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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Kingdom of God (03/12/09)

TITLE: Almost Missed It
By Jan Ackerson
03/17/09


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Rose looked at her broken shoelace and swore, then glanced around to see if Bill had heard. There was a time when Bill had made her laugh by stringing together sentences entirely of cusswords—but ever since he’d gotten religion, Rose was the only cusser in the house.

It was going to be a wonderful day. First, the broken shoelace, and now the prospect of a 25-mile trip into town to do errands. And there was a spider bite on Rose’s derrière providing a constant undercurrent of irritation.

She drove to town with an anxious look at the sky—it was that eerie shade of green that presages a summer storm. As she parked in the Wal-Mart lot, she nearly ran into a bearded man carrying a sign: REPENT—THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND. Rose snorted. God, schmod, she thought. Look around, buddy. Does this look like a kingdom to you?

Twenty minutes later, Rose tossed her purchases into the car and decided to splurge at Starbucks. But standing in line for cappuccino, she realized that she’d forgotten shoelaces and muttered another curse. The line was long; one more annoyance. A neighborhood teen, Megan Something, was working the counter, wearing a tee-shirt with a smiling Jesus and the words Some Day My Prince Will Come. Rose scratched her rear, then took a list from her purse and crossed off several items.

With seven customers ahead of her, it was several minutes before Rose reached the counter. No longer in the mood for cappuccino, she snapped her order at an unfamiliar barista, then asked, “Where’s Megan?”

“Beats me.” The girl looked as annoyed as Rose felt. “She went on break a minute ago, and now I can’t find her, just her apron. And making the cappuccinos is really her job.”

Rose left the café, took one sip of her too-weak cappuccino, tossed it to the ground, and headed back to Wal-Mart for shoelaces.

Her errands completed, Rose drove home contemplating dinner and the evening’s television shows. The sky remained…odd. She shuddered and turned on the radio. Bill’s Christian music station blared out, an up-tempo tune that fed Rose’s contrary mood.

Behold, He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call…


Riding on the clouds…she studied the sky, where the clouds were darkening, and punched another radio button. This time a church choir was singing; apparently Bill had changed all the buttons. Rose listened for a few seconds.

When Christ shall come with trumpet sound
O may I then in Him be found…


Another button—and a deep-voiced preacher proclaimed “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God." Rose smirked, and imagined Megan with her Jesus tee-shirt, and the bearded man, and this preacher, all tapping their watches and waiting…waiting…waiting.

She clicked off the radio in disgust, and tried to ignore the itch tormenting her backside.

One mile from home, Rose tapped the brakes—a car was in the ditch. Drove right off the road, it looked like, but Rose slowed down enough to see that the driver was gone. Probably a drunk, she thought. What a world.

Finally home, Rose grabbed the Wal-Mart bags and headed toward the house. She stopped short at the sight of Bill’s shoes at the porch steps…and Bill nowhere in sight. Suddenly her head filled with a steady buzzing…the bearded man’s sign…the weird sky…the songs on the radio…Megan missing from her job…the car in the ditch…Bill’s shoes…all of these ticked slowly until her brain contained only one thought. Bill had told her about something…the Rapture, was it?...and now it had happened, just as he said.

“Bill!” Rose ran into the house, yelling. “Bill! Where are you, Bill? I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m…”

“What is it, Rose?” Bill stood up from his easy chair, where he’d been reading the newspaper. “Are you all right?”

***

Rose smiles at Bill as he heads out to work. The spider bite seems better this morning, and she hums a hymn she remembers from childhood as she weaves the new lace into her sneaker. And then she hears a sound that she recognizes, although she’s never heard it before, and she runs out to the yard. Bill is there, looking at the wondrous sky and hearing it too, and she clasps his hand as they rise. Four shoes—his tasseled loafers and her halfway-laced sneakers—fall empty to the earth.
___

Days of Elijah by Robin Mark. © 1996, Daybreak Music, Ltd., Integrity Music
The Solid Rock, public domain
Luke 9:27, NIV


