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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)

TITLE: Escape
By Jessica Boling


Samantha pulled on her sweater and opened the old wooden door. A soft breeze hit her face as she emerged from the little thatch-roofed cottage. Breathing deeply, she sensed the flavor of early spring in the fresh wind coming off the moor. Treeless hillsides stretched as far as the eye could see.

The corners of Samantha’s mouth twitched into a smile as she turned her attention to nearer surroundings. In the summer, a flower garden thrived beneath the windows of the cottage. Just now it was showing signs of life but had not reached its colorful climax.

Samantha strolled slowly between the budding rose bushes and the soft-smelling bed of lavender. As she walked, a man came around the corner of the cottage. Tall and thin, his chiseled face reflected the serenity of the surrounding countryside. His hands were worn and scarred from years of toil in the garden. Samantha’s smile deepened as he approached.

They talked for some time, as they always did. Samantha attempted to describe her recent frustrations and fears, but their importance seemed to melt away whenever she looked into the gardener’s peace-filled eyes. As they walked along, she noticed with joy that the daffodils were blooming. He knelt to pick her one. Lifting it to her face, Samantha savored the visual delight of its fiery yellow petals spread wide to the sun.

Still clutching the daffodil, Samantha followed the gardener to a pair of wicker chairs near the sprouting crocus bed. They sat down, taking deep breaths of the delicious air and reveling in the peaceful silence. Samantha could think of a few more things to tell him about, but not now. She wanted to enjoy this moment – the rustle of grass and plants in the breeze, the cheerful cry of birds, and his presence. She closed her eyes.

“Samantha, aren’t you supposed to be working on those spreadsheets?”

Samantha snapped her eyes open and forced them to focus on the woman’s face. Her co-worker, Mindy. Spreadsheets. Data entry. Work.

“I’m sorry.” Samantha turned back to the computer and immediately began entering data from a handwritten page on her desk. “I wasn’t really asleep. Just –“

“Daydreaming?” Mindy smiled wearily. “I don’t blame you.” She sent a meaningful glanced toward the office window, from which only a brick wall and a strip of grey sky were visible. “An imaginary escape is better than no escape.”

Samantha nodded, but thought with a slight smile that her place of retreat was more real than imaginary.

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This article has been read 959 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anthony Tophoney08/08/05
This would make a good television commercial. Nicely done!
Dixie Phillips08/08/05
What a beautiful example of PRACTICING HIS PRESENCE! And HE walks with me and HE talks with me and HE tells me I am His own! Loved it!
Beth Muehlhausen08/09/05
Very nicely done. I tried to do something similar with my entry, only spent more time describing the work day insanity and less time talking about the actual retreat! I like your focus and approach very much. :-)
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/09/05
Wonderful story! This is a winner in my book. I especially like the line "They talked for some time, as they always did. Samantha attempted to describe her recent frustrations and fears, but their importance seemed to melt away whenever she looked into the gardener’s peace-filled eyes." Thank you!
Debra Brand08/10/05
Numbers will do that to you. Great piece!
Katherine Douglas08/11/05
I agree comment #2 it reminds of going to the garden alone. this was great!
Maxx .08/13/05
Excellent writing! A contender... top 8 worthy in my book. So, since it is strong I'm going to pick on your opening paragraph. You have:

"...A soft breeze hit her face as she emerged from the little thatch-roofed cottage." and "Treeless hillsides stretched as far as the eye could see."

In my humble opinion a "soft breeze" will not "hit". A soft breeze does a lot of other things like caress, tickle, brush against, invite, seduce, etc, etc. Soft breezes do soft things. Hit is a hard thing. A frigid wind would "hit".

As to "treeless hillsides," Don't tell me in the negative. Tell me in the positive. If it is a treeless hillside then it must have something else on it. So it would be a grassey hillside or a rocky hillside or a flowered hillside of purple and red. These tell me what it IS ... treeless tells me what it ISN'T. Since you are painting a picture for me, telling what it is is always a better way to go!

2 cents worth ... still a most excellent entry and worthy of a win.
Suzanne R08/14/05
I love the final 'twist' - and it is a good reminder of what we need to do regularly in our lives. You use some beautiful descriptions there. Well done!
Shari Armstrong 08/14/05
Good descriptions - liked the transition :)
Melissa Merritt09/09/05
The more I read it, the more I like it. I guess I was just too sleepy to "get" the meaning the first time. Good job!
Deborah Porter 10/14/05
Hi Jessica. I'm just preparing the new FaithWriters' Anthology and need a short (two to three sentences) bio piece to include in a new section for the book - "Meet Our Authors." The bio notes need to be written in the third person. Could you please send it to me via a Private Message? Thanks so much. Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)