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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Great (07/06/06)

TITLE: If He is so Great...
By Rita Garcia


I kept my eyes intent on the ground, kicking at the rocks. There was a movement in the bushes, and I laughed as a rabbit popped out its head. I swiped at the tears that threatened to fall. You big sissy, that’s what Dad would say,I could hear his voice in my head.

My father was admired for his dark, rugged good looks, most say I look like him.
He wasn’t so admirable when he decided it was time for a binge. I knew to find other places to be. It didn’t protect my Mom, but what good was a scrawny twelve years old against a giant of a father? The day will come, and I counted on that day coming.

“God, if you’re real. Why do you allow my family to be tormented? My Mom believes in you, she goes to church every Sunday, if my mean drunk of a father doesn’t stop her. I don’t understand.” I wiped my sweaty palms on my faded jeans.

The glow of twilight settled upon the town, the cooling breeze rattled the leaves. I
backtracked until I could see the lights of home. Torn screens were falling off the windows. The front door boasted two splintered holes, the size of my father’s fist.

Creeping in the back door I was greeted by singing, “All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness.”1

“How can you sing those words, Mom?”

“Now, Ben, don’t you go laying blame on God for the choices others make.” She stirred the pot on the stove.”

“If He is so great…”

“Son, I couldn’t bear it if you let all this craziness cause you to not believe.” Mom pulled a bowl out of the cupboard and filled it with stew.

“Where is Dad?” I blew on my spoon to cool the soup.

“He’s sleeping, so be real quiet.”

“I know the drill. Tip toe around if he’s asleep, and beware if he’s awake.” I tore a piece of bread from the loaf.

“I’m sorry son.” Mom blotted her tears.

I went over and hugged her, we were almost the same size. Her blond hair hung like a halo around her face. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“I don’t know what to do. I’ve prayed and I’ve sought the Lord. When I see how it hurts you, it breaks my heart.”

“Someday, I’ll get a job and you won’t have to live like this. We’ll never have to lay eyes on him again.”

My father came into the kitchen. Sat down at the table and placed his head in his hands. “I’ve always heard tell that it takes a person losing it all before they will change their ways. I have been listening...”

“We didn’t mean any disrespect, Doug,” I watched my mom cower away.

“Don’t be frightened Ellie. Please, listen to me. You’ve painted a bleak picture of our lives, and also given me a glimpse into the future, a future where I lose it all. I don’t want to lose my family. I don’t know what to say, because sorry won’t hack it. I have taken my last drink. Yeah, I know you have heard that one before.” He turned to face me. “Son, if it takes me the rest of my life, I will become a father you can respect and be proud of.”

I got up and left the room, I couldn’t sit and listen to anymore of his lies. We would become millionaires sooner than my father would stop drinking. Something compelled me to continue listening from the next room.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this. My father was a drunk until the day he died. I swore I would never follow in his footsteps. Ellie, I messed up big time. Before God, I promise no more. It stops here and it stops with me.”

Mom came and knelt down beside me. My father knelt beside my mom, “Ellie, sing the song you were singing earlier.”

With her arms around both of us, she sang, “…To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love…”

Memories rushed through my mind like a sudden gush of wind. I knelt and brushed the dirt away and read the words I had chosen for my father’s headstone, “Dad, I am proud to be called your son.” I raised my eyes toward heaven and blinking back the tears, I no longer harbored any doubts, “Yes, Lord great is thy faithfulness.”

1 Lyrics by Thomas Chisholm 1923

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This article has been read 1250 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sue Dent07/14/06
Very touching and thank-you for the ending. I was worried it was going to turn out to be yet another lie! Very happy to see that it wasn't--because God is so great!!!
Rachel Burkum07/17/06
A touching story. I'm sure many can relate, and I hope others' stories turn out as well. ;)
A bit of polish would do this piece good. Keep up the good work!
Brenda Craig07/17/06
Ah,like Sue I was worried for a moment. This would be cool story to expand and hear about how the relationship grew. God is faithful. Great story!
Jen Davis07/17/06
A great ending to an all to common tragic story. I like the following sentence: "Memories rushed through my mind like..." Well done.
Jan Ackerson 07/17/06
Well done, with realistic dialog and believable characters. Marvelous ending!
Pat Guy 07/17/06
I love the atmosphere you painted and how you captured all the emotions. Thanks for the hope. Really done well!
Trina Courtenay07/17/06
The hairs on my back stood up near the end.
Kimberly Mitchell07/17/06
Superb dialog. A great weakness for me. Your story flows and I could find no grammar errors. Good job! :)
Linda Watson Owen07/17/06
What a heartfelt treatment of an all too common experience! I wish more had this kind of wonderful ending. So glad I read this.
Donna Haug07/17/06
Loved your time warp at the end! One thing that caught my eye ... when the rabbit popped out he was startled, then laughed, then thought of how his dad would mock him. In that state of mind, I'm not sure if I would chuckle. But that's just me. Good story.
william price07/17/06
Rita, you painted your scenes great. Thank you for the good ending. Too many times these situations don't turn out as well, BUT with God, Praise Him, they can.
Helen Paynter07/18/06
Good piece. On second reading I realised I had got the dialogue the wrong way round - so it ended up with the mother saying she'd get a job. Just one dialogue tag in that exchange would have sorted it out. But you dealt well with a difficult subject.
Lynda Lee Schab 07/18/06
Without the ending, I think this piece would be a little simplistic and predictable. But the end tag pulled it together and made it more real somehow. You've written a wonderful story of God's hope and faithfulness. Nicely done!
Lisa Vest07/18/06
Along with all the other comments, I'll just add I like how you weaved the song through the whole story. What a wonderful testimony this mother had of faith, patience and endurance..and unconditional love. Awesome job!
Lynda Schultz 07/18/06
Wonderful testimony and though things don't always work out so well, I am glad that this one did. There can't be a pain so terrible as to stand at a graveside and know that reconciliation never had a chance. Good writing.
Jan Ross07/19/06
Wonderful story -- it was like I was right there listening from a closeby room. "Great" job! :)
T. F. Chezum07/19/06
Very good story with great characters and dialogue.
Edy T Johnson 07/20/06
Rita, I'm so happy to see your name up there with the winners. Thank you for sharing your story and letting us rejoice with you. CONGRATULATIONS!
Sue Dent07/20/06
What is that noise? Is that you doing the happy dance, Rita! Congratulations!! You deserve it.
Anita Neuman07/20/06
Congratulations, dear friend! I've been out of the loop for a while, and just popped in to see the winners list - and what a delightful surprise! This was a great story, and the ending was absolutely perfect. Great job!
George Parler 07/20/06
Wow, this is very good. And it's real close to home. Excellent job.