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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Touch (the sense of touch) (08/05/10)

TITLE: Letting Go of the Trampoline


The thrill of touching the sky—only I had it. I knew because I'd made oblique inquiries.

Is it possible to touch the sky, I'd periodically ask.

In a plane, dip-wad.

If you're a bird, dummy.

What kind of meds they have you on?

When I was nine, and my brother Nathan was three weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday, I stopped wanting to touch the sky. It was a Saturday—the kind that ushered in a coolness, letting you know summer, against all hope, had an end.

My parents were going to Maryland for a funeral of some relative I'd never met, and Dad had wanted to get an early start. Mom in her usual way, thwarted his plans. They climbed in the Chevy wagon at noon—cutting into precious hours of freedom. This was the first time Nathan and I would be left on our own overnight.

My brother and I waved till the car's back end bounced off the lip of our driveway and turned.

"That took long enough," said Nathan.

"She'll be the end of him," I said.

"If you're smart, Lucas, you'll never get married."

No worries there. I took off around to the backyard. Mom had forgotten the trampoline in her litany of other do's and don'ts. I shook off my sneakers and swung my leg over the aluminum edge. The black surface felt warm, but not unbearable like it had been for weeks.

In seconds the air was sifting through my hair, down my shirt. When I was jumping as high as I could go, I closed my eyes, lifted my arms above my head and stretched up through my torso. At the apex of each rise, I felt a moment of suspension, of weightlessness. It was there, with a wiggle of my fingers, that I touched the sky.

"Higher," called my brother. I wound my arms down and around, used them to propel me per his direction. My eyes opened at the sound of Nathan reeling out the hose—his attention already diverted. He was going to wash his prize, a white Firebird with a black hardtop, red interior—a very cool car. It had taken him two summers of flipping burgers to save for it.

"Are we going—to church tomorrow?" I was so winded it took two breaths to ask him. Chances were he wasn't going to take me, though Dad had told him to. Nathan had gotten handy with excuses. He had to work—though they'd never made him work Sundays before. A friend needed a ride to the airport. He had a big test to cram for. "Why don't you wanna go—go to church anymore?" I asked.

"I go—just don't need to make it every Sunday." He opened the faucet, stepped back as the water squirted from the coupling. "God and I keep in touch."

"But you miss a lot."

"Yeah, a thrill a minute."

I stopped fighting gravity—let it gradually still me. Lately, at church I'd taken to laying my hands, palms up, on my thighs—nothing obvious. What I really wanted to do was raise my hands up high like I'd seen people do on television. But even in my lap I felt a static tingling hover at my palms and fingertips. That was my idea of keeping in touch with God—and, yeah, it was exciting.

"You wanna go for a ride?" Nathan asked. "Then you'll know what a thrill is.

From upstairs in my bed, I heard a car, that didn't sound like our Chevy, pull into the driveway. I crept to the window. It was some girl I didn't know.

My brother was waiting, leaning back on his Firebird, arms crossed. He grabbed her when she got close, pulled her to him. She dropped her head back, the laughing face illuminated in lamplight. He kissed her neck, before she slipped through his hands, and still laughing, streaked out of sight, my brother chasing her. Guess he wasn't as opposed to marriage as he'd said. Or maybe this was just another temporary thrill for him—like going ninety on a straight away.

It took Mom weeks to notice that I'd lost all interest in the trampoline, but eventually she asked about it.

"I don't know," I told her, "it's boring." But that was a lie—the exhilaration would always be there. But touching the sky wasn't enough, anymore—not when I wanted to hold it.

