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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)

TITLE: The Old Man and Me.
By Sharon Singley


My aching back! I wish he would get off of me already. But he insists that I carry him. Says that he doesn’t have any legs and he needs mine in order to get around!

As I trek on, I glance back over my shoulder at the miserable wretch. Ugh! He is so revolting! His leathery skin lies in disgusting folds over his cataract covered eyes. I watch in morbid fascination as his bulbous nose bounces up and down with each step. I turn back around, unable to bear the sight of this wrinkled, offensive old carcass of a man.

A distinct and particularly pungent odor suddenly overwhelms me. I sigh as I realize that the old man is beginning his tirade again. With each word he speaks, his foul breath washes over me and creeps into my nostrils like the plague.

I fight to hold down the vile that is rising in my throat as his abrasive voice screeches. “You good for nothin’ oaf! Watch out! Could you be any more careless? You’ve always been worthless, you know that? I remember, even if you don’t want to! Yes sir, I remember it all.”

I wince as he begins to regale me…ONCE AGAIN… with all of his fond memories.

“Yeah, remember the time you yelled at your mama? It ‘bout broke her heart. You yelled at her and then ran out the door without as much as a ‘how do you do’. Terrible, terrible boy.” The old cuss reminisced. “And that time you got fired from your job because they caught you stealing? You’re just lucky the man didn’t throw you in jail! And how ‘bout the time you took a fancy to your wife’s best friend? Cecilia, wasn’t that her name? Ooooh my! The many nights you lay next to your wife pretending that she was Cecilia!” Apparently he is amused by this story because he breaks out into a raucous cackle, which then causes him to choke, which then makes him sputter and cough for the next ten minutes. All the while I have to endure the sheer torture of his foul breath.

As he hacks and spits (all over me...yuck) I begin to wonder if I will ever be free from this horrible man? I’ve thrown him down over and over again, tried to run quickly from him, but I always look back. And then when I see how pitiful he is, I pick him right back up again. Maybe that’s my lot in life. I don’t know. Maybe I am just useless, good for nothing. Yeah, sure I want to be rid of him…who wouldn’t? But how?

Oh great! Here he goes again.

“Do you really think that you can change? A zebra don’t wear polka dots, now does he? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Quote scripture to me all day long. It don’t matter. Once a failure, always a failure. There’s nothing that God can do about it, ‘cause you’ll only ruin it! You’re hopeless, man. Completely hopeless.”

Then it dawns on me! What am I thinking? I don’t have to take this from him. My God can, no my God WILL deliver me. Even from myself.

With a new sense of strength I turn to the old man and say, “Listen, that’s enough! I don’t have to take this any more! Not from you, not from anyone. The Lord says ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB)

So once more…hopefully for the last time…I throw that old man down. I know now that the biggest mistake I could make is to look back. I need to let him die. He’s a miserable old cuss, anyway.

As I walk away from the old man, I walk away from the past. My future and my hope are ahead of me now and I start to run with sheer joy as I enter in.

I can still here the wretched old man quietly mumbling in the background, but now I know that he holds no real power over me. Not anymore. In time I am sure I will learn to ignore him, until at last he is dead.

So with a big smile and with a heart full of hope, I say Amen.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jessica Schmit05/12/06
This messege, story and writing are amazing. Beautiful. But, to be honest, I thought your ending wasn't a powerful as your beginning and end. You have amazing talent. Great job. Everyone can relate to this story.
Val Clark05/13/06
Great personification of the guilt that we carry so unnecessarily. Like the way that you use more than one sense. A story that is, sadly, so easy for me to identify with. Yeggy

Lynda Schultz 05/13/06
Super-duper! Amen and Hallelujah. This is great - the writing and the message.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/14/06
This is a good perspective of the "old man". I loved it.
Phyllis Inniss05/18/06
Powerful message of the guilt we carry around and how we can rid ourselves of it if we let go and let God.