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

TITLE: What a Pain in the Neck
By Francy Judge


I don’t like to wake at five in the morning. Who does? But I had no choice on Monday. As an evening receptionist, I was asked to cover the day shift. Usually, twelve midnight is my creative time until I crash on the keyboard and wake with strange indentations on my cheek. My days are full: scooting the older kids out in time to catch the bus, homeschooling my daughter, laundry, laundry, laundry, da, da, da, kisses goodbye and off to work. Part-time is enough-time for me.

Sunday night, I couldn’t help complaining to my husband, “Work is going to be a pain in my neck tomorrow. It’s going to mess up my whole day and Jordan’s school day. Not to mention Grandma’s day since she has to baby-sit and won’t be able to paint.”

Of course Gene had to point out the obvious. “You’ll make some extra money. And maybe you’ll get to bed at a half-way decent hour. Mom doesn’t mind sitting anyway; she’s always willing to help you out.”

“Yah, yah. I know.”

I went to sleep at twelve thirty—early for me—and prayed I could handle the next twenty-four hours.

At five o’clock, the alarm rang, and I whipped my arm around to slam the snooze. I don’t know how I managed to pull my neck and shoulder muscles, but I did. This was not a good time for irony. The pain in my neck throbbed, and I had to go to work.

Every time I tried to turn my head, I groaned in pain—the mature woman that I am. Somehow I made lunches, got the boys up and out without raising my voice too, too much, and drove to work.

Surprise, surprise…the daytime receptionist was sitting at the desk, while I wore a large question mark over my head.

“Did you think I meant this Monday?”

I nodded.

“No, I have jury duty next Monday.”

“Okay, I got that wrong. See you tomorrow night.”

I was relieved to have the day off again, but still had to live with the pain in my neck that would probably take a week to heal.

Jordan greeted me with a big hug pulling my neck and sending a wonderful shooting volt down to my shoulder. “I’m so happy you’re home, Mommy!”

“Me too.”

For the rest of the day, I tried rubbing my neck, lying down in different positions, even resting my shoulder on a back massager which did nothing more than numb my ears and rattle my brain.

Gene helped set the table while I served dinner. “I think you’ve mentioned that neck pain about fifty times since I got home.”

“Yah, well, it hurts. You’re a baby when you’re sick too.” I tried to keep the groans to myself the rest of the night.

At ten o’clock, I read to Jordan and tucked her in bed. Then I snuggled next to her, hoping to rest my neck so I could stay up and write. I prayed…then she prayed…

“God, please help my mommy’s neck feel better. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

That instant she said amen, I felt the pain leave my neck, as if obeying a command to walk away. I believe in the power of prayer, but still had to question what happened. Did the pain really go away or am I just imagining what I want? I gently lifted my head an inch off the pillow. No pain. I turned slightly to the left. No pain.

“Jordan, God answered your prayer. My neck’s all better.”

“I knew He would.”

I should have such faith…and stop complaining. And from now on, I’ll be careful what expressions fly out of my mouth. No more “pain in the necks” for me.

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Beth LaBuff 02/06/11
This almost sounds like a true story. I was emotionally drawn into all her drama, with waking at 5am, then pulling her neck, arriving at work, to find out she had the wrong day. Phew! Loved the answered prayer at the end... and the lesson for us all.
Sunny Loomis 02/08/11
Ahh, to have the faith of a child. Good story. Thank you.