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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bark is Worse than His/Her Bite (10/17/13)

TITLE: Dismay
By Bonnie Rose Hudson


Carrie stood at the door, tears streaming down her face. For the first time since her father had left to look for work seven weeks ago, she could not hold the tears inside.

She stared down the same road he had walked and wondered where he was and if he was warm or safe or hungry. Her stomach growled from beneath her thin dress; fear gnawed at her heart with sharp claws. She would eat later; right now it was more important that her brother and sisters ate something. At seventeen, she had grown used to putting their needs first.

Yet she feared even her sacrifice would not be enough. Her siblings were growing thinner and quieter each day. The family had long since sold everything they could. The food was almost spent. But the Depression did not ease.

The only light Carrie saw was that her mother was not still alive to witness the heartache. Carrie wished she could escape it as well. It was beginning to taunt her, creeping into her thoughts and stealing her fleeting moments of peace. She had stayed strong for her father and her family; then her father said he must leave to look for work. Suddenly she was the oldest one at home, and she was drowning. Every ounce of her strength told her to run from the Depression and never look back, to leave the monster where it stood and find someplace—anyplace—that was safe from this beast.

Her stomach growled again, and she rubbed it with her hand as if to comfort it. That’s when she remembered the scar, the surgery, and the words her mother had said to her.

Carrie had only been seven when her appendix became inflamed. How long had her mother sat beside her bed, holding her hand and trying to comfort her? When it became clear that Carrie’s condition was serious, they had rushed her to the hospital. When the doctor said “surgery” Carrie had been terrified. She cried and fought with what little strength she had left. She begged her mother not to make her have an operation.

Her mother had tried to comfort her, to calm her, but no amount of motherly concern would stay her tears. In desperation, her mother had said, “Carrie May, your fear will kill you before the appendicitis gets the chance.”

It had been enough to convince her to have the surgery then. Would it be enough to break through the fear threatening her now?

Carrie let her heart travel a few more steps down memory lane. After the surgery, her mother had given her a picture embroidered with these words: “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” In the center of the picture was a man carrying a sheep across a swollen river.

Carrie wiped the tears from her eyes. Standing in the doorway, she had a choice. She could turn away from her home, her family, her God. Or she could turn toward Him in faith and let Him carry her across the swollen river. She knew she would get wet, but He would not let her drown.

For all its noise and blaring headlines, the Depression could not harm her soul unless she permitted it. Her real enemy was fear, a fear that would try to turn her face from her God and pull her heart away from His.

She turned around and walked inside.

Scripture reference: Isaiah 43:2 KJV

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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/24/13
This is a powerful story. I connected with Carrie immediately. I could feel her grief, her fears, and even her pain. The conflict was a great one that kept me eager to keep reading.

Some of the lines were a tiny bit awkward and may have benefitted from some restructuring. A good trick is to have someone read the piece aloud (or if you don't have anyone, then you read it aloud,) if you stumble on any lines you may want to work on rewording them. Your story has great suspense and a stumble can cause the reader to lose focus and break the suspense. For example, your second line made me stop and reread it a few times. Maybe something like this would help: Seven weeks ago, her father had left home to look for work. In all that time, Carrie had held it together, but today the hot tears streamed down her face.
It's not perfect, but I hope it shows what I mean. It would still need some tweaking, but sometimes you just need a slight rearrangement or even to break a complicated sentence into two smaller ones.

Overall, though, you did a fantastic job. I had a real sense of who Carrie was. I really like that it was set in the Depression era. Times were different, yet still the same. Now a father would be accused of abuse for leaving a 17 yo in charge of her siblings for two months, yet he did what he had to do. Pieces like this really make people stop and think. I may be cynical, but it seems the world needs to stop and think more often these days. Things have gotten crazy. Your piece really digs deep into many different arenas: political, religious, economics, and even common sense.

I like how you used fear as the barking dog. Often I find what I fear is really no where nearly as bad as my imagination. I needed this reminder today and I thank you for sharing this great story with me.
Lois Farrow10/24/13
Great story, well done.
C D Swanson 10/27/13
Excellent story! This was powerful in its content and delivery.

Thank you.

God bless~