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

TITLE: Maybe Tomorrow, Sis, Maybe Tomorrow...
By Cassie Memmer
05/10/06


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“Maybe we’ll get a piece of bread today, Lisa.” Corey said. He laid on the cold
concrete floor and looked over at his little sister. He had hoped the thought of
food might trigger some kind of response in her lifeless eyes. Any response.
But she just sat in the corner with her arms around her legs, knees under her
chin, staring at nothing in particular. And she rocked.

Lisa’s dirty brown hair was matted to her head. Her face smeared with filth and
dirt where her nose had ran and been wiped with the back of her hand. Her little
dress, once light blue with lace and buttons was now no more than a sordid rag.
Too small, too tight, Corey could count every one of Lisa’s ribs through the thin
material.

The young boy got up, walked to his sister, and squatted in front of her. He
gently put his arms about her to stop the rocking. “Maybe today” he said.” He
knew they couldn’t survive much longer on the meager bits of scraps their
mother brought them once a day.

“How long do you think we’ve been in the basement, Lisa? It was summer when
Mom made us come down here. I think it’s cold outside now. Don’t you think
so? The floor and walls sure are cold.”

She never replied anymore, yet Corey talked to her anyway. It helped pass the
time. Helped to forget his hunger. Helped to get his mind off the smell of their
small living quarters. For there was no bathroom down here. A corner had to
make do for daily necessities.

Corey asked himself for the millionth time, “Why are we down here? Why can’t
we live upstairs with Mom and our little brother? What did we do?” They could
hear little Michael running upstairs playing. Laughing. Deep longing for family,
food, even a bath worked it’s tendrils all through his heart. He sat down beside
his sister, sighed, saying “maybe tomorrow, Sis, maybe tomorrow.” He put his
arm around her shoulders and fell asleep.

Noises woke Corey. A key turned in the lock. His stomach lurched and his
breathing quickened. It could mean a bite to eat or a beating with the big stick.
“Oh, please, God, please not the stick.”

Their mother walked half-way down the steps then threw the remains of a bowl
of oatmeal over the banister. The few spoonfuls landed on the cold dirty
concrete without a word being offered. Corey held his breath.

Thankfully his mother turned and plodded back up the steps. He raced to the
few drops of cereal, hoping to get to it before the hungry mice. He used his
makeshift utensil, a putty knife, to scrape up the precious drops. Gathering
every last morsel, he took it to his sister. “Open your mouth, Lisa.”

Her mouth opened a tiny bit and he placed a few drops into it. He took a small
lick of the mush himself, then offered the last bite to his sibling. After putting the
putty knife up on a shelf, Corey sat beside Lisa again. “I hope tomorrow we get
more to eat. What do you think the kids are doing in school now, Sis? Mmm,
remember the school lunches?” Corey rubbed his crusty, sore elbow. The cold,
damp concrete and no baths were taking a toll on his skin.

“Want a drink, Lisa? There’s a little left in the jar Mom brought down last week.”
He got the jar, gave her a sip and swallowed the smallest trickle himself. “We
need more, I hope Mom brings us more tomorrow. Or... maybe she’ll let us out
tomorrow... Yeah, I hope tomorrow’s the day!”

Corey fell asleep again and dreamt of leaving the basement... tomorrow. He
awoke, startled to hear the door lock for the second time that day. His heart beat
furiously as adrenaline raced through him. There was no way of escape. Tears
came to his eyes. His mom coming down for a second time in one day could only
mean one thing. “Oh, God, please, help us!”

Squeezing his eyes shut, he heard the knob turn, the door opened. His arm
tightened around Lisa.

“Corey? Lisa?”

A man’s voice! Corey peeked. Someone was coming down the steps panning a
flashlight. As the man got closer, tears welled up in Corey. The man wore a
uniform. It was a policeman!

“Sis,” Corey whooped, “wake up. It’s tomorrow. I told you it would come!”


