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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Black (10/15/09)

TITLE: The Night the Lights Went Out
By Laura Manley


Martha laid in her bed with the covers brought up to her chin. The wind howled as she listened to the banging of something up against the house. She could only surmise that it was a shutter that had come off its hinges in the worst storm she had seen in a very long time.

Martha lived alone in the farmhouse she grew up in. She was not a young chicken at the age of 78, but she wasn't going anywhere. The thunder rolled like nothing she had ever heard and the lightning lit up her room with each crack across the sky. That was a good thing, she guessed, because the lights had long-since gone out.

Until the lightning flashed, Martha's bedroom was about as black as it could be. The lightning never gave her light long enough to be able to get out of bed and find her flashlight. She felt like kicking herself when she thought about not taking the flashlight into her room before retiring for the night. She just had to wait out the storm now.

There was a portable radio that Martha always kept by her bed just for this kind of event, which seemed to come more frequently all the time. Earlier in the day, she watched the rain come down so hard, she couldn't imagine anyone driving in it. The news on the radio had talked about flooding, but without electricity or telephone service, she had to trust the Lord to see her through this harrowing experience.

Jeb, the neighbor about five miles down the road had offered to take Martha into town just the day before because this storm had been predicted. Call it faith or stubbornness, she didn't want to go anywhere. She had been born in this house, and if the Lord wanted her to die there, she'd let Him have his way about it.

The house was getting cold by now and Martha began shivering. Would she be better off to stay reasonably warm under the covers she already had on her bed, or did she risk getting out of bed and getting even colder to find some other bedding. She opted to stay in her warm environment.

Two pair of socks kept Martha's feet warm enough for her to be able to drift off to sleep, something she had not done since the storm began. When she awakened, she became disoriented in her thinking, not being able to remember just what was happening around her. Another bolt of lightening finally brightened her room and she remembered then about the storm.

The storm had taken just about every ounce of energy or hope that Martha had left, but she wasn't about to give up. She again was able to drift back to sleep. The next thing Martha heard was pounding at her front door. Was it the shutter that had come off its hinges? No, there was a voice that came along with the pounding.

“Martha! Martha Evans, are you in there? Someone was speaking with a bull horn.

She did not want to have to get out of bed so with every ounce of strength she had left in her, she yelled out, “Who's out there?”

“It's the Sheriff's Department, Mrs. Evans. We need to evacuate you from your home. The waters are rising rapidly. You can't stay here any longer.”

Martha thought a few moments before responding to her potential rescuer. “I'm not going anywhere! I'm here for the long haul. I was born in this house and if need be, I'll die in this house.”

The Sheriff's Department was unsuccessful in persuading Martha to leave with them. Two days after the storm passed, Martha looked out her living room window. A quick inspection showed that the land around her farm was under water, but to her amazement, she was still on solid ground. A coincidence? Martha hardly thought so. Martha to this day believes it was God Almighty who got her through that cold, black night. No one will ever convince her differently.


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This article has been read 498 times
Member Comments
Member Date
stanley Bednarz10/23/09
Good beginning, with descriptions and sense of danger.

As a reader, the last paragraph could have been show, not tell. Perhaps she walks out, as the sun rises, falls to her knees, thanking God on the only clump of grass for miles. The old saying: "Show, don't tell."

I thought the beginning was well done, so the potential is there. Keep writing!
Jan Ackerson 10/27/09
Very well done! I've never understood people who stay in their homes despite the danger.

I agree with the previous commenter's critique, and would add that this good sotry deserves a better title.

I enjoyed reading this very much.
Ruth Brown10/27/09
Good story.
Pamela Calhoun10/28/09
I like Martha.... don't understand her though! LOL I'm with Jan, I'd be outta there.