Home Read What's New Join
My Account Login

Read Our Devotional             2016 Opportunities to be Published             Detailed Navigation

The HOME for Christian writers! The Home for Christian Writers!
The Official Writing Challenge



how it works
submission rules
guidelines for
choosing a level


submit your entry
read current entries
read past entries
challenge winners

Our Daily Devotional HERE
Place it on your site or
receive it daily by email.



how it works   Submit

Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Holiday (04/05/12)

TITLE: Niklas' Friend Finn
By Leola Ogle


Six-year-old Niklas wiped his eyes and sniffled. He had been pouring out his misery to his only friend, Finn. Mama and Papa didn’t like it that he was friends with Finn. “Foolishness,” Mama would say.

Papa’d wag his head. “It’s unnatural for Finn to stand there while the boy talks to him. And the way he follows Niklas around! I don’t like it,” Papa said.

Although Emilie and Otto were kind parents, they had no time for fun or frivolity for a child born in their later years. They had immigrated to America from Germany in 1840 as newlyweds. Emilie was nineteen and Otto was twenty-five. They settled in a small community in Pennsylvania and developed a prosperous farm. As the years passed, their hopes of having children died, so imagine their surprise when Emilie discovered at forty-nine that she would be a mother. Their lives had settled into a comfortable, although mundane, routine and now after all these years, a baby. Quite a life adjustment for Otto and Emilie!

Despite being lovingly cared for, Niklas was a lonely, introverted child. He had no playmates or toys except those he created. On their trips into town when Mama sold eggs and milk, and Papa sold produce, Niklas looked with longing at the toys in the mercantile.

One day Mama bartered extra eggs with Mr. Johnson, owner of the mercantile, in exchange for a shiny red truck for Niklas. “Mama, thank you!” he exclaimed, hugging the truck to his chest, spinning the wheels with his fingers. He skipped out to the wagon where Papa was waiting.

Papa wasn’t pleased about the toy. “Emilie, take it back. Tis a waste.”

Niklas blinked back tears, knowing better than to say anything as Mama marched back into the mercantile, the shiny truck in her hand.

Holidays were only slightly different than ordinary days for Niklas. On Christmas, Papa read about baby Jesus from the big, heavy Bible-the one with all the family names in it. Niklas never got toys for gifts. He got practical things, clothes and shoes, paper and pencils for practicing his numbers and letters.

On Easter Papa read about Jesus’ death and resurrection, a story that made Niklas shiver. They never recognized Thanksgiving, though, since it was an American holiday- that is until this Thanksgiving.

Papa and Mama had invited the Olsens, their nearest neighbors, over for Thanksgiving dinner. Niklas overheard his parents talking about it.

“Niklas is having a hard time at school, Otto. He cries every morning. We’ve kept him too sheltered. He doesn’t know how to play with other children. He needs friends. The Olsen’s have two boys,” Emilie whispered one evening while Niklas practiced letters at the kitchen table.

“I’ll leave this to you then, Emilie. You can invite them,” Otto replied, his voice sounding old and tired.

Instead of gathering eggs like Mama instructed, it was this very thing that Niklas had been talking to Finn about this Saturday morning.

“Why must Mama invite the Olsens? John and Thomas are mean to me at school,” Niklas moaned to Finn. Finn watched him but didn’t respond. “At school the children laugh at me. They say my clothes are funny and I talk funny. I try to stay by myself. I don’t want to go to school anymore. Why can’t Mama teach me? Thanksgiving? I heard Papa say what that means.” Niklas’ voice quivered with unshed tears as he stared at Finn.

Finn cocked his head to one side before turning and walking away. “Finn,” Niklas called to the retreating back just as he heard Mama call him, “Niklas, where are those eggs?”

Niklas gathered the eggs and took them to Mama, as was his custom for Saturday mornings. Mama smiled. “It’ll be good to have company, yah, Niklas?” Mama asked in her thick German accent. It was Niklas’ thick accent that kids made fun of at school.

Niklas cried and begged Mama the night before Thanksgiving, but it was no use. The next day, the Olsens arrived, bringing pumpkin pies and homemade bread. Niklas hid behind Mama as much as he could.

At the table Niklas blushed when the Olsens laughed as the turkey was passed and he shook his head no. “I won’t eat it. Finn was my friend.”

But it was a good holiday despite Finn being eaten. John and Thomas became Niklas’ friends, and school was better.

And that Christmas Papa gave Niklas a shiny red truck carved from wood with buttons for wheels.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.

This article has been read 334 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 04/12/12
Interesting and different kind of story. It held my interest throughout, and I appreciated the MC's internal and external conflict. Good job with this.

God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/12/12
This is a darling tale. I suspected Finn was an animal but I was surprised when he showed up at dinner as the main entree'.

You packed a lot of story in the limit. I realize because of that you had to do more telling than showing. The parts were you were able to show painted a brilliant picture for me. I just wish there could have been even more showing. Perhaps the paragraph were you told about his parents could have been more showing like Mama worked in the kitchen preparing meals and cleaning the house. She also pulled weeds in the garden. That isn't a great example but it would have gotten the point across that she worked hard.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. I think the characters were wonderful. It's a great insight into the difference between what is really going on in a child's head and what parents think is happening. The ending may have been a tad abrupt but for the most part you wrapped things up an came full circle. I still love the fact that they ate poor Finn. I also think it's great that I didn't see it coming. I guess that5's one way to deal with not liking your child's friend! :)
Genia Gilbert04/12/12
Unique story with a surprise ending to me! But it was good to find Niklas able to enjoy holidays and "people friends."
marcella franseen04/13/12
I enjoyed this story very much. A dear tale. I feel you did a good job of developing the different characters in such few words!
Joe Moreland04/14/12
I like the story and felt it needed more space than the 750 words to tell it the way you wanted. You characters are great and I wish you could have spent some more time on each of them.

The one tiny criticism I have is the "shiny red truck". Your timeline of when Otto and Emilie came to the USA puts this story happening sometime in the 1880s, and I somehow don't think they had shiny red trucks yet. :) It's a petty thing to point out, but I recognized it from the first time it was mentioned and it distracted me the rest of the story. Otherwise, it was a great read and I was caught off guard by the ending of Finn, which made me laugh. Overall a nice job.
Laura Hawbaker04/16/12
Strong beginning paragraph. Hooked me right away! I agree with some of the other comments, this story needs more words than the 750 limit. I can see this as a children's book, however it might be a little too shocking to have Niklas's only friend eaten for Thanksgiving dinner!
Geoffrey johnstone04/18/12
It is obvious that 750 words is not enough space. I often have to sacrifice a back story or two and concentrate on one idea.

You did well. Keep writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/19/12
Congratulations for ranking 10th in level 3!