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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Start (01/16/06)

TITLE: Set Apart
By Maxx .
01/22/06


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I had no intention of losing my freedom.

I swallowed the last of my beer and paced across the dorm room, shaking my head. “No way.” I pointed my finger inches from her face. “Take care of it, Dev. I’m serious.”

Her mouth rounded as a crease deepened above her reddening eyes. “What do you mean, Jeremy? Why can’t we?”

“You were supposed to be on the pill.” I rubbed my brow, teeth clenched. “You swore this wouldn’t happen.”

Her bottom lip trembled and arched downward as tears began to paint her cheeks. “I ran out. I was going to get more from the school nurse. I didn’t think —.”

I grabbed her, my fingers digging into the soft shoulders I’d so often caressed. “That’s right, you didn’t.” I pushed her onto my bed and turned away.

She grunted as she fell. “I’m sorry.” Her words were becoming lost behind a grating cry. “I thought maybe we could —.”

I spun around. It was a trick, a trap; she wanted me tied up in her box. The veins about my eyes began to throb and my throat tightened. “You think I’m an idiot? That I don’t know your angle?” I glared at her. “M-R-S degree. Never expected you to play games.”

She reached toward me. “Why are you talking like that? I love you.”

The walls of the room began to close in. The skeletal visage of the pirate flag that hung above my chair seemed to laugh and mock. I kicked the dirty shirts heaped near the trashcan. They sailed through the air, draping over my speakers and stereo. “This wasn’t a problem last time.”

“You said you loved me, too.”

I opened the bottom drawer of my desk, pushed aside my porn, and yanked out the leather Bible my Grandmother had given me before she died. I tossed it onto the blankets. “You’ll find what you need in there.”

A flicker of brightness, like a fanned ember, lifted the corners of her mouth. She hesitated then softly grasped the book. Her stare moved between the cover and me, twisting as if trying to resolve a complex incongruence from algebra class.

The pages fell open in her hands to a place marked by a worn envelope, tattered from years of use. “Jeremiah?”

“That’s a few hundred bucks. I‘m smart enough to keep it around for an emergency like this.” I nodded, willing her to pick it up, to end this game. “Take it.”

The color drained from her face. “I-I can’t do that again.”

I cursed. She was being stubborn. “You can’t … or won’t?”

“I can hear a baby crying when I sleep, my baby, hungry and cold.” She blinked and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. “I’m haunted by a yearning that I can‘t fill or satisfy.” Her face became empty and distant as if she were looking beyond the walls and into another world. “It never goes away. Never.” She swallowed. “Don’t ask me —.”

“You’re whacked.” I wanted to push her through the door and out of my life, but I was frozen by the hollowness of her voice and the tears that dripped onto the envelope like murderer’s blood.

“It hurt so bad. They held me down. I could feel them tearing inside of me — I screamed.” Her mouth opened and closed, spittle stretched between her lips. “But they wouldn’t stop —.” Her voice faltered and died. The Bible in her hands tilted, spilling the envelope and money onto the floor.

I clawed my fingers through my hair, ripping at the knots. “But it’s over, it only lasted a minute. Better than a lifetime of keeping the thing.”

She studied the pages before her, ignoring me, and muttering. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart …” She stood, fire consuming the blue of her eyes. “I’m not doing that again.”

“Come on, Dev. Don’t be like that.” I smiled and tipped my head. “We have fun in bed, right? Why throw that away?”

She picked up her purse, stumbled to the door, and wrestled with the knob.

I went after her. “You’re always looking out for yourself first. What about me? You never put anyone else’s needs ahead of your own.”

The line of her jaw stiffened. “Then it’s finally time I start.”

The door slammed shut behind her as she walked away.


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This article has been read 1371 times
Member Comments
Member Date
janet rubin01/23/06
Wonderful entry. Very realistic emotions and a good ending. I love the title. Looks like a winner!
Leslie Lamb01/23/06
Powerful, gripping story. I loved the line that said something like, "fell like tears from a murderer." Very well written and expressed.
Kelly Klepfer01/23/06
Well done. An ugly look at a selfish person. And a picture of God's powerful Word.
Reni Bumpas01/23/06
Powerful entry, and timely, too, yesterday being Sanctity of Life Sunday. Very realistic and heartbreaking portrayal of a scene that occurs more often than most of us dream. I particularly appreciated the irony of him stashing money for an abortion in a Bible.
Venice Kichura01/24/06
Powerful!
Marilyn Schnepp 01/26/06
Controversial, and yet very well written. Somebody mentioned they liked the ending...but to me, there was no ending. Just another fatherless child, another single parent, and an unknown future for all involved. So sad, so true to life, and so unending. Kudos for bravely taking on such a tough subject. Nice job of writing. God Bless.
Jan Ackerson 01/26/06
As always, your writing is "set apart" from the rest of the entries! Simply superb in every aspect.
Pat Guy 01/26/06
Good one Maxx! The ending was perfect! Way to go! Yes - a good one. :)
T. F. Chezum01/26/06
Very well written. I really liked the realistic emotion and the dialogue.
Cassie Memmer01/27/06
Yes! The ending was a vote for LIFE, no matter the cost! Praise God! Selfishness truly is ugly! Wonderful story, Maxx. Super!
Candice Kettell01/27/06
Wow... 'I can hear a baby crying' gave me goose bumps. I know someone who actually said that. Very realistic. Excellent job.
Shari Armstrong 01/27/06
Wow -as usual a powerful piece that makes us think.
Val Clark01/28/06
Perfect, Maxx. Your male character is really despicable. Very visual. Clever use of the bible as a place to stash his money as a means of getting her to read the Jer. verse. Not having names also gives this piece a universal 'appeal'. Yeggy
Karri Compton01/28/06
Talk about out of the box - abortion money in a Bible. Whoa. Very realistic, though. Good job.
Debbie Sickler01/28/06
Great job as everyone else has already said. I enjoy your style and the topic was very believably done.

