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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)

TITLE: Through A Glass, Darkly
By Patricia Protzman


A dingy, gray mist hovered between the stripped-mined Appalachian Mountains. Coal dust shrouded everything in Shelby, a mining town in eastern Kentucky where Lacey Simmons wrung out the last diaper and slung it on the clothesline. She ran inside, slammed the door closed, and turned the bolt. Peeking through soot-covered windows, she scanned the countryside for her tormentors. They were out there for she had heard their voices and felt their eyes bearing down upon her.

Hearing footsteps behind her Lacey whirled around to face her mother, Elena Bentley, who held her whimpering baby granddaughter.

“I’m wide awake and ready to eat, Mama.” She remarked handing Lacey the small, wide-eyed bundle.

“You don’t have to tell me when to feed my baby. I guess I have enough sense to know that.” Lacey snarled as she snatched the baby and walked towards her bedroom.

“Honey, you’ve been awful touchy lately. I’ve heard you pacing up and down in the hall almost every night; I reckon you haven’t been gettin’ enough sleep for one thing.

“And what’s the other thing, Mama? You always need to point out my flaws, don’t you?” Lacey snapped, sitting on her bed and opening her blouse.

“You don’t eat enough to keep a fly alive; you’ve lost a lot of weight. What’s the matter, Lacey?”

“None of your business.” She shouted, pulling little Barbara close to her bosom.

“I’m just worried about you.” Mrs. Bentley said, tears welling up in her eyes.

“I’m gettin’ ready to make lunch. What can I fix you?”

“Nothing, just leave me alone.” Lacey hissed at her mother through clenched teeth.

Mrs. Bentley backed out of the room, closing the door behind her.

Twenty minutes later Lacey placed the sleeping baby in her crib. She walked across the hall to her room, closed the door, and lay down on the bed. Maybe her racing thoughts would leave if she could relax.

She remembered how happy she had been a few months ago. God had blessed her with a loving husband, healthy baby, and a godly mother. She was the happiest and most blessed person this side of paradise. Now He, along with everyone else, had turned against her.

Lacey believed her husband Bobby was cheating on her and wanted to get her out of his life. She knew the Big Ben on her nightstand had really been a ticking bomb. The clock now lay at the bottom of the creek.

Why was God, her family, friends, and neighbors so against her? Why was the telephone company listening in on her conversations?

Lacey sat up in bed. She heard a voice in her head say repeatedly, “You are going to die.” She ran from her bedroom to a hall closet, and locked the door. Inside, Lacey collapsed on the floor and lay in a catatonic state.

“Lacey, what’s wrong?” Her mother yelled as she pounded on the door. “Open up Lacey. Lacey?”

* * * * *

Lacey awakened to a beeping sound. Bobby and a strange man stared down at her.

“Well, hello Sleeping Beauty. I was wondering if you were ever gonna wake up. How do ya feel?” Bobby said, reaching for her hand.

“Groggy. What happened? Is this a hospital?” Lacey asked, noting the IV attached to her left hand.

“Yes, Moreland Psychiatric Hospital. I am Dr. Williams, Mrs. Simmons. Let’s elevate your head and we can talk about your illness.”

Lacey placed her hand on her head as the bed slowly raised. “Oh . . . Why am I so dizzy?”

Dr. Williams spent the next hour with Bobby and Lacey explaining Lacey’s diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia and his treatment plan. Besides medication, she had received one electroconvulsive treatment.

Later that evening as Lacey sat in a chair squinting out of the barred, dingy hospital window at the city lights below, she struggled to remember the past week but could not. Bobby said they had a baby girl but she could not remember the child. Dr. Williams had warned her that she might have some memory loss.

Lacey looked up at the ceiling and prayed aloud, “Lord, I don’t understand why this has happened to me but I’m trusting you. Please help me.”

Glancing around the room she saw a plaque beside the door that read, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians 13:12. (KJV)

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This article has been read 373 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Eliza Evans 07/23/11
This is a powerful entry. Out of the box and well written.

If you lose all the dialogue tags (snapped, hissed, snarled) it will tighten this up. Your words already convey emotion.

“You don’t have to tell me when to feed my baby. I guess I have enough sense to know that.” She snatched the baby and walked towards her bedroom.
Says the same thing but flows better without the tag.

I love that first image of Lacey wringing out diapers then running into the house to peek through soot-covered windows.

This is a great piece! I look forward to reading more of your work.
Linda Goergen07/25/11
This sad world leaves us with many Why’s of life we have to face this side of Heaven. You have shown one - why mental illness would strike a seemly God loving family. But as your scripture shows, on the other side is where clear views await and sometimes we just have to wait to get there to see the answers! In the meantime we can thank God our mentally ill are not treated with the horrible treatment and treatments today as they were in the past! Good job on the realistic detail of this!
Edy T Johnson 07/25/11
This story seems like a parable, to me. We're all Lacey, often caught between the wonder of God's gifts and the terror the enemy of our souls whispers to us to put us in doubt. I think this is a very creative take on the topic.
Kim Hamlin07/27/11
I agree with the other reviewers, and I think this is a very brave take on the topic. Our brains are really the final frontier, there's so much we don't know about them. Nicely done!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/02/11
Wow what a powerful entry! There are so many that think the s word should be kept secret. This story will help educate them. Congratulations for ranking 9th in level 3!