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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)

TITLE: Questions
By Ruth Neilson


Al sat mesmerized as he watched Prisoner C-345681 move elegantly through her cell. Prisoner C-345681 had been a dancer since before she was convicted of treason against the state. But he knew the odds of her dancing anywhere but within her tiny cell was slim. It was a pity, though; Prisoner C-345681 seemed to have the natural born talent that any dancer longed to have.

He could see her lips moving soundlessly as she continued to dance and something inside of him had to know what she was saying. It disturbed him, and most of the guards, how most of the prisoners within the C-Block remained calm through their incarceration and ultimate punishment that was dealt them. And Al had to know what kept them so...calm. There were rumors that the first correctional officers in the cell went crazy before the no communication policy was implemented.

Al glanced around the cellblock. He couldn't believe he was about to do this. Communicating with a prisoner in any manner was strictly forbidden and was punishable with the prisoner's fate; which, for Prisoner C-345681, meant certain death. Al took a deep breath, waiting for his supervisor to move to the next block, and hoping it would be soon.

There! It was time and Al quickly eased himself closer, listening intently for the girl's voice as she continued to move throughout the cell. She seemed to be chanting something, her voice lilting slightly on one word, forever.

He listened closer as she raised her hands and continued to move, clapping softly, looking very much like a gypsy of old as she moved throughout her humble home.

"I'm gonna worship You, forever. I'm gonna worship You."

He peered through the cross-hatched bars at her lithe form, unable to comprehend what Prisoner C-345681 was saying. Even though her crime was worshiping her supposed God, she was continuing to do so. Al knew what he was supposed to do—report her, but he couldn't bring himself to do it.

He glanced around again, checking to see if any of his peers where around before taking a deep breath and whispering, "You know that's going to get you killed."

She shrugged as she continued to move. "I know," Her voice was airy and seemed breathless as she leaned forward, her painfully thin frame stretching to its full length. She paused for a moment in her singing and dancing to turn and gaze at him with wide hazel eyes. "Just like you can get killed for what you are doing."

Al felt his blood boil briefly at her matter a fact statement. Who was this girl to tell him what he already knew? Though, in reality, it was a turnabout in fair play.

"I just wanted...no, needed to know why."
"Why what?"
"Why do you keep on... worshiping a god that doesn't hear your peoples' prayers?"

She took a step forward, her fingers lacing through the bars. "I do it because He does hear them. And He does answer them. This is just part of the music of our lives. And we are to offer others the same opportunity that we have—to be truly free."

Al shook his head. His fingers dangerously close to Prisoner C-345681's. "Freedom while you are locked away."

She grinned and quickly touched his index finger before seeming to flutter away to the other side of the cell. "You can lock up my body but my mind and spirit are still free."

He stared at her for a long moment before finally shaking his head and moving away. Al had so many more questions, but he was terrified of being caught talking to her. Time was his enemy. But there was always tomorrow. He could ask her or another prisoner another question. But until then, Al knew he had to be on his best behavior.
John 8:36 (NIV) "So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed."

"Worshiping You" Jonathan Stockstill © 2008 Integrity's Praise! Music

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Member Comments
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Catrina Bradley 08/02/11
You've taken a familiar plot and given it new life with this entry. I think I caught an actual glimpse of your imprisoned woman dancing - very vivid! The first couple of paragraphs could be smoothed out a bit, but you caught a rhythm and the rest of the story was excellent!
Colin Swann08/02/11
A wonderful and interesting story about keeping faithful in adversity. Thanks!
Laury Hubrich 08/02/11
Well-written story. I have to wonder if I would have the courage to worship with threat of imprisonment or death. I'd like to think so. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/03/11
You weaved a powerful message through your well written story.