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

TITLE: Changed Lives
By Patricia Protzman


The afternoon sunlight streams through my hospital room window. Gingerly I climb out of bed. My body aches like an old person must feel even though I’m only sixteen years old. Squinting, I see a rainbow stretched across the Blue Ridge Mountains, which reminds me of Noah and the flood. The rain has stopped but unlike Noah, my family is dead except for my fourteen-year-old brother, Jim.

Yesterday at this time my parents, seven-year-old sister Emily, ten-year-old sister Martha, Jim, and me were celebrating Mama’s thirty-ninth birthday. Uncle Dewey, Aunt Lydia and my five cousins, who live high upon a hill across from us stopped by. How ironic, I gave Mama an Elvis Presley record titled, Kentucky Rain.

Asleep in our beds, the flash flood took us by surprise. Torrents of water swept us from our beds. I thought I was going to die.

The constant lightening lit up the early morning sky while oceans of rain fell. Jim and I grabbed onto a tree limb wrapped around a large oak tree and climbed to the top. We never saw the others. Volunteers searching for survivors rescued us this morning.

Our minister, Pastor Vicks, visited Jim and me an hour ago to let us know that searchers have found our parents’ bodies, but not our sisters. As soon as he can reach my Uncle Dewey, Pastor Vicks said he would ask him if we could live with him and his family.

Jim and I are lucky to be alive. I have scratches, scrapes, and cuts all over my body; my left ear has twenty stitches. Jim has cuts, scratches, and a fractured right foot.

“Whatcha lookin’ at, Frank?” A young voice drawls.

I wipe my wet eyes on my hospital gown, force a smile, and turn around.

“Jim. Uh... the rain stopped there’s a rainbow. Wanna see?”

“No, I don’t feel like seeing no rainbow.” Frank replies dabbing his face on the blanket covering his lap. What are we gonna do now that Mama and Papa are gone? Where we gonna live? Who will take care of us?”

I hobble back to bed Jim moves his wheelchair closer.

“You heard what Pastor Vicks said, he’s gonna ask Uncle Dewey and Aunt Lydia if we can live with them.”

“Frank, I don’t wanna live on that mountain again. I’m afraid we’ll have another flood.” Jim whines, his eyes glistening.

The same thought runs through my mind, but since I’m older, I have to act brave.

“Jim, the doctor says the hurricane down in Florida was the cause. No one dreamed it would dump thirty inches or more of rain this far inland. It’s a once in a lifetime deal.

“Besides, the rescuers said they saw a bunch of people standing in front of Uncle Dewey’s house waving to the helicopter as it passed over them. The flood didn’t affect them.”

Jim hangs his head and stares at the foot cast. “I dunno, Frank. I’m scared.”

“I’m scared too Jim, but our lives have changed. Mama, Papa, Martha, and Emily are gone. We should live with family instead of strangers, if we have a choice. Remember what Mama always says?”

Jim pops his blonde head up and asks, “What?”

“She says to always pray over anything before making a decision and God will show you the right road to take.”

“If you say so, but I don’t remember her saying that.” Jim mumbles.

“She does. Do you remember the Bible verse she always quotes?” I ask.

“Yeah, something about trusting in the Lord with all your heart no matter how bad things might look.”

“That’s right, Jim.”

Someone knocks on the door; Pastor Vicks enters with a smile.

“Boy’s, I have good news. I just spoke with your doctor; he’s going to release you from the hospital in the morning. I won’t have a chance to speak to your Uncle Dewey until the roads are cleared or until the telephones are back in order. Do you want to come home with me?”

“Yes.” Jim and I reply.

“Great. If you boys don’t mind I want to read the Word and have prayer with you now.”

“No, we don’t mind, do we Jim?”

“No, can you show me the verse about trusting the Lord?”

“I can show you lots of verses. Let’s pray.”

Jim and I bow our heads. We’re scared and unsure of our future but we want the Lord to direct our paths.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Glynis Becker02/03/11
That is definitely 24 hrs that would change your life. Nice dialogue and it leaves me wanting to know more! In a good way :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/03/11
Wow this is tearjerker. It's amazing how our lives can totally change in a flash. The Bible verses you used were perfect.Great job and perfect timing considering so many parts of the world have been hit by deadly, unexpected, extreme weather.
Danielle King 02/05/11
This is heartbreaking but unfortunately it's what countless people have experienced in the last few years, so I would think of this as a timely piece with a great message, to trust God with everything, always. Well done.
Lollie Hofer02/09/11
Oh, so sad. I was riveted throughout. I liked the voices of your two main characters, very realistic.
Noel Mitaxa 02/09/11
You have accurately portrayed a very similar, very recent heartache down here in Australia, with many people still unaccounted for. Billions of dollars in damages with towns, homes, farms and livelihoods washed away with widespread floods from massive rain and cyclones after ten years of drought.
i like the sense of hope and trust in spite of your MC's ordeal and his doubts.