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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)

TITLE: Bedroom Classroom
By Virgil Youngblood


Maria stood on her tiptoes, tenderly kissing her husband as she ran slender fingers through his dark hair, and gave him a hug. “Carlos today is Friday. Do you know what that means?”

“Si, Maria. Today is payday. The baby needs food.”

“Yes, you remember. You have no excuse. Today must be different or you will learn a lesson.”

“I try but it is hard not to drink cerveza with the guys. They want to go to the cantina after we get paid.”

“One beer, no problem. Coming home broke because you bet on the greyhounds is; Carlita needs diapers and something to eat.” Maria shoved her husband out the door. “Hurry, I hear Rudy’s truck coming. And remember, you don’t want to learn the lesson I will teach you if you don’t come home with your money.”

Carlos winked and blew Maria a kiss. “The only lesson I want you to teach me, my firecracker, is in the bedroom.”

“And that is where it will be, but go now. Make Carlita and me proud. I will have a special supper ready for you so come home early.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was nearing 2 a.m. when Rudy’s pickup slid to a stop by the mailbox. “Hey, Carlos!” Rudy yelled, “This is your house. Do I carry you in or can you make it?”

Marie heard others laughing and making comments as Carlos heaved himself over the side. Waving at Rudy’s disappearing taillights, Carlos mumbled “Adios, amigos” and stumbled up the sidewalk.

Seeing Maria holding the door open, Carlos stopped. A dim living room light illumined the red roses printed on her robe. Struggling erect, tossing his head back to get hair out of his eyes, he slurred, “Woman, am I the head of this house?”

“Yes, my husband. But you are not a good provider. We should be helping others and you reduce us to begging from the church.”

“Get me something to eat. I am hungry.”

“In the morning, I will. But first, I promised to teach you a lesson in the bedroom. Remember?”

Carlos’s eyes lit with suffused passion as Maria led him to their bedroom and undressed him. Twisting away from his muscular arm round her waist, she pushed him onto the bed. Pulling a sheet over his nakedness, she kissed his cheek. “Close your eyes” she whispered. “I’ll be back in a minute.” Carlos was asleep before she left the room.

When Maria returned Carlos was face down snoring loudly, sleeping the sleep of a drunken man. Marie went to work.

Picking up a large sewing needle, she inserted a long piece of strong thread through the eye. Pushing the top sheet tight against Carlos’s neck, she began sewing the sheet to the mattress, stitching a tight outline around Carlos’s body. She didn’t stop until she came up the other side to his neck. Satisfied, she returned the needle and thread to her sewing box and reached into the dark corner of a closet.

Grasping a baseball bat she stood over Carlos. “Now my love, you will learn a lesson and become the man I thought I married, or you will kill me. But you will do nothing until I cut you loose.” Maria tapped the bat against Carlos’s back, making sure she had the range before she began pummeling him. As smacks rained down, Carlos screamed and struggled but could not free himself. Maria laid strokes from his shoulders to his feet, ignoring first his cursing, then his pleading. She never said a word.

The next morning Maria cut Carlos loose with a pair of scissors. She helped him stand and led him to the bathroom, holding him steady as he relieved himself. Leading him back to the bed she said, “I’ll bring you coffee and something to eat.

“But Carlos, if I ever smell beer on your breath again, the next time I will use a knife.”

Carlos stared hard at Maria, holding his breath in puffed out cheeks, before releasing it with a hiss. Every muscle in his body ached with each breath he took.

“I prayed you would stop drinking for a long time, Carlos. Carlita and I need you. I put feet to my prayers because I love you.”

“Aiyii!, woman. You are a firecracker, for sure.” Gingerly he reached for Maria’s hand and, when she gave it, tenderly kissed her fingers. “And I am a fast learner. Next Friday, you will see.”

