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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Repeat (01/24/13)

TITLE: The End
By Joe Moreland


Karen was knee deep in figuring out her taxes when she was abruptly, and startlingly, interrupted by a memo style notebook slamming down onto the table in front of her. Her gaze flew up to her stone-faced eleven year old daughter standing before her, arms crossed, lips pursed.

“Miranda, what's this?” She asked.

“That,” Miranda bit off, “is the end.”

“The end? The end of what?”

“The end of David.” Karen couldn't be sure, but she thought she saw some froth at the corner of her daughter's mouth.

A heavy sigh made it's way out of Karen's chest. Of course it was David; Miranda's thirteen year old, hair pulling, doll mutilating, candy stealing brother was at the center of most of the drama in his younger sister's life.

“What did he do now?” Karen resigned herself to hearing all of the sordid details.

“It doesn't matter. I'm done. It's over.”

“You keep saying that...what do you mean?”

“I mean I have met my Christian obligation to him, according to God.”

Karen's mom radar shot up with her eyebrows. “According to God?”

“Jesus actually.” Miranda stood firm, arms still crossed, and looked pointedly back to the notebook.

Karen gave her daughter a skeptical look and returned her gaze to the thing that had so abruptly disturbed her artful calculation of the family tax return. With some trepidation, she carefully lifted the cover and took a peek inside, and was met with...curiosity.

Tally marks filled the page. Four horizontal lines set off into a group by a fifth diagonal line. Like what a prisoner marks off on the wall of his cell to keep track of how many days he's been incarcerated. She turned to the next page. It, too, was filled with the tally marks. As was the next; and the next; and more pages that followed.

“What am I looking at?” Karen asked, and, just like that, Miranda's Bible plopped down in front of her on top of the memo book.

“Matthew 18:22!” Miranda punctuated her victory with a stubby index finger pointing out the verse of vindication.

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Karen looked at the notebook. “I'm going to take a wild guess and say that there are four hundred and ninety tally marks inside this notebook and the ink is not yet dry on the last one.”

Miranda puffed out her chest and huffed, “All I know is I'm done with him now.”

“I see. Of course dear.” Karen began flipping through the pages until she stopped somewhere in the middle and placed her thumb on one of the marks.

“Tell me about this one,” she asked.

Miranda bent over and studied the mark, confused.

“What do you mean?” She asked. “What's wrong with it?”

“I mean, what did David do to earn this black mark?”

“I don't know!”

“What about this one?” Karen's finger moved further down the page.

“How would I know?”

“Well then, you must know what this one was?” The finger stopped at number four-eighty-nine
“Ohhh!” It came out as a grunt of severe frustration.

“You mean to tell me you can't even remember the one that was the time before this one?”

“So what?”

“Just curious, that's all. Just seems funny to me that instead of all of these acts against you sitting deep down inside your guts, stirring up your anger, you've instead forgiven each one and now you can't even remember what they were. Yet, you stand here thinking, somehow, that Jesus' command to forgive was for the sake of your brother and not for you.”

There was a blessed moment of silence (as a parent you take them where you can get them), then an explosion of air burst from Karen's eleven year old daughter's mouth. With one quick motion she snatched up the notebook and stormed off.

“You grown-ups! Always twisting things around!” She murmured as she stomped off.

Karen smiled to herself as she turned back to her taxes.

“It never ends.”

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This article has been read 449 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 01/31/13
Oh, nicely done! I enjoyed this entire well written and thought provoking piece.

Thanks! God bless~
Cheryl Harrison02/01/13
Ha! Loved the characters and the lesson within. Good job!
Noel Mitaxa 02/01/13
A strong, challenge message coming through - without being laboured. Well done.

This could easily be adapted as a children's talk, without 'taxing' their patience.
Allison Egley 02/01/13
Oh this is great! I have a brother named David too. But I didn't keep any tally marks against him. (Hahaha... My OTHER brother's name is Mark. :D)
Doug Spurling 02/01/13
Loved it! Felt like watching an episode of 7th Heaven.
Beth LaBuff 02/01/13
This is a great illustration of the verse, and so perfect for the topic! I could see her with her notebook filled with hash marks. Everyone who grew up with a brother will be able to relate to this. Fun, endearing, and super message!
lynn gipson 02/02/13
Lovely story of a sister and her brother. It never ends, for sure, until they grow up and learn to appreciate one another. I enjoyed this so much, and excellent writing!
Bea Edwards 02/02/13
Classic family feud. Loved it, especially the line 'Karen's moms radar shot up with her eyebrows'- well written enjoyable dialogue.
Virgil Youngblood 02/02/13
Let's hear it for moms. Or, maybe, tally one for them. Definitely on topic and delightful to read.
Danielle King 02/03/13
Spot on topic, delightful and engaging with a lesson learned. Great stuff.
Carolyn Ancell02/04/13
I second Noel's comment that this could be made into a fun talk for kids. Maybe, instead of the storyteller providing the conclusion in a love telling, the storyteller could draw it out of the children? There could be some fun and profitable conclusuions.
Margaret Kearley 02/04/13
I love this! A brilliant and challenging story with a strong message too. Great characters who quickly draw you into the plot. Excellent.
Richard Hicks02/04/13
Loved this and great reminder for us all, of God's great forgiveness!
Myrna Noyes02/04/13
What a clever, well-written story--entertaining, but highly instructive, as well! :)

Your characterization of the 11-year-old girl and her frustration with a "big tease" of a brother was perfect! You really got inside the mind of a youngster and how they see things so literally at times! I loved your dialogue and the true-to-life ending! Great job! :)
Loren T. Lowery02/06/13
Loved this. I could see the whole thing playing out. I think your characterization of all the players was spot on and easy to identify with their dilemmas - even David's : )
That the remembering of even one of the hash marks couldn't be brought to mind is priceless.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/07/13
Congratulations for ranking 15 overall!
Judith Gayle Smith02/07/13
Love this!