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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)

TITLE: Murphys Law
By James Clem


Martin was tired. It was a good tired though. Jousting with the ocean waves had left him hungry and exhausted. He trudged through the surf to the shore defying the waves that futilely grabbed at him with watery fingers.

He loved the ocean. It was powerful and timeless, constant but ever changing. The breeze, the smell, and the mist were a refreshing retreat away from the concrete roads and sky-scraping buildings that man had built overtop rolling green hills and quiet burbling streams.

Martin breathed in deeply before shuffling to where Jackie was relaxing under a beach umbrella. She had a book in one hand and a glass of iced tea in the other. The two had found this secret spot when they were kids and had sworn never to reveal it anyone. It was a childhood pact they had never broken. Hidden Cove, as they had named it, was barely ten feet of beach space nestled between giant wave-pounded rocks and only existed when the tide was out.

Jackie had been his best friend forever. Their first kiss had been right here at Hidden Cove. Martin felt a tang of regret knowing that soon their paths would separate. Summer was nearly over. Martin would be starting the long road to law school; Jackie’s plans were to stay close to home.

He sauntered through the sand, his toes automatically burrowing beneath the warm sand on top to the cool sand underneath. He plopped down beside Jackie. She placed a marker in her book and set it aside. For a moment they enjoyed the rhythmic sound of the waves.

“So are you all ready for college?” she asked. They were both feeling a nervous awkwardness that was unusual between them. They were at one of life’s turning points. Decisions had been made, but the second guessing wasn’t over yet.

“Yeah, pretty much,” he answered. “I’m not taking a lot of stuff. The dorm rooms aren’t all that big you know.”

Her laugh was a bit forced. “Yeah my dad has told me the horror stories. How the room was so small, he had to go out into the hall just to change his mind. Of course he also told me about the parties every weekend, but you’ll be too busy for that.”

Martin’s smile faded, “Yeah, I suppose. I’ll probably be too busy for a lot of things.”

Jackie put a hand on his arm. “You’re not really set on this are you?”

Martin looked out at the white-capped waves and shook his head, “No, I guess not. All my life I’ve worked for this. My dad’s a lawyer, his dad was a lawyer. I’ll be the third generation at Murphys Law.”

Jackie’s laugh was genuine this time, “I still can’t believe they’ve never changed the name.”

Martin grinned sheepishly. “It’s just one of those things. It’s great for advertising – if you do it right.”

Jackie squeezed his arm gently, “But you don’t really want to do it. “ He stared at the sand, not willing to say those words out loud. Jackie let him think on it and then continued, “You know the verse I love so much - Jeremiah…”

“Jeremiah 29:11” he interrupted with a gentle smile. “Yeah, I know it.”

She smiled. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’* ”

Martin nodded. “I remember when you first shared that verse with me. We were just kids then.”

Jackie valued their friendship enough to push on this, “You do know that’s God speaking, not your dad. Martin, you’re only going to law school to make your dad proud of you. But you need to do what you want to do, otherwise you’re going to miss out on the very best God has for you.”

Martin lay back and stared up in the sky. He knew she was right. But it just wasn’t that simple. He didn’t even know what he really wanted to do. He’d go to law school, get married, have two kids, family vacations at Disneyland - it was all set. It was great; why did it just feel so empty?

He closed his eyes and silently let his heart seek out God, “Lord, help me know the plans you have for me.”

In the calm cadence of the waves, he felt God’s peace speaking, “Martin, I am with you always.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sharon Singley04/13/06
Actually, this sounds like the beginning of a much longer story. It would be interesting to go on from there...what does he want to do with his life? Do the two of them end up married, perhaps missionaries on some foreign soil, etc.
Suzanne R04/15/06
You've set the scene just beautifully - I was right there with them, although three was a crowd ;-) Well done.

I have a slight gripe with the line, [i]"But you need to do what you want to do, otherwise you’re going to miss out on the very best God has for you.”[/i] Sometimes we put too much emphasis on what we want, although I sure don't think fulfilling his father's expectations was right either. But I'd have liked to have seen encouragement to seek God's direction.

That's my only gripe - overall, I thought it was great. Well done.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/15/06
The level is Masters, right? So how could you leave out a "to"? eh? "...never reveal it "to" anyone. (?)
For the regulars -leaving out words is normal - but for the Big Guys on the block, it is Catastrophic! Anyhoo...I liked the story, just needed a finish; you left your readers hanging, which is not FULFILLING. But not bad for a Master! - and I loved the scenic view, the waves, the sand, the smell of the sea.

B Brenton04/17/06
I don't think you left the reader's hanging at all.
This was the scripture given to us by the Spirit at our baptisim and it's a beautiful reminder to follow God's will.
You need to ask God, not man.
I don't find anything wrong with it.
Jan Ackerson 04/17/06
I love the ending of this piece. Too often writers are tempted to add just one more paragraph, to say what happened next--when it's really so much better to trust your writing and credit your readers with "getting it." You avoided the "one paragraph too many" trap beautifully, and wrote a lovely, tender story.
Beth Muehlhausen04/18/06
Well, I thought this was great. All of it. It speaks to the very common inner struggle many (if not all) of us face...between doing what seems best and doing what is RIGHT. I agree that we don't know what is best or right except when trusting God...but that came through for me.

Good job, and the setting and imagery added a lot!!!
Debbie OConnor04/18/06
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Murphy's Law, "if he can do it wrong, he will."

I like the thinking behind the story. I think it opened a bit slowly and that your character was too complacent. Of course, that is what Jackie is trying to shake him out of.

Natural writing, believable characters. I think it needed more tension and a resolution on the part of the MC.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz04/18/06
Great job. The ending leaves it open to interpretation. The characters were very believable. I enjoyed reading it.