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

TITLE: Flowers, Fish, and Promises
By Betty Castleberry


Gloria came out to the garage. She stood so close I could smell the floral shampoo she used. “Whatcha doin,’ Nick?”

“Straightening up my work bench.”

“Can it wait?”

She was doing it - giving me that gorgeous “You can’t resist me” smile.

“Um, I suppose. Why?”

“Let’s spend some time together. Take me shopping.”

My lips went dry. The thought of traipsing through a dozen stores while Gloria looked at shoes and handbags terrified me.

“Please? There’s just one place I really want to go to. I’ll run in and run right back out. Then let’s get ice cream and walk in the park.”

The ice cream sounded good. “Okay, I’ll make you a deal. I want to stop somewhere, too.”

She kissed my cheek. “Let’s go.”

We had gone just a few blocks when Gloria pointed ahead. “Stop there.”

“At the nursery?”

“Yup. I’m planting a garden.”

I was only slightly relieved. A stop at the nursery sounded like work for me. My instinct was to stay in the car while she went inside, but she wasn’t having it.

“How can we be together if you sit in the car? I promise I’ll dash in and dash out.”

Gloria zeroed in on the flowers. She gathered up an armful of pink and purple blossoms and pointed to an odd-looking pot. “Grab that, will you?”

It was a pot-bellied clay jar with several small openings staggered around its perimeter. “What is it?”

“A strawberry pot.”

“Oh.” The price was frightening. I lowered my voice. “Honey, do you really need this? Can’t you just buy strawberries at the store?”

“It’s not for strawberries. It’s for herbs.”

Of course. That’s why it was called a strawberry pot.

She shoved several seed packets at me and motioned to the check out.

On the short walk to the cash register, she picked up gloves, two wind chimes, a bird feeder, and a ceramic frog. I will give her credit, though. It didn’t take her long.

Ten minutes and two hundred dollars later, we were back in the car on our way to my stop.

When I parked at the bait shop, Gloria sighed. “I should go in with you.”

“I won’t be long. I just have to buy minnows for tonight. You do remember that I’m going night fishing, right?”

“Only now that you reminded me. You really won’t be long?”

“You have my word. I’ll run in and run out again. Really, you can sit here if you’d rather.”

“No, I want to be fair. I’m coming in.”

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but somehow that didn’t bode well. I got my bait bucket and led the way.

Bill, the owner, put down his newspaper. “What can I do you for?”

“I need three dozen bass minnows.”


He went to the back.

Gloria circled the shop, glancing at the displays of weights and lures. She pinched her nose. “Eww, what is that smell?”

“It’s stink bait. Great for catching catfish.”

“You’re kidding me. What kind of creature would eat something that smells that gross?” Her voice carried through the little shop.

“Honey, could you keep it down? It’s a little embarrassing.”

Bill appeared with my minnows. “Here ya go. I gave you a bonus.”

I peered in the bucket. Swimming among the minnows was a fat goldfish.

Gloria tapped my shoulder. “Why is there a goldfish in there?”

Bill answered for me. “They’re great bait.”

She winced. “Nick, it’s bad enough that you use the minnows, but goldfish are pets. You cannot use that pretty fish for bait. Promise me you won‘t.”

“If I don’t, somebody else will.”

“Look at him. His fins are all lacy. See there? He’s looking at me. He’s precious.”

I looked longingly at the goldfish, thinking what a big fish I might catch with him. “But honey…”

“You can’t impale him on a fish hook. Poor baby.”

I steered her toward the door. “Sweetheart, why don’t you step outside?”

“Let me have him. Please?” Her eyes filled with tears.

I knew I was whipped. “All right.”

Gloria hugged me. “Thank you, honey. We’ll need to stop at the pet shop to buy Bubbles some fish food and a tank. He might like some playmates, too. I won’t take long. I’ll run right in and right out.”

Bubbles? Shaking my head, I replied, “No, I’ll go in. You stay in the car and keep Bubbles company.” I just couldn’t bear the consequences.