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This article has been read 1155 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 03/19/09
Terrific story. This should brings chills to the spine!
Ruth Hayes03/19/09
Initially wondered about the title. Enjoyed the story. Loved the ending! Your story kept unfolding and building on itself so that by the conclusion the proverbial light bulb illuminated the "Almost Missed It" title. I agree with the first commenter -- shiver!
Chely Roach03/19/09
What a great "gotcha" moment...I was convinced that thorny ol' Rose was 'left behind'. Loved the details like the spider bite and lousy coffee; they put me into Roses' mindset...cranky. The last line was beyond perfect. Loved it!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/20/09
Marvelous story--title, beginning to end. I'm so glad your MC didn't "miss it."
Joanne Sher 03/21/09
Great detail - you absolutely had me convinced she'd missed it. Great characterization too - nailed her for sure.
Laury Hubrich 03/22/09
Loved the humor in this and the awesome message.
Gregory Kane03/23/09
Intriguing, we have American retail stores, a french expression and a worship song written by a guy from Belfast - what does this hint about the nationality of the writer?!!
I so enjoyed this story, the way that you wove the sense of tease all the way through. I'm glad you didn't leave it hanging at the end.
Rachel Rudd03/24/09
Great story! I enjoyed the part about the itch...gave humor to a serious subject! I was very glad that she made it, too...:)
Pat Guy 03/24/09
I don't know how you do it Jan, this was a great read -- aaannnd should be in a youth's magazine. Kudos to ya girl! A great one here!
Connie Dixon03/24/09
This was an incredible story written so well. I loved the humor, the descriptions, the message - all of it brilliant. Thank you for showing how it should be done. (Glad I didn't miss it!)
Mona Purvis03/24/09
I love how her 'wonderful' day actually became the most 'wonderful' day for her. The waiting...waiting...waiting got to me. Seems like we have been waiting for His appearance. Even so, Come Lord Jesus!
Mona
Melanie Kerr 03/24/09
Excellent story. You really created tension. Bill sitting in his chair towards the end there was like a pin to a balloon! Excellent!
Sheri Gordon03/24/09
Your writing is so entertaining to read. All the little details--like the irritating spider bite on her behind. Details like that make the story come to life.

Love the ending...I wait for that moment every day. Excellent take on the topic.
Bryan Ridenour03/24/09
Our pastor mentioned Sunday morning that he believed Gabriel's lips are at the trumpet, just waiting...Wonderful story and a reminder to everyone, get ready!
Carol Slider 03/24/09
Superbly written, with a very moving conclusion!
Gerald Shuler 03/24/09
Jammed full to the hilt with symbolizm... I could easily read more into this than you intended. Or DID you intend it?

Super entry.
Diana Dart 03/24/09
Well, your title had me guessing the whole time - waiting, waiting for her to change her mind. Such suspense! Rose was endearing, real and I was cheering for her at the end! The spider bite was just fantastic... how do you think of these things?
Yvonne Blake 03/24/09
Great depiction of the Rapture!
I loved the symbolic touch of the spider bite.
Debbie Roome 03/24/09
Brilliant. Love the twist at the end.
Karlene Jacobsen 03/24/09
One question: If Bill was still home, what happened to the others, if the ending was really the rapture?
Teresa Lee Rainey03/24/09
Wonderful story. I love your characters and how all the coinsidences of Rose's day brought her around - right on time.
Dee Yoder 03/24/09
Oh, I hope many get Rose's second chance! (Well, many already HAVE, I suppose!) Great story and I love all the details that make this such a extraordinarily ordinary day...just the way it may be?
Norma-Anne Hough03/25/09
Awesome account of the rapture. Loved your mc.
It's writing like this that seperates the masters from the rest of us. Awesome.
Sharon Kane03/25/09
Superb writing. I was convinced all the way through that you had one word too many in the title, but if the clues had not been so powerful Rose WOULD indeed have missed it. Excellent.
Connie Dixon03/26/09
Congratulations, Jan. Awesome story!!!
Rachel Rudd03/26/09
Congratulations, Jan! Well-done!
Charla Diehl 03/26/09
Your writing always inspires me, encourages me and blesses me. Thank you for all the ways you contribute to this website.
Genia Gilbert03/26/09
Wonderful story! Inspiring and soul searching. Congratulations!
Jim McWhinnie 03/26/09
Jan, ever time I read your writing I learn a little something more about the craft of writing.

And there something else ... I love a soul who can capture the person of someone like Rose with a line like ... then she scratched her rear ...

My, the Lord has given you the calling of being a very human but yet divinely graced wordsmith.
Sonya Leigh03/26/09
Congratulations, Jan! A great blend of humor and reverence for our blessed hope. Hard to achieve, but you did it beautifully.
TJ Nickel03/26/09
Congrats, Jan. Even with my red ink pen out and ready tonight, I just can't put it to use here. I'm no fan of rapture stories and yet had to apprectiate this one for the characters and craft.
Judy Meyers03/27/09
This piece sent chills through me. I am so grateful that we have a hope. I'm also saddened that there are so many people that have not accepted this hope. Thank you for your perspective.
Joshua Janoski04/20/09
I have always wondered what it would be like to be alive on this earth when the rapture takes place. I like how your story ended with her imagining that the rapture had taken place and then later on she actually experienced it with her husband for real.