Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)
TITLE: A Place to Escape To
By David Pendleton
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Regretfully Jeremy set down his book about knights and chivalry and looked around his room. It wasn’t even his, shared by two of his brothers the room was small, the walls held too few hangings, and everything was slightly worn, slightly dingy, slightly disappointing. Jeremy got off his bed and proceeded downstairs.
His mother and father were waiting for him in the living room. “Jeremy” began his father, his tone of voice indicating that he was upset, “didn’t you have some chores to do this afternoon?”
“Yes sir,” responded Jeremy in his most submissive tone. His ‘chores’ were to empty the trash and collect eggs from the chickens. The trash wasn’t full and the chickens liked to peck at him when he went to collect the eggs. But for his father chores were chores.
“Why didn’t you do them? They don’t take long?” said his mother shrilly. Jeremy just stood there. No answer was the right answer. The truth, that he didn’t want to do them, was the worst answer.
“Well boy?” his father’s tone let Jeremy know that silence wouldn’t work either.
Knowing it wouldn’t help Jeremy tried anyway, “there isn’t much trash and the chickens peck at me when I gather the eggs. I just wanted to read my book some before getting pecked to death by a bunch of flightless monsters.”
“You need to toughen up. Between reading and whining I wonder about you. Now get out there and get the eggs and tonight you are banned from reading. Son you need to face the real world and quit escaping into some fantasy world.”
His father couldn’t have hurt him more with a switch and twenty lashes than he did with that one statement. Banned from reading? Banned? All evening he would be doomed to stare at the four dingy walls and dwell on a life that was boring, tedious, and had little prospect of getting better.
When he returned from the chicken barn he saw that his father had removed all of the books from his room. His precious companions, his best friends, his escape from a mundane world were now denied him. He wanted to cry but knew that his father would react even more strongly to that. He thought of his father’s words about escape. Didn’t everyone try to escape? His brother’s planted themselves in front of the TV and watched it every spare moment, his mom with her soap operas and crossword puzzles, his sister with her dolls, and even his dad with his secret jug of whiskey that everyone knew about. But the only escape they seemed to care about was the one their little ‘reader’ liked to take.
Turning over his eyes spotted a book. His father had missed one. Which one, knights? Soldiers? Pirates? He didn’t care, it was a book. He reached for it quietly and turned it over. ‘The Holy Bible KJV’ it said on the cover. His Bible. His spirits dropped some but not much, reading anything was better than reading nothing. Although he had heard about the Bible his parents weren’t very religious going to church only at Christmas and Easter. Slowly he opened the Bible and started to read.
Creation, Brothers at war, heroes, villains, good, evil, warriors, wise men, epic marches, prophets, kings, love, betrayal, and salvation. The more he read the more he wondered what was there that was not to be found in that wondrous book. He had stumbled on a real escape: from sin, from death, from himself. Jeremy had always turned to reading to escape from things but now the reader had finally read something worth escaping to.
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