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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Expire (08/01/13)

TITLE: The Least I Can Do
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom
08/08/13


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I stood in the grocery store staring at the dairy display. A little old man picked through the cheeses. His hands shook as he picked up a block of cheddar. I turned and looked at him. The color drained from his face as a cough wracked his body. I shivered as I wondered if he would collapse in front of me. He looked like death warmed over. The hacking subsided as he spoke to someone behind me. “Is this the right kind?”


I grabbed the railing as my knees started to buckle. I blinked my eyes and slowly realize that the familiar voice of my father did indeed come from the mouth of the pathetic man next to me. He looked right through me as if he didn't know me.

My mind flashed back to ten years prior when my mom died. The pain felt as intense as the day she left me. My father walked past me as if he didn't know me. I watched him hunch his shoulders and his body seemed to shrivel up as his current wife yanked the cheese out of his hand.

Her shrill voice sent shocks down my spine. “You idiot, didn't you check the expiration date? It shouldn't even be on the shelf.” She reached over and slapped his head.

I stepped between her and reached for her hand. She sneered as she eyed me while slapping my father again. “Stop me, I dare you. Lay one hand on me and I’ll call the cops. Your father will back me up. He chose me over you years ago.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as my father nodded his agreement. She turned around one last time and hissed vile words at me. I nearly crumpled to the floor.
My eyes drifted down as she threw the package of cheese at me. Bending over, I scooped it up and read the words, "Best if used by August 24.” How ironic that the cheese expired the same exact day that Mom had. I wondered if that was when Dad stopped loving me. I didn't even know this man; he was like a stranger. Even though he stood mere feet away from me, for some reason the man who came to my school plays, and taught me to ride my bike didn't exist anymore.

As I watched them walk away, I burst into tears. Glancing around, I noticed a small crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle. I felt my cheeks grow hot as I tried to wipe the tears away. Turning my attention to my groceries, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Swallowing my pride, I lifted my head and saw Pastor Jay standing in front of me.

He smiled gently. “I don’t know why some people make the choices they do. You've tried again and again to reach out to him, only to have him push you away. Personally, I don’t understand how a man could choose a woman over his own children and grandkids. It’s his loss.” He hesitated a minute and then reached out and took the cheese from my hand. “One thing you must remember is you’re not a hunk of cheese. You don’t ever turn rancid in God’s eyes, no matter what. Though it may feel like your earthly father doesn't love you anymore, remember you have a Heavenly Father who will always love you.”

I lifted my head and attempted a smile. “I guess the least I can do is pray for Dad.” Swallowing hard, I grimaced before adding, “And for her, too.”

Patting my shoulder, Pastor Jay said, “No, dear, praying is the most you can do, not the least.”

Perhaps Dad will come to his senses...someday. I bowed my head, right in the store, and prayed. “Dear Jesus, please watch over my father, and keep him safe. Open his eyes so that he might see the truth. Grant me the wisdom to know how to handle this situation. And bless what’s-her-name. Amen.”


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This article has been read 493 times
Member Comments
Member Date
CD Swanson 08/10/13
This was an amazing story that held a strong authentic tone. The son reaching out to his father, only to be shunned, and then praying is a true Christian in good form. Excellent story. I loved this powerful entry.

I loved the ending in that it gives us hope, because prayer and God can change eveything.

God bless~
Dannie Hawley 08/11/13
Wow, what a powerful piece you've crafted here! The sad part is that it is not all that rare a story; the glorious part is that, as you have indicated, there is always hope and prayer is both the weapon and the key. Very moving. Thank you for this well-done article.
Linda Goergen08/12/13
Such a tremendously sad story—yet also, such an encouraging story of faith. Good reminder that heartfelt prayer often runs both ways—ministering both to the giver and receiver. Excellent entry!
Rachel Malcolm 08/14/13
What a heart wrenching situation, but the message is beautiful and will stay with me. It's so true that we often think of prayer as the least we can do, but it really is the most.
lynn gipson 08/15/13
CONGRATS ON THE EC! HAPPY DAY!
CD Swanson 08/15/13
Shann,

Congrats on your above and beyond well deserved EC!
I loved this story, it was a fav of mine.

God Bless~


P.S. "I pray you're feeling better..."
Danielle King 08/15/13
Hey Shann, this is a powerful piece written straight from the heart and with a great message. I suspect there may be some personal truths in there too. Congratulations on your EC. And in your own words - Happy Dance.
Dannie Hawley 08/15/13
Congrats on your E.C.! Are you up for joining us in a happy dance? If not, no problem; we're dancing anyway.
Linda Goergen08/15/13
Congratulations Shann on your EC win! This emotion packed, powerful message entry so deserved to place! Applause!
Charla Diehl 08/15/13
Congratulations on taking 10th place with this sad and compelling entry. Shann, the message is one worth repeating over and over---Prayer packs a lot of power!
I'm behind on my reading, but glad I found this one which was certainly worth my time to read. God bless,
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/15/13
I can see why this got an EC. Well written and intense with pain and hope. Hugs.
Sheldon Bass 08/15/13
Congrats on the EC Shann. I liked the sweet ending, especially blessing "What's-her-name". Great writing and a story that though sad, is all too much like what happens too many times in today's world. Your message is subtle, yet powerful. Forgiveness is a healing balm that comforts broken and hurting hearts. I believe God has given you this story telling ability to help comfort people just like your MC.
Genia Gilbert08/15/13
Way to go, Shann! What a nice lift after your hospital stay. I didn't get any entries read this last couple of weeks (hubby with heart issues - but fine now) but this is a great story. Well deserved EC. Congratulations!
Rachel Malcolm 08/15/13
Congratulations Shann! I was really hoping to see your name on the EC list and I wasn't disappointed. This is a beautiful story. Hugs!
Barbara Caldwell 08/17/13
Your story was sad, but what an encouraging ending. Thanks for the reminder of the importance and the power of prayer. We must pray for our loved ones, our friends, and even our enemies. You are a gifted writer.
Judith Gayle Smith08/18/13
Shann - you have proven why I eagerly anticipate your extremely helpful comments. You have helped shape me into not just a struggling writer, but a dare-devil put it there gal! I love you.

Congratulations! God bless you. KJV Heb 10:26-31
KJV Rev 14:12
Lori Dixon 08/21/13
I don't always have time to read other entries but so glad I did today! This was awful. And wonderful. <3 Good message, but please tell me it wasn't based on real life . . .
Bea Edwards 08/22/13
Your story is a tragic example of families torn apart. I just don't understand how anyone would make a man or women choose them over their children.
Oh yes I suppose I do...we have an enemy and your ending described our most powerful weapon to defeat him.
Well done and yay on your EC placing! All while recovering from the hospital. Pretty amazing.