her shoulder.

And then if knowing the longing in my heart, she turned and burst into song:

"All around the Mulberry Bush
The monkey chased the weasel
The monkey stopped to pull up his sock
Pop! Goes the weasel"

“Good night, Jack,” she whispered, pulling the door shut behind her.

“Good night, little one,” I thought, smiling. “Good night.”

"Pop Goes the Weasel" is an English language nursery rhyme and singing game. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 5249. Despite some assumptions this song can only be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century, when a music sheet acquired by the British Library in 1853 described a dance 'Pop Goes the Weasel', which was 'An Old English Dance, as performed at Her Majesty's & The Nobilities Balls, with the Original Music', which had a tune very similar to that used today and only the words "Pop Goes the Weasel". There is evidence that several people tried to add lyrics to the popular tune. (Compliments to Wikipedia)

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This article has been read 648 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 05/11/09
You drew me in with your mysterious MC and kept my attention throughout. In retrospect, your title (which is PERFECT) held a clue. (plus all the clues throughout) You get a high score on the creativity meter for this!
Mona Purvis05/12/09
Fun and interesting and on topic. Learned something about the lyrics.
Micheline Murray05/12/09
I thought this was a FUN piece! Very creative and "out of the box"--(pun completely intended!)--Enjoyed the suspense of not knowing who the mc was until near the end-
Eliza Evans 05/12/09
How very, very creative...and delightful! You have a gift, Bryan. Keep writing and stretching yourself. Good stuff!
Loren T. Lowery05/12/09
This has a sad, mystical quality about it...almost enchanting but for its melancholy. I sensed at the very beginning the MC was a doll, had I been more alert to the nuance of the title I would have guessed more accurately the Jack-in-the-box. In a way the article had shades of the Velveteen Rabbit, wit the Sara making him real. Good job!
Shelley Ledfors 05/12/09
I love this! It is creative and charming. Well done!
Karlene Jacobsen05/12/09
Poor Jack had been forgotten...

It's been so long since I heard that song, but the tune popped back into my head as I read the words.

I kept wondering who or what your MC was, and then the unveiling. Very nice.
Chely Roach05/12/09
Great title! What a creative, fun entry. This must have been a blast to write. Well done!
Betty Castleberry05/13/09
This is definitely out of the box.
I love the creativity, and I learned the something as well from the footnote. Nicely done.
Dee Yoder 05/13/09
Poor Jack. This is a unique twist on this topic! You certainly created a character that has my sympathies and you brought back some childhood memories, too.
Kimberly Russell05/13/09
Took me a while to figure it out- loved the suspense. You've written well and showed emotion with your words. Very nice.
Lollie Hofer05/13/09
What a well-written story. I enjoyed the MC's voice and character. It was fun trying to figure out who he really was. Enjoyed the lesson at the end as well.
Lyn Churchyard05/13/09
Definitely way up on creativity. I thought at first your MC was a discarded puppet. Well done, this was very, very enjoyable despite the melancholy.
Joy Faire Stewart05/13/09
Very creative writing and great title, too.
Connie Dixon05/13/09
I just had to keep reading until I knew what this was about. My guesses went unfulfilled. I really appreciate the note at the end. Great job keeping interest.
Kristen Hester05/14/09
Thanks for reminding me of the "real" Jack-in-the-box (rather than the fattening burgers I usually think of!). Very creative. I enjoyed this!
Joshua Janoski05/14/09
Extremely creative and out-of-the-box writing for this week. You had me guessing at the MCs identity for a while there. At first I thought it was an old man in a nursing home thinking back on the good ol' days. Then I realized it was a toy talking. Fun stuff!