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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)

TITLE: Don't Count the Flags
By terri tiffany


“I know we can do it, dad. It would be fun and besides this is out last chance to do something like this together.” That clinched it. Todd grabbed her hand and headed for the Casting booth.

Emails, cell phones, meetings, conferences – demands filled his life. Rarely, did he return home until well past dinner and was often served warmed up leftovers. His weekends consisted of playing catch up with the yard and serving as an usher in church before heading to the couch for a much needed nap.

Was this fulfillment?

His wife suggested they go to a park. They lived in the land of make believe adventures but rarely went. His only child was moving in six weeks to the other side of the country and this was the last day their schedules collided.

“Take plenty of pictures, hon.” Todd shouted to his wife who was left holding the backpacks, cell phones and wallets. She smiled and waved them on.

“Are you afraid, dad? They make you hang forty feet in the air.” Shelly pointed to the stage now deserted from the last stunt show.

“No way. Just watch your dad beat them all. Even you!” He bumped her shoulder. He didn’t want her to think his age might be a factor. Todd told himself that if he could run a corporation, climbing ladders and swinging from heights would effortless.

“Audience, let’s welcome our FEARLESS contestants. They will be performing stunts that will test all their fears.” The host strutted before the packed stadium. Todd recognized his wife seated with other family members of thrill seekers needing to take on spirited exploits. He glanced at his daughter, strapped into her harness, ready to hang for as long as she could once the floor dropped from beneath her.

Whoosh. Three stunts blurred into one as they worked as a team and ultimately were the only two contestants left. They would compete in the last stunt against each other. Todd hadn’t felt this pumped since he won the regional production contest. He matched his daughter’s smile and prepared for the final event.

“They will each climb this wall, releasing all five flags, slide down the fire pole, and jump into that car which will ascend fifty feet into the air. Then they will climb onto the hood releasing four more flags before climbing back in and shooting the bazooka into that target. The winner will be our FEARLESS champion. Are you ready Todd and Shelly?” They both hammed it up before turning to face the wall. Todd worried about his extra twenty pounds from his work day lunches. Could he beat his daughter? Should he even try? The buzzer sounded pressing his thoughts on the flags.

One by one, he counted. His daughter forgotten, he didn’t notice she matched him flag by flag. The goal was clear. A silly game but he had to win. He had elevated this adventure to the status of an end of the quarter closing report. The mouth guard nearly gagged him as he spit out drenching water. Seconds passed until he felt the trigger of the bazooka under his finger. Todd pulled and pulled until the pyro blast told him what he needed to know. He’d won.

He turned to check on his competition. Shelly was just reaching for her final flag. Only then, did he realize he’d beaten his daughter with the same fervor he displayed in the office.

Was this fulfillment?

Todd jumped out of the winning car and allowed the game host to raise his right arm. His wife waved her camera in front of them. Shame for his actions and pride for his skill fought their own battle.

“You won Dad!” Shelly leapt into his arms. “I had so much fun!” She laughed and grabbed him around the neck again. Todd hung on and let the battle die.

This was fulfillment.

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This article has been read 1071 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 04/13/06
Wow! I was there every step of the way. Neat job of taking us down one road then revealing the real message. Great job of writing!
Marilyn Schnepp 04/14/06
A few minor goof's such as an "our" instead of "out", and some words needing to be capitalized, but overall a very neat story, and well written. Interesting also. I liked it.
Jan Ackerson 04/14/06
"Todd hung on and let the battle die." What a profound statement! Loved this.
Doug Jenkins04/14/06
Interesting story and great profile of the Type A personality. Good read, despite the afore mentioned typos in the early going. Been there, done that way too many times.- Doug
Shannon Redmon04/15/06
Got tears in my eyes at the end when dad realized that true fulfillment didn't come from winning but from love! Good story!
Linda Germain 04/15/06
Nicely done, and with an excellent ending.
Beth Muehlhausen04/17/06
Liked this line: "Shame for his actions and pride for his skill fought their own battle."

Valora Otis04/19/06
Terri my friend, you had me in tears. Your story is truly about fulfillment reclaimed. Bless You!
Sandra Petersen 04/20/06
I had tried to leave a comment earlier in the week, but it didn't show up, so here goes...
The topic 'fulfillment' was covered well, from what the world would consider fulfillment to what the parent heart sometimes loses track of in the sameness of daily life. Just a few thoughts: "Rarely, did he return home until well past dinner and was often served warmed up leftovers"...did you mean "Often he returned home well past dinner and was served warmed up leftovers..." I wonder what the wife's response to that was? I don't completely understand the FEARLESS contest. Were they doing a reality television thing, or was this a theme park amusement? What was so sad about this was that Todd related even this day of bonding and relaxation with his family to the adrenaline rush of his workday. I liked the following lines that drove home the point: "Could he beat his daughter? Should he even try?", "The goal was clear. A silly game but he had to win. He had elevated this adventure to the status of an end of the quarter closing report.", "Only then, did he realize he’d beaten his daughter with the same fervor he displayed in the office.", and the refrain "Was this fulfillment?" Good job! Really related to my family as my husband works three 12-hour shifts and one 4 hour day every week. Something gets sacrificed.