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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: From the Alley to Abundance
By Lynda Lee Schab


The putrid odor slapped her in the face before she even rounded the corner. An arm appeared out of nowhere and gripped her elbow. Instinctively, Stacia pulled away.

“Do you have a dollar to spare, Miss? Some change maybe?” Sad, bloodshot eyes implored her, saying more than the woman’s words alone.

Stacia was smart enough to leave her purse at home but she dug through her coat pocket and pulled out a crumpled five dollar bill.

“Bless you, Miss.” This time, the woman kept her arm to herself. She disappeared as quickly as she came.

Stacia pulled her jacket tighter. Her eyes darted, cautiously taking in her surroundings. A vagrant lay motionless in a nearby doorway, legs curled up in fetal position. A malnourished stray cat hissed from somewhere in the shadows.

Oh, why had she come?

Stacia turned her attention toward the massive brown dumpster down the alley. The smell of days-old chicken and dirty diapers invaded her senses and she covered her nose and mouth with her hand. A lone figure stepped from behind the trash bin and hoisted herself up over the side. Stacia watched as the woman landed with a thud on top of the garbage.

Stacia’s breath caught. There was no doubt in her mind; it was Mel.

The reason she had come.

Tentatively, Stacia stepped around the side of the building. Thankfully, she had worn tennis shoes and could approach, unnoticed. Mel seemed too preoccupied with her current task to notice her anyway.

“M-Mel?” Her own voice seemed to echo through the vacant alleyway. For one brief moment, Mel hesitated. She then resumed her trash picking without looking up.

“Please, Mel. Look at me.” Stacia’s heart pounded as she willed her sister to respond.

Slowly, deliberately, Mel turned and looked. Recognition flashed in her eyes, then was gone.

“Go away. Leave me be.”

“Come with me, Mel. You don’t belong here. The past is the past. It’s time to come home.”

For several agonizing moments, Mel said nothing. Then, abruptly, she aimed a cold, hard gaze into Stacia’s eyes. “I don’t think Daddy would agree with you. He hates me.”

“You’re wrong, Mel. Here ---." Stacia pulled a piece of paper from her pocket and stretched out her hand. "He asked me to give you this.” When her sister made no move to take it, Stacia set it down on top of the pile.

Mel grabbed the note with filthy hands and opened it. She stared at it, then threw it on the ground and looked away. “I can’t---read it. My eyes….”

Stacia picked up the note and read with a soft, yet steady, voice.

“To my dearest Melanie,

For nine years I’ve been waiting. Every morning and every evening, I sit by the window and watch for my daughter to come home.

Does that surprise you?

Contrary to what you might think, I was never angry with you. Yes, I was disappointed and hurt, but never angry. The money you took from me has been replenished, ten-fold. But you, my dearest daughter, can never be replaced.

I grieve for you each day. When Stacia told me where you were, I was deeply troubled. You are not meant to live on the streets, hunting for food, separated from your family. You are supposed to be here – living the abundant life I so want to give you.

Please. Come home. Your debt has been paid in full. I simply want to love you.

Waiting with anticipation and open arms,


Stacia had never seen her sister cry until that moment. The tears flowed freely and Mel climbed out of the dumpster and into her sister’s arms.

The Father watched from above and smiled. First for the child who was on her way home, then for the one who was leading her there.

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This article has been read 1306 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Genstacia Bull06/15/06
Good, I could picture it and smell it!
Jessica Schmit06/16/06
First, this was written extremely well. You painted this scene perfectly. I could see everything. The dumster, the dark alley...everything!!! great, great work! I loved the double message. It takes talent to weave two differnet storylines in one story. I loved the letter, but I did wish to see a little more hesitancy with Mel before she truly accepted "the abundant life." But that was a minor issue. This story was wonderful, great piece!!!! (you have no need to worry about your decision!)
Melanie Kerr 06/17/06
That was really heart wrenching! It reminded me of the parable of the prodigal son - the father waiting. It made me think too of the older brother in that parable - how differently things might have worked out if he had acted like Stacia. Well done!"
Suzanne R06/17/06
Beautifully described with a powerful message - well done.
Ann Darcy06/19/06
Oh, that gave me goosebumps! Wonderful, beautiful story. I also could see everything so clearly. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
Jen Davis06/19/06
A great story and very well written. The dialogue flows very naturally. You have very good word choices and strong use of verbs. I loved the resemblance to the story of the prodigal son, but this was a father who grieved for the return of his daughter. Simply excellent!
terri tiffany06/20/06
You write so well! Clear descriptions and great dialogue. I loved it!:)
Jan Ross06/20/06
Beautiful! I loved it! Masterfully written by a Master! :)
Sherry Wendling06/20/06
Excellent use of dialogue to set the stage and mood, then develop the story! It's a wonderful story, too. Clearly the hand of God had been preparing Mel for her sister's visit.

It may seem sudden, the way Mel's defense appear to crumble easily, but I have seen this happen in my own family, when it was least expected. There is nothing so powerful as a father's (Father's) love!
Brenda Craig06/20/06
From one who has a homeless child, this story touched me deeply. God's goodness is amazing and you protrayed it so well. Wiping my tears now, as I pray for my own.
George Parler 06/20/06
I thought I knew where this was headed, and I did to a degree. But I didn't see sisters coming. Wow! It's painful enough to witness someone living on the street, but your own sibling. And then the revelation comes ... every person living on the street is my brother or sister in Christ. Well done.
Maxx .06/20/06
One of your best, Lynda. Excellent work. I personally don't like the letter in the story approach... just a personal preference... but nothing can take away the strength of this story. Very well done!
Sally Hanan06/21/06
This was some excellent writing on your part. I think I would have left the last line at 'into her sister's arms' but other that that tiny quibble, I'd be surprised if this one was not a winner in the EC. Even if it is not, you could easily sell it.
Jan Ackerson 06/21/06
Very atmospheric and deftly written.
dub W06/21/06
Obviously, the constraint of word count limited a true and full expressions at the dumpster, thus making the transition somewhat incomplete. A moving and deserving piece nonetheless.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/21/06
Masterfully written. I could almost smell that dirty diaper (but thank God, not quite). Great writing.
Trina Courtenay06/21/06
Lynda, I really don't know what else to say that hasn't been said already. Just wanted you to know your story brought tears to my eyes and how much I enjoyed reading it.

Sandra Petersen 06/21/06
Great opening, established the setting very well. Good interaction between the sisters.

This section seemed just a bit mechanical in my mind's eye, though: "A lone figure stepped from behind the trash bin and hoisted herself up over the side. Stacia watched as the woman landed with a thud on top of the garbage." I can't explain why.

The father's note caught my teenage daughter's eye and she wanted to read the whole story. She liked it; what more can I tell you? Your story passed her inspection. I also enjoyed it.