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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: Cross Words
By TJ Nickel


Esther swore she’d leave him after all their children had left the home. After Karen, her fourth child, was born, she committed to herself that she wouldn’t spend the rest of her life with this overgrown Peter Pan. Now, with Caleb, their seventh and last child, off to college, Esther sat reading the paper with her destiny in mind.

“A six letter word for repent?” she called out to The Pan.

Without skipping a beat from his morning sports talk radio - now in living color on their wall mounted plasma television, he replied, “Repent is a six letter word.”

“Do you really need to watch them do nothing more than talk?”


“Yes, change. Maybe you should change. Maybe you should quit wasting your time and increasing your waist size by watching those fools talk on TV.”

“It wasn’t a question. It’s your answer.”

Esther returned to her crossword puzzle. It fit. It fit in more ways than she expected. She refused to write the word and walked directly in front of his view to the television.

“What are you doing, Esther?”

With her hands on her waist, she said, “I’m leaving you.”

He paused the show, with great hopes of pressing ‘Play’ on his DVR in a matter of seconds, and sat up from his slouched position on the couch.

“I’m leaving you. That’s that. I swore to myself I would when this time came ‘round, and, well, this time’s come ‘round.”

“So, that’s that, eh?”

“Yep. That’s that. … Change,” she said as she dropped her hands and walked into the bedroom to pack her things.

The Pan slouched back into his seat on the couch, but instead of pressing ‘Play’ he pressed ‘Power’ on the remote. The quiet disturbed Esther's anger as she packed. A grin crept onto her face and though she attempted to thwart its power, she couldn’t find the strength. Tears spilled atop her luggage.

Strong hands came over her shoulders. Then, they reached under her arms and gathered her into their possession. The deep breath from the stranger behind her smelled of Bloody Mary’s. She closed her eyes and breathed in deep. He caressed her. He took her.

Minutes later, Peter sat on the couch and pressed ‘Play’ on his remote control. The voices began.

Esther, fully nude, crossed the path between Peter and his television.

He watched as she made her way to the table and picked up her paper. When she sat and looked at him, he shied away and watched the men on the television.

Staring at the crossing word on the puzzle, she asked, “A five letter word for quirk of fate?”


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This article has been read 632 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke09/17/09
Well this was sad and I wanted to smack the husband and I felt so sorry for the wife.. and ashamed for her too. I guess that says a lot about your writing to stir those emotions in me! good job!
Allen Stark09/17/09
An intresting take on "for better or for worse." I liked your title and its double meaning.
Anita van der Elst09/17/09
I'm seconding Robyn's emotions!
Dan Blankenship 09/17/09
Well, one things for sure...I never stopped reading.

Good job.

May God bless.

Dan Blankenship
c clemons09/19/09
Somewhat interesting after I got passed the point that you either left the italics key on by mistake or intentionally. Not that much on topic though, more about a husband and wife situation.
Jan Ackerson 09/19/09
My favorite line was "the quiet disturbed her anger..." I love that--we want our anger to progress on OUR terms! Very thoughtful marriage study, written in a literary voice. Well done!
Lisa Johnson09/21/09
A very sad tale indeed...I found myself distracted by the italics, though, trying to figure out if it was for some reason.
Betty Castleberry09/22/09
I could see this very clearly. You did a great job drawing me in. I'm still trying to decide if I like the husband or not. Two thumbs up.
Beth LaBuff 09/22/09
We seem to hear the word "change" a LOT these days. I like the change you wrote about better than the current thinking on "change". :) You are masterful with words.