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This article has been read 802 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/12/10
What a wonderful coming-of-age story. This one takes a second read to capture all the nuances. I love the mc's reaching out to God, and I think the last sentence is one of my favorites ever.
Laury Hubrich 08/12/10
I have goose bumps now. Love this story:) I remember trying to touch the sky when I was young and now I strive to touch God - hands raised or lowered, He meets me where I am. I'm so glad!
Anita van der Elst08/13/10
This story could be the jumping off place (pun intended :-)) for a coming-of-age novel. Enjoyed it very much.
Charla Diehl 08/13/10
I liked the innocence of the MC and the easy talk between the brothers. The dialog sounded very authentic for their ages. The last sentence was perfect for this piece which I truly enjoyed.
Linda Payne08/16/10
Beautiful story, well-written and bittersweet. How sad that we lose that childlike wonder and belief we can do anything as we grow older.
william price08/16/10
"But touching the sky wasn't enough, anymore—not when I wanted to hold it."
A great liertary line. A perfect ending to an honest story. Great writing, a piece you take with you instead just of going on to the next thing in life and leaving it behind.
What makes the trampoline boring, as you grow older, is gravity. The limitations of life as a mere human. Superb. God Bless.
Loren T. Lowery08/16/10
Is it in the opening of our eyes we see? Had it not been for the sounds, would he have then kept them closed - not compelled to open them - and then continued to soar. Arms held down soaring onward, upward. Distractions, such a nuisance, surely but a temporary detour from that one last bounce that would have made real the purpose of his efforts. Loved this and the way it was told. I was the boy on the trampoline soon to become the boy with the car.
Troy Manning08/16/10
Very nice instances of language usage--the 1st & last lines, "apex," "coupling," etc. I didn't personally think the interior dialogue (e.g. "dip-wad," "dummy")toward the beginning fit the tone of what followed--even though they were a child's thoughts. I agree w/ other comments that your story was nicely nuanced. Thank you! :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/16/10
You pulled me into the story with the very first word. I felt like it was a roller coaster of emotions. I enjoyed the part where the MC held his hands palms up to glorify the Lord. Well done.
Kate Oliver Webb 08/16/10
I SO liked this story! Excellent writing: took me right in and kept me there, experiencing the highs and lows, and the hunger to touch God. No problems with your dialog--it was realistic. Excellent descriptions of ambiance and emotions. Wonderful!
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/16/10
I'm not sure I completely get the ending... but everyone else seems to so I guess I must just be tired. ;-) Otherwise I thought this was well done and enjoyed the internal and external dialogue.
Rachel Phelps08/17/10
Not to sound like an echo, but the nuances here are wonder, Lisa. Such simple language to express so much. Your writing always amazes me.
Catrina Bradley 08/17/10
Your writing, as always, captivated me. I don't understand the purpose of the part about him watching his brother with the girl, or why he lost interest in the trampoline, but then you are such a deep person I may have to read this more than once to see everything. The voice is so smooth and natural, yet it speaks volumes in just a few words.
Beth LaBuff 08/17/10
This line, "...letting you know summer, against all hope, had an end," in relation to your story, is why you are a master of the short story! Excellent everything!
Mariane Holbrook 08/17/10
I could read this ten times and find something new each time. I think we all have that moment in our lives when we realize we've slipped into a new chapter. Maybe like a book "Passages for children" by Gail Sheehy. LOL
Chely Roach08/17/10
I devoured this story and loved it. That final sentence was the perfect literary ending to piece that is more complex than it's surface suggests. Your instinct, skill and style leave me in awe. Every time.
Mona Purvis08/17/10
Modern-day telling of 1 Cor. 13 vs 11
'When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.'
Smooth, Lisa. Thoughtful. Brilliant.

Barbara Lynn Culler08/18/10
I was afraid the boy was going to get hurt on the trampoline-glad he did not!

Great story, kind of like Puff, the Magic Dragon.
Edmond Ng 08/18/10
What a joy it should be for one to attend church, and what a waste it would be to miss it growing up just because one gets bored. May all who are growing up find the correct way to keep in touch with God! A nicely written piece and a pleasant read.
Sandra Petersen 08/18/10
I enjoyed this. The interaction between the brothers was fabulous. I liked the way the younger brother praised God in the pew by simply sitting, palms up. The others were right: there are so many growing up nuances in here. I'm a little saddened that the church had not "grown up" enough to have the Holy Spirit present in its worship and prevent its not-yet-adults from leaving out of sheer boredom.
AnneRene' Capp08/18/10
Great job evoking the reminiscence of yesteryears in all of us. This was delightfully relaxing!
Kimberly Russell08/18/10
This is one of thos you read over and over to try to "catch" everything. Very creative and well written. Awesome again!
stanley Bednarz08/19/10
What great story about passion and purpose, and the honest reflection of growing up. Congratulations!
Beth LaBuff 08/19/10
Congrats, Lisa! It's wonderful seeing this amazing entry on the EC list.
Sara Harricharan 08/19/10
Ah, poor Lucas, but good voice for him. It's haunting and bittersweet at the same time. Nicely done! (oh and congrats!) ^_^
Marita Thelander 08/19/10
I was waiting for tragedy to strike, trouble to happen. The depth of your skill amazes me over and over again. Congrats on the EC, dear friend.
Gregory Kane08/30/10
Glad I didn't miss this one. Excellent