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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Don’t Look Back (04/19/12)

TITLE: Banishing the Ogre
By Joy Bach


She lived with fear … all day … and every night … fear of the known. There was an ogre that was out to get her … who watched her every move. She never knew just when it might appear, but she had to stay ready.

The fight or flight syndrome never left her.

Morning light … and before she even opened her eyes … she could feel its presence. As she readied herself for the day … each movement required her undivided focus. Was she walking too heavily across the floor? If the family living downstairs complained about her noise … there would be consequences.

Eyes cast downward; she silently ate the oatmeal and burnt toast placed in front of her. More silence as she gathered her school books and moved cautiously toward the door. So far … so good. But the day stretched out before her … long and tiring. There would be no rest this day … or any day … for her exhausted spirit. The ogre was everywhere … even at school.

She observed the other kids … laughing and shoving … talking and playing games. Apparently they didn’t care they were being watched. What would that feel like … to be unafraid of punishment? As that thought flitted through her mind, she frantically glanced around. Where was it?

Was it waiting until school was over to show itself?

Her steps were slow and methodical as she headed home. Would it be tonight … or would she be safe one more day? The relentless tension in her body became even more severe the closer she got … her stomach in painful spasms. Evenings were the very hardest.

Constantly trying to be perfect was utterly exhausting.

Carefully she placed her school books on the table … their one and only table … where she would have to do her homework. But she hadn’t been cautious enough.

“It’s a sin to be upset and bang your books on the table like that. You’ll have to go to the altar on Sunday and confess that sin.” The words or else hung in the air.

When would the ogre strike?

Bedtime … and she eased herself onto her side of the bed. The other side was reserved for her mother as they shared their one and only bed. But sleep was elusive and restless. The ever-present ogre waited for her to slip up even now.

Was there no way to banish the ogre?

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This article has been read 372 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Curtis04/26/12
This is very powerful and full of tension. I would have liked to read more, to see a bit more clearly what/who the ogre was, and why the MC was so afraid. Well done.
C D Swanson 04/27/12
Open to interpretation, interesting, and well written. I felt the "fear" of the little girl, my heart went out to her. Perhaps she was an abused child, or perhaps she was mentally ill? Or even still, maybe she was abandoned. When one wonders about possibilities, it is the sign of a good writer.

This story had a ring of authenticity...I pray it wasn't a true story, but if it were I pray the Lord helped this little child.

God Bless~
annie keys04/27/12
This is a powerfully moving story. The fear, the anxiety and suffering of the girl is actually tangible. The story leaves the reader tense, watching for the monster to be revealed then banished.

I felt robbed by the ending; there was no closure,not even a hint of resolution for the MC's dilema. My parents were foster parents, the 'safe place' where abused children were brought to hide when taken from abusive homes in the middle of the night.

This story crushed me, I did not like the way you left the reader's heart bleeding. My heart hopes this was a fiction and not a biography.

Hiram Claudio04/30/12
Very well done! I guess since there was so much abstract that I, for a time while reading, thought the ogre might be something more metaphorical ... like 'perfection' or the pursuit of it (I could be over thiking it). But i too enjoyed the tension you created and also wished for a longer story (but understand the constraints of 750 words).

But it flowed SO nicely and the MC gripped you right from the beginning.
Allen Povenmire 05/02/12
I too wanted closure, but rereading your piece, I started providing possible answers in my head. Simultaneously disturbing and gripping. Left me wanting more.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/03/12
Wow what a powerful story. I could feel the MC's pain. You managed to capture a torn and broken child and brought her to life with your words. At first, I thought the ellipses were a bit distracting but as I let the story sink in I gained a greater respect for them. How sad to be a child who constantly has to pause and look over her shoulder. Brilliant piece of writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/03/12
Congratulations for ranking 12th in level three!