Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)
TITLE: Empathy Inspired
By Marita Thelander
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“Hey Preacher-Peter, gonna pray for me?” Jake biffed the back of Petey’s head in passing. “Peter Peter, pumpkin eater.” Dumb jock laughter followed.
“Ow,” Petey reached up and smoothed his hair. I think I’m going to put a character like Jake in my next story and kill him, Petey thought to himself but immediately repented. “Sorry, Lord.”
He pushed his glasses up and glanced around the near empty hallway, grabbed his backpack, slung it over his shoulder, and bolted out the side door. His scrawny, yet-to-develop, adolescent body zigzagged through less traveled avenues home. Once he pushed through the front door, his pack dropped to the floor with a thud and the weight of the world fell with it.
“Hey big fella,” Petey’s mom poked her head around the corner of the kitchen. “Warm oatmeal cookies and milk?”
Her half question, half statement followed by the pouring of a tall glass of milk made Pete smile. He slid up on the stool at the breakfast bar. “You know Mom, milk and cookies aren’t really a cure-all.” He broke the cookie open and watched the steam escape.
“Are there any other kind in the jungle called high school?” Petey jumped off the stool. “I almost forgot.” He rummaged through his pack and pulled out a rumpled handful of papers, his face bright with pride. “Mrs. Johns edited my short story I’ve been working on. She really liked it and thinks I should enter a contest. See the last page?” He pointed eagerly. “The information’s there.”
“It costs twenty dollars--”
“I’ll be mowing lawns soon. I’ll pay for it myself.”
“I’m sure Daddy can front you the money,” She planted a kiss on his head. “Sunday’s offerings were good.”
“When I grow up I don’t want to be a poor preacher like Daddy. I want to be a famous writer or a musician.”
Petey’s mom cupped her eldest child’s face in her hands. “You will be great at whatever it is God has purposed for you and when you know you’re in His will…you will be at peace with or without riches. Understand?”
Alone in his garage, Pete Franklin sanded on a wood carved figurine. He blew the dust away and rubbed his thumb over the smooth likeness of man. “Ah, young David,” he sat his creation next to the finished Goliath.
From the time he was a bullied teen, people loved Pete’s creative way of telling his favorite Bible story. Empathy inspired, the evil giant-slayer theme spilled over into his thriller novels in various forms.
“How was the book signing?” Barbie joined Pete in his man cave. She slipped her arms around his chest from behind, rested her chin on his shoulder, and nibbled his ear.
Pete ducked his head at the soft, whispery-tickle breath from her nose. Goose bumps raised the hair on his arm and Barbie giggled at the effect her nuzzle had on him.
“Good,” he shifted his position on his work stool and scooped her into his arms. “The new book is flying off the shelf. Last week Fran Klaron signed books. The male clerk said the place was all foo-fooed out in tea décor.”
“Be nice,” Barbie playfully smacked at him. “I like her books.”
The couple snuggled in silence, lost in their own thoughts. “What are you thinking right now?”
“Probably not the same thing you are,” Pete kissed down her neck.
“I was thinking… I wonder what Fran’s private life is like away from the book signings and public relations stuff?”
Pete’s head popped up out of his wife’s bosom. “Nope. Not thinking the same thing you are.”
Barbie squealed when he buried his face in the crook of her neck. She peeked over Pete’s shoulder at the beautifully crafted wood figurines. Her gaze wandered to the handmade banjo mounted on the wall along with Pete’s outdoor gear stored all around his cave.
“Do you think other successful writers choose simple lives like you? I wonder if they live like celebrities. Do they have hobbies other than writing? When you go on a hiking trip you often come home with a new book brewing in you. Where do women like Fran Klaron get their inspiration?”
“I wonder if their husbands have to pull their minds back to the moment,” Pete whispered in her ear. “You started this, remember?”
“Mmm….I did, didn’t I…Do you think they…?”
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