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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: The Wall
By Patricia Turner
04/29/10


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Johann's hands were numb, even in thick wool gloves. He shoved them into his coat pockets, watching his breath precede him in wisps of white frost as he trudged toward the symphony hall.

Inside the building his steps echoed in a hall meant to seat thousands. A single ray of sunlight struck the stage ahead of him. He ascended its steps, turning briefly to glance toward the back of the hall. He liked to look at it this way; from the stage, above the audience. The audience which had ceased to occupy the seats in recent years.

Turning toward left stage he spotted Jorge and walked toward him. The white-haired master composer sat in the dark, leaned forward with his head in his hands, his elbows resting on a large oak desk.

“Jorge? What is it?” Johann sat in the chair on the opposite wall, across from the desk.

Jorge raised his head. “Now it is paper: there is no paper.”

Johann had the bitter thought that he did not voice: “A month ago, there were no pens.”

“What will we do now?” The quavering voice echoed back to its owner.

“I suppose we could go back to chiseling stone”, Johann hoped to elicit a smile as he once would have.

Jorge dropped his head back into his hands. “You may be right”, he whispered. His shoulders drooped hopelessly.

Raising his head suddenly, he cried out, “Johann, this is my craft! This is what I do. How do I do my work without paper, without writing instruments?”

Johann glance around the dim corners and bare walls of the tiny room. He leaped to his feet. “I'll be back”, he tossed over his shoulder.

Retracing his steps to the hall, his eyes scanned left and right. Where had he seen it?

There it was: a low concrete wall, part of a bridge. He searched the ground. There. He picked up a couple of objects and returned to the hall.

“These Jorge. Look.”

“What is it?” asked Jorge, eying the odd lumps with a quizzical look.

“Your writing instruments – see.” Johann walked to one of the walls and made a mark.

“Oh! No,no. I could not desecrate these walls.”

“Jorge, who's going to care? Besides, is it right for you to be deprived of the tools of your livelihood?”

“Johann – it may not be right, but I cannot right a wrong with another wrong. These walls are not my property.”

“But Jorge, we must fight back – don't you see?”

“My young friend, we do not fight back this way. Besides, what would it accomplish, except to bring more punishment?”

“It is a way to fight back – like on the wall where I found these pieces of coal.”

“What wall; where?”

“The wall of the bridge over the river.”

“Johann, you watch. Whoever wrote on that wall will be found; they will be disciplined.”

Many hours later, taking the long way, Jorge followed the river toward the room he shared with nine members of his extended family. He crossed the same bridge, glancing at the wall.

“Jesus is Lord” was written there. Jorge stood for a long time, staring at the words.

The next afternoon Johann arrived at the hall. Jorge was not there, for the first time in twenty years.

Passing a newsstand on his way to his flat, he was arrested by a small headline and photo. Grabbing the paper, Johann dug for whatever coins were in his pocket and dropped them into the hand of the vendor, his eyes glued to the story.

It was several days later that Johann saw it. Low in a corner of a wall of the tiny office:

“You're right my friend. One has to fight back in whatever way he can. You know the truth. This was my way.”

Johann passed the wall on his way home. With the culprit in custody, the authorities had whitewashed the wall. Looking quickly around, Johann picked up a tiny chunk of charcoal. Kneeling at the wall, he wrote quickly. It seemed a fitting tribute to his friend.

An official riding over the bridge an hour later sighed, making a mental note. “We must stop these anarchists once and for all. Jesus is Lord. We'll see; we'll see what they write – when we take away their hands.”


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This article has been read 659 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/30/10
Wow this is powerful. I have chills.
AnneRene' Capp 05/03/10
I really enjoyed the sentiment of this tale and your dialogue is excellent, but I was at a loss as to when and where this took place, so it didn't have the impact I think it would have have if I had a better understanding.
Author Unknown05/05/10
I agree that the setting might have been a little tighter but I think the story on its own stands. It might add to the power of the piece to give it a formal setting.

Overall- I think it's very well written. I love the ending- it reminds me of a song by JJ Heller- "If I could not hold a pen, I would write of you upon my heart instead."

I'm not sure if it speaks more to craft & skill or more to the writer's passion or drive to write- but maybe that's all mixed together.

Nicely done. You had me drawn in, and I would have loved to read more.
Beth LaBuff 05/05/10
Wow, a chilling tale! Your ultimate message, "Jesus is Lord" is timeless. Very good work!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/05/10
I personally like the fact that you did not name the setting or the time. My mind went to WW2 in a country where the Nazis reigned. But the truth is it could happen anywhere at any time if we do not remain diligent.

If we start looking the other way when evil comes by, this story could be set in the near future in the US. As the wise man said "All it takes for evil to reign is for good men to do nothing."

Your story shows that in a powerful way. Although I could see some arguing that it wasn't on target, to me my craft is my passion and this piece surely shows passion.
Catrina Bradley 05/05/10
Great story - I could picture every scene. I'm not sure about something, tho - was Jorge the one who write on the bridge wall and was arrested, and that's why he wasn't at the hall? Great word choice, btw - he was "arrested" by the newspaper headline. I love the ending - chilling. I'm reminded that no matter what "they" take away, the Word of God will never be silenced.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/06/10
Now this is my 3rd read through and I still get chills. Congratulations on your EC.
Beth LaBuff 05/06/10
Hey congrats on your Editor's Choice award with this amazing entry!
Sandra Petersen 05/06/10
I am so glad to see this one in the Top Ten! It was one of the only ones I got time to read this week and I liked it very much. I don't know what else to say but Congratulations.
Ruth Stromquist05/06/10
Excellent in so many ways. Especially liked a lot of the vivid descriptions.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/06/10
Congratulations in placing in the top 15 in your level and in the top 30 overall.
Joshua Janoski05/07/10
I felt like this could be a snippet to a much larger story. You had me engaged from the moment I started reading, and I wanted to know more about these characters.

You used your 750 words well, but that limit often leaves me craving more with great stories like these. Thank you for sharing!