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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Insulted (11/01/04)

TITLE: Matthew 5 by the Pool House Door
By Melanie Mock


The wooden screen door slapped shut. I could hear gravel scrunch under Betty’s feet as she walked up the path to the swimming pool. Everyone else in the cabin seemed to be feigning sleep, so I shifted restlessly to watch Betty wind through the scrub tree meadow. My legs’ slightest shifting caused the plastic-covered mattress to make a sticky-sucking sound. No one stirred.

Camp quiet hour had just started, and I was already bored, hot, and sweaty. Betty and the other counselors were making an early escape to the pool, leaving the cabins—and the campers—unattended. We were supposed to be meditating, writing in our journals, and praying. But this was camp, I thought, not Sunday school or Vacation Bible School. Camp was supposed to be fun, not a tedious recitation of and reflection on the Bible stories I already knew.

Earlier that day, our camp pastor had challenged us to think during quiet time about Matthew 5, about being the salt and the light of the world. “Be salt and light to others,” he reminded us. I heard this: “yada yada yada.” During his sermon, I had attended more to the bob of the pastor’s remarkable Adam’s Apple than to his message. As for quiet hour, then, I had little on which to mediate, beyond the heat and Betty’s premature exodus to the pool.

For several days already, I had been using quiet hours to torment younger campers: stealing into their bunks, tackling them while they napped. A few times, I pranked the counselors as well, stirring their suitcases, hiding their sleeping bags, singing sophomoric chants about “K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” The counselors responded to my tricks with tight grins and forced laughs, sure signs—I was positive—that they really, really liked me.

By the camp’s fourth day, though, my antic-stores were exhausted. Rather than linger in the cabin or bother my sleeping peers, I decided to join Betty and the other counselors for a pre-swim swim. Grabbing my towel and suit, I ran up the gravel path to the pool, congratulating myself for my quick thinking: I would be the first one to the diving board; I would be the first camper in the deep end.

And then, just before turning into the girl’s dressing room, I heard Betty talking.

“That Melanie is driving me nuts,” she said.

“No kidding,” said Judy, the counselor for Meadowlark girls. “She won’t ever shut up, and she’s so rude. I really don’t envy you for having her in your cabin.”

“Huh. I don’t know what they were thinking when they put her with me,” Betty sighed. “She’s ruining the whole camp. I really hate her.”

I stood outside the pool house, tracking Betty’s and Judy’s voices as they shifted poolside. Their conversation moved to other topics, to the cute guy counselors and to their post-summer plans. When the camp bell finally tolled to announce the end of quiet hour, I turned back towards the cabin, pushing my way through the waves of boys and girls now running up the path towards the pool.

At the cabin, I slammed the screen door shut behind me, then climbed into my bunk and stared out at the meadow and scrub trees. I rehearsed Betty’s words over and over again, unable to contend with Betty’s admission of ill-will. The shouts of kids playing at the pool cut through the Kansas wind, but I found myself sobered into quiet mediation: about what it means to be salt, and what it means to be light, in an unforgiving world.

Member Comments
Member Date
DeAnna Brooks11/08/04
Salt! Light! Good things to ponder the meaning of. Thank you for planting them for me to consider today.
You captured camp so well, including its woundedness. Sometimes I wonder if life isn't camp??? God bless..
Corinne Smelker 11/08/04
Interesting story - and one that makes all us think, doesn't it. Well written, I could see the antics (having done some like that myself!) and also feel the pain.
Lynda Lee Schab 11/08/04
Welcome to Faithwriters! Glad to see you're jumping into the challenges! Great entry! You write very well. This story drew me in right away, it flowed smoothly and had a great message. What more could you ask for? Well done!
Blessings, Lynda
Liz Hoyt Eberle11/08/04
From boredom to fun to instant pain in one awful lesson! Your story kept me reading. Well written! You blessed me.
Deborah Anderson11/08/04
Good job Melanie. God bless you.
Joanne Malley11/09/04
Good read. Very thought provoking article. Thanks for sharing, and welcome to Faith Writers.
Carolyn Greene11/09/04
Excellent writing! Your story caught my attention and kept it. I wish I wrote as well.
Debbie OConnor11/09/04
Excellent job. This story had me hooked and led to a very interesting end. How to be salt and light in an unforgiving world is a great question to ask.
Verlie Ruhl11/11/04
I really enjoyed this well-written story of self-discovery. Great job!
Karri Compton11/11/04
This didn't end the way I wanted it to or thought it might. But that's a mark of a good story. Thanks for sharing! God bless.