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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Discern (08/12/10)

TITLE: Discerning Spirits
By Cecile Hurst


Lillian Orlinger was in tune with the universe. She sat, back to a wall. The air was laden. Her heart was heavy. The heaviness stretched, seeped, spread into her hands. Her hands hung like weights by her sides. And she waited.

Erma McKindell was part of the universe. She had a lot of time on her hands. She was made of time. And space. And leftover bits of energy. She’d watched the young girl enter the room. Watched as she’d pushed the sturdy kitchen chair over against the wall where the family picture used to hang. Watched as she’d sat down, taken a deep breath and settled into the space where invisible things lurked. Erma knew the girl was waiting for her, and since the young girl’s eyes were closed, Erma figured the girl was a Listener. So Erma didn’t make a sound. She stopped breathing – something she didn’t need to do anyway, and waited too. And as she waited Erma grew bored. This was not surprising to her. This was not something Erma could change. So Erma waited, bored. And waited. And was bored. Then suddenly the young girl turned her head, focused her closed eyes in Erma’s direction and said, “Hello. My name is Lillian.”

Erma had started breathing again in the flurry of the unexpected. She’d lengthened and risen and dispersed. When she finally came together again and stopped her breathing, the young girl had left.

But she came back the next day – or perhaps it was the next hour or minute. Erma couldn’t feel her time so she didn’t know. However long it was, the girl came back and did the same thing again – the waiting and the waiting and the…

“Hello. My name is Lillian.”

And Erma lengthened and rose and dispersed. And when she finally came together again and stopped her breathing, the young girl had left.

This happened over and over again. Erma lost count and became bored, which didn’t surprise her since this wasn’t something she could change; until there came a day, a moment, when, at the turn and utterance of a “Hello…” Erma didn’t so much as sniff, and when this happened the young girl smiled and continued talking.

“Hello. My name is Lillian. What’s your name?”

The question shocked Erma. And so shocked, she, gasping for air that she didn’t need, suddenly lengthened and rose and dispersed. When she finally came together again and stopped her breathing, the young girl had left.

And this went on and on, this introduction and addition, as you may have guessed, until Erma was so bored that she, without so much as a sniff answered the question with a boring sounding, “Erma Mckindell.”

Lillian stood up and with a most severe face and voice said: “Erma Mckindell, leave.”

Lillian waited, then opened her eyes and walked into the next room where the newlyweds were perched on the edge of their brand-new and still slightly new smelling couch, holding hands, as they had been for days now… or had this only been hours? She’d lost count. “She’s left,” Lillian told them.

The young woman placed her head in the hands and gave a shutter which became a light cry. The young man haltingly stood up. “Thank you so much, so much. Thank you. Wow. How did you do it?”

Lillian gave him the smile she gave everyone and replied, “How do men go crazy? I’ll tell you how – they get bored. They get bored and they go crazy. They create their own personal hell where God can not reach them. The dead waiting for the trumpet have a similar problem. However they do things backwards, like a reflection in a mirror. They go where God can not reach them, their own personal hell, where they are bored. I simply discern this bored-ness. Nurture it. Trick them with it. And then ask them to take it elsewhere. And actually, it’s a quite boring process – which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.”

The man squinted his eyes and nodded. “Sucks. Is there anything you can do about it?”

“No,” Lillian replied. And left.

Edwin Baker sat back down and took his weeping wife into his arms. “It’s okay,” he soothed her. “She’s gone now. They're both gone.”

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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/20/10
It's definitely an interesting story. I followed most of it, but was a bit confused here and there. I like your description of hell-a place where God can't reach them. As not having contact with God would be the most horrific hell imaginable. I feel there was more to the story that I wasn't quite getting, but that could just be me. Keep writing.
Amanda Brogan08/21/10
I was confused. Not so much bored, but definitely confused. ;)

No seriously, I could see what was going on, though I don't believe that there are ghosts or spirits (other than demons) wandering the universe. But the concept can make interesting stories.
Tina Leonard08/24/10
I tried to read this~ and after the first couple paragraphs of not being able to follow you I did not finish. I may come back at a later time and try to catch on to where you were going with this.