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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Deep End (03/06/14)

TITLE: And On The Third Day Came Marriage
By Toni Hammer
03/10/14


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“Will you marry me?”

For many years I’d dreamt of this moment right down to the diamond sparkling before my green eyes. Now the occasion was here and I felt sick.

“What? Marry you? John, we’ve only known each other three days. How can I… how can we… what?” My dazed brain struggled for words. The brown turtleneck that was always a perfect fit now restricted my windpipe.

“I know. I know it’s only been three days, Wanda, but I love you. I know this is the right thing. Please. Say you’ll be my wife,” John’s deep voice pled with a strong confidence that almost calmed my nerves.

“Are you crazy? Three days!” Certainly I had enjoyed our time together, but love? Marriage? No way. My engagement story couldn’t be written like this.

“Please, Wanda. Please think about it. If you think about it long enough, I know you’ll come to the same conclusion.” After slipping the ring into his flannel shirt pocket, he leaned forward and kissed my cheek. “Please.” He turned and walked away, leaving me standing in the winter sun with only one thing to do. I pulled out my cell phone and dialed.

“Mom? Can I come over?”

After a hasty drive, I was sitting at the kitchen table of my childhood home with a steaming mug of peppermint tea cooling in front of me.

“He proposed, Mom. With a ring and everything. He proposed.” I had repeated these sentiments over and over in the short time since my arrival. “What do I do?”

“Wanda, honey, take a deep breath, sip some tea, and listen.” Her telltale vanilla scent drifted behind her as she shuffled across the kitchen with her own mug and sat across from me. I did as I was told and brought the cup to my lips; my zooming brain quieted by the peppermint and her presence.

“Baby, let me tell you what’s happened. John has thrown you into the deep end. He has raced from the shallow waters of learning each other’s likes and dislikes, food allergies, and favorite books, and taken you into the unknown deep waters of relational eternity.”

“We just met! We’re still practically strangers!” John and I knew so little about each other. There was such a vast emptiness of insight into the small things that made us who we were. Sure, we had spent hours talking since our first meeting, but there was so much more to uncover.

“I know, sweetheart.” She paused and looked past me to the window where soft sunlight poured in. Her blue eyes appeared to be searching for something in the glass. “Wanda, you know your father and I had a very long relationship before he proposed.”

“Yeah. Seven years, right?”

“That’s right. And do you know what I learned in those seven years?”

“What?”

“I learned that everything I needed to know about him, I knew in that first week. In those first few days I learned he was funny and wise. I found out he had quite the temper when I thought he might beat his car into scrap metal because it wouldn’t start. I learned he had a soul that earnestly sought forgiveness after he apologized for that outburst. When he gave a homeless gentleman his coat while we were out, I knew he had a heart for the hurting. In that first week I knew I wanted to marry him. It just took him a little longer.” She winked and laughed. “John, honey, has decided to skip the shallow waters, to begin in the deep end, to start the relationship with a lifelong commitment.”

Speech failed me. My mom was giving me the green light to marry someone I barely knew. What a strange day.

“Now, Wanda, you can do whatever you like and I will support you as I always do. You needed to hear that story though. Yes it seems crazy, but sometimes what’s crazy is also what’s right.”

The remainder of the afternoon gabfest drifted from current events to the proposal; from my parents’ plan for retirement to the proposal. Back and forth, back and forth.

Languishing in my apartment that evening, I thought about all she had said. I didn’t have the patience to wait seven years before becoming engaged. Three days seemed awfully fast though. Could I already know everything I needed to know?

Once more I picked up my phone. “John? I have an answer.”


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This article has been read 594 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Nancy Bucca03/13/14
This story held my attention all the way to the end. I love the suspense you put in there.

The only part that threw me (just a little) was where your MC says that her mother was giving her the "green light" to marry someone she barely knew. Given what her mom just told her about waiting seven years to get married, it seems a little out of place. I personally think it would sound better coming after the comment "Yes, it seems crazy, but sometimes crazy is also what's right."

All in all I loved the story. It's very creative - no typos or grammatical errors that I could see. In my opinion it would make a great book chapter, because the reader wants to know what happens next.
Camille (C D) Swanson 03/13/14
Oh, I loved this! Excellent story and left me wanting more, more, more!

Great job!

God bless~
Noel Mitaxa 03/14/14
Welcome to Advanced level. This a great story with strong characters and realistic interaction - and a very 'engaging' theme. You've profiled your MC very well, though I'm left to 'Wanda' what her answer was.

Great job.
Allen Povenmire 03/14/14
Another interesting piece and welcome to the Advanced level for your temporary stay! I liked the suspended ending that left me knowing the ending, without it being stated. A bit more descriptive showing, instead of telling the story might strengthen it, but all in all, another fine tale.
Danielle King 03/15/14
You've taught me a new word and I will have to steal it from you - gabfest. I love it. It's what I do with friends, afternoon gabfest. In addition to that I like the easy flow to your story and the intrigue - will she, won't she? You hinted that she did without actually telling, which I think is a good way to wind it up. Good title and on topic too. Great job!
Lillian Rhoades 03/15/14
Good job with this story. The dialogue was realistic and the narrative flowed well.

