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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: First World Problem (04/17/14)

TITLE: A Ring and a Date ... with Reality
By Glynis Becker


The hip-hop song blasted out of the phone’s tiny speaker and ricocheted its way around the walls of the racquetball court. Josh held up his hand to indicate his desire to pause the game.

“Hold up, Mike. I have to take this.” He jogged over to the corner where his towel and phone were laying on the floor and impatiently pressed the call button. “Dr. Warren,” he stated.

Only the thud of the ball from the courts on either side of theirs could be heard for the next thirty seconds as Josh listened to his secretary on the other end. “I don’t care whose fault it is, you have to get those reservations taken care of. For tonight. Get them.” Exasperated, he hit the end button, effectively cutting off whatever else Janet had to say.

Josh wiped the sweat off his face, then placed the towel and phone back on the floor. “Your serve, man.” Thud. Thud.

“Can you believe Rudolph’s lost my reservation? I made it weeks ago. They don’t know how important this night is to me, but seriously, they know who I am, right?”

“What’s so special about tonight?” Mike baited him. He had a pretty good guess, but he wanted to hear it from Josh.

“Yes, okay. Tonight I’m going to propose to Catherine. Are you happy now? I’m taking myself off the market.” He spread his arms wide and the ball hit his racquet perfectly.

“As a matter of fact, I am happy. Suzie and I think the world of Catherine. We knew a year ago she was too good for you. I’m surprised she waited for you this long, loser!” He let the ball go and walked over to Josh, clapping him on the shoulder. “No more jokes. Really. Congratulations. And as an early present, I’ll give you this game.”

“I picked up the ring last week at the jeweler’s on Fifth. Biggest diamond they had. I know Catherine says she wants a marriage more than a wedding and a modest ring, but she’s going to be a doctor’s wife—a SURGEON’s wife. There is an image that goes with that.”

He and Mike were heading into the locker room when Josh’s phone rang again. He answered quickly, defenses up, expecting Janet with another problem. “Just do whatever you have to do –“

“Dr. Warren, this is Andrew Pillar, with the medical mission team you’ve signed on to.” Josh took a second to respond. Catherine had insisted that he do something for the “Greater Good” as she liked to put it, so he’d half-heartedly agreed to go with a group for two weeks’ worth of surgeries in an African village pro bono. He hadn’t paid much attention to the details at the time and he’d only agreed when he was sure the timeline would be well after their wedding.

“Oh, yes, Andrew. What can I do for you?”

“I’ve got news. There has been a coup in the country we are working with. Heavy fighting and casualties right in the village we had been in talks with. Most of the men have been killed or captured. The only wounded left are young children, old men and women. We’re putting together a medical team to fly out later this week to help and we thought you might like to go with us. I know it’s short notice and it certainly won’t be an easy trip, but this is a matter of life and death. I’ll need to have an answer by tomorrow. Thank you, Dr. Warren.” Josh hung up, dumbfounded.

Fighting? Casualties? How could he go? This was real life and it was dangerous. Josh had always gone to great lengths to stay safe, insulated from too much risk. He’d gone into medicine because in his mind it was a sure sign to success, an avenue to get the good things in life he’d always thought he’d deserved, with minimal risk on his part.

Suddenly, though, he was faced with a choice. His own reality--dinner at Rudolph’s and an over-sized diamond ring—didn’t quite stand up against another reality: a game of war and the resulting collateral damage of an innocent village. How could he not go when it was in his power to help?

“You okay, Josh?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess.” His brow furrowed. “I have a lot to think about.”

Mike laughed. “Weddings will do that to you.”

“Actually sometimes God does.”

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This article has been read 339 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 04/25/14
Excellent writing.
Well done.

God bless~
Joe Moreland04/26/14
This is a really good story, and the writing is excellent. Maybe too excellent. You do such a good job of establishing Josh's self-centeredness (to the point that he is ignoring all of Catherine's wishes for the proposal and wedding) that there is almost no way to, with any sense of realism, turn him back to God and thinking of others in such a short word count.

Realistically, someone like Josh might decide to go on such short notice, but the reasons would still probably be grounded in self - wanting to save the day, be a hero, that short of stuff. My best advice for the ending (only because you asked for it when you threw a brick) would be to lengthen the story and have him really struggle with the decision.

If you really want to do some of that in the word limit, then you'd have to lose some of the color in the story (Janet, dinner reservations, racquetball, etc.). But then you're changing the whole story.

However, having said all of that, I really like the story, the characters and the dilemma. I'd love to hear more about how it goes for Josh and Catherine and the village.
Ellen Carr 04/27/14
This is a great story and I like the way it ends with him having a lot to think about - he hasn't made his decision. It deals very well with the topic too. Well done!
Cheryl Harrison04/28/14
Okay, go ahead and write the novel. I want to read the whole thing! Blessings.
Charla Diehl 04/28/14
Your title is perfect for this story. I like that you clue the reader in on Josh's selfish nature, but quickly give us a glimpse of a softer side as you leave us hanging in the middle of his decision. This has the earmarks of a great novel in the making.
Mar  04/29/14
Interesting story, excellent writing!
C D Swanson 05/01/14
Congratulations! God bless~
Joe Moreland05/01/14
Congratulations! I told you it was excellent writing. :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/01/14
Wow what a powerful story. I love the last line and you did a wonderful job of nailing the topic without coming off as preachy. This is just perfect. I'm so glad to see you writing again because you are so amazing! Congratulations and Happy Dance!
Sheldon Bass 05/01/14
Excellent story! Congratulations on a great EC!
Tracy Nunes 05/02/14
I was appropriately annoyed with Josh by midway through. You did a great job of making him almost unbearable. But, some humanity peaks through and I found myself hoping he would become the man his fiance hopes him to be. Congratulations on your EC win!