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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)

TITLE: Listen For the Distant Rumble
By Fern Brown


Listen For the Distant Rumble

The summer night was hot but five-year-old Mandy pulled the heavy quilt over her head and squeezed her eyelids together, trying to force them to sleep. She heard her brothers’ loud, heavy breathing from the next bedroom, in the old, red brick, apartment. Maureen, her big sister was downstairs pin curling her silky, long brown hair. Soon Maureen would be asleep, too. Daddy always went to bed early, because he had to leave for work before daylight.

Mandy peeked out from under her shelter, trying to focus her eyes in the dark room. Carefully, quietly she slid out of bed, tiptoed to the wall, pushed the small round button that turned on the light and dove back into bed, fearing someone would grab her before she hid again. She felt safer with the light shining and finally fell asleep.

Mama unlocked the door and soundlessly entered the house after working until almost midnight. “Poor little Mandy.” she thought as she climbed the stairs to check on the children. “She is so fearful.” Gently she uncovered her. The room was stifling because Mandy had taken the screen out of the window again.

Mama thought of the build-up to Mandy’s fears. The children loved to stand in the yard and wave at the travelers on the passenger trains. Hobos traveled the freight trains, occasionally stopping to ask for a meal. Her sons often explored the warehouse connected to their apartment, coming back with tales of men who found refuge there, hiding behind furniture, hoping no one would throw them out. For the boys, life was simply an adventure. For Mandy, it was a nightmare.

Strangers arriving at their door by day and peeping toms at night created enough fear in Mandy’s heart. However, recently, while Mama and Daddy did errands, a strange man boldly entered the house in broad daylight and threatened to kill the children. Their screams alerted the neighbor who came running to their aid, but the intruder escaped without a trace. Though the boys were too active to remain fearful, Mandy’s terror held her captive.

“Dear God, please help Mandy overcome her fears. She has been through a lot for a child her age. I confess that I worry, too, Lord. Please help me to trust you more. We both need a new outlook on life.” Mama prayed as she lingered in the doorway, choosing to leave the light on.

About four o’clock the next morning, Mandy rolled over, eyes popping open, thankful it wasn’t dark in her room. She heard the rumbling of the train in the distance. The whistle blew as the train rounded the bend. The wheels clanking rhythmically on the tracks created a peace in her heart every morning, because it meant Daddy and Mama were getting up and would take care of her.

Weeks passed. Some nights when Mama came home from work, she noticed the light was off upstairs. Mandy’s fears gradually faded.

Mandy sat in Mama’s lap, her head on Mama’s chest and her arms wrapped around Mama’s neck. “Mama,” she whispered, “I’m not as afraid as I used to be.”

“I know you’re not, Mandy. Can you tell me why?”

“I learned to listen for the sound of the train. When I go to bed at night, I hear the train coming. When it whistles I know you’ll come home and check on me. In the morning I listen for it again. I know you and Daddy get up and chase away the dark. The train whistle reminds me that you are close and I don’t have to be afraid.”

“From now on,” Mama hugged her tightly, “when we hear the train whistle, let’s both remember that our Heavenly Father watches over us all the time. He is always close and we never need to fear.”

Proverbs 1:33KJV But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Fitzpatrick06/09/11
Very touching story and such a good reminder that the Lord does watch over us. I liked the way you used the train. First it was an object that caused fear, because of the life threatening incident,and the people who hung around, for the little girl. Then as her fear dissipated and she began to overcome those feelings, it turned into something she looked forward to and was a gentle reminder of her parents love. The ending was prefect as her momma chooses to illustrate and remind the daughter of God's protection.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/09/11
This is a great story. Iremember being a tad like Mandie when I was little. This would make A great middle-reader story. I think many 8-10 yo would benefit from it.
Linda Goergen06/10/11
I enjoyed this tender story of learning to trust God and not one's fears. Excellent visuals, well done!
Leola Ogle 06/12/11
I felt for little Mandy in your sweet story. I also as a little girl felt frightened at night. It is very difficult on a child to have fear like that. So happy your story ended with Mandy learning to trust and overcoming her fears. God bless!
Patricia Protzman06/14/11
Great story. I grew up by the railroad tracks and hardly was aware of their approach. (you get used to the whistles.
I remember a hobo stopped by our house and Mom fed him outside at the picnic table.
Noel Mitaxa 06/14/11
Very evocative writing and authentic POV. How about this little girl "training" herself to trust God??? Yet if our hearts are open to him, he can speak through many unexpected voices.
Blesings on you.