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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)

TITLE: A Tale of Four Brothers
By Edmond Ng


This is a story of four brothers with vast different personalities.

The eldest, Hal, is a person of quiet composure, one who is able to keep calm in the midst of a great storm. Whenever something requires to be done, he always takes the lead, and if he encounters a problem he cannot solve, he does not share his difficulties or worries with others, but takes on himself to face the problem squarely.

The second, Elbert, is the exact opposite of the eldest. He seldom keeps his cool, and tells the world his difficulties, often complaining, cursing, and swearing, with tendencies to point a finger at others for his failures and inabilities.

The third, Franz, is one who likes to take control of all the people around him, often commanding and calling the shots. As a former medical orderly in the military force, he has acquired some knowledge of first aid and medicine, therefore, whenever there is an emergency in the family, he expects his brothers and parents to look up to him for instructions.

The youngest, Desmond, is the only Christian in the family, and he has faced much persecution for his faith, resulting in the distancing of his relationship with his parents who are staunch Taoists.

When the father of the four brothers lost his legs to diabetes and was bedridden, all of them, together with their mother, took turns to take care of him. The mother, being a home-keeper, takes cares of their father in the day, while the brothers take care of him in the evenings. The brothers were already married and living in different places when their father fell ill, so it was a difficult time each day for them to travel to their mother's place after work to take care of him. As the days became years, the brothers and the mother began to feel the strain and stress, so on one occasion during a weekend, the brothers decided to meet together to discuss how they should continue to take care of their father.

"I can no longer tolerate this nonsense,” Elbert said angrily. “I am losing many business deals because of Dad, and yet he is totally unappreciative of the trouble I'm going through in taking care of him. I have a wife and a kid to feed, and I don't think I can be scheduled on such frequent basis to meet his needs!"

"So what are you saying? Franz raised his voice and stared sternly at Elbert. “Are you expecting us to take over your duties instead?"

"No, I'm saying I can't afford the time to come here as regularly as before because I have a business to take care!" Elbert retorted in an angry voice.

Desmond looked at his brothers and remained silent, not wanting to get involved in the argument. Their mother, hearing the loud exchange of words, stepped in.

"Your brother is right. He cannot continue to keep coming so frequently because he has a business to run, and he cannot always be relying on his contractors to call the shots in his projects."

"Alright, everybody, stop arguing. I'll see how I can rearrange the schedules so Elbert need not come as frequently as we do," Hal said.

"But this is being unfair," said Franz. "All of us are as busy as him!"

Desmond agreed, but did not express his opinion. He has been working late almost every day on those days he is not taking care of his father, and his wife has been unhappy with his frequent absence.

"Maybe we should just have father placed in a nursing home. That will solve all our problems!" said Elbert.

"No, we cannot!" their mother objected. "It's as good as delivering him to his grave!"

The conversation suddenly ended when the brothers and their mother heard a noise from the bedroom. Their father has apparently overheard the argument and has become very worked up.

"I'll rather die than be sent to a nursing home!" their father blurted.

Hal quickly came near to the side of his father and reassured him.

"Don't worry, Dad. I'll take care of you if no one else does."

With that said, the schedules were rearranged, and on the days where Elbert was originally scheduled to take care of his father, Hal tasked himself to take over the duties, leaving Franz and Desmond to continue with their normal schedule.

NOTE: The story in this article is fictional.

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Sara Harricharan 05/08/08
Very different personalities indeed! I found myself wondering more about Desmond, why didn't he say something, do something, etc. I wish there'd been a tad bit more, because it seems like there is more to the story. Good job though! ^_^
Lyn Churchyard05/12/08
I would love to know more, but with a word limit of 750 it is hard to put in all you would like. I was disappointed in Desmond also, it would have been good if he had taken more responsibility. I did enjoy the story, and I could hear the narrator's voice. Well done.
Debbie Fuhry05/12/08
Your description of the personalities involved seems very realistic. Though the limit of 750 words probably makes it impossible, it would have been great to have 'seen' their personalities in action, rather than the information given as description.
Debbie Wistrom05/12/08
You did a great job desribing such differences in siblings. Amazing isn't it.

Would like to hear more about the resulution of the problem. Keep writing.
Joshua Janoski05/13/08
I agree with the others who commented. I would love to see you take this and expand on it. What you have here is good, and you had me craving more. I would like to see what happens to the father and how the brothers manage to cope with the changes made.

Thank you for sharing.
Beckie Stewart05/13/08
This is a good start for a great story indeed.
Leticia Caroccio05/14/08
Nice article about four brothers. As one of four sisters, I can relate. Good dialogue. Flowed smoothly. Keep writing. Nice job.
Mariane Holbrook 05/14/08
What a great insight into a family situation, with such an interesting mix of personalities. Very nice job of writing!
Marlene Austin05/14/08
Your opening description of "Hal" made the resolution believable to the reader. I think we all would desire for the Christian to be the one to "help" the situation, however, the fact that you included detail describing the "distancing" of his Taoist family from him and his beliefs gave good explanation for his hesitancy to step in. Nice job. :)
Joanne Sher 05/14/08
I hope you DO expand on this where you don't have that 750-word limit. You have a very good start here, and would love to see more!
Edmond Ng 05/15/08
AUTHOR'S COMMENT:Just for the readers to know, this article although written in fiction, is actually based on a true story. The reason for the story beginning by 'telling' rather than 'showing' is because of the need to provide essential background before going into the plot, and because of the word limit for writing challenge. The Christian character in the story although appears disappointingly passive, is the way he is, because of his cultural environment. In a traditional family such as his, the youngest usually has little say in any family matters, and given the 'soured' relationship with his parents, it is not unbecoming for his behavior.