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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fruit (10/10/05)

TITLE: If Only
By Pat Guy


Carlos plopped down on the curb next to the sewer where he would be sleeping tonight. The familiar stench clung to his meager clothing, polluting each breath as he rested his head in his arms on his knobby knees. Cars honked their warning, but sorrow had drained him of any desire to care long ago. The menacing wafts of traffic lifted tufts of hair off an unwashed face revealing the blank desperate eyes of a child forgotten. He no longer knew how old he was. One thing he did know – he was ‘too big to be five anymore.’

Cold and dampness were beginning to settle and soon it would be time for Carlos to climb in – he was smaller, so his place was further back – the bigger kids got to be close to the opening. No one stopped – no one cared…..and he was hungry.


Juanita opened the curtains to the back porch like she did every morning to reveal the vibrant colors of dawn. She took pleasure in the beauty that filtered through the peach tree that stood tall and strong in the back of her yard. She was glad she decided against cutting it down when she had to move to this house. It had been a difficult time, Juanita had hoped one day…..her daughter…..

A quick shadow lunged behind her shed.

Smiling, she knew where the shadow was headed – in fact, she had hoped he would come back. The rustling of limbs in her peach tree exposed the secrecy of this little boy looking for food. He was probably the same age as……but no…. she could no longer handle that pain….. if only he would…..


Whew! She almost caught me! Carlos grimaced as he ducked behind the shed. Peeking around the corner he chose his moment to make a mad dash for the peach tree – then up he scampered, as agile as a little monkey. He found his ‘spot’ and leaned against the thick branch as he dove into the peaches he held in each hand. Slowing down, he closed his eyes and feasted on the clean, fragrant breezes that cleansed his lungs from the putrid offenses of the night.

“I wish I could live up here…forever.” he sighed hopelessly with all his childish heart.

Then suddenly - Hey! The lock’s not on the shed! Maybe there’s something I can sell in there!

He peeked between branches to check the uncovered window. Carlos once again made a mad dash – making sure he closed the door behind him.

Light from the sunroof brightened the small space. A cot was the first thing he noticed – and a blanket. Scratching his crusty scalp as he looked around, he was drawn to the bottles of water and dried beef on the shelf – then to the plastic bag in the corner. Curiosity won out – Carlos plopped on the floor as one by one he took out clean, warm clothes and a pair of play shoes. Innocence didn’t hesitate to shed the rags of the sewer.

On his way now to the cot, he felt the weight of the world lifted from his young shoulders…. he was deep down tired. He couldn’t help but first savor the flavors of such bounty before wrapping himself in the warm blanket and laying down his head. Carlos’ last thought was a prayer he barely remembered….. “Now I lay me down to sleep”……but no…..that hurt too much.…. if only I could……


Juanita was peeking too, through the side curtains, hoping he would notice the lock missing from the shed. She was so thankful she hadn’t cut down that tree! Now she prayed for the impossible, from the God of all things possible. Please show me what to do!

But silence, and the ticking of the clock were her only answers.

She plopped down at the kitchen table, finally releasing the pain and sorrow this child resurrected by his presence. “Please have mercy on my confused, depressed daughter, and my precious grandbaby she took away – it’s been years God .….. my Rosita ….my Carlos. May they find me – please.”

Her opened Bible spoke from Psalms 142* – Words carefully chosen by her Father “….no one is concerned for me, I have no refuge, no one cares for my life….for I am in desperate need….rescue me….”

On her way now to the shed, she felt the weight of the world lifted from her troubled shoulders…. she was deep down ready – there was a desperate child waiting to be rescued.


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This article has been read 1258 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan10/17/05
Very sweet.
darlene hight10/17/05
Very compelling! Left me wanting to know more and that would be a good thing :)
Cyndie Odya-Weis10/17/05
I very much enjoyed this. We MUST remember the millions of little ones who go to bed hungry every night. This was a gentle reminder.
Beth Muehlhausen10/17/05
Wow! I agree, I want to know what happened next! Well done and GRIPPING. Seems you successfully packed a lot of depth into 750 words. :-)
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/17/05
I got goosebumps when the lady said the name Carlos. Well done!!
Lynda Lee Schab 10/17/05
I love this kind of story, especially one that involve the undeniable hand of God (I guess I could have just said, "miracle story" :-)) Wonderful, progressive story-telling. Kept me hanging on til the end. I'd also love to hear "the rest of the story". But the ending leaves something to the imagination, which is always a good thing too.
Excellent writing!
Blessings, Lynda
Helga Doermer10/17/05
A creative woman, a brave child. It sounds like the beginning of a longer tale.
Sandra Petersen 10/18/05
This is one of the best I have read so far! Very skillful story-weaving! AZ far too common event from many parts of the world...the desparation of children left to fend for themselves. Stirs my heart to desire to reach out to them!
janet rubin10/18/05
Drew me right in and kept me reading. Very good.
Joanne Malley10/19/05
Heartwrenching to read, but written with tightly-woven craftsmanship! Too sad that this may be the hardship of some young ones; lucky some are lifted from their fate and their hardship.
Suzanne R10/20/05
Powerful ... especially as the end suggests that the 'If only' just might come about! Beautiful writing.
Laurie Glass 10/20/05
Wow. This story held my attention throughout. Your words painted pictures. Well done.
Linda Watson Owen10/20/05
Incredibly stirring and inspiring! Such a bittersweet story of the 'lost and found'!
Anita Neuman10/20/05
A powerful and well-written story. I love the repetition of words: deep down tired, and deep down ready. Great job!
Garnet Miller 10/20/05
If only I could see what happened when she went to the shed. Does she find out that Carlos has found his way to her? What a good story. God is sooo wonderful.
Debbie Sickler10/20/05
I love how you switched from one pov to the other, weaving the two stories into one. Great job!
Karen Ward10/21/05
Powerful, well written, and challenging. Thank you. :) Karen
Brandi Roberts10/21/05
Wow Pat! This is awesome! Gave me goosebumps!
J. C. Lamont10/21/05
Very sweet. I was almost dissapointed it was the grandson. I don't know...i guess cuz i thought he and the daughter were dead at first and that she was rescuing someone who really had noone. But anyway, great job.
Doreen Hammond10/21/05
I loved this story! This could turn into something much more. Good Job!
terri tiffany10/23/05
This was a tear jerker!! Your use of descriptive phrases worked so well! And the verse at the end was perfect!!
Deborah Porter 10/24/05
Pat, this was a very good story and I just wanted to stop by and let you know that you ranked 11th in the Level 3 list, and 19th overall (out of 135 entries). So well done! The competition on Level 3 was pretty fierce, but overall there really wasn't much separating the entries in the top 30. Keep up the great writing. Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)

Shari Armstrong 03/16/06
Glad I came back to read this :) I enjoyed your current entry even more, now that I see the tie in to this one! Well done (having lock in both -perfect set up :)
Virginia Gorg03/17/06
Reading your current entry was intriguing, but now going back for the "history" makes it even better. Curiousity will keep me reading - I wonder if Carlos in the shed is her grandson. Only you know the answer. Keep writing!
Caitlynn Lowe03/27/06
I'm certainly glad that I went back after reading your 'Lock' story to track down this entry! It was a very interesting read, and it helped put the other story in perspective for me a little.