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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)

TITLE: Sweet Dreams on Elm Street
By Linda Germain


I am happily snuggled in my easy chair, ready to wallow in a comfortable and predictable rut like a happy pig in mud. I open the newspaper to the sports section. A familiar aroma wafts around the corner from the kitchen and assaults my senses.

Ah, my sharp wits become alert, it won’t work this time. She can bake all the double-fudge, nut-filled, caramel covered brownies she wants, but I’m on to her tricks.

As I eject myself from the cozy recliner I try to hold my breath to intercept temptation. I stick my feet in old hang-around-the-house penny loafers and head for the door--but I'm too slow.

“Hey Sweetie, the coffee’s on and a surprise is cookin’.”

Uh oh…I’m nailed.

“Yeah, Nadine,” I reply with as much indifference as possible, “I smell something, for sure.”

I decide to forego any reference to a rat.

Okay, I negotiate silently with myself, just eat, drink, and leave.

She smiles. I smile. We go to the breakfast nook and I sit in my usual spot. Sunshine hits my guilty face like an interrogation lamp.

She gazes out the window and chuckles at the antics of two chipmunks. I’m wondering when she plans to drop the honey-do bomb…or whatever she has up her slippery sleeve. I feel obligated to make a tacky comment.

“So, to what do I owe this glucose induced coma?”

She looks a little stricken, but pats my arm and says very sweetly,” Oh Harv, I just wanted to do something nice.”

That’s it? Hmm…sounds suspicion.

As I shuffle out to the garage I see my neighbors, Leroy and Bob. They’re standing near the curb. One is holding a weed whacker and the other is leaning on a hoe. They seem to be in deep discussion. I don’t mind interrupting.

“You guys up to anything interesting?”

They exchange uneasy glances before Leroy speaks. “We think our wives are behaving a little odd lately.”

“Wow! You too? Nadine just pulled the brownie and coffee trick, but she hasn’t made me pay yet.”

We compare notes as we head over to see our friend Tom. Bob uses the hoe as a walking stick and Leroy carries the weeding tool over his shoulder like a rifle. I flop along in my beat up Saturday shoes. We sit around the table on Tom’s patio and guzzle glasses of cold water. He is perplexed as well.

“My wife has gone to the store. Strangest thing…she waved as she was leaving and blew me a kiss. I wonder if she's going through the change...again.”

None of us has a clue. Clearly, something mysterious has affected the women on this street.

Tom says he ran into old Mister Newberry who confessed he was concerned about his elderly spouse. She had stopped nagging and slinging insults about his mother. We sit there pondering, like four bobble-head dummies. We’re lost and bewildered beasts.

Leroy offers his off-beat analysis. “It’s a little creepy, like those women in that Stepford town.”

“Aw Leroy, Bob scoffs, “That was just a silly movie.”

Leroy gets defensive.

“I know that. I just think our wives are acting funny since they started going to some kind of meeting every week. I’m usually watching football when mine leaves.”

We figure Martha Jenkins might have something to do with these weird turn of events so we decide to waste more time and amble across the street to watch her husband plant a rose bush.

One of us initiates further investigation, in our usual clumsy way.

“How’s the old ball and chain, Jenky?”

He stops digging, sits down on the grass, and pulls off his work gloves. We agree he’s older and wiser, but we don’t know what to expect. He sounds serious.

“Gentlemen, my wife is worth more than the price of rubies to me. She is supportive, loving, and loyal. I give thanks for her every day.”

Jenky sets us straight about a bunch of other relationship stuff we can't seem to figure out on our own. We wander back to our respective plots, feeling like victims, or survivors, of a contagious love-bug epidemic.

When I slip in the front door, Nadine is busy upstairs. I can hear her singing…off key. A nice safe feeling wraps itself around my heart. Somehow, change has infected me too.

I kick off my old loafers and head for the second story.


1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lillian Rhoades 04/14/11
Clever depiction of what happens when "the love bug bites." Loved how you tied it to the biblical concept. We surely need that kind of "outbreak." Real nice!
Helen Curtis04/14/11
I love this! What a beautiful story to read, I could picture the blokes all befuddled and lost for words. I am so pleased to say that my hubby of nearly 8 years is truly wonderful and not at all confused about who is boss...I mean, and we have a deep respect for each other!j
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/26/11
Congratulations on placing 13th in Masters and 16th overall.