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

TITLE: William's Bible
By dub W
10/27/10


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William carefully unfolded the parchment thin paper which rested as a bookmark in his leather bound bible. “Dear William,” it read, “We trust you are well and reading this letter for we haven’t heard from or about you since you left for Tupelo. You probably knew that mama died in the winter and Buster left with those Connell boys and joined a group in Illinois. Papa tried to stop him, but he left anyways and took the gelding. Now papa and me gather eggs and we have one hog, but not much else. Follow the Lord always and if you meet up with Buster, don’t shoot him. Love, Edna.”

William carefully refolded the letter and returned it to his Bible. He tucked the tiny Bible into his backpack; then leaned back on a stump. Seconds later his hat slipped over his eyes and sleep gently overcame him.

“Hey William, you be sleep’n or loaf’n?” Sam Nelson, William’s friend and confidant kicked a rock toward William’s backpack.

William jumped. “Think’n” He pulled himself up on the stump.

“Think’n git you all sorts a trouble.”

“We got trouble, a little more won’t hurt.”

“Oh, ya means them eight thousand blue boys tip toed through da mud?” Sam snickered.

William tipped his hat back, yeah, something like that.”

Sam put the butt of his rifle on the stump where William sat. “I heard that General Forest is gonna let'm walk through the skiters and swamp, and once they are here we are gonna’ blister’m.”

“Sam, don’t you ever get tired of all this?”

“Naw, I figures it what they deserve for burn’n us out. My pa didn’t do noth’n, they just burned our farm to the ground.” Sam re-shouldered his weapon. "Why you here?”

My pa sent me. I don’t know why, some of the political talk about state’s rights and Missouri not be’n a State no more.”

“Well, one reasons as good as the next, I suppose, course shoot’n those blue coats is not so bad either.”

William sat up on the stump. “Bothers me a bit, theys just men from families come to shoot men from our families. I think it’s pretty dumb.”

Sam pulled a tobacco plug out of his pocket. “Well if one of them shoots you, I’ll tell him you thought it was dumb.”

“If one of them shoots at me,” William laughed, “You won’t have to, cause I’m shoot’m back.”

William shouldered his weapon and he and his companion meandered down the trail to a group gathering by a white tent.

“Men,” a man in a black coat stepped into the group. “Tomorrow we will have our enemy in our sights. Our God and Savior has brought us to this place for this reason; His Will shall prevail. Before you are sent forth into battle there’s two things I want you to do. The first is to write a letter to your loved ones. Those of you who cannot write, come to me and I will write it for you. Then, bring your letter to my tent and I will have it sent on the next post runner. The second thing is, I want you all to pray like you have never prayed before, This is a war of human souls, God save us all. Amen.

The group of men all whispered “amen.” And, the crowd began to breakup.

------

I found this brief description amid a box of papers, diaries, books, and bonds I discovered when cleaning out my grandparent's old shed on the family farm. Why this box survived I will never know because so much was destroyed during and after the war. Among the books was a small leather bound bible. When I opened the testament a thin piece of paper floated out. It read: “June 1, 1864. Dear William, We trust you are well and reading this letter for we haven’t heard from you or about you since you left for Tupelo. You probably heard that mama died in the winter and Buster left with those Connell boys and joined a group in Illinois. Papa tried to stop him, but he left anyway and took the gelding. Now papa and I gather eggs and we have one hog, but not much else. Follow the Lord always and if you meet up with Buster, don’t shoot him. Love, Edna.”

I don’t know if my great great grandfather wrote the return letter, but we have preserved in our bank box, my great great grandfather sister’s letter.

-0-


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This article has been read 332 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/29/10
This is a nice trip back into history. It's also a great reminder to thank God for everyone who fought in a war for our country as Veteran's Day approaches.
Jeanne E Webster 10/30/10
A nice visual from the bowels of war. Gives us a quick glimpse of hope before the onslaughts begin. A few punctuation errors noted. Good beginning for a long story. Blessings. :)
Rachel Phelps11/01/10
This is a great story and the setting is well done. Be careful of putting too much dialect into print. It can be tough to strike a balance, but the best way to create the illusion of an accent is to put in a few apostrophes, etc., then suggest it with sentence structure and the occasional apostrophe thrown in.

Good work!
Jan Ackerson 11/01/10
Loved this--great job with dialect!

Would have liked to see the word 'Bible' capitalized in the first paragraph.

This was a very engaging read.
Nancy Sullivan 11/01/10
You used your piece of family history very well as inspiration for your story. The setting and characters are very real and remind us of the sacrifices made during the infancy of our nation. Great job.
Henry Clemmons11/02/10
I enjoyed this very much. I love historical stuff and to read it came from a real letter made it even better. Nice job.
Timothy Klingerman 11/02/10
Very nice work. I really enjoyed that the inspiration came from a real letter. That original letter portrayed the difficulties of the time very well, as did your piece.
Catrina Bradley 11/02/10
I love the dialect in the dialog - I could hear the two men talkin. A couple of missing quote marks, and, to me, the ending felt rushed. I also didn't think you need to repeat the entire letter. That said, I enjoyed reading this bit of history and the tiny view into the lives of those affected by the "war of northern aggression." :)
Barbara Lynn Culler11/03/10
This is cool in that it is a piece of your family history.
Connie Dixon11/03/10
You pulled me right into this story. I enjoyed the dialogue.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/04/10
Congratulations on a great story Dub;)!
Lollie Hofer 11/04/10
Congratulations on your well deserved recognition. GREAT story.
c clemons11/05/10
Great story, good job. As in any war God doesn't pick sides. He picks people.