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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Weary (05/03/12)

TITLE: Warring Against Weariness
By Lillian Rhoades


Warring Against Weariness

Determined to watch fatigue defeated and the war against weariness won, I tried to choose a front line spot near the finish line. One could not witness victory from the starting point.

I was not prepared for the crushing weight of bodies that pushed, shifted, and strained against me like fierce, relentless waves against a ship’s bow. Still, nothing moved me; a rather exacting price to pay, but worth it. Although I grew tired of trying to protect my turf, for two hours I stood my ground, shifting my body in harmony with the persistent pressures behind me, and trying to avoid the fence that separated the throngs from the race track, but also threatened to eviscerate me.

Grabbing hold of the fence with both hands, I leaned backward, feet apart, uncaring of whom I pushed back. Occasionally, I could feel the skin crawl on the back of my neck from the hot air of someone’s breath, but that didn’t matter. When the race ended, although worn down by the effort, I could leave with entrails intact.

Finally, in the distance, multiple figures appeared on the horizon, moving in concert. It took only a matter of minutes before the first few contenders reached within yards of the finish line. From where I stood, I could see the ripple of muscles strained to the limit. Skin glistened like early morning dew on fresh cut grass, chests expanded and retracted in defiance of exhaustion, and beads of moisture fell unrestrained on faces set like flint and eyeing the goal.

Suddenly, as if propelled by some unseen force, two of the runners pushed past the remaining front-runners with feet barely touching the ground. The crowd tried to inch forward, an impossible task that only those of us who stood in the front line knew all too well. Once again, I pushed back against hot breath, but this time a pair of small feet dangled from the shoulders of an adult and rested on my shoulders. With a slight turn of my head and a quick glance, I could see that father and son seemed oblivious to the person standing in front of them.

I turned back just in time to see one runner abruptly sprint past his rival like a cheetah that has his prey in full view. The crowd spoke with one deafening voice, and then exploded into a thunderclap as the champion crossed the line.

My front row view did not allow for the luxury of being among the first to leave. So I waited while the crowd worked its way towards the exits. Other spectators stood by watching runners who knew the race was over, but kept running nevertheless.

I hardly noticed the young man next to me until he tapped my shoulder.

‘You know someone who’s running in the race?’ he asked.


‘Well, I do,’ he beamed, ‘I’m waiting for him to finish.’

I didn’t know what else to say, but I didn’t have to know before he continued.

‘He’ll be along soon, probably the last one.’

I stood in awkward silence wondering why anyone would be so elated over a last place finish. By now, the last of spectators were gone, leaving just the two of us. I felt compelled to wait. While we waited, he pulled out a folding chair, opened it, adjusted the arms, but did not sit down.

‘He’ll need this.’

Again, we stood in silence.

‘Are you sure the person you’re waiting for ran in this race?’ I asked in as kindly a voice as I could summon.

‘Oh, yes,’ he assured me.

Within minutes, the beaming young man began to jump up and down.

‘There he is, there he is!’

I trained my eyes on a lone figure walking wearily towards us; his white hair glistened in the late afternoon sun. Instinctively, I felt the need to help him, and said so.

‘Oh, no,’ cautioned the young man. ‘He would not want that.’

As the old man slowly inched towards us, the young man ran with the chair to where the winner had crossed the finish line and set it down. Soon after, the old man gave a final shuffle, grabbed the arms of the chair and sat down.

With love in his eyes, he panted heavily, ‘Thanks Grandson, I could use this.’

For the third time today, fatigue had been defeated and the war against weariness won. It was time to head home.

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This article has been read 745 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Wilcher05/10/12
Absolutely superb! Outstanding work!

Great job of showing and not telling. Every word seemed to be chosen perfectly, for its full impact!

I so admired the Grandson's loyalty to his beloved Grandpa, something not seen often now days...what a shame.

Couldn't find a thing I could use red ink on!

Truly Masters Level writing!
Theresa Santy 05/10/12
Loved your choice of words, so descriptive, and intense. I could feel the onslaught of assault. I felt like I was there, being pushed by the mob, right along with the MC.

Danielle King 05/11/12
Excellent writing. Every word measured for effect. I was right there in the stadium with your MC. And thankfully not in the race!
C D Swanson 05/11/12
Beautifully written. Powerful and moving...I loved the dedication and love between grandparent and grandchild.

Thank you. God Bless~
Ellen Carr 05/11/12
Well done! This was gripping, keeping me wondering how it would end. Well written and a good story.
Joe Moreland05/12/12
Excellent example of skillful storytelling. I felt as though I was witnessing the entire episode, rather than reading it. Great job!
Ada Nett05/14/12
Loved how your words flowed and painted the scene in my mind as I read it. Well-done.
Glynis Becker05/15/12
I was cheering Grandpa on too! What a wonderful image of stamina and perseverance overcoming weariness. Beautiful!
Laury Hubrich 05/15/12
I guessed wrong. Thought the runner was going to have a disability. Good job:)
lynn gipson 05/15/12
extraordinary, excellent, wonderful....I love this. God Bless you for your beautiful writing.
Graham Insley05/16/12
A remarkable story told in a remarkable way. I learned a lot here today and thank you for the lessons as well as the read.
Amanda Brogan05/16/12
If they were judging based on determination and effort, I'm sure the old man would have been a top winner. :) And his grandson was a winner for believing in him ...

Nice job!
Helen Curtis05/16/12
I love these kinds of stories, and you presented a wonderful tale. Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/17/12
This is a delightful story. I had a slightly difficult time in the beginning, I'm not sure why exactly but I wanted to picture the MC running the race instead of watching it, even though I knew otherwise. The ending gripped my heart. I could picture it so easily, the crowd gone, bits of debris on the ground. Most of all I could feel the love and respect brimming over.
Amanda Brogan05/17/12
Congrats on your win! Cheering for you. :)
Theresa Santy 05/17/12
Congratulations, Lillian!
C D Swanson 05/17/12
Congratulations. God bless~
Donna Wilcher05/17/12
Geoffrey johnstone05/31/12
This is so good I need to write a sermon to do justice to the illustration.

Well written. Well thought out. Thank you for sharing it.