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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)

TITLE: Color Coded
By Elizabeth Baize


He had not seen the blue-veined hand grasping the corner of the writing desk for support. He had not watched that same hand clasp the cylinder of a fountain pen, or observed its painstaking effort to scrawl a heart-felt message across the page. Neither had Robert Sheffield witnessed the reservoir of ink ebb away like the life that was fast-fading from the hand, but he was keenly aware of the presence of red ink. Red ink! It was scrawled across his mother’s stationery in illegible flourishes. Pastor Sheffield’s own hands began to shake uncontrollably. Mixed emotions played across his face as he slowly folded the parchment, and bowed his head.

A few moments later he rose and stepped from his study into the kitchen where his wife was preparing the noon meal. “Becca, read this.” His wife accepted the proffered letter. He allowed her a moment to peruse the contents and continued, “I’m off to England at once!” The parchment fluttered lazily to the floor as his wife grabbed his arm for support. “Robert! What’s come over you? I couldn’t make out a single word!” Her husband gently laid his hands on her shoulders and gazed into the eyes of his best earthly friend, “It’s from Mother. I must go immediately.” His baffled wife stepped back, “Your mother? Are you sure she wrote that?” Robert nodded mutely. Without taking her eyes from her husband’s face, Becca stooped to retrieve the letter, “Do whatever you think is best, Robert, but please be careful.”


For the first time in twenty-five years, Robert paused on the threshold of his mother’s room. Could that form on the bed, that shriveled motionless form with life barely fluttering through its veins really be his mother? Reeling with shock and emotion, he found himself kneeling beside the bed clasping the thin blue-veined hand in his own. Was it his imagination, or had she returned the pressure of his clasp? He allowed himself to verbalize the simple fact that dominated his thoughts, “Mother, I received the letter, but the ink, it was red!” Undeniably, the hand squeezed his in affirmation. Baffled, Robert pressed farther, “But Mother, when I wrote to you about my own red-letter day – the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and told you how I knew He wanted me to serve him as a pastor,” he paused to regain mastery of his voice, “you told me that the religion I was raised with should be enough. You said that I should make something of my life, and that you would sooner be laid in the ground beside Father than to acknowledge a son who was wasting his life by preaching to a poverty-stricken congregation. You said I should expect no more correspondence from you. You laughed at my idea of writing to you in red ink as I rejoiced that Christ’s blood had cleansed my soul from sin.” He paused as he glanced lovingly at the still form and whispered, “Mother, I have prayed for twenty-five years that you would realize your need of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Did you really mean to write that letter in red?” The blue-veined hand squeezed a second affirmative, and the son glanced up to see the faded eyes flutter open for the last time as his mother whispered, “He has forgiven me all. Will you?” The son crumpled beside the bed, “Of course, Mother, I love you.” The blue-veined hand squeezed his once again and only once. The Savior had caught her hand in His and was welcoming His daughter home.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/31/10
Wow these few words say so much. I can't imagine the pain and then the joy that the son must have experienced. You did a wonderful job with this. I liked the fresh approach of the red ink. Nicely done.
Sarah Heywood11/01/10
What a creative take on the topic! I really, really enjoyed this - fabulous writing!
DK Landers11/03/10
Nice job with the topic. I like the red ink twist. A heartwarming story.
Nancy Sullivan 11/10/10
The symbolism of "Written in Red" makes your story so memorable. Could be a very powerful witnessing tool in reaching out to others. Very nice.
Nancy Sullivan 11/10/10
P. S. Loved the title!