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This article has been read 1181 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/11/06
This is a facinating story. It has some powerful elements, but a lot of questions remain unanswered. Good job!
Liz Hoyt Eberle05/12/06
Amy, thank you for your courage to show- and you did- the horrors of powerless children. I felt I was there. It was chilling to read. As a former foster parent- and current news watcher, ugh!- I know this to be true. I assure you that the questions remain throughout a lifetime for abused children. I hope this story is published- in all its ugliness- to remind us of our calling ...to forbid not the little children...
Val Clark05/13/06
Very powerful story. Every element works together to get my undivided attention and sympathy. I know there are more unhappy endings than happy in cases like this but it was good to anticipate a happy one.
Jessica Schmit05/13/06
ok, I'm crying. it's the first time since I started reading that I've come to tears. Oh my, the plot, the writing, the suspense, the...EVERYTHING! This story needs to be read by everyone. This happens and we forget about it. So tragic. Incredible. Breathtaking.
Maxx .05/14/06
OK... I'll be 100% honest here. Many people will hate this story because it touches on a dark, miserable subject. Abuse, neglect, family skeletons. Who wants to be reminded of those? BUT .. .we must be reminded. We need to remember the least of these, the innocents. So this story MUST be written. Don't let nay-sayers cast doubt over your voice.

As to the presentation itself. You took the time to show, not tell. Great! You resisted the urge to fill in all the holes. Great! You showed us the depth of 3 characters, all through the eyes of 1. Excellent. On all those fronts you are right on target.

A few small nit picks (and I mean small, here) I needed just a touch more reference points. SOmething that helped me know their ages would have helped. A 7 and 5 year old might sit and wait for months ... a 12 and 9 probably not so much. There were a few places where I think a better, more unusual word could have conveyed an emotion better... just a couple. Lastly, a little bit of the dialogue, every once in a while, sounded a bit forced. Small things.

Aside from that, you will score quite well with this. You nailed the theme, you built a great scene, you have strong characters. Maybe a touch light on lesson / message but if read as an allegory then you're ok there, too.

Don't be surprised if you place with this piece from the darkside of life. Welcome to the neighborhood!
Brandi Roberts05/14/06
This is a wonderfully horrible story, Cassie! Wow. Well written and you got my heart right up in my throat for those children! Well done! I hope to see this in the rankings!
Linda Watson Owen05/14/06
Chillingly brilliant writing! Yes, you put your reader 'right there' in the story...and such a sad story it is because it is 'true' in every today and tomorrow. Wonderful writing!
T. F. Chezum05/14/06
Very well written and very descriptive. Overall a good job.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/15/06
Cassie, this is an inspiring and wonderfully written potrayal of the sick side of our society. Great job, you had me all the way through.
Pat Guy 05/15/06
Yes, a very hard read. One that is personal to my heart and ripped it to shreds. I never want to read it again! And that's the mark of a most excellent writer! So yes, again, Wow - on the writing that put us through you-know-what.
Crista Darr05/15/06
Gripping, powerful story! It held my interest throughout and tore at my heart.
Helen Paynter05/15/06
Horrible. And that's not a criticism. It needs writing. Keep doing it, please!
Rita Garcia05/15/06
very well written. Thank you for this heartfelt look at hope.
Debbie Sickler05/16/06
Cassie,
This reminded me of my favorite book, "A Child Called "It"", by Dave Pelzer. "It" was his true life story of torture at the hands of his mother. I loved how he wrote his story and you've captured me just as well.

Knowing that this type of thing really does go on, only made your story more heartbreaking. You made me feel for your characters and hope right along with them. Great job.
Karen Treharne05/16/06
Let me add my voice to the others to thank you for telling this story. Graphic and compelling to read, and even though happy endings in real life for kids in this type of situation is rare, I appreciated this one. Well done, indeed. You are a winner in my book. May God bless your writing.
Shari Armstrong 05/16/06
A heartbreaking story - and more so that things like this really happen. Well written.
Marilyn Schnepp 05/18/06
Oh, Cassie, you have done such a beautiful job on such a horrible story that is surprisingly all too true. Congratulations on your Commendation! The writing was supurb! If I hadn't read stories like this in the News, I wouldn't have believed it...this touched me to the core.
Beth Muehlhausen05/23/06
You squeezed every drop of compassion out of me with this one. I'm exhausted - ! - but inspired to appreciate my blessings and share hope with those who aren't so blessed.