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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Empty and Full (06/04/09)

TITLE: Empty and Full
By David Story


“Hush, you guys. I can’t hear what she’s saying.” The mother turned back to the voice inside the speaker. “Could you repeat that, please?”

“Would you like anything else?” The voice inside the speaker crackled.

She glanced in the rear-view mirror and did a quick head-count of the children in the back. One. Two. Three. Four. She looked at the on-screen order and counted the kids meals she’d ordered. One. Two. Three. Four. She looked over her own order of burger, fries, and a soft drink. “Yes. That’s it.”

On second thought…

“Uh, on second thought, could you throw in an apple turnover?”

The voice on the speaker came back. “Just one?”

She looked at the children in the back seat of the minivan. “Make it five in all.”

The temperature had topped off at 101 degrees. A small breeze gently entered the one-room hut and made its way to the child lying on a straw mat. The child seemed to be sleeping.

Outside the hut, the mother and father held on to each other and cried.

She pulled up to the drive-thru window. A young woman smiled as she looked into the minivan. “You’ve got quite the crowd today, huh?”

The mother smiled. “Yeah.” She shrugged. “Lucky me.”

The young girl began to hand the woman her order. “Here you go.” She waited patiently as the mother took each bag and set them on the vacant seat next to hers.

“We’re having a picnic.”

“Sounds fun.” The young girl handed her a cardboard tray of soft drinks. The noise in the backseat was growing louder. “You going to be able to handle that bunch?”

The mother smiled. “Oh, yeah. They’re really not so bad. Just need some food in their tummies and they’ll be fine.”

“I hear that.” The girl smiled as she began to close the window. “Have a great day.”

“Thanks. You, too.”

The minivan pulled away from the drive-thru.

The drought was now in its second month, and there was no food. The entire village had suffered, and the mother and father had done all they could for their little girl.

The mother went in to the hut and picked up her daughter. She sat down on the dirt floor and laid her in her lap. She started rocking as she gently stroked her hair. She began to sing. Flies hovered around the child’s face. The mother swatted them away with her free hand. She continued to quietly sing.

The father remained outside, praying.

At the picnic table the children each had their own bag. The mother spoke. “Let’s pray before we eat.” She looked around. “Billy?”

Billy was the oldest, coming in at a whopping nine-years-old. All the children folded their hands and bowed their heads as Billy began to pray.

“Dear, Jesus. Thank you for the food. Thank you that we get to come to the park today.” He opened one eye to see his mother smiling at him. “And please be with those less fortunate. Amen.”

His mom smiled again. “Amen.” She said. “Alright everybody. Dig in.”

The child’s breathing was shallow. She had not opened her eyes for hours. Mom kept her eye on her bloated stomach until finally, the breathing stopped. Her limp body lay still in her mother’s arms.

A loud wailing cry came from deep within the mother’s soul. The father came and sat down next to his wife. Tears streamed down each of their faces as they both rocked back and forth.

Soon others came to gaze upon the lifeless body.

Many would sit outside of the hut for days.

They would mourn as a community.

They would bury the child as a community.

They would place the child into the caring arms of God…as a community.

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This article has been read 997 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 06/11/09
Wow--what a stark contrast you painted with your words. Powerful message tucked within this perfectly captured topic.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/11/09
Your contrast of empty-full holds much pathos.
Laura Manley06/11/09
This is an extremely sad comparison, but brilliant in its presentation by you. I like the way you set each section of stories separate from the other by italics. It was a pleasure to review this writing challenge. Laura
Sharon Kane06/14/09
Powerful and moving writing. A much-needed reminder to the overfed West of how the other 2/3 world lives. May our response be a lot more than a quick prayer added on to meal time graces. Thanks for writing this.
Gregory Kane06/15/09
I was talking with my wife this afternoon about how the three big needs in developing countries are health care, education and food security. Where we live none of the three are done particularly well. Your story is a salient reminder. I can't help wondering, mind, if the ending doesn't demand a footnote with a link to an overseas development agency or some such. Bless you.
Chely Roach06/15/09
Very, very powerful writing, and oh so sad but true. Well done...
Mona Purvis06/15/09
It's so hard for us to rationalise that so many are hungry while there is so much waste. You did well to bring this to our attention in this well-written story of empty and full.
Bryan Ridenour06/15/09
Wow powerful take on the topic. Such a strong reminder of how much we take for granted. Very well done.
Lollie Hofer06/15/09
The contrasts of empty and full are heart-wrenching. As Americans we don't have a clue, do we? (Except for maybe folks like the Kanes who know first hand the suffering of these dear folks.) Thanks for writing such a sad, difficult story.
Patricia Herchenroether06/15/09
A tough story to read, as I'm sure it was to write...Can you imagine how much could be changed if every American family skipped just one trip to the drive-thru to feed the poor? We take so much for granted.

A well-written, strong entry.
Mariane Holbrook 06/17/09
Very, very nice job on a very hard subject. Sometimes facing the realities of life can be very difficult but with entries like yours, we are given the opportunity to do some serious thinking.
Carol Slider 06/17/09
A powerful reminder of all we take for granted! Well done.
Sara Harricharan 06/17/09
This one gave me goosebumps. Wow. Just so...wow. Really makes you think, the contrast is so well done it sticks with you even after you've moved on to the next story. great job.
Emily Gibson06/18/09
you've hit us between the eyes with the stark reality of the unbalance in our world--of too much and too little, with little children being the primary beneficiaries/victims. excellent take on the topic and well written
Catrina Bradley 06/18/09
I can't say I enjoyed this in the usual sense of the word, because I am left convicted and heartbroken. Very relevant and compelling entry. Deserving of an EC. Congratulation - your honor is well deserved!