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

TITLE: Baby Shoes
By Lauren Bombardier
10/28/10


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I stepped into the attic with a box in each hand. My wife insisted that I be the one to pack up the attic while she did the kitchen.

“You'd have a better idea of what to keep and what is just junk, Steve,” she said.

I sighed dramatically and set down the boxes. Karen laughed as she went back downstairs.

I smiled and shook my head. My mother had been a pack rat, and the attic reflected that. Now that she was gone, Karen and I planned to sell her house. Before we could, though, we needed to pack up all her things. The attic was full of broken-down furniture, old lamps, various knick-knacks, and boxes of her life.

Two hours and five boxes later, I saw an old quilt covering what appeared to be yet another box. I pulled it off and shook it out. When the dust settled, to my surprise, I saw an old hope chest. I didn’t remember seeing it before. The simple wooden chest had with a set of initials carved into the lid - my mother's initials.

I lifted the lid, expecting only a few mothballs. I found a soft blanket resting on top of some other things. I pulled the blanket off and found more blankets, cloth diapers, baby gowns, and a few pairs of small booties. I took all of it out and laid it carefully on the old quilt. At the bottom of the chest, a pair of baby shoes rested on another wooden box. The shoes looked brand new, yet old-fashioned. I lifted them out and held them in my hand. They were so small, and for a brief moment I remembered when my own children were that small. Gently, I placed the shoes on the quilt.

The small wooden box was elaborately carved with vines and flowers. I pressed the latch and opened the lid. An old photograph and a bundle of letters lay inside. I picked up the photo and looked at a picture of my much younger mother. She looked so beautiful. She sat in a chair holding a newborn baby, and a small boy stood next to her gazing at the infant. With a start, I realized that the small boy was me. I flipped it over, and in my mother’s handwriting were the words “Steve, Baby Robert, and myself – May 1960.”

Baby Robert? I set the photograph down and picked up the letters. The top one was dated May 23, 1960. I opened it and read:

“Dear Robert,

“Oh, how I miss you already! Your father and I only had you for a few short days, yet in those days you made us so happy. When I remember your sweet face and how your eyes gazed into mine, it is more than I can bear. The Good Lord took you from us far too soon, but I know that you would have been miserable in this life. You were born so small and even as I held you, I knew that I wouldn’t have you for long. I thank God that we had that time to say good-bye to you. Your big brother, Steve, was so excited when you were born! He had great plans for the two of you. I will try to explain it to him, yet I fear he won’t understand. Perhaps someday he will. You will grow strong in the presence of the Lord. We will see you soon.

“Love,
Mother”


Stunned, I sat back with the letter still in my hand. I had a brother. I didn’t remember him. I looked at the other letters. My mother had written to Robert every year. As I read them, tears flowed from my eyes from both laughter and sorrow.

By the time I finished, the sun had set. I placed the letters and the photograph back in the small box and set it aside. I started to put all the baby things back in the chest, but stopped when I picked up the shoes. With a smile, I placed them on the small box, and finished packing up the chest.

My wife was sitting at the dining room table drinking a cup of coffee while she waited for me. I placed the small box and the shoes before her and sat down. Karen picked up the shoes and asked, “Are these yours?”

“No,” I replied.

“Whose are they?”

With a smile, I looked at her and said, “My brother’s.”


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This article has been read 279 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/28/10
This is a sweet story. My oldest sibling died long before I was born and I remembered my mom telling me she thought about him every single day. I never understood this until the day I held my daughter. The lovely love letters the mom wrote to her baby reminded me of my mom and how she mourned and loved her first baby. Nicely done.
Barbara Lynn Culler10/30/10
Such a sweet and sad story. I wonder why mother never told the others?

Well done!
Catrina Bradley 10/30/10
This story is so well told I was sneezing at the dust in the attic. I felt the ending kinda fizzled, but the descriptions and the pacing were excellent, and I enjoyed it very much.
Rachel Phelps10/30/10
This is a great story. The beginning seemed a little slow, and the ending rushed, so I would recommend looking at those two areas for some word swapping. Your descriptions were excellent.
T. F. Chezum10/30/10
Touching story. Talking to, writing letters to a baby that has passed away is very realistic. Good job.
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/30/10
Sweet story. I, too, wondered why a mother who would write yearly letters to the child wouldn't have talked about him to the brother, but otherwise enjoyed this.
AnneRene' Capp 10/31/10
I love the gentle pace and touching warmth of this. You had me in the attic with you, imagining how you were feeling with each discovery and more importantly, I could feel your mother's heart of burden in loosing that baby. Great description all around and for me, your ending felt real. I liked how many different places each reader could go with it using their own imagination. Sometimes precious moments don't have a big bang ending. :) Also, I could understand the mother not sharing that heartache for whatever reasons.:) :)
Nancy Sullivan 10/31/10
Attics are such special places and storehouses of peoples' lives. Thanks for sharing a very sweet episode of Steve's family history.
Jan Ackerson 11/02/10
Very tenderly written; I enjoyed this.