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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cyber Communication (email, IM’s, etc) (11/04/10)

TITLE: The Sprat
By Helen Murray


"You are the cynosure of women."

The phrase hit her and sent her sprawling. The dictionary said it meant that all eyes were to feast on her. There had been other things in the letter also – “I can tell you are a woman of God from your profile.” Bev had placed her profile on a Christian Singles site hoping that there might be someone out there with whom she could relate. “I dream of a woman of God for a lifetime wife, so that we can take care of each other, and try constantly to outdo each other in kindness and concern.” This was exciting stuff. She hadn’t dreamed of finding such a person. “I am a gentle person, and need someone who is also gentle, and a servant as I try to be. I’ve been hurt badly, and don’t want to be hurt again.”

Bev responded warmly to this Christian man who appeared to have studied the Word of God in detail, and learned to live by it. He said he had lost his wife and daughter in a terrible road accident and taken years of mourning to get over it, but he had worked through the issues now. He had later been betrayed in love two nights before marriage by his best friend, and it had emaciated his emotions entirely. He had now passed through the long stage where he felt he would never love again. But, finally, now, he was ready to love again, and throw himself into it with the complete commitment that was essential to the right relationship.

Conversations continued via email every three or four days, although Bev had time to write more often. She complied eagerly with his stated needs of affirmations, and ‘messages for his pocket.’ Lots of fine things were said, particularly about trust in a relationship, and its very great importance. They both felt strongly about that, considering all that it might mean for them.

Discussion arose as to when they might see each other, possibly over Christmas, no, certainly over Christmas, as the distance between them was considerable. He took Bev’s address in order to send a birthday surprise.

Eventually the bright idea of instant messaging occurred to them and was set up on both computers. Online connection enabled an almost real conversation. He was eager to take control, he said.

“What do you mean by ‘take control?’” Bev was a touch shocked by this statement.

“I mean take responsibility for caring for you and for your welfare” he corrected.

The story came out about his major investment in the computing industry, and how it just needed a few extra thousand dollars for certain items of equipment to be shipped to his location. He had been a giver all his life, he said, and was not used to making requests, but felt it could help this time. How much could she invest in his business. He would reward her abundantly when he was paid for his project in two months time, he promised.

Alarm bells rang, but Bev was still convinced that this was a genuine Christian man, because of his emphasis on praying everything through, and bringing God into every situation. However, she was not, she decided, able to oblige within the necessary six days.

“Oh well,” he said, “I’m a giver. I never asked before. I just needed it this once.”

They agreed to continue their instant messaging until the telecommunications company completed setting up his new phone line.

Next day the instant messaging system would not go through. Then a bunch of red roses arrived with a very endearing note, followed a couple of days later by a delightful e-card, but no emails came. The roses and the card, she discovered, could have been ordered before the one and only instant messaging conversation. “A sprat to catch a mackerel?”

After a week of no response to her endearments she faced the hard music, the highly skilled lie, the extortion racket! With feelings rioting she thanked God for the friend who had told her never to send money to net ‘friends’.

Should she email the erstwhile sweetheart that in the Kingdom of God, his contribution to life is redistributed back to him in much larger quantities? She decided there was no value in that, but plenty in forgiveness, and doing good to those who despitefully use you. She prayed for him again, differently this time, and thanked God a hundred times for protecting her.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/12/10
I was screaming at the PC "Don't send him any money!" I'm so glad your MC heard me. This is an all too common scam and one people need to be aware of. Thanks for the great message.
Noel Mitaxa 11/14/10
The suspense drew me in, as the sprat began to turn into a rat! I love how you tipped the frustration over failed messages into God's protection for a vulnerable lady. Very well done.
Brenda Rice 11/15/10
You did a good job with this story. I was drawn in right away. I became anxious for your MC and totally concerned that she would send the money. The ending was perfect, just like our God.
Jan Ackerson 05/26/12
Helen, I'm going to feature this story on the Front Page Showcase for the week of June 25. Look for it on the FaithWriters home page--and congratulations!
Jan Ackerson 05/28/12
Helen, I tried to email you using the email addy on your profile, but it bounced back. In answer to your questions: I select the Front Page Showcase based on a number of criteria; as one of the site administrators, I have access to a list of every paying member and links to their profiles with all of their submissions. I look through those for pieces that are well-written, fairly recent, and (if there are comments) well-received.

You may want to share your idea about featuring different kinds of poetry with either Mike Edwards or Deb Porter. They are higher up in the FaithWriters hierarchy than I am, and they are the ones who should ponder your suggestion.