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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)

TITLE: Jason's Dream and a Mom's Nightmare
By Francy Judge


Moving lights travel at various speeds across the ceiling of my apartment—strange that they move in the opposite direction than the street traffic. And the whizzing-by sounds follow. I’m sure this can be explained scientifically, but I don’t care about the why. It’s contrary to the natural order of what I expect. I focus on the lights to help me fall asleep, but it doesn’t work. Nothing works.

Jason reminded us daily of his dream…

“You give me a small box wrapped in cloud covered wrapping paper with a giant blue bow. And you know what’s inside?”

“Of course we do,” answered Mark in between gulping his coffee and reading the sports section of the Daily News. “You tell us every day.”

“I can see it now—shiny gold keys to my new blue mustang.” Jason always smiled just enough to let us know he wasn’t serious. He knew our money situation, but he could dream.

“Okay, you can have the thirty thousand I keep in my purse. Or maybe you need fifty to get something really fast?”

“Thirty should do.” He looked at his reflection in the window and slid his bangs to the side. Too handsome with long, flirty eyelashes and green eyes.

“Well, Justin Bieber, here’s three for lunch.”

“It’s a start.”

Mark nudged him out the door. “Run or you’ll miss the bus. Again.”

“I wouldn’t need to catch the bus if…”


“See ya later.” The door slammed after him.

I kissed Mark and handed him his keys. “He’s just as silly as you.”

“So Jules, you think he’ll be surprised tonight?”

“He doesn’t have a clue. I just hope he’s not disappointed.”

“You know Jason. He wants his independence, starting with his own wheels. He won’t care if it’s five years old or fifteen.”

“This will be better than him getting rides from Brendan. I’ve seen how fast he drives.”

“You can’t worry about everything he does. He’s seventeen. And I’m sure you’ve told Jason to wear his seatbelt over a thousand times.”

“At least.”

“You’ve reminded him to brush his teeth at least a million times…and eat his veggies…and stop texting while walking. You can’t control everything.”

“I get it; I’m a nag. But he did get one cavity this year.”

“See ya later. I’ll bring home his ice-cream cake.”

We left the keys in a small box wrapped in cloud covered wrapping paper and a big blue bow on the kitchen table. I’d be ready to snap his picture when he walked in.


I count the passing lights like sheep until I finally doze off. I smell burnt rubber and hear screams for help, and a sports car crashes through my ceiling. I wake in a sweat. The lights still pass by peacefully, unaffected by my nightmare.


He never came home that day. Never got his gift. The policeman said his friend’s car was totaled. Brendan was in critical condition. A drunk driver ran the light…Jason didn’t wear his seatbelt...through the windshield…broken neck…died instantly. I collapsed into Mark’s arms. Our worst nightmare.


Mark is affected by my nightmare. He sits up in bed, wraps me in his arms, and prays. “Lord, remind us each painful moment that Jason did get his keys, the gift he always wanted but better. The keys to his new home with you.” And in that quiet moment when even the car lights cease to light up the ceiling, warmth fills my heart, the peace that passes all understanding and all natural order, and I sleep.

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This article has been read 313 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laura Hawbaker02/22/13
Oh boy, I was so hoping for a happy ending! Thank you for the victorious ending, because even though life isn't always happy, we can have victory. I liked the realistic dialogue. Well written story.
C D Swanson 02/23/13
I loved this entire piece, and was happy with the ending as well! God bless~
Noel Mitaxa 02/24/13
Excellent work, in taking us through your characters' inner thoughts and dialogue. I was also expecting a happy ending, but the tragedy struck without warning - as it too often does.
I also love how you wrapped it up even in the pain.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/28/13
Congratulations on ranking 21 overall!