Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Importance of Being Earnest (not about the play) (08/04/11)
TITLE: Five Little Siblings
By Fern Brown
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Over half a century ago, five siblings in a small, quiet, mid-western town, learned the importance of being earnest – very quickly.
Telephones were still a luxury most families couldn’t afford. The elderly couple in the old gray house down the street had the only phone on the block. Sharing it with others enabled them to visit with each neighbor at least once a week.
Momma needed to call the doctor. Knowing Momma would be gone much longer than she intended, Louise volunteered, “I’ll take the kids upstairs and we’ll do homework until you get back.”
Settling down for their lesson, they heard someone enter the front door downstairs. Escaping the drudgery of more school after putting in a full day already, Harlan ran to the open register in the floor. Peeping through the slats, he saw a dark haired man wearing a blue and white striped shirt sneaking behind the wood-burner stove, towards the staircase.
“He’s up to something bad. What are we gonna do, Sis?”
“Hurry, shut the door and lock it,” she whispered. Harlan flipped the flimsy little lock as Louise bolted from the desk to his side. “Boys,” she commanded her two brothers, “help me hold it shut. Just in case he makes any trouble.”
Brutal fists pounded on the door. Putting her finger to her lips and shaking her head, Louise urged the children to remain quiet.
“I know you’re in there. Open up!” the intruder’s deep, aggressive voice insisted, as he tried to push his way in.
“What do you want?” Louise asked breathlessly, fearful as an untamed kitten.
“Just let me in. It doesn’t matter what I want.” He rattled the knob and shoved hard. He wasn’t fooling around. He intended to get in. Louise mouthed instructions for the boys to climb out the window and run for Momma.
The window was jammed!
The ruffian in the adjacent bedroom backed up to the far wall and lunged forward. “Help, boys,” Louise yelled.
“Let me in!” Anger surged through the man’s clenched teeth.
Faking calmness, Louise bargained with him, “If you tell me what you want, I might let you in.”
“I want to kill you,” he answered roughly. With the strength of an ox, he hurled his weight against the door, jarring it slightly, and erupting blood-curdling screams from the children. The two little girls dashed to help hold the door shut.
Unfeigned yelling at the top of their lungs resounded as the potential murderer crashed his body repeatedly against the door. “God, please help us,” they cried earnestly, exhausted from the strenuous fight for their lives.
The front door slammed. Footsteps raced up the stairs. Another knock…
“Kids, what’s going on in there? You’re making enough noise to wake the dead.” They recognized the next-door neighbor lady’s voice.
“Are you alone?” Louise’s hoarse voice crackled.
“Yes, Honey. Open up!”
Unlocking the door, Louise grabbed the little girls and fled downstairs and outside. The boys scampered to find Momma, excitedly explaining their ordeal. “Run home to the children; we’ll call the police station,” the neighbors offered.
“All those earnest, terrifying yells for help caught my attention. If I had known what was going on, I probably wouldn’t have been so brave.” the neighbor told Momma. “God took care of your kids, that’s for sure. And me, too,” she added.
Hugging and caressing her children, Momma cried. “Thank God you are safe. Daddy will be home soon and he’ll secure the locks so nothing like this will ever happen again.”
The police officers informed them, “We think the stranger escaped out the other bedroom window and ran across the flat roof of the warehouse attached to your house. We’ve searched everywhere, but found no clues. None of the other neighbors was aware of any commotion over here. It’s a blessing that this neighbor heard your kids.”
They continued, “We will have someone patrolling the area for several weeks, but keep your doors and windows locked all the time. And kids,” he continued, “keep those lungs tuned up. Screaming and praying earnestly saved your lives!”
KJV Psalm 34:17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
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