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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)

TITLE: A New Tomorrow
By Lynda Lee Schab


It was dark and damp when the small cluster of recovering addicts spilled out onto the sidewalk. Annie breathed deeply, taking in the fresh scent of new rain. She wished she felt fresh and new but right now she felt old and stale. It took everything in her just get through the day. “One day at a time,” was her current phrase of choice.

“Hey, Annie! Rita and I are going over to Pat’s to watch a movie. Wanna come? It’ll be fun. Microwave popcorn.… a twelve-pack….soda, of course.” Carla chuckled at her own words. The image of ice cold beer materialized in Annie’s mind but she tried to smile along with Carla, who, although only twenty-three, was much farther along in the recovery process than she and could joke about things like that.

“Sounds great. But I have to check on Ginny. Frank promised not to leave until I got home but I know how he is...”

“Do you want me to come with you?” Carla offered, but Annie saw her glance over at Rita and Pat who were waiting for her in the car.

“No, that’s okay. You go have fun. I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?” Carla asked.

Annie nodded. “I’m sure.”

Carla gave her a quick hug. “Call us if you need to. Anytime, Annie. Day or night.”

“I will.”

Annie watched the group pull away and wished she could have joined them. She needed a little fun in her life. And something to distract her from the fifth of Whiskey that was calling her name. But it was hard to avoid alcohol when her husband owned a bar and spent every waking hour with a drink in his hand.

But Ginny kept her focused. Too much time had already been lost because of her addiction. She would not lose another moment with her daughter.

Her suspicions that Frank had broken his promise and taken Ginny to the bar were confirmed by his old, blue clunker parked outside. Annie said a quick prayer and stepped inside. Magnet-like, her eyes were drawn to the shelves behind the counter. Seventeen days sober so far... She pried her eyes away from the booze.

In the far corner, she saw Frank, sitting with a couple of his buddies. Ginny sat on the floor, playing with a pack of cigarettes. The men laughed when she stuck two in her mouth as if she were smoking.

Annie quickly made her way over. “Yucky,” she said, yanking the cigarettes from her toddler’s mouth. She threw the half-empty pack onto the table and glared at her husband. “What is wrong with you, Frank?” Tears welled in her eyes but Frank rolled his toward the ceiling.

“So how did your little meeting go? Did you spend the whole hour thinking ‘bout this?” His words were slurred and he held his glass up to her nose. She got a waft of whiskey and felt the familiar longing inside of her. She grew light-headed as she stared into the amber liquid. How easy it would be to grab the glass and down it.

“Still got God, Annie?” Frank asked. He looked at his drinking buddies. “Place your bets now, folks. Will God help Annie resist? Or will she give in to temp-ta-tion?” Laughter echoed through the bar. He was mocking her. Challenging her. A big part of her wanted to laugh too. To dismiss the God she met three weeks ago and take that drink. Where was God, anyway? Did He even show up in bars?

“Mommy get drunk too?” Ginny’s small, sweet voice brought her back to her senses.

Annie hugged her tight. “No, baby. Mommy’s not going to get drunk.”

“You’ve lost your mind, Sweetheart,” Frank said as he tipped back his head and finished off the drink.

“Maybe, Frank. But I’ve found so much more.” Annie gazed at her daughter.

Annie turned and walked away. Behind her, she heard Frank ask, “What in the world is she talkin’ about? Can anyone understand that woman?”

Annie stepped onto the sidewalk as it started to rain again. She no longer felt old and stale. God had shown up in that bar and given her the strength to resist temptation and remind her that she did have the ability to overpower her own desires.

Annie felt strangely invigorated! She pressed Ginny to her shoulder and lifted her head towards the rain. For the first time in seventeen days, she looked forward to tomorrow.

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This article has been read 1372 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 04/27/06
A very compelling story and completely on topic. I thought your use of dialogue was good. I am not sure that it is grammatically correct to begin sentences with "And" and "But".
Helen Paynter04/27/06
Oh, good job. That man needs decking!
Maxx .04/27/06
Very nice. Good setting, great characters. I'd say one rewrite short of a home run. A bit of alliteration, a few small grammar issues, just a drop too much telling. All minor, all easily fixed. The rest, from theme to engaging the reader, etc was righ tthere. Great message!
Purity Snowe04/28/06
What a horrible man! I hate him! You really brought him out to me. Men are terrible creatures sometimes... they think they're all tough but can be so cruel and uncaring. Touched a nerve! lol! Great job reaching my emotions. Loved the scene.
Suzanne R04/29/06
Oh, life is hard for some people. Good telling. The scene of Ginny sitting on the floor playing at smoking was touching. The choice of name (Ginny) is interesting. Well done.
Jean Elizabeth 04/29/06
Very well done! You have done a great job fleshing out your characters, flaws and all. By the end of the story, I felt like I knew them.
janet rubin04/30/06
Terrific. I love the hope at the end, in spite of Frank's evil mockery.
Alexandra Wilkin04/30/06
Nicely done - the characters were strong, the difficulty of resisting the temptation so early in the process was well handled. God bless.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/30/06
It would be easy to hate the husband, as one of the commenters stated; but praying for him would be better; Think about what Jesus would do? A touching story...and fits the topic.
Jan Ackerson 05/01/06
Great job with the realistic dialog and a main character to really care about. A gripping story, told with great empathy.
Pat Guy 05/01/06
Once again you carry us along with your characters and not just words. I think that means you're a pretty good writer! ;)

I want so much for that mom to succeed - and that little girl to be safe! (Having a little trouble about the dad here - sorry)

Great writing!
Debbie OConnor05/03/06
Great story. I like the baby jolting her mother back to reality. It was a bit disturbing to think of a child that young knowing what getting drunk means.