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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Personal Peace (06/01/06)

TITLE: Always Online
By Venice Kichura


“You’ve had your turn!” My ten-year-old-son Ryan snapped at his twin brother, Rusty, snatching the TV remote.

“Did not!” Rusty shot back.

“Did. too!”

“Excuse me, Mama,” I said, laying down the phone.

“QUIET!!! Can’t you boys see I’m on the phone with your grandmother? Since you can’t stop arguing, no TV for either of you,” I demanded, yanking out the plug and rolling the TV stand into a closet. “Now get ready for your camping trip before Dad comes home.”

“Sorry, Mamma,” I said, continuing my telephone conversation. “But I just can’t take any more racket. Can’t wait ‘til this weekend when they’re all gone. Awww….. Finally……Peace and quiet.”

“I’ll trade places with you any day,” said my 74-year-old mother. “Too quiet over here. Been ten long years now since your father died, but I still miss his voice.”

I remembered my childhood home and wondered if Mamma was talking about the same man. I never forgot how my face turned Christmas red when a neighbor had asked, “Why does your father yell?”

And now, I had my own rowdy family including a loud husband, boisterous twins, and a yappy dog, as well as a hyper hamster who worked out on his wheel all night.

“I’d love to trade with you, Mama,” I reassured her. “Must be great not to have to referee fights, close windows because of a loud family, or chase runaway pets. Countin’ the minutes ‘til they’re gone. Hey, I’ll take your solitary life any day to my zoo over here.”

“Just wait, dear. Someday you’ll miss the noise. That’s why I have the TV on all day. Feels like I’m not alone.”

“I’ll give you my TV,”I said, looking forward to having it shut off all weekend.

“Sorry, Mamma, but right now I’d like to be lonely. Sorry, but gotta go, now, and get my guys off to their campout. Love ya.”

“MOM!” Rusty squealed, again as I hung up the phone. “Ryan didn’t close Herman’s cage!”

“Did too!”

“Did not!”

“Blasted rodent!” I said, wondering when I’d be hearing Herman scampering through my kitchen pipes.

The next sound was the garage door opening as my husband drove home. His beeping horn meant only one thing---another bad day at work.

As I ran to shut the windows I’m sure the neighbors also heard about his day from hell.

“I’m retiring early!” He fumed, slamming the door. “You can take my job and shove it!”

Finally everyone was out the door, including the dog who would be guarding their tent.

For my first hour alone, I just sat on the couch, enjoying the sweet sound of nothing. Only the hum of the dishwasher.

Then I drew a bubble bath, soaking my frazzled body for the next hour.

I fell into bed early, reading my novel.

Could it be too peaceful?I wondered, startled I was having such thoughts.

I slid between the bedsheets but found myself still awake in the middle of the night, discovering it wasn’t easy to fall asleep in a quiet house. I even missed Herman’s nocturnal aerobics.

By noon the next day Herman had slipped back into to his cage.

“Welcome back,” I greeted him, slamming his cage door.

“Actually too quiet here, Hermie,” I continued, staring into his beady little black eyes. “Maybe Mamma was right?”

“At least I have you and my internet friends,” I said, now mumbling to myself. But I was disappointed when I found no one on my Buddy List to IM (instant message). Not one personal e-mail. Only junk spam.

Rolling the TV cart back into the living room, I reasoned, I may have seen every episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” at least a dozen times but it reassures me ours wasn’t the only loud dysfunctional family.

Less than 24 hours of being alone, but I’m already missing my noisy family?

The house was peaceful, but I wasn’t.

Flipping through the channels, I heard an evangelist preach, “The only way to find personal peace is through spending time alone with God.”

Opening my Bible I sunk into my recliner, flipped off the TV and logged off my computer.

The verse, “Call unto me and I will answer…….”* jumped off the page.

Awww…..Sweet peace at last!I thought, meditating on God’s Word for the rest of the day.

Then I heard the gentle voice of my Lord reassuring me deep within my spirit…..

“You can IM me 24/7. I’m always online.”

*Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJ)

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This article has been read 1342 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan06/08/06
I remember praying with a lady who felt lonely, and when she waited for God's answer to her cry, He said, "Well, I'm here!"
Helen Paynter06/09/06
Fun story with a good message. I did feel that the conversation on the phone - while I enjoyed the dialogue - was a bit overdone in terms of 'I'd like to swap'. I enjoyed the read a lot though.
Kathleen Fairman06/10/06
As a mother whose clan (including a set of identical 12-year-olds and a 15-year-old, all boys) was once described by a neighbor's child as "the noisy family," I hear you. I have found that personal retreat time is a v-e-r-y good thing!
Jessica Schmit06/10/06
The movement and pace of your story was superb. Great dialogue. The only problem I found was that the POV of the narrator seemed to jump out and made it difficult to follow. But I loved the message and the characters of the story.
Brenda Craig06/12/06
I enjoyed this, especially in light of summer and the last day of school. My quiet life has been disturbed. This reminds me that even a moment with Him has amazing ramifications. I enjoyed this very much.
Jan Ackerson 06/12/06
I like the use of techno-jargon from our ageless, eternal God. Nice touch.
Rita Garcia06/12/06
“You can IM me 24/7. I’m always online." (What an awesome thought.)
Very realistic and well written!

Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/12/06
Well done. And what mother (and grandmother) can't relate to the desires of this mother, and the unexpected feelings experienced when things do get quiet. Great job.
dub W06/13/06
Pretty good work and dialog was realistic - lose some of the exclamation marks.
Amy Nicholson06/14/06
LOVED IT! LOVED IT! I can relate to all of it (except the pets). The more that you can relate to your readers, the more you engage them. You bring the reader right into the scene with the dialog. The theme is clearly illustrated (Oh,yeah. This is Masters. Of course you've got all this down already! Sorry, I'm calling to you from way back here in Beginners.) Thank you for a wonderful piece. Off to the bubble bath...
Linda Watson Owen07/04/06
Oh, Venice, this is a delightful read! I've been there too a few years back :) You are so incredibly talented...love your style! Yes, it would be great to meet on our next trip to Atlanta after your move. Thank you so much for your encouraging comments on my poem "God Is..." Yes, I'm 'Evensong' on the boards :)