There was only one thing that stood out a little to me. The line, "“I’m haunted by a yearning that I can‘t fill or satisfy.”". It is a good line, but didn't quite seem to fit the flow of the moment. A little more poetic than her words just prior and after. But that's just my opinion about one little line in an otherwise perfectly written entry.
Amy Michelle Wiley 01/28/06
Very, very well done. Keep up the fight.
Julianne Jones01/28/06
Ditto to all the above. Perhaps capping the challenge is just the handicap you need - so some of us can at least have a sporting chance. :) Excellent as always.
dub W01/29/06
Tough stuff and so well composed. Obviously beyond the challenge ratings.
Sandra Petersen 01/29/06
This was painfully well-written! Never had an abortion, but I identify with the college 'romance' and the terror of wondering about pregnancy. Nice twist in the middle when Dev thinks he is pointing her to Scripture to take care of the hurt when instead he is just showing her the money to 'take care of the problem'.
I liked the ending because I was not thinking of the 'what nexts'. It just mattered that she dumped the truly selfish one.
Something my husband told me once, though, because the female reader will hate the guy in this: make sure that your bad guy has at least one good point and make sure your good guy isn't an absolute saint (shows some bad qualities). She had to have a reason for loving him besides the physical attraction.
Otherwise,why would she have stayed? Another question: you seem to imply that she had an abortion by this same dude. Why did she stay after he showed his colors the first time??
I did empathize with your female MC and despised your male MC so you did good. Just had some questions.
Crista Darr01/29/06
Set apart, indeed! This is perfect! It has powerful potential to reach out to this lost world! I'd love to make copies and place them in the local Planned Parenthood (may I do that?). I love the ending too. It's real, and a choice women often have to make without the father's support.
Sally Hanan01/29/06
I just read this to my daughter, and she remarked that FW should give the good writers (you) more words for their entries :)
Linda Watson Owen01/29/06
Wonderful, Maxx! So charged and gripping. You're a true master story teller indeed!
Debbie OConnor01/30/06
Excellent! I loved the money in the Bible bit--very real. Your characters are believable and the ending was great.
Shannon Redmon01/31/06
Wow! Gripping story and very true to many post abortion women. It is very difficult for women in crisis to stand up to a selfish boyfriend but I believe your MC could inspire women to do so. Thanks for bringing light to how the memories haunted her. I think so many think it is a quick fix but in truth the abortion last for the rest of their lives. Good Writing!
Donna J. Shepherd01/31/06
Excellent. Superb.
Jessica Schmit02/01/06
I personally thought this would've made it into a placing. It was amazing. I loved,LOVED how you put the abortion money in Jeremiah. Fantastic! I love the way your mind thinks. SO out of the box! Never stop writing!
Kristopher Cox02/04/06
Bold story. Your not afraid of the difficult topics. I like how you used characters who were not Christians and allow God's Word to speak the truth instead of a "preachy" message. Look forward to reading more of your stories.
Jan Kamp02/08/06
Ditto on all the positive comments above. The realistic characters and situation make this story one that could easily touch non-Christians.
B Brenton02/11/06
Chilling. No wonder it was commended.
B Brenton02/11/06
Chilling. No wonder it was commended.
Jessica Schmit05/31/06
"Oh yeah!!!" That's exactly what I said when I clicked on this entry. This was the best entry that week (in my opinion.) I read it like a prelude to "Turneffe Island." Same girl, different guy and her first abortion was the child she saw on the island. Amazing stuff. First, someone said that there was no ending. Of course there's no ending, because this is just the beginning of a new resolve in the young woman's life. You stayed on topic perfectly. The verse was so haunting. I can't believe you put the abortion money in the Bible. That is pure genious. I loved that part about this piece. That, and the verse that it fell upon. I also liked the POV that you wrote with. It made it easy to read and very engaging to be told to from the "mean boy's" POV. WONDERFUL!!!!