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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Endless (01/09/14)

TITLE: Come In Time
By Lynda Schultz
01/14/14


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If I could have, I would have shoved my feet through the floor of the bus and used my own legs to push it along. If mind ever had power over matter, mine should have forced the driver’s foot to press down harder on the accelerator.

The night flashed by, faint outlines of trees interrupted by the occasional house dimly lit by a yard light or edged with Christmas bulbs. The road stretched before me. I willed it to end where I needed it to end, but perversely it refused, one curve morphing into yet another length of highway flecked with swirling snow.

The demon of doubt whispered: She’s going to die before I get there. A desperate faith countered: Please don’t let her go before I arrive.

Does a minute always take so long? How is it that an hour seems like an eternity? Eight hours on a bus crawling through the night. No flights available this close to Christmas. No trains leaving that would get me there any faster. Faster? My demon doubt mocked me. What was that verse about taking on wings and flying away?

Go! Go! Don’t stop at the sleeping towns. See, there are no lights in the houses. No one is waiting for a bus at this time of the night. Just go! If you don’t hurry she’s going to die before I get there.

That dreaded phone call had come that afternoon. A massive heart attack, not expected to live. Time stopped then for a brain-numbing breath. Now it was moving too quickly and not quickly enough—too quickly for her and not quickly enough for me. All the Christmas baking I had planned to take home the next day got shoved into the freezer, forgotten. The plans to make this first Christmas after Dad’s death something special for Mom were abandoned, stillborn.

The downshifting of gears and a lurch to the right told me we were somewhere, but nowhere I wanted to be, just a 24/7 coffee shop in the middle of another nameless, lightless village. The driver needed coffee and I had enough adrenalin rushing through me to supply us both. I’d be happy to share, just go!

We went, though not at my bidding. There’s no one on the road. Go faster! Time dragged her feet, heedless of my urgency. If it goes faster for you, it will go faster for her, and you still might not get there in time. God knows what will be no matter when you arrive. That voice of calm broke through the screaming anxiety. I quashed it. I wasn’t there when Dad died and now I won’t be there when Mom goes. Please, God, don’t take her yet.

The night crawled onward toward a reluctant winter dawn as more miles were left behind than there were in front. Finally, finally, we were under the railway bridge and into the bus station.

The hospital was two blocks away—short blocks of a thousand miles. I ran. Have I come in time? Please, Lord, make me be in time. Still, the doubt niggled at the corner of my mind, attached to the vision of some starched nurse, suitable sympathy etched on the face of a twelve-hour shift. I’m sorry, she passed away just a few minutes ago.

In the door, up to the Intensive Care Unit, through yet another door and then…

“Mom?”

In that moment the long, dark night released a watery, pale sun. It wasn’t much, and it wasn’t destined to last long, but nevertheless it still shone. I had come in time.


(Non-Fiction)


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This article has been read 279 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rae Marie Bujan-D'Andrade01/16/14
As I begun reading I thought quite an obvious application of the topic, but at the conclusion I am sighing...this was beautiful. Did a wonderful job of expressing the fear and anxiety of the subject...good job!!!!!
Laura Hawbaker 01/18/14
Good job building the suspense. I could feel the author's anxiety. Well written.
Carolyn Ancell01/21/14
This made me ache with the POV character, wishing the endless-feeling journey to hasten to its conclusion, and to hope her mother was still alive. Love the ending. Dawn came, fragile. It would not last long. But it was there. Such beautiful symbolism.
Linda Goergen01/22/14
You certainly gave powerful vision to that endless, time slowing, helpless feel a traumatic situations can bring. It was a heart touching, heart rending read, made even more so in the fact it is non-fiction. Great writing!
Margaret Kearley 01/23/14
This is so vivid and wonderfully described that I felt I was on the journey with you, trying to push that bus along on its 'endless' journey. I am so glad God answered your prayer and you were there in time. Many congratulations on your first place. So well deserved.
Laura Hawbaker 01/23/14
Congrats on your win. I knew I liked this one!
Danielle King 01/23/14
I held my breath from beginning to end. Gripping, compelling writing. No wonder you gained 1st place. Congratulations and well deserved!
Linda Goergen01/23/14
Congratulations on your well deserved win! I suspected this one would win, and I am glad it did!
Charla Diehl 01/23/14
Superbly compelling writing from start to the "ahhh, she made it" conclusion. Each sentence drew me into the situation more deeply, right along with the MC. Without a doubt, a very deserved first place win.
Lillian Rhoades 01/23/14
I love the contrast of wanting time to stand still for the Mom in your story, while at the same time wanting it to fly by so you can reach her "in time." Excellent, suspenseful writing! Congratulations!
Janice Fitzpatrick01/24/14
Wow! What a ride! The urgency was so well painted in this dramatic piece that my heart raced along the roadways and sleepy villages, ready to explode, longing to rush to the mom's bedside in time. You captured well the stress and anxiety one would feel if they were in the main characters shoes. This is amazing!!! Love the suspense!! Although the end is inevitable,the moments she has left with her is hopeful as the sun is just about to rise when she arrives. Just beautiful!!!!! Love this!!!!!( I was right with the character as I didn't get to give a final goodbye when I lost my dear mom five years ago, but was awakened in the night by a sudden gnawing feeling and then the call came.... I thank God I had spent the six months before taking care of her daily and visiting her at the local nursing home after she had a major stroke. (tears!) This so is well deserving of your win!!! Congratulations!!!