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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Threefold Cord (04/12/12)

TITLE: Keep Your Buttons Tight
By annie keys


The button on my old red coat is driving me crazy, hanging by a thread; head down like it’s watching for a good place to jump off. Honestly, I’ve sewn it back on my coat so many times that I’ve lost track of counting! And, now, here I sit, on the grumbling old greyhound bus, hoping the stupid button didn’t fall off --again.

I’d had this problem since childhood, my coat buttons are always falling off. Most the days of my youth, I’d greeted my Mom with, “The button fell off my coat AGAIN.” Mom had always shook her head and admonished me that if I’d just listen to her directions to use three strands of thread to sew it back on this time instead of the customary two, there would be no more issue with missing buttons.

What she said made no sense at all. If the metal shank on the button could cut its way through one or two threads, why would a third matter? Wouldn’t the shank simply cut through that thread as well? But, she’d always insisted the “three strand thing” would work.

Now, years passed childhood, my button and my heart dangled by a thread. I sat toying with the button crying as the mile markers rushed by my window. Enough, I’d simply had enough of fussing, empty promises and brokenness. I’d tried, for months, no let’s be honest, years, to live with Ben. Life had been good for the first few years; what had changed?

My head ached almost as much as my heart; when DID things start to fall apart? Angrily I wiped my tears with the back of my hand. The time for crying was over; it was time for action! Strangely, I thought the act of leaving would bring release. Instead, I felt even more trapped in my escape than I had in my assumed captivity.

Earlier today when I closed the door and left the house key under the mat, I intended not to return. Ben was out of town on business, by the time he got back to the empty house, I would be far away. I’d not left a note; he could figure it out himself.

My mom wasn’t expecting me, I probably should have called her and at least let her know that I’d left Ben and was heading to her house. I couldn’t stay at Ben’s house anymore, yet, I knew I wouldn’t be able to return to my child hood and “fit” again either. Odd, I just noticed that I’d called “our home”, “Ben’s house.” When had I started thinking of it that way? Certainly it was long before I locked the door behind me this morning.

How had Dad and Mom stayed married for so many years? Living with Daddy couldn’t have been easy; he was so strong willed! Musing, I smiled; mom had always said I was just like my Dad. When HAD things started to unravel with Ben? When we first married, we were so in love; we did everything as a couple; we even taught a Sunday school class together.
Church, now, I can’t even remember the last time Ben and I went to church together.

First, Ben had stopped going, he had so much work to do; Sunday was the only time he had to catch up. Then, in time, I too stopped going to church. I’d never considered myself to be a religious person anyway. My mom had always talked about how Christianity wasn’t a religion, it was a relationship. Mom always made a “Jesus connection” to everything.

As I’d watched her sew, she’d even told me that anchoring a button with three threads instead of two was like making Jesus part of your home. The sharp edges of life can make the fragile threads of relationship fray and fall apart. But, when you add that “Jesus thread;” the buttons hold tight. As I wiped a tear, the dangling coat button dropped off onto my lap in silent reference.

Maybe mom was right after all? Perhaps I should, finally, sew the button on my coat as per her instructions. And, maybe that’s what was wrong with Ben and me; we’d never used that Jesus thread to anchor our marriage. Maybe we were losing our buttons? I sputtered through my tears and stifled a giggle.

Pulling out my cell phone, I texted Ben, “Spending the weekend with Mom; she’s going to tell me how to keep my buttons tight.”

(word count 750, fiction)

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This article has been read 383 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/19/12
I really enjoyed this piece and could relate to it in so many ways. First, I can't sew a button to save my life. I also know how hard marriage can be.

The only thing I might suggest is to save exclamation points for dialog and not to use all caps to express your point. Instead use "salsa words" to do your exclaiming.

I think you did an outstanding job of writing on topic. This wasn't an easy topic to master this week but you did while delivering a strong message.

Genia Gilbert04/19/12
I loved your title as I read through to the end of the story. It makes a great point, and certainly could be true.
C D Swanson 04/20/12
Very creative story. I really enjoyed it...it made me smile and gave me pause to reflect. Nicely done.

God Bless~
Hiram Claudio04/20/12
This was wonderful! I loved how the story easily flowed and was filled with visual insights into the MC's emotional journey. The solid wisdom it taught was conveyed so gently yet with power. And ... I loved the ending (but I always do like happy ones). Excellent piece!
Leola Ogle 04/20/12
This story portrays a great message. I love the reference to buttons, and the MC as a child, always pooping the buttons off her coat. Good job. God bless!
Dannie Hawley 04/21/12
This was such a cleverly written article with a powerful message presented in a readable way. I hope I can remember it for a long time. My mother is a lovely person and loved my father with all of her heart, but, wow, what a nag she could be sometimes. Finally, one day when i was sik of her nagging him, I asked Dad to take a walk with me. "How can you stand her nagging, Dad?" His answer, "Oh, Honey, your mother has so many good qualities, I just don't think about the rest." The key to their 59 years together. Thanks for this memory your beautifully done article brought back to me this morning.
Helen Curtis04/21/12
This is a delightful and powerful story. Your descriptions are beautiful, and I loved the opening line. You grabbed my attention right from the start and had me on the edge of my chair the whole way through.

This reminds me of how God writes beautiful themes through our lives; the lost buttons of a little girl's jacket were the tool of God's rescue many years later. And what a superbly wise lesson this is for all of us, in all of our relationships, to keep Jesus in the mix! You definitely hit the topic spot-on. Really well done.
Edmond Ng 04/22/12
A nicely written piece and an interesting read. I like the message within your story and the way you put it across to your readers. Excellent job!
Graham Insley04/22/12
A good opening which became an easy to read story from begining to end. I like it when 'hope' creeps over the windowsill and catches the attention. You portrayed that well.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/22/12
Your analogy of three threads for buttons and marriage was perfect for this very well written story.
Joe Moreland04/22/12
Wow, what a great submission. I can't think of one I've read this that was more compelling. The distance you put between the buttons of your MC's childhood and the current marriage problems revealed so much about her lifelong difficulty with grasping this concept. I especially loved how you let us witness he thougt process in uncovering the missing strand from their marriage and we got to witness that "a-ha" moment in her life. What a great job you did with this story and this topic. Thanks!
Allison Egley 04/22/12
This is cute.

Try to limit !'s to dialogue. Also, use of all caps should be rare. Italics is a better way to emphasize a single word.

I loved the line about the button looking for a place to jump off. :)
Donna Wilcher04/22/12
This was a wonderfully creative way to introduce the Threefold Cord topic!

I literally Laughed Out Loud, when you described the button head down, looking for a place to fall! Hilarious!

Great ending!

Laury Hubrich 04/22/12
I really like how you brought your button analogy together with marriage. Great job. I'm so glad it ended on a good note too;)
Laura Hawbaker04/23/12
Well written story. I like how you showed the MC's thoughts, remembering Mom's advice and willingness to try again. Loved the double meaning in the ending!
Allen Povenmire 04/25/12
I was taken in by concern for the mc, and began to instantly relate to her spiritual relationship issues. So often we practice a religion and not a relationship with the Father. Your article served as a good reminder. Thanks.
C D Swanson 04/26/12
Congrats! :) God Bless~