Opinion: Just a bit of red ink...Considering using more colorful words to describe the feelings and actions of the MC.

For Ex: Instead of "I felt sick," maybe, "I felt my stomach tighten into a knot, and I could barely breathe."

"Speech failed me." Consider -
"I stared open-mouthed at my mother. She had just given me..."

Leaving the reader guessing seemed so right for this story. And I like the generational switch with Mom doing the "crazy" thinking instead of the daughter.
lynn gipson 03/16/14
Very well written and very well expressed. I want to know the answer, though. Blessings~
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/18/14
I love your story--strong characters and a good plot line. I especially like the description by the MC's mother of her husband. That was really showing--not telling.

I think another reason your story appealed to me was that my #1 guy proposed to me after two weeks of dating and getting to know each other. A little over six months later we married, and this year we'll celebrate our 56th wedding anniversary.

I look forward to seeing your move to Masters--soon!
Dusty Fontaine03/18/14
Toni,
It won't be long before you move up to Masters.

This was a brilliant story. The dialogue worked very well and the story was very believable. You are a very good writer.

Though some of the comments are correct about showing instead of telling, I find myself having to cut out some of the showing to stay within the word count. But I guess I have to learn to do both.

Great Job!
Dusty
Judy Sauer 03/19/14
You are such a gifted writer. No wonder you are zooming up through the writing levels quickly. You have a way with words that make me feel as if I'm a fly on the wall watching it all unfold. Bravo.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/19/14
I liked this. I wasn't suspecting too many romances with this topic, but you managed to weave it in there quite nicely. Your MC was definitely splashing about in the deep end. It was a creative take on the topic-- out of the box--but not too far. You do a nice job of showing and painting a picture for the reader.

Now it will seem like I'm contradicting myself, but some of your details weren't needed in my opinion. I thought the line about the turtleneck restricting the windpipe was genius, but I don't care that it was brown or that Wanda's eyes were green and her mom's blue. In flash fiction with only 750 words, it's vital to make each word contribute to the story. In a longer piece, you can use more details like that. So how does one balance showing with giving too many details? I encourage people to use those spots to show the emotional state or the personality of the reader. For example: My knees trembled as I grasped the railing. I shook my head vigorously, trying to forget those words. Swallowing became difficult because my spit had somehow evaporated. I tried licking my lips, but my tongue felt like it was glued to the roof of my mouth.
It's a bit longer than I intended, but I also wanted to show you a way to grab the reader's attention right out of the gate. Some experts say not to start a story with dialog. I think it can go either way. Your beginning, as for the dialog, did work for me and made me want to read more. I hope, however, you can also see how I tried to draw out the suspense more as well as interject some of the MC's sense of humor.

I think you did a wonderful job of pacing it. When your MC spoke I could feel her frantic thoughts. (You may want to put thoughts in italics so the reader instantly knows they are thoughts.) I also think you did a nice job of developing her. I could relate to many things--how her mind ran a million miles a second, her slightly sardonic sense of humor.

I almost said "Aww" out loud when the first thing she did was call her mom. That touched my heart because Mom was my best friend and now my kids who are all adults will still call me. That speaks volumes about your character. For me personally, the ending seemed too much like a magic ending. (Check out this week's lesson on Jan's Writing Basics.) It seemed too sudden of an epiphany. I personally would have preferred an open-ended ending. Others may disagree. I think a lot of that will be based on the reader's experience. You also did a nice job of having the dialog move the story along. Love is a tricky thing and your message was clear, although not everyone will agree with love at first three days :) I do think everyone will be able to relate on some level and leave with a smile on their faces.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/19/14
I try not to read the comments before I comment so I'm not too biased. It appears that Lillian and I may be disagreeing at first glance, but I think we are both saying pretty much the same thing. I also must have been the only one who didn't think the ending didn't included her answer. To me it was obvious she was saying yes. In fact, I even suggested to leave the reader guessing more. It just goes to show how people can interpret the same thing in different ways. That is why you are such a strong writer who is burning up through the levels--you're able to allow the reader to go where she needs to go. You're doing great, and our advice shows that you can't please everyone so focus on pleasing God (which also comes off quite clearly in your work):)
Wendy B McLain 03/20/14
Congrats on the EC win Toni! You're barreling through the levels. A terrific writer you are.

I like reading your entries.

God bless~
Rachel Malcolm 03/20/14
Congratulations on your EC!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/20/14
Congratulations on your EC! So happy the judges liked it --as I did!
Judy Sauer 03/20/14
Hi Toni - congratulations x2 - Editor's Choice and 3rd place in Advanced level. You are a talented writer. I can learn so much from you.
Lillian Rhoades 03/20/14
Congratulations, Toni! You're on a roll. :-)
Camille (C D) Swanson 04/03/14
Congrats!
God bless~