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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Rich (04/26/12)

TITLE: Lilacs for Linda
By PamFord Davis


The director begins to rant, “Okay, let’s go through this again. You have squandered your riches. Men no longer find you attractive. Marlow, proprietor of the Lucky Horseshoe Saloon is eying voluptuous younger women. Customers wince each time the curtain opens as you begin to sing a number. You are desperate. You knock on the office door and prepare to beg Marlow, your old sweetheart, to keep you on. Got it?”

“Yes, I’m ready.”

“Alright, not asking you for a Sarah Bernhardt. Just do the scene, so we can all go home!”

“All quiet on the set, quiet on the set! Action!”

Lord, please don’t let me foul this up.

I saunter across the bar room floor. Cowhands are playing poker, others drink dregs from shot-glasses; several make time with painted-face ladies. Sounds of meaningless chatter and spinning roulette wheels fill my ears as I pass the bar. My stiffest competition, leaning against a brass railing, sneers as I reach past her to rap on Marlow’s door. “Come in.” The scent of trailing cheap lilac perfume turns my stomach, as I turn the glass knob.

Rich and famous, I once named my price when offered leading roles, mingled with the jet set and hired auditors to play watchdog over accountants. Now, I jump at the chance to land a walk-on part.

Entering the office, I see the leading man light a $10-cigar and straighten his diamond stickpin on his lapel. He glances in my direction, sarcastically saying, “Belle, I don’t have time for another one of your sob stories. We’re through; sure we had some fun in the old days, but…”

That’s my cue.

I face him unflinching, as if clinging to scraps of dignity.

“I know it’s over. I’m just asking you to keep me on until I can find another position.”

Sounds like a conversation I had with my last theatrical agent.

Marlow’s contrived laughter echoes in the sound booth.

“Position? Position? The only position anyone would offer you is cleaning lady!”

That’s my final cue.

“I gave you the best years of my life!” I take a quick breath.

“Cut! That’s a wrap!”

Stage managers shut down spotlights, prop men gather tools of their trade; cast members begin to filter out and I feel a tap on my shoulder. Turning, I see a warm smile on the face of Savannah, the aspiring assistant director. She reaches for my clammy hand; hurriedly I first rub it briskly across my velvet costume. Chattering, she introduces herself, and then encourages me to join her for a cup of coffee. I need something to steady my nerves and gladly accept her offer.

Dreamy eyed, she shares her story of attending a state college and majoring in drama. Taking a gamble, she moved from Iowa to Hollywood. In the midst of a sentence she falls silent, looks me in the eye and says, “Ms. Hayes; I’ve seen every movie you starred in, several more than once. I saw you on Broadway too, in “Lilacs for Linda.”

My memories of that leading role and the evening’s earlier stench of lilac toilet water are ironic.

She continues with admiration and tact. “I’ve wondered why I haven’t seen you in any starring roles lately. I’m sure, for a lady of your rare talent, quality scripts are hard to find these days.” I smile with a facade as easy to detect as those of any building used for studio street scenes. What’s the use in pretending? There are still a few rags-to-riches stories in tinsel town; yet, producers fill file-thirteen with crumpled phone messages from riches-to-rags castaways.

I remove the mask of hypocrisy and self-deception. “You read the tabloids; I’m washed-up, finished! If I hadn’t received this bit part, I’d be kicked out of my dingy apartment!” I play with my linen napkin on the table, folding and unfolding it, as I try to avoid eye contact. The break in our conversation is deafening, and I begin to formulate an excuse to leave.

“Ms. Hayes, if there is any way I can be of help…”

I interrupted. “Savannah, you’re heaven sent. I had dreams too. All I cared about was Hollywood, a talent-agent discovering me, transforming me into a movie star, making me rich and famous! Me, me, me! I’m only an aging woman playing a part. I’ve had my name up in lights, and cruised Hollywood and Vine in chauffeur driven limousines. Tomorrow, I’ll pawn my jewelry and buy a bus ticket back to Ithaca.”

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This article has been read 436 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marina Rojas05/03/12
This story is a reminder of how we take on roles in our real lives, pretending, hoping, really, to be something that we're not...in this woman's search for earthly riches, her disappointment comes through in droves....really good writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/03/12
I really enjoyed this. I picked up on the conflict right away. Part of me ached for her and part of me felt you blew it. Upon closer scrutiny, I realized I have that opinion of many actors. It's easy to forget they are mere mortals in need of Jesus as much as any of us. This was a fresh take on the topic and I enjoyed it beginning to end.
Earl G Donaldson05/03/12
Very entertaining read. I loved the drama.
Dannie Hawley 05/04/12
Nicely done. I loved the drama and the truth presented. Riches are so fleeting. The MC was so rich and now she just hopes to pay her rent! Makes me glad that my "riches" come from Christ Who will never leave me!
C D Swanson 05/04/12
Wow this was so well written, almost like a screenplay. I could see this as a top broadway play, or on the big screen.

I loved the ending with her heading back to Ithaca. great job. God Bless~
patti baumhower05/05/12
I thought your entry was intriguing...and a story I would like to continue to read...what caused her fall?...what did she give up to get?...does she give up, or try again?...find a different new success?...like I said intriguing...will be watching...
Good luck with it.
Genia Gilbert05/06/12
I enjoyed reading this; it held my interest throughout. The picture I get is that riches in the world's eyes are fleeting at best, and never enough. God's on the other hand, are everlasting and just get better and better.
Hiram Claudio05/07/12
I enjoyed this very much and agree with others that the inner conflict in the MC grabbed me from the beginning. I too look forward to hearing more about this MC as the ending was a bit abrupt for me ... it left me wanting more - but that's a good thing! Wonderful work!
Leola Ogle 05/08/12
This was such a good reminder of how chasing fame and fortune are fleeting, that everyone needs Jesus and how the outer appearance isn't always telling a true story. Well written. God bless!
Edmond Ng 05/10/12
A very well written piece with excellent imagery. I was able to picture the scenes and feel along with the MC. The entire story was smooth and capturing, drawing in your readers from start to the end and wanting more. Great job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/14/12
Congratulations for ranking 9th in level three!
Jeanne E Webster 05/14/12
A screenplay written like a pro! Nicely arranged and pops with realism. The reader feels like he is looking over the MC's shoulder. Your writing talent continues to grow in leaps and bounds! (Heads up on a few punctuation slips.)