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Sara Harricharan 05/07/09
ROFL!!! I am literally laughing as I type this out. What a hoot! This couple is simply adorable! I would love to read more of thier adventures. What marvelous characters crafted in such a short piece and what a neat story! I loved Gloria especially, this was a precious story! Excellent, definitely one of my favorites this week. ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/08/09
This is one of my favorites, too. Your humor is exactly right.
Lyn Churchyard05/08/09
Oh dear... poor Nick. Somehow, I think those two were made for each other. I can see it when a baby is on the way. "I'll just pop in here and get that cute little jump suit I saw on sale..."

KCHING... KCHING... $$$$$$$$$$

Marita Thelander 05/10/09
Oh boy...I hope they use cash or they are headed for impulse buyer disaster. lol. Great dialog.
Micheline Murray05/12/09
As someone who makes my kids cook their catch of crabs next door in the summers....I can definitely relate to this young wife!

Glad Bubbles was rescued---cute story-takes me back to the fun and freedom of the early years...
Loren T. Lowery05/12/09
This is soooo funny! It's like you took a page right out of my life. Thank-you for the cheer it brought today!
Carole Robishaw 05/12/09
This was really funny, a cute couple.
Lollie Hofer05/12/09
What a fun story to read! This couple will really be a hoot when they're about 80 years old. I also laughed out loud, especially when she named the fish. I have a firm rule at my house, if you name it you can't eat it. Great story! Thanks for the laughs.
Chely Roach05/12/09
Absolutely adorable! What a fun story...loved this.:)
Patricia Herchenroether05/12/09
This was a real fun read-loved it! I'm sooo glad she saved Bubbles. lol
Mona Purvis05/13/09
Just Delighful! I can certainly relate. Hubby hates to go shopping with me. Now, if it's Home Depot or Lowe's, he's just fine. Very fine entry.
Diana Dart 05/13/09
Cute, cute, cute. Loved how well you crafted these two. LOL at the strawberry pot comment! And what is wrong with a few purchases at the garden centre??? ;-)
Dee Yoder 05/13/09
Oh my! Now I know what my hubby is thinking as he trails along behind me while I shop. This is so funny...made me smile and laugh all the way through!
Kimberly Russell05/13/09
Really enjoyed your entry. The humor was just right: not too much, not too litte. Made for a very funny, delightful read.
Karlene Jacobsen05/13/09
What a fun read. The scene in the bait and tackle shop had me chuckling, "Now I know why Dad wouldn't take me...hehe"
Bryan Ridenour05/13/09
Great dialog and humor. Very fun read. Well done.
Kristen Hester05/14/09
LOVED this couple. Reminds me of me and my husband. So much fun!
Yvonne Blake 05/14/09
Joshua Janoski05/14/09
LOL! OH MY! I laughed so hard at this! This was hilarious! The ending was priceless. I like the name she gave the fish - "Bubbles." This piece demonstrates the power women have over men. Believe me, I now have firsthand experience with this ever since getting engaged. Great stuff as always, Betty!
Janice Fitzpatrick05/14/09
Oh my goodness, is this a hoot!! What a wonderfully clever and engaging story hon! Congrats on your win!!You have to write more about this couple and their newly acquired pet, Bubble.LOL. CUTE!!!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/14/09
Congratulations on recognition for this delightfully creative piece!
Myrna Noyes05/14/09
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR EC for this fun, true-to-life story! You captured the male/female personalities so perfectly! :)
Sara Harricharan 05/14/09
ROFL! Such fun to read this again. I simply had to. ^_^ Congrats on your EC! ^_^
Mariane Holbrook 05/14/09
Betty, you're writing is just too funny! You need to tone it down a bit so you don't keep us all in stitches. It seems to me you just get better and better and as your #1 fan, I couldn't be prouder. Many, many kudos for a well-deserved win! Hugz.
Connie Dixon05/14/09
This is hilarious. I think I know Gloria. Great job and congratulations!
Rhonda Schrock05/19/09
A good portrayal of the wiles we use. :) You did a good job of capturing the back-and-forth between a male and a female with distinctly different shopping styles (!).
Chrissi Dunn05/19/09
Haha! Very well written dialogue. You showed the couple's personalities so well.