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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)

TITLE: Prodigal Daughter
By janet rubin


Claudia lay on her back, unable to sleep. A spider make his was across the ceiling, while Clark snored peacefully beside her. She craned her neck to check the time. The alarm clock’s glowing, green numbers read eleven fifty-eight and her daughter still wasn’t home. She sighed. This worrying does no good. Careful not to disturb Clark, she eased herself from the bed and knelt beside it. “Lord, please help Eryn. I can’t reach her. I feel she’s in trouble…”

Eryn’s rusty chevette rumbled as she drove too fast down the rocky, dirt road leading to the dock. Jason had shown her this place— their place. She stomped on the brake, sending the car skidding to stop just feet from the water’s edge. Slamming the gearshift into park, she let the sobs break loose. The pain in her chest was unbearable and she wondered if she would die.

Rage boiled up within her, erupting into a scream as she beat the steering wheel with her fists. “How could he do this to me?”

She wept uncontrollably, moaning and groaning, as grief unlike any she’d known tore at her heart. How could she survive this?

Exhausted, she crumbled back against the seat and gazed at the airport across the cove. Jason had brought her here on their second date. They’d watched the airplanes coming and going like tourists visiting a beach. Then, he’d kissed her—her first kiss—sweet and gentle, just as she’d imagined a kiss should be.

They’d returned on the third date and the fourth, the kisses growing longer, more passionate. Jason had said she was beautiful, said he loved her. The pricks at her conscience diminished as she fell deep into the well of first love. Finally she’d given herself to him completely, breaking her vow of purity until marriage.

Now, he’d tossed her aside like a used gum wrapper. After she’d given up everything for him: her body, her family, her friends, her God.

Eryn’s face looked unfamiliar in the rearview mirror. Her eyes blazed red like when she had pink eye. Black mascara streaks marked paths from her swollen eyes to her quivering lips. A year ago she didn’t bother with make-up and she would have spent her Friday night at youth group, having fun. She looked down at her tight shirt and mini-skirt and felt ashamed. Her old friends would be disgusted.

She got out of the car and staggered, blurry-eyed down the beach, crying out in pain when her spiky heels turned sideways in the rocks, twisting her ankles. She’d bought these heels because Jason liked tall girls. She gritted her teeth and muffled another scream as she yanked the uncomfortable shoes from her feet and hurled them into the water. They landed with a splash, setting circular ripples in motion. The moonlight reflected off the ripples, transforming the dark water into a sea of diamonds and reminding her of the engagement ring she’d dreamt Jason would buy her. What a fool.

Now she was alone. Well, not really alone. She put a hand to her flat stomach and wondered how long it would be until her jeans no longer fit. Until people could “tell.”

Jason’s eyes were cold when he broke up with her. You are not going to ruin my life. Eryn’s stomach lurched and she felt like she might throw up. Ruin his life? He said he loved me.

Dropping to the sand, she squeezed her eyes shut. If only she could go back, not accept that first date. She’d known he wasn’t a believer, had only meant to go out with him once. Like a toddler hiding behind clothing racks at the mall despite his mother’s instruction to stay close by, she’d hidden from God, unaware of the dangers.

She thought about how far she’d wandered and trembled, feeling like a child separated from her parent in a crowd. What if I can’t find Him again? What if He won’t forgive me?

She laid facedown in the sand, shaking violently. “Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. I’m so sorry. Please…help.”

I’m still here.

“God, it hurts…so bad. He said he loved me”

I love you.

Eryn’s breathing slowed and the shaking ceased. A sweet and familiar presence—one she’d missed—surrounded her and she rested.

Go home my love.

Claudia struggled to her feet, grabbed her robe and headed for the kitchen. God’s instructions had been clear. Get up, make tea, and wait. Eryn was coming home.

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This article has been read 987 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 03/01/06
This is great! So much truth here, and so beautifully written. I loved the way you framed Eryn's story with her mother's prayers, and the loving voice of God.
david grant03/01/06
Great story. One of this week's best, I think.
Brandi Roberts03/01/06
First things first... first line reads "make his was" ... should read "made his way"... after that I found nothing that stood out :P

I LOVED THIS! You had me feeling every emotion the characters were feeling - from the mother's perspective, the fear and anguish; from the daughter's perspective, the emotional upheaval that had just occured. I enjoyed every part of this! Well done!
Andre Kingston03/02/06
I think you did well telling the daughter's history and current problem. I did want more of the future though- her fear of telling her parents and such. I felt the whole part of God's comfort a bit too quick in the story. I tend to take a lot longer in my crying and repenting, but that could be just me.

I loved the details. The puffy red eyes, the mascara, the spikey heels and the soft tender kiss. You really shined here.
Debbie Sickler03/02/06
Well, I was going to point out the typo with the spider, but Jez beat me to it. So I found this one for you instead: "Eryn's rusty chevette" Chevette should be capitalized. :)

This was very realistically betrayed and well written. (despite the couple typos lol)

"The pricks of her conscience....used gum wrapper" This is a great way to describe the situation.

I loved the descriptions of how her appearance had changed to please someone who was gone and now her appearance would be changing again because of him.
Dara Sorensen03/02/06
Great story! One phrase I liked: "she fell deep into the well of first love." Such a great analogy!

You did a good job at telling a familiar story--one of the week's best!
janet rubin03/02/06
Now that the hints are out, I wanted to officially apologize for my blatant typos- how embarrassing! Thanks for reading and commenting anyhow:)
Maxx .03/02/06
You worry too much about a few typos. The power of the story transcends all that. Besides, you said they were in the first sentence ... they're actually in the second! ;-)

It was an interesting technique to use the book-ends of the mothers actions. Brought home the "prodigal" aspect of the story.

Looks like yet another winning piece from a very strong writer. Congrats!
Pat Guy 03/02/06
Ahh... yes! When God speaks to moms - they listen! A precious scenario of forgiveness and of a God Who is always there ... waiting. Beautiful!
The Tornyn03/03/06
Very well written. I felt her pain and the mothers worry. I really enjoyed this piece.
Shari Armstrong 03/04/06
A very true-to-life story, that sadly happens way too many times. But, it's comforting to know we can always go back again.