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This article has been read 470 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Holly Westefeld08/26/10
I'm sorry, but I find this story very, very disturbing. It seems to suggest that the abuse of addiction and neglect justifies the escalation of physical abuse and threatening of the husband. While intervention is surely warranted, violence is not the answer, though the ending seems to suggest that it is.
Theresa Santy 08/26/10
Yes, something seemed out of place here. The story begins well, and has the potential for a powerful message. But the violent thrashing didn't feel right.

When she was sewing her husband to the bed, I was trying to figure out what she'd do next, and I thought she might try to keep him in bed while he detoxed or something.
Sarah Heywood08/27/10
Well, your writing was good. But, this story was really mentally disturbing. I'm dismayed by the turn of events depicted in the violent beating the wife gives her husband. It doesn't seem quite realistic to me (he couldn't break free from the thread that held his sheet to the bed?) and then he doesn't seem too upset with her the next day. I know if I did that, my husband would take my children and leave as he'd have proof I was more than a little pyschopathic. As writers, we need to be careful about the messages we write.

But, that said, your writing IS good and I know I would enjoy reading a more cheerful story from you next time!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/28/10
This was an unexpected story. I found myself enjoying it maybe a bit too much. You certainly had my attention all the way through it! :)
stanley Bednarz08/29/10
I sense the writer knows they are a good writer, and may not even need this forum. The writing style was superb to say the least.

It does remind me however why I write on this forum, not because I think every story should end with a happy cheesecake smile but because what we do write, can offer hope, and leave us with a spiritual coating of God's presence at work.

Every week I write, read, and I learn.

We learn and grow together. I would like to see this "firecracker get saved," in the next installment. That might really mess with that dude's head.
Cheryl Harrison08/30/10
Disturbing, yet true. I found myself becoming nervous toward the end because I was not sure if she was going to kill him. I am relieved she didn't. Good work drawing in your readers.
Cheryl Harrison08/30/10
Oops... I had too many windows open and I submitted the wrong one...

Here is the one I wanted to submit...

Virgil - You wrote this disclaimer on the "hint" page: This story has struck nerves, unintentionally. It is based on a true story that happened over fifty years ago in a different time and culture. I intended this to be an interesting read, not a recommendation for solving marital problems.

For me this was a disturbing read, and I appreciated your disclaimer. When I read this I was reminded of headlines from the past. As I read I found myself wanting to cover my eyes, much like a person would do while watching a scary movie.

Yes, this was disturbing, but I it did not stop me from reading it to the end. You not only drew me in, but you caused an emotional response. You are definitely a talented writer.
Gregory Kane08/30/10
Wow, what a firecracker!
Yes it's politically incorrect but it certainly conjures up the fiery hispanic temperament of your characters. Reminded me of what Proverbs says about knocking some sense into a fool.
Can you tell that I really liked your entry?
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/31/10
Not exactly a teaching lesson to emulate, but a masterfully told story, just the same.
Author Unknown08/31/10
agreed well-written but yikes. agreed it gives the reader the impulse to keep reading between the cracks of the fingers on their hand that flew up to cover their eyes.

not my cup of tea but it was well-written nonetheless.

one pink point... not sure now this ties in with Breathe.
Author Unknown08/31/10
oops. that's "how" it ties in. sorry.
Caitlyn Meissner08/31/10
*laughs* Oh man! I read all the comments first, and was expecting something much, much worse. It really wasn't that terrible, and your writing style was very good. I'm not sure how "true to life" this husband/wife relationship is, but it certainly was a surprise.
Sarah Elisabeth 08/31/10
Different cultures are...different.

From the comments I, too, was expecting something worse. This is not the most violent piece I've ever read on FW, and I can actually see this very clearly in another culture.

That being said, one of the guidlines is we are supposed to write from a Christian worldview.

It was well written and I didn't find it mentally disturbing.
Karen Pourbabaee 08/31/10
I like Stan's idea to get the
"little firecracker" saved:)
This was excellent writing...violence, crime,the uglinesses in life are a reality all about us that we hear and see in the news every day.It is only information; we can choose to pray about or do something about it, but we need the information as hard as it is to hear or see.