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The Good Life
by Gerald Shuler 
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The gentle rush of sun-warmed air blowing her hair in flowing waves behind her and the sound of road-gripping, attention-getting power emanating from her new ‘Vette had an almost intoxicating effect on Barb. Her yellow flowered sunsuit with the frilly white ruffle went perfectly with the car, the day and even her feelings. This day was perfect. This is the good life, she thought. It doesn’t get any better than this.

But, of course, she knew it always got better. Always. Every day was an exciting adventure for her and it would never be any different. She just had that kind of life. You might say she was charmed. Or blessed. Or maybe just exceptional. Whatever it was, she knew she could count on life being a wonderful experience for her.

“Barb, we really need to talk.”

Barb looked over at the strong, handsome hunk in the seat beside her. Kenny had been her boyfriend since...she couldn’t even remember how long they had been together! But lately he had started being a bit of a drag. Like now, she knew he would want to talk about things she had no interest at all. Sometimes I wonder why I even keep him around at all, she thought. Oh, well. I can tolerate humoring him for a while.

“Alright,” she said. “Let’s have a barbecue while we talk.”

She looked down at her black slacks and sexy form fitting tank top. Perfect. Even the orange barbecue apron looked good on her. She flipped a sizzling burger and watched it land exactly where she had intended.

“Your burger is almost ready.” She put a slice of cheese on top of the two patties of beef. “What did you want to talk about!”

“Did that seem normal to you?” Kenny asked.

“Normal?” Barb smiled briefly. It was a nervous smile that told Kenny he was about to open a sensitive, frightening subject that Barb really didn’t want to discuss. “Nothing is ‘normal’ in our lives.” Her voice was defensive. “We are...unique. It’s all part of living the good life.”

Kenny’s smile vanished and Barb suddenly wanted the conversation ended. Maybe a change of scenery would help, she thought.

“Kenny, let’s dance.”

The ballroom was lovely. Barb and Kenny were the only couple on the floor, which made everything even more romantic. Her evening gown, black with just a touch of silver sparkle, was one of her favorites. She gently placed her head on Kenny’s shoulder.

“Now, isn’t this better?” She asked.

Kenny’s strong body tensed so noticeably that Barb couldn’t help looking into his eyes to see what was wrong. The undeniable sadness she saw shocked her. Why would he be sad?

“What’s wrong?” She asked.

“You really don’t realize, do you?” Kenny held her at arms length. “In the last five minutes we have gone from speeding down a highway to having a barbeque to dancing at a luxury ballroom. Barb, your ‘Good Life’ is being completely controlled by someone else. Almost as if we are dolls, or puppets.”

Barb shook her head. “That’s silly! Whatever would give you such an idea?”

“You are living a fantasy.”

“Well, if I am I don’t want to lose it!”

“Don’t you think it’s time to face some realities?”

“Maybe if we go camping! Or scuba diving!”

She looked down at her outfit, expecting to see either a hiking suit or scuba gear. All she saw was her beautiful evening gown. I am NOT someone’s pawn... she thought. I have a life. I am a person. I just have a problem with memories... but who doesn’t have those? She looked at her outfit. It was still that horrible evening gown.

“Kenny?” Her voice was trembling. “What's happened to me?”

Kenny put his hand gently on her shoulder. “It’s going to be alright, Barb. I will always be here for you. I promise.”

A tear made it’s way down her perfectly beautiful cheek. “I’m afraid, Kenny.”

“It’s going to be alright, Mom. I love you and I promise you will always have a good life here with us.”

The slump-shouldered, weathered, aging woman looked at the dolls she held in her hands. She wiped the tears from her eyes and tried to focus on what her son was saying. It’s going to be alright, she thought. She thanked God for the occasional times when her memory was clear.

“I love you, too, Son.”

Quietly, she placed the dolls in the box beside her rocking chair.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom  20 Jul 2014
Wow what an awesome piece. The first paragraph painted a stunning picture. You have a wonderful gift of showing. I did wonder if maybe you were going into too much detail like I wasn't sure if I needed to know the little details like putting cheese on burgers. Once I realized this wasn't a fast-paced romance, but mother and son, I realized the importance of the details. It's a brilliant way to show she is living in fantasy. My heart hurt for them both. The dialog is another superb example of how to give a reader a peek into the characters' emotions and personalities. You balanced it perfectly with a few lines of telling, yet you still painted a picture and drew me in even more with those lines. The ending was perfect. There is no solution but to pray and love. You demonstrated that with brilliance. Even though you wrote it several years ago, it's just as pertinent today. God bless.
Chrissi Dunn 02 Mar 2009
Wow - What an excellent idea. I enjoyed every bit of it - so funny and yet so very sad.
Shirley McClay  02 Mar 2009
Total goose bumps.. wow. What a creative mind you have!!
Clarence (Sonny) White 24 Dec 2008
Wow ! I am glad I checked this section. I don't know how I missed this the first time through. Great writing. Sonny
Tim Pickl 14 Dec 2008
WOW. You perfectly captured the fantasy scenes in Mother's mind, and brought it all down to earth at the end. Could this be the start of a collection of Short Stories? :)
Leah Nichols  14 Dec 2008
I think I read this one before for some reason, but I guess I didn't comment on it! I liked it - a very poignant piece....touching on a lot of different ideas. I agree that you could make the transition a bit more clear, but other than that, I found it a well-written piece!
Pat Guy  13 Dec 2008
Since I know you and your writing, ; ) I caught on to the Barb and Kenny thing early but was drawn and carried to the end. I have a very minor suggestion though - to add an extra space after Barb states she's afraid and before the son speaks to his mom. Maybe it's not necessary and it was just me, but I loved the multi-layers of this story and the ending. The reader comes away with more than a story ...
Lyn Churchyard 13 Dec 2008
What a creative story. Heartbreaking, but beautifully written. Well done Gerry.
Seema Bagai  13 Dec 2008
Very creative. I liked the clever way the piece unfolded.
K. J. Cash 08 May 2008
I can usually see where a story is going early on, but you really kept me guessing with this one. It took me through all the emotions, too. Great story!!
Joshua Janoski 07 May 2008
Wow. You surprised me with the Barbie dolls at the end. What clever writing this is. I wish it had made it into the challenge, but I appreciate you posting it here for us. It would have been a shame not to get to read it. Very unique and smart writing.
Catrina Bradley  07 May 2008
I thought I commented on this already! I loved this twisty tale, with the even twistier end. Simply Super!
Chely Roach 05 May 2008
What a creative, heartbreaking story. It was beautifully done.
Beth LaBuff  03 May 2008
Amazing story... excellently written. Your use of "Barb and Kenny" was great. I like this A LOT!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge 02 May 2008
Very creative out-of-the-box take on the topic. You kept me trying to guess how it would end, then pulled the rabbit out-of-the-hat. Sorry it didn't make the Challenge.
LauraLee Shaw 01 May 2008
Oh, woooowwwwwww. I have HUGE goose bumps all over. Powerful, gripping, suspenseful, heartbreaking. Wow.
Sally Hanan 01 May 2008
This was hilarious (until the end, and even then the twist was genius). My guess is that you have kids with these dollies all over the house. :D
Debbie Wistrom 01 May 2008
Glad you sibmitted this here and that Laura pointed us to it. I was thinking sci-fi for a minute or two. Great out of the box to the topic. Always enjoy reading your submissions. Keep it up!
Karen Story 01 May 2008
What a beautiful mind you have.
Joy Faire Stewart 01 May 2008
I'm glad I was "pointed" to this entry. It is beautifully written, love it!


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