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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)

TITLE: Gather You the Rosebuds
By Loren T. Lowery
02/02/11


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Sometimes monsters are born in our minds. Phantoms of no substance; merely nightmares gleaned from an overwhelming day. But sometimes they are real, too.

Monsters come about everyday, often unexpectedly, even in the sudden stillness of one perfect moment to the untried moment of the next. There are monsters born in loss and those born in gain; monsters who must surely laugh at man’s weakness in kneeling to them.

Yet, there are also those who fight these monsters, those who do not look for blame or excuse to escape them. Those who have learned to accept them as part of the human condition – those who’ve survived the grinding of the pestle with grace in their hearts and philosophies in their eyes.

Those that have discovered monsters are not fault or divine punishment; monsters, whose powers can be overcome by one simple act of choice.


Thursday 8PM

Becky, my wife, is standing over an empty crib in our nursery. Her hands are to her heart, her gaze long. The room is dark, lit only by the light from the hallway. I come up behind her; there is the scent of a recent bubble bath on her skin. I encircle her body, resting my hand on her swollen belly.

She falls back into my embrace. “I love you,” she whispers.

The completeness of the moment overwhelms me. “Mine, an unvanquished sun,” I answer.

The baby kicks and we laugh at the suddenness. “Hello, Anne,” Becky says. “Do you like your new room? Your daddy painted it princess pink just for you.”

My hands feel her kick again. I smile. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Instinctively, I tighten my hold around my family. “Does it hurt, when she kicks?”

She turns toward me. “No. Yes, but it’s a wonderful kind of pain.”

I look into her eyes and notice a sudden change come over her face. She catches her breath and holds her stomach.

“Becky?”

She nods and smiles. “Yes, John, I think it’s time.”

Sometimes things go unspoken between expectant parents. Things the doctor said might or might not be concerning – things not to worry about, but be mindful of - unexpected things most parents believe and pray would never happen.

11:15PM

“Push,” the doctor coaxes.

“I am,” Becky’s voice comes back forceful, irritated. She’s been in labor for over two hours. She looks at me. “I blame you for this.”

I wipe beads of perspiration from her forehead. “If I remember right, at the moment, it was something we both wanted.” There was a hint of smile as she clutches my hand.

“I love you,” she breathes, looking at me. “And Annie, too; that’s what we'll call her, isn’t it? Annie.”

Here eyes are fathomless and for the briefest moment, I am lost in them. I lean over and kiss her. “I love you back and yes, Annie is a beautiful name.”

Suddenly, Becky grasps my hand…

Sounds are a strange thing. Some so familiar they seem to fill space largely unnoticed until they stop. Like the ticking of a clock, crickets in a forest or beep of a heart monitor in a delivery room.

And quiet sometimes harbors monsters in its emptiness. Death is such a monster.

The doctor said amniotic fluid from Annie’s sac had somehow breached a blood vessel in Becky’s uterus and traveled to her heart, stopping it –

1:30AM

It seems that only in death can one remain, the tides of life forces the living to move on. Surely, God must see the desperate scratch marks left in the salty waters of those who would stay with those waiting behind; I know He must see mine.

I first saw Annie through the viewing window on the nursery floor of the hospital. An attendant motioned me inside. At the door, she helped me with smock and mask.

My trembling however had no such prophylactic cover; and, as I held my daughter, I feared my tears might somehow harm her. She looked up at me and I saw Becky’s eyes. I rocked her in the crook of my arm until she fell asleep.


8PM Friday

Alone at home I walk into the nursery, dark but for the hall light. The scent of a bubble bath still lingers. The room is quiet and a monster of loss has been born in its emptiness. I think of being swept away from Becky in the tides of life. I think of Annie asleep in my arms.

I face the monster and choose to fight.


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This article has been read 554 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Emery02/03/11
This is so incredibly sad and lovely. You had me right there in the room with them. I want to cry for him - and cheer for him; both at the same time. Very well done!
Charla Diehl 02/04/11
This tugged at my heart from start to finish--the love, the expectations, the loss of life, the beginning of new life and all the emotions woven within the moments--a beautifully written piece that touched me in a deep way.
Laury Hubrich 02/05/11
Oh, I have chills now. I loved the scenes you set. Very nice job. and the ending is so sad but well done.
Colin Swann02/07/11
A heart wrenching piece so well written and poignant. Loss of loved ones, especially when a young child is left with just one parent is so saddening. I'm sure most of us have known this happen to someone in our own small circle.
Virgil Youngblood 02/07/11
Powerfully and tenderly written. Well done.
Marilee Alvey02/08/11
A moving piece that well describes the fact we care to ignore, that we have control over nothing, not even our next breath. This piece has nice contrast, life and death, in microcosm. Well done.
Margaret Kearley 02/09/11
This is so heartbreaking and yet so wonderfully written - You draw us readers into the story so well that I had my heart in my mouth, longing for the ending not to be as it was.
Gregory Kane02/09/11
I felt that your introduction was a little protracted but once you got into your narrative there was no stopping you. Painfully and tenderly exquisite.
Rachel Phelps02/10/11
Haunting, lovely, and a winner! Congratulations on your EC!
Carol Penhorwood 02/10/11
Another tug at my heart strings. Well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/10/11
Your story broke my heart--so well written. Congratulations on a most deserving EC.
Margaret Kearley 02/10/11
Congratulations on your well deserved placing Loren with this heart rending and wonderful story.
Sara Harricharan 02/10/11
Ah, one of your most beautiful ones yet. There is so much feeling and emotion in here--it catches you by surprise. I love the lyrical, bittersweet feeling of this. Glad I didn't miss it and Congrats on a well-deserved EC! ^_^
Lollie Hofer 02/10/11
I loved the introduction and how it came full circle with the last line. The flow of this entire story was poetic. I don't expect anyone to understand unless they've experienced it themselves but grief and sadness can have it's own poetic beauty and strength. Congratulations on your well-deserved win.
Bonnie Bowden02/15/11
Hauntingly beautiful. You touched my soul with your story. It is always difficult to lose a child, yet the emotions you created in your piece left me teary long after I had finished it.

Congratulations on your well deserved win.