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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)

TITLE: Trust and Truth
By Shirley McClay


“This seems like a good spot.” Shannon tossed down her sled and knelt beside it. She burrowed her tingling nose deep into her scarf to escape the wind and smelled the smoke from their woodstove.

Tag stood beside her and eyed the path. “Nope. Let’s start from up there.”

Shannon tugged off her glasses and shook her head. “There’s a curve, Tag. We’ll go right up over the rock and straight down the edge.” She fumbled with the glasses, attempting to tuck them into one of the small heart-shaped pockets on her snowsuit.

“Here, give ‘em to me.” Tag tucked them into the inside pocket of his down coat.

“They keep fogging.”

“I know. C’mon.”

They trekked to the top of the hill and looked around. The pasture was strewn with boulders. Milk cows grouped around a round bale at the other end of the hill. Ray and Trudy trudged up the hill in their footsteps.

Shannon sucked in a breath as Tag lay down and shoved off with his gloved hands. He neared the rock-edged corner and her stomach clenched. Her hands twisted the rope to her sled as she watched him sweep into the turn, go up towards the edge, and then continue down the side of the hill. She finally breathed out. He called to her and she settled into her own sled. If Tag told her to do it, she would be safe.

The turn made her stomach flip but at least the sled didn’t do the same. She was much lighter than her older cousin and rode out even closer towards the edge… went even faster down the hill. The snow sprayed back in her face and her laughter echoed back to her.

They trudged up and slid down again. The path became packed and icy and the trips up took longer and the sliding down went faster.

“Lunch in twenty minutes…” Shannon’s mom called from her house across the road. Tag and Shannon were already at the foot of the hill so they collected their sleds and started toward the house.

“Walk this way.” Tag veered away. “Look… we can skate!” He ran and slid across a wide sheet of ice. “C’mon, Shan. Its fun!”

“I don’t want to fall through.” She shivered.

“It’s just a frozen puddle, Shan. I’ll help you.” He reached out and took her hand as their younger siblings joined them. Shannon shuffled her way into the middle of the ice patch. The sharp scent of pine from the tree nearby smelled like winter.

Ray lay down on the ice and stared. “I saw a fish!”

“Duh. It’s just a puddle that froze. There’s no fish in there.” Tag rolled his eyes and laughed. “Kids!”

Shannon lay down and peered into the clear ice. “Are you sure, Tag? It seems to go pretty deep.”

“Trust me. I’m the oldest. I know the truth.”

She smiled at him. “You’re right, Tag.”


Ten years later, Shannon stood in the doorway where her mom had called them in that day. She watched as her younger cousins and nieces trudged up the same spot she had walked years ago. “I trusted you, Tag. I thought you knew everything.” The tears made her cheeks tingle just as her nose had on that day. The scent of wood smoke tickled her nose the same way. The hill stood, the path curved, the cows munched hay. Only Tag was missing.

“You were wrong, Tag, You didn’t know the truth.” Shannon sank onto the top step, her jeans absorbing melting snow. She sobbed and let the pain bleed out through the tears.

Her mom’s voice pierced through her thoughts. “Suicide has to be the most selfish and cowardly act possible.” Shannon flinched at the harsh words. “Tag never was a coward or selfish until now. It was the lies of the enemy that wrapped around his heart and shut us out of his life. Don’t you fall for them, Shannon.”

“I trusted him so completely, Mom.”

“He spoke a lot of truth. He reminded you that you were special to God, that you were loved by Him. He watched over you like a big brother.” Her mom wrapped her arms around Shannon. “Tag gave in to his pain instead of turning to God and trusting Him with it. You have that same choice.”

Shannon rested quietly in her mother’s arms for several minutes. She lifted her eyes to the hill. “I’m going sledding, Mom.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 08/20/09
A very sad story. Suicide is very hard. You made us like Tag so we really felt the pain when we found out what happened to him.
Catrina Bradley 08/20/09
The sledding brought back many memories of a similar hill in Iowa. :) I thought Tag fell through the ice and drowned! The suicide was an unexpected twist. I love the double meaning at the end - she lifted her eyes to the hill. Enjoyed this.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/21/09
This was very well done with a difficult topic.I liked you mc's choice at the end.
Beth LaBuff 08/24/09
yes, I agree with the comments above, I love the help/hope at the end and the verse you cite "lift my eyes to the hills". Your story was captivating.
Kimberly Russell08/25/09
Wow- didn't see that one coming. I too thought he fell through. Nicely done.
Colin Swann08/25/09
You brought out well in your story, the ordinariness of life that we live and yet it is sometimes tinged with tradegy and sorrow. Thanks for your portrayal of this. Colin
Ada Nett08/25/09
You were very brave to share such a deep personal tragedy and you shared with such grace. You are a talented writer.
PamFord Davis 08/25/09
Article honestly touches a very painful subject. Suicide does not give answers, only endless questions to those left behind.
L Backstrom01/20/10
wow. thanks Shirley. Very very well written. And tastefully done.
Carol Penhorwood 01/26/10
A riveting piece that dealt with a heart-breaking, difficult issue. Well written, sensitively handled. Great job all round.