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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bouncebackability (06/05/14)

TITLE: In The Valley Of Darkness
By JK Stenger


I just couldn’t look. I couldn’t face those sad eyes on that beautiful face in front of me. I lowered my eyes and stared at the ground.

Why had she come?

I was responsible. It had been all my fault and now my wounds would be ripped open even further. I would feel the pain again in all its raging fury, a pain that I had tried so unsuccessfully to overcome.

O God, I can’t take it anymore.

Not a day had gone by without thinking of the accident. How often had I relived that awful moment and seen those fear-stricken faces in front of my car? The shuddering impact, the screeching tires, the screams, and then the deafening silence.

It taunted me relentlessly and without mercy. My shame and remorse encased me like a shroud. I know I shouldn’t have been drinking so much. I could usually keep it under control. Except that day. That fateful, horrible day.

The party had been fantastic. The weather was sultry, the music invigorating, and the girls stunningly beautiful. And then of course there had been all those drinks.

I killed two children that night. Two young children who were crossing the street with their mother. One with blue eyes and golden blond hair. The other with little curls and dark eyes. I didn’t see them. They appeared out of nowhere. But it had been my fault. In that one split second of stupidity, many lives had been changed for the worse.

And now the mother of those girls was sitting in front of me. She had told me her name was Peggy. Oh God...

Of course God had nothing to do with it. He was angry. Why wouldn’t He be? Hell would be too good for me.

When I first heard that she wanted to see me, I refused. I was too scared and didn’t think I could face her. But she insisted, so I reluctantly agreed.

So here I sat, staring at the floor. Away from her eyes that had seen so much pain because of me. She would curse me. Of that I was sure. She had every right to it, and I just had to take it.

When she came in I noticed her hair was grey. She was only 35 years old. I don’t want to do this.


She spoke my name.

I cringed.


I had to answer her. I owed her that much. I needed to give her the chance to pour out her anger and hate. I deserved it.

I looked up.

She is crying?

I quickly lowered my eyes again. But she touched my arm.

"Bernard...look at me."

Oh God...I cant stand it. No tears…please God, no tears…I started to shake. I wanted to keep my mouth closed, but somehow it opened and suddenly, I sobbed, "I am sorry."

The dam broke. Big tears rolled down my cheeks while I kept repeating, ”I am so very sorry.”

She took my hands in hers. Her words were gentle. I heard no hate. "It´s alright, Bernard. It´s alright."

I looked up. Her eyes were tired, but somehow, they sparkled.

"Ì have forgiven you Bernard." 


"How can you forgive me." I stammered the words. "After what I’ve done?"

"Forgiveness is the only way, Bernard". She handed me a tissue, while she wiped her own eyes with her handkerchief. "God knows I have struggled. I have been angry, and I have fought with God. But I’ve found peace. He came to me in my pain and carried the load with me. I will never understand on this side of Heaven why my girls died, but I now understand that Jesus is carrying the pain. And that’s enough."

A new wave of tears threatened to overwhelm me.

"You are wounded too, Bernard. You need to know that you are forgiven and that there is hope, if you too will hold to His hand and bounce back."

"Let the healing begin.”

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This article has been read 295 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 06/13/14
Complete emotion-filled and hope-filled writing. You really give the reader pause to consider the consequences that actions have. Super work!
Noel Mitaxa 06/14/14
Powerful and provocative emotional profiling. Excellent work.
Ellen Carr 06/14/14
A very moving and thought provoking story of the anguish of guilt and then of forgiveness. A good application of the topic. Well done with this.
Lisa Johnson06/14/14
This is a lesson we could all stand to be reminded of from time to time. How often are lives broken and refuse to heal because of the lack of forgiveness.
lynn gipson 06/14/14
Stunning and beautiful. The way she explained forgiveness. They way she set him and herself free.

Excellent writing here, just excellent.
Diane M. Bowman 06/15/14
Amazing writing.

Forgiveness. So hard, so needed, so powerful, so freeing.
Mar  06/15/14
Just beautiful! So moving and powerful when we hear these stories of forgiveness!
Judith Gayle Smith06/16/14
Poignant, and so real. This should be published!
Joe Moreland06/16/14
There used to be a commercial here in the U.S. with a guy talking about this same scenario, hitting and killing two children, seeing them fly over his car, after he made the decision to drive intoxicated. That commercial was so powerful, it made me tear up every time. Your story took it to another level, with him coming face to face with the mother.

I have a friend who forgave the man who murdered his father. That forgiveness led him to begin a prison ministry that is still thriving almost 30 years later. There is real power in forgiveness, and your story very eloquently illustrates that power.

Great job!
C D Swanson 06/16/14
Amazing job.

God bless~
Graham Insley06/17/14
A powerful story about a powerful gift -- forgiveness.

C D Swanson 06/19/14
Congratulations JK!

I think you ought to start writing books you'd have many best sellers for sure!

If being on the winning list every week isn't indicative of a fruitful career in writing, I don't know what is!

Great job...as always!

God Bless~
Tal Bartelle06/19/14
Powerfully told. Congratulations JK.
Tracy Nunes 06/19/14
I didn't get a chane to read this the week of that challenge but I'm so hlad I did now. Poignant, clear and gutwrenchingly truthful. So well done!
Dee Kyalo06/20/14
Wonderfully written. Forgiveness - we all need of receiving it (as we are in need of extending it).