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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)

TITLE: Third Sunday
By Peter Stone


Sunshine pouring through unshuttered lounge room windows forced the last vestiges of a fitful sleep from my mind.

Throwing back the blankets, I swung cramped legs off the sofa and stretched. Not only had I not slept in my bed for nigh on a year, I no longer used the master bedroom. Strewn haphazardly about the lounge room floor were all the clothes and amenities that I needed on a daily basis.

I checked my alarm clock--it was only a few minutes past eight.

Aware that I had finally awoken, the cat meandered into the room and gave me a verbal dressing down.

“Come on Furball, I just woke up,” I complained.

“Miaow,” was her response. Feed me.

Then, with unwelcome clarity, I remembered what day it was.

Dreading this day’s arrival for eleven months failed to impede its relentless march towards me.

Given the option, I would have relived yesterday over and over again rather than try to make it through this third Sunday in June.

A friend’s words echoed in my head, “Keep as busy as you can, do not sit around brooding. It will only make matters worse.”

“Keep myself busy doing what exactly?” I mocked while throwing on a clean t-shirt, track-pants and socks.

Walking past the phone, I ripped the plug from the wall. “Don’t want to hear from you either,” I said, envisioning my parents. I knew they would try to ring me when I failed to call them, but they would understand.

Continuing towards the kitchen, I saw the photo--the one I kept telling myself to put into storage. It took quite an effort to tear my eyes from the young boy’s face. The image of his mother beside him seemed to say, “We’re in a better place, Jason.”

“Yes, you are, but I’m not! I’m left with this mess.”

I caught sight of his bedroom door as I turned towards the kitchen, and like a car with no fuel, came to a stop. I tried to turn away, but my mind had already run ahead to peer inside the room. I saw a bed that had not been slept in for eleven months, a motley collection of toy planes, and two much-prized athletics trophies. Drawings from four years of schooling adorned the walls.

“Get a grip, Jason, you knew this day was coming,” I said, forcing my thoughts elsewhere. Nevertheless, mental walls were beginning to crumble as the truth dawned. My eyes darted around almost feverishly, seeking an avenue of escape.

The doorbell rang.

That was impossible. No one visited me, at least, not any more.

The doorbell rang again, and for a third time.

Grimacing, I made for the foyer and opened the door. Expecting to see some inconsiderate salesman, I was surprised to see my neighbour Annette and her ten-year-old son, Brody. My son had been his classmate.

“Hello Jason, I hope we are not disturbing you, but my boy has something for you,” Annette said kindly.

Although Brody looked a little uneasy, he searched my face as he handed me a card.

On its cover was a drawing of a man and a boy playing football. After his father had passed away four years ago in Afghanistan, my son and I had taken him to play football in the park almost every week. That had ceased eleven months ago, along with the rest of my life.

I opened the card, and then bit my lip when I saw what he had written.

Dear Mr Smith
When I lost my Dad, my life was empty.
But you took me out to play football every week.
You gave to me the same attention that you gave to your son.
In my time of pain, you became like a father to me.
In your time of pain, let me be like a son to you.
Happy Father’s Day.

For the first time in eleven months, I smiled. “Brody, you know, this is exactly what I needed today. Now, don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back.”

I darted into the house, grabbed something from a cupboard, threw on my shoes, and then raced back to the door. Brody saw what I was holding and his face lit up.

“Want to kick a ball, son?” I asked.

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This article has been read 925 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/17/08
What a touching story.Well done.
Laury Hubrich 04/20/08
Nice story.
Sharlyn Guthrie04/20/08
So touching and well-written. The two seem like a perfect match.
LauraLee Shaw04/21/08
Other than the message, my favorite part of this piece is the way you gave the details away in pieces, all while keeping it flowing smoothly and adding the necessary details to put the whole story together at the end. All the marks of a brilliant writer. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 04/21/08
Awesome job at protraying this man's depression...lovely ending. Very strong entry.
Dee Yoder 04/22/08
I can't imagine the pain many mothers and dads feel on special holidays without their children. Your descriptions were just right in this story and portrayed the pain of the MC's loss vividly.
Holly Westefeld04/22/08
True or not, you had the tears streaming down my face, a sure sign of excellent writing.
I concur with all of the above praise.
Betty Castleberry04/23/08
This is neat, tight writing with some great description thrown in. I loved your first two paragraphs; I felt like I was there. I do have some questions. What happened between him and his parents? Being the nosy person that I am, I'd love a sequel. Very well done.
Betty Castleberry04/23/08
Ok, I re-read this, and I'm still not sure. Did his parents die? Forgive me for being so dense. Everyone else seems to have gripped the message, but I'm still confused.
Chely Roach04/23/08
You successfully brought tears to my eyes...wonderfully done.
Joshua Janoski04/23/08
My favorite part of this was the boy's letter to the man. It really tugged at my heart.

I was a little bit confused as to what happened to the boy and the mother. At first I thought they left the man, but then after looking the story over again, I think they may have died.

Your masterful writing shines in this piece. Thank you for sharing. :)
Loren T. Lowery04/23/08
Okay, this was very touching and a story surely able to soften the hardest of hearts. Give and it will be given back to you in kind, what a wonderful, powerful lesson.
Sheri Gordon04/23/08
This is really good. I felt the MC's pain. Loved the ending. Awesome job with the topic.
Sara Harricharan 04/23/08
This is great! I loved Brody's poem in the card, that was sweet and just what that Dad did need. Great job, I loved the ending, it was absolutely perfect for this piece! ^_^
Lyn Churchyard04/24/08
Wonderful take on the topic. No parent should have to bury their child. I felt for your MC. Loved the 'pay it forward' ending. Well done Peter, well done.
Joanne Sher 04/24/08
Very well-done - and poignant. I cried with him, and my heart lifted when his did. Great job, Peter!
LauraLee Shaw04/24/08
Congrats on another E.C., Peter!
Karen Deikun04/24/08

This was incredible. Congratulations on the win, but more, congratulatins on what you've put into words so well.
Betty Castleberry04/24/08
Congratulations on your win. Thank you for taking the time to explain everything to me. It's a wonderful story....I'm just dense. Congrats again.
Debbie Wistrom04/24/08
So glad for your EC or I might have missed your fine story. Everyone has said it all! Congrats.
Beth LaBuff 04/24/08
Beautiful story, wonderfully written. Congrats on placing with this!
Sara Harricharan 04/24/08
Congrats on your EC! ^_^ So glad this one made it!
Sheri Gordon04/24/08
Congratulations on your EC, Peter. I'm so glad to see this one place. Excellent.
Julie Arduini04/26/08
Congrats on the well deserved EC. I have read such wonderful entries this week but yours was the first to have tears spill down my cheeks. Great build up of why he felt the way he did, and amazing characterization. I loved this.

Thank you also for your kind words regarding my "Like your Folgers Coffee" entry.