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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)

TITLE: All Obstacles are Illuminated
By Anita van der Elst


“Light or dark?” Her brother’s carving knife hovered over the crispy-skinned turkey.

She should choose the light. It was healthier but Mom had never learned the trick to a tender turkey. As lovely as it looks, my best chance of chewing and swallowing this bird, dark meat it will have to be, Muriel thought.

Muriel drenched the meat in gravy, swirling it around her plate. At least Mom has a knack for great gravy and mashed potatoes.

Her mind descended into murkiness as her brothers and their wives mouthed complimentary words for Mom’s cooking. She glanced at Mom. How she wanted to chase the permanent dark shadows away. I’ve spent my whole life trying to lighten her load. I guess I’m not up to the task. Too bad there’s no gravy to make life’s really tough issues palatable.

A farm accident decades before had ended the life of Muriel’s only sister. The age difference of ten months made them almost like twins, although they bore no similarities. Muriel’s almost black hair and somber brown eyes contrasted with Tracy’s curly towhead and pale blue eyes. Temperamentally there was no affinity as Tracy’s voice rose in songs of joyfulness while Muriel’s was easily set to wailing. Yet they were very close; losing her brought a deep hole in which tears welled often.

That sunny summer day the two girls had tired of their play.

Tracy said, “Daddy’s working in the field. He’d be happy to see us!”

“Yeah, let’s go!” Muriel agreed.

Off they flitted through the barn and out the back. They could see Daddy on the tractor mowing grass to make hay. His back was to them as they slipped under the fence. The long grass rose tall above one light head and one dark head, their presence undetectable until too late.

Muriel would never forget her sister’s scream cut short or the horror that followed. Daddy’s tear-drenched face and anguished groans as he clutched a mangled little body, turning one fist to flail on the whole and healthy one.

Although they never talked about it, Muriel knew her parents blamed themselves as well as her. The tragedy was a reality locked away in a windowless room.

Muriel tried to make up for her failure and Tracy’s absence. Staying single and living with her parents, enduring her father’s abusiveness towards her. Achieving her nursing degree in hopes of bringing healing when she couldn’t heal herself or push away the shades of death. Depression took the household captive, isolating each prisoner.

The phone rang bringing Muriel back to the present; she welcomed the excuse to leave the table.

“Hey, Muriel. Hope I’m not interrupting anything important.”

“Hi, Roberta. No, just Sunday dinner with the family.” Roberta was a new acquaintance, another nurse who’d recently joined the staff at the clinic where Muriel worked.

“I wondered if you’d be free to attend a small group Bible study with me this coming Wednesday. We’ll be using a video series by Dr. Neil Anderson. Ever heard of him?”

“Is he the author of a book about overcoming darkness or something? I think I saw it at the Christian bookstore.”

“Yes, exactly. It’s called Victory Over the Darkness. The video is based on it and looks awesome.”

“Okay, I’ll come.”

On her way home from work the next day Muriel stopped at the bookstore and purchased the book. One phrase in particular, “We are not called to dispel the darkness; we are called to turn on the light,” glimmered in her mind as she read through the night.

“This series has been a turning point in my life,” Muriel said to Roberta a few weeks later. “I’ve discovered God did not intend for me to take my sister’s place. He designed me to be uniquely myself as His child.”

“That’s awesome,” Roberta said with a smile.

“As I let God transform me into a new person by changing how I think, I’ve realized I was holding so much resentment and anger towards my parents. I needed to face that. Roberta, thank you for inviting me to this study.”

“You’re welcome, my friend!”

Muriel continued, “And I’m so thankful that Jesus provides a way for His truth to shine. All obstacles are illuminated! This process of forgiving my parents has helped me see that I’m setting a prisoner free, and that prisoner is…myself. I think I’m even ready to move out on my own.”

Roberta grinned. “I know of an apartment that’s available in my building.”

Romans 12:1-2
2 Corinthians 10:3-5

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This article has been read 509 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke05/28/09
What a tragic loss but what a breath taking gain when we let Christ in!

Your story traveled the time frame well for a word limit. Your descriptions paint a believable story.
Jan Ackerson 05/28/09
The title and the first half of this really grabbed me--quite a good job of showing, not telling.

The second half fizzled a bit--the dialogue didn't seem as realistic, and it almost read like a blurb for the book series.

Nice ending, and very good characterization.
Lollie Hofer05/29/09
You did a great job making your MC's character come alive, along with that of her parents. I think what happened is you hurried up your ending because you were reaching your word count. (I've been there numerous of times.) Possibly, if a little less was said about the book, it might have flowed a little better. I really liked the message of hope this sends to those who are struggling with "chronic darkness." Hopefully, they'll read the book as well.
Bryan Ridenour05/29/09
Nice job on topic. Good story. Well done.