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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Huh? (01/21/10)

TITLE: Busy Waiting
By David Story


She ran down the hall toward his study, stopping abruptly at the door. “Daddy, look at what I colored!”

Daddy never looked up from his work. “Huh? Oh, that’s nice, honey. Go show it to Mommy.”

The little girl smiled gleefully. “Okay.” She hurried back down the hall.


She patiently waited in the kitchen for him, excited about the news.

After what seemed like forever to her, he came in from his study and plopped himself at the kitchen table. “So, what’s for dinner?” he asked.

She walked up to him as she held a piece of paper in her hand. “All A’s Daddy.”

He rubbed his eyes before responding. “Huh? Oh, that’s good, sweetheart. Now help your mother with dinner, will you. Your father is starving.”

He never looked at the report card.


She walked into his study, paused, and then did a twirl right in front of him.

“I’m about to leave,” she said.

Mom was at the hallway. “It’s her first date. It’s a big one.”

He smiled as his face stared at the papers on his desk. “Huh? Oh, yeah. It is that. Have a great time, honey.” And then he threw in. “He gives you any trouble you let him know he has to answer to me, all right?”

She lowered her head. “All right, Dad.”

He never looked at her new yellow dress ...


He sat alone staring out of the second story window, watching intently as the cars and people passed by below.

A voice from behind interrupted his concentration.

“It’s time for your lunch, Mr. Barnes.”

He didn’t answer. The attendant placed the lunch tray on a table by his bed. A TV was on at one corner of the room. The sound was turned down.

He suddenly felt the attendant’s hand on his shoulder. “Maybe today’s the day, Mr. Barnes.”

He never acknowledged her.

She gently patted him twice on the shoulder and turned to walk away. She stopped short of the door that led out of the one room assisted living apartment and spoke once more. “If you need anything, anything at all. Just push the call button.” And with that, she walked out of the room, the door quietly closing behind her.

He continued to stare and wait.

And stare.

And wait.

At one point during his daily “waiting,” he turned his head to the left and his eyes landed on an old worn out cigar box.

He reached out for it with his left hand and lifted it to his lap. He opened it and slowly took out the contents, spreading them on the windowsill in front of him.

There were only three items in the box: a wrinkled crayon colored picture, a faded report card, and an old photograph of a beautiful young girl in a yellow dress.

He stared at the items a few minutes longer and then carefully placed them back in the box.

His attention returned to the window, and the business … of waiting.


(Alternate Ending)

He stared at the items for a few minutes longer and then carefully placed them back in the box.

Suddenly, the door to his room opened and a voice called him by name. A voice and a name he hadn’t heard in over twenty-five years.


He turned to see his daughter standing in the doorway.

A tear fell across his face as she rushed over to him and hugged his neck.

Emotion overwhelmed him. “I’m so sorry, honey.” He could barely get the words out. “So much wasted time …”

She put a finger to his lips to quiet him. She leaned in and whispered in his ear. “I’m sorry too, Daddy.” She continued to hug him. “I’m sorry too.”

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This article has been read 772 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marita Vandertogt01/28/10
I like the first ending..seems more realistic. I think the way you used the topic word sends a powerful message many of us can relate to. Great job.
Linda Payne01/29/10
Made me cry and wonder how often I have brushed my children aside either as a mom or a teacher. First ending he reaped what he sowed, second, thank God his daughter had a forgiving heart. Good job.
Patricia Herchenroether01/30/10
All too often the case. A good reminder of how little moments can cast permanent blots on our lives. Good job.
Lollie Hofer02/01/10
I like how you give your reader a choice of endings...that is different...but in this case different is good. I pray God will bring this story to my rememberance thoughout the week every time I want to push my grandchildren aside. Thanks for reminding me how precious my children and grandchildren are to me.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/01/10
You "preached" a great message with this story. I liked having a choice of the endings. I'm a "sucker" for a happy ending, so...
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/01/10
Very touching story. I'm afraid it is all too often a true story for many. Thank you for sharing.
Celeste Ammirata02/01/10
Reminds me of the song "Cat's in the Cradle." Sad, how some people forget to cherish the little, special moments of life. Well written. I liked the second ending, because I like happy endings.
Noel Mitaxa 02/01/10
I also heard Harry Chapin singing as soon as I hit scene two, and I found both of your endings equally moving. Congratulations on drawing some much emotion from such economy of words.
Beth LaBuff 02/01/10
I like your creativity with an "alternate ending." You have a great message in your entry!
Gregory Kane02/02/10
An effective but disturbing entry. Ouch.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz02/02/10
This was an effective way of showing the all too common problems in too many families. I, too, liked the first ending. Not that I liked the guy reaping what he sowed, but it's more realistic.
Joy Faire Stewart02/03/10
Very touching story and an excellent reminder of what is important. Because I like happing endings, I preferred the second and was please that was the way it ended.
Jackie Wilson02/03/10
Great message, wonderful writing! I appreciated the "snapshot" of each of those moments. I would have enjoyed reading another additional snapshot or two before the closing section.
Loren T. Lowery02/03/10
Love your title and the way it ties so well into your overall message. I'm torn between the two endings. I know the first to be more realistic, but the 2nd gives us so much hope. Great job.
Pamela Kliewer02/03/10
Thank you for this. I'm torn between the endings too. This story reminds me of the song Cats in the Cradle...
Scarlett Farr02/03/10
This piece makes you think how much we miss in the daily rush of things. Great story
Carol Slider 02/03/10
I need to read this EVERY day... every time I'm tempted to tell my little boy, "Not now, Sweetie, Mommy's busy." Very poignant--well done.