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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Employment (01/26/12)

TITLE: I Have a Job
By Francy Judge


I have a job. Papa used to say he’d be stuck with me forever on account of me going to special schools and that I’d never get a real job to support myself. He was wrong for two reasons:

1)Papa left before he could be stuck with me forever.
2)I have a job.

Every morning my alarm clock beeps like a car horn at 7:02 AM. I press the sleep button one time and get up at 7:07. I like the number seven since Mama told me God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. And I like to rest. She went to rest in heaven ten years ago when she had the cancer problem. That’s why I live here in this yellow house with green shutters and three floors for nine people and a back apartment for Gary and Melissa to live and manage us.

I share my room with Jason who smells like hot dogs since that’s all he eats.

It’s 7:28, a multiple of seven, so I am tying my tie in the mirror. I always wear the green tie with gold triangles and sing the tie rhyme Mama taught me...bunny runs around the tree, jumps through the hole and looks at me.

Jason doesn’t go to work. He goes to school to put shapes together. He likes the triangles on my tie. I work at Madison’s cafeteria. A yellow mini-bus picks me up at 8:25 AM. Ernie, the driver with long braids, says, “How’s my man Steve doin this fine mornin?”

I say, “Good.” Unless he’s late. Then I don’t answer.

At Madison’s Cafeteria, I roll silverware into napkins for three hours and seven minutes. Thirty-five minutes for lunch. And sixty-three minutes sorting the clean silverware.

My stomach starts to growl at 11:30. I eat my Skippy peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread cut in triangles at 12:07 and drink chocolate milk with a bendy straw.

I like rolling silverware. They clink together like the butterfly wind chimes Mama hung back home.

I can see my reflection upside down on the spoon...I see Walter’s face too, so I swing my elbow into his stomach.

“Ugh! What was that for?”

“Don’t sneak up on me. That’s rude.”

“True, but elbowing a guy’s stomach wouldn’t be called polite neither.” Walter is the janitor at the cafeteria. We are alike in three ways:

1)He says his dad left when he was little.
2)He works at Madison’s cafeteria.
3)He believes in God.

We are different in three ways:

1)I don’t eat fish.
2)He doesn’t eat Skippy peanut butter.
3)He doesn’t like working at the cafeteria. He’s saving to buy his own restaurant someday.

Walter sings while he mops the floors so that he doesn’t think about mopping floors. He tells me God has a plan for our lives. I try to picture His plan like the instructions for my model cars, but I don’t see it.

I don’t understand people sometimes, but Walter says God always understands me.


It’s 8:32. The bus is not here. I bang my head against the window until it hurts. The glass is cold on my cheek as I strain to see the end of Washington Street.

Melissa’s slippers swoosh as she shuffles closer. “Steve, what are you doing?”

“I’m waiting for the bus. Got to go to work now. ”

“Remember what I told you last Friday?”

“You said they cut back. I can’t work anymore. But I want to work. I’m wearing my green tie, my belt and deodorant.”

“I know, they laid off other workers too.”

“Who’s going to roll the silverware?”

“I don’t know. You could go back to bed.”

“No, I’ll wait. They might change their minds.”


For six days, I dress in my tie and wait for the bus. I rest on the seventh day and give up. I don’t like staying at the home during the day, so when Melissa says I can go to the center to work, I say okay.

I stick labels on pickle jars. The center smells like dirty diapers. Is this the plan Walter meant?


After five years at the center, I sing my tie rhyme and hear the phone ring. Melissa’s slippers swoosh down the hall.

“Steve, Walter’s on the phone...wants to offer you a job.”

“Hello? Yes, I would.”

I’m going to work at Walter’s Main Street Cafe. He says I can roll silverware.

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This article has been read 1178 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Terry R A Eissfeldt 02/02/12
So true to life. Wonderful voice. Kept seeing Dustin Hoffman in my mind's eye!
Rosamund Bunney02/02/12
I'm quite new to this site and finding my way round but this is the best piece of writing I have read on here so far. I have an autistic daughter and this might have been her voice (ok I know the protagonist is male, but so many things chimed). An excellent entry.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/02/12
Oh I just love this. You painted such a perfect picture. The dialog was so authentic. I thought the MC was female so my eyes bulged when he announced Jason as his roommate, but you clarified it with the tie. This was such a clever and fresh way to showcase the topic. I really liked the hidden message that so much of who we are is tied to our employment. I know when my illness made me stop working it really hit my self-esteem hard. The ending was great. I like how Walter's dream came true but not right away, only after years of hard work.
C D Swanson 02/03/12
Excellent it was as if I was watching the entire event before my very eyes. It is a compliment to writers when a reader is engaged so deeply with the MC-that it feels as if it is happening at the very moment. Congratulations - you did that for this reader!

I LOVED this entry.
God Bless you for this human story that touched my heart so many times, and once again!

Michael Throne02/09/12
Great writing! I loved the voice and the flow of the story. I loved the MC's asides ("I say, 'Good.' Unless he's late. Then I don't answer.") So real! This is a wonderful story!
Glynis Becker02/09/12
A very well-deserved win! This story is beautiful and touching and authentic. I loved everything about it.
Carol Penhorwood 02/09/12
Absolutely deserving of first place! Excellent writing!
Danielle King 02/09/12
This is excellent writing. I have two sons on the Autistic Spectrum and the detail in your writing is so characteristic and convincing. I was hooked from beginning to end. A well deserved win!
Beth LaBuff 02/09/12
This is a little bit heart-breaking, a lot of poignancy, and filled with hope. Great story, wonderful writing. Congrats on your 1st place awards!!
Tracy Nunes 02/09/12
Congratulations on your first place win! Wonderful!
Melinda Melton 02/09/12
Wonderful story. This gave me goosebumps. Congratulations on your 1st place!
marcella franseen02/09/12
Congratulations! A BEAUTIFUL piece of writing. Loved every line!
Eliza Evans 02/09/12
Very nice and a great take on the topic. One suggestion...I thought Steve was a girl at first. It's best to establish gender early on.

Hearty Congratulations!
Sydney Avey02/09/12
A heartfelt story that depicts clearly how human dignity is preserved when we are allowed to work, as God intended. Well done.
Linda Goergen02/09/12
Congratulations on your well deserved first place win! This story was absolutely amazing...and such a reminder that the handicapped want to have that feel of self worth too, that doing a job well brings. Applause on this!!
Joy Chitsey02/09/12
Great job. Very touching. Wonderful job painting a picture and the emotions of the MC.
Catrina Bradley 02/09/12
I love love love this story!!! Congrats!!!
Charla Diehl 02/10/12
Wonderful piece depicting a slice of life for someone who is challenged. I also felt like each scene was unfolding before me as I read this very deserving winning entry. Great job with the dialog, your descriptions, and everything in between.
C D Swanson 02/10/12
Congrats! God bless~
Amy Michelle Wiley 02/10/12
Wow, amazing story. You did perfectly with the characterization and giving us just enough details but not too many. I laughed out loud at the no "good" if the bus was late. Stellar entry.