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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)

TITLE: Alone at the House
By Ann Darcy


Lahela stared at the images on her computer, something she had gotten in the habit of doing while her parents were out. Guilt whispered through her heart, but she didn’t fight, the images were too addicting. They sucked her in so she couldn’t stop, or wouldn’t. The images had been grotesque when her friend had first shown them to her, but now she was a master at ignoring the guilt and enjoying the feelings that pulsed through her veins. She was hooked.

Nobody would ever know I’m doing it anyway. People assume that guys are the only ones who get into this kind of thing. She typed in another URL and checked the new photos. She had her sites that she returned to more often. She skimmed the images for a handsome model to look at; finding one, she clicked on the photo to see an enlarged visual. She enjoyed the physical excitement that rushed through her body when she looked. She jumped at the sound of the garage door. “They’re not supposed to be home yet!”

In spite of the allure, she mechanically deleted her web history for that evening and then closed her browser and pulled it up once more to scan for something she might have missed. Just taking precautions. She got up and flopped into bed with her chemistry book. She heard the sound of someone coming up the stairs… down the hall… outside her bedroom. They always let me know they are home… like clockwork. She grinned at her book.

Someone knocked and Lahela faked a quick jump and put her hand to her heart. “Oh, mom, you scared me! I didn’t hear you get home,” she sighed.

Her mom came over and sat down. “I’m sorry, honey. I didn’t mean to scare you. Anyway, I thought I’d come in and say goodnight. Your father and I are very tired.” She pulled Lahela in for a hug and left the room.

It worked. Again. Lahela praised herself. She struggled to focus on her chapter as the images continued to flicker through her head until late into the night.


Sweat poured off of Lahela’s face and back; she still couldn’t sleep. Guilt had overcome her.

My child, why do you turn your eyes to look at evil? Do you not believe I will help you out of your sinfulness? I have said I will not allow you to be you tempted more than you can handle. Flee, my child.

The Voice always came at night, prompting Lahela gently. But it wasn’t the only voice inside her head. Another fought against the first.

Ah, but you know how much you love it, the other voice caressed. It’s something everybody does. Just keep at it and the Other One will leave you alone.

The gentle prompting voice and the cold sickening voice came every time she did it.

I know the plans I have for you; plans for hope and a future. Don’t throw those plans away with this. I love you and have forgiven you, but you need to stop this sinfulness.

Oh, God. I’m sorry. I won’t ever do it again. She would promise, but never meant it, she was only trying to get rid of the voices so she could sleep—it usually worked.

You filthy brat! How dare you promise that, you know you have sinned, you are as black as coal. You hypocrite!

The voices wouldn’t go away this time. The dark voice now preying on her guilt, making her feel like a wretch. Isn’t that what I am, though? She rolled, trying to find a place that wasn’t damp with sweat.

My child, I loved you so much I gave my son to die for you. Don’t you think I love you enough to help you out of this? Trust me, I will lead you home.

“God,” she rolled onto the floor, finally listening. “I promise, and I really mean it this time, that I will never look at pornography again. But I need your help, God. I can’t do it alone. Please forgive me for what I’ve done.” Tears ran freely down her face; but a peace came over her suddenly, a feeling that she could actually conquer this enemy, with her Lord’s help.

The next day she asked her parents for forgiveness. And while the struggle continued day after day, she fought and gained strength from the promise she had made that night. And day-by-day, she managed to stay away.

Paraphrased: John 3:16 NIV and Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

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This article has been read 883 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter04/27/06
Enjoyed this story, but would have loved to have been shown the scene with her parents the next day. Perhaps in a fuller version?
Kirralie Smith04/27/06
Good story, the end was a bit rushed but that was probably because of the word limit?
Jesus Puppy 04/28/06
Well done, and with a topic that is troubling many youths, and even adults, these day. And with most Pop up as they are most don't even need to look, it comes after the unexpecting. Very well expressed, showing the point in the story without much description. Turning the child around in the end, showing the reader they do have a choice and One that will stand by them, no matter what. Good job...
Jan Ackerson 04/29/06
If you end it a bit sooner--with "...the Lord's help" the ending won't seem so rushed. You don't have to tie up all the loose ends, you can trust your readers to do that, if you've done a good job with the story--and you did a great job with this story! The conflicting voices were wonderfully portrayed.
Becky Depp 05/01/06
Great story! I love it.
T. F. Chezum05/01/06
Very nice story. I agree with Jan about the ending, but you did a great job.
Jean Elizabeth 05/01/06
Great job! I agree that the ending was too tidy but you did a fabulous job portraying the tug-of-war between good and evil. Good writing.
Rita Garcia05/01/06
Touching, heartfelt story. Good job!
Debbie OConnor05/02/06
Great and timely story. I think for "inner strength" I would have liked to see less of the struggle to decide to quit and more of the walking out of the decision. Still, this is a very strong entry. Great writing.
Caitlynn Lowe05/03/06
Nice story, I really enjoyed it. ^_^
Pat Guy 05/03/06
I agree with Jan! You did such a good job on this story you didn't need the last paragraph! Goooood job! Great conflicts! This one should be submitted somewhere.
Maxx .05/03/06
Way to tackle a very difficult topic. Very good! My only suggestion is that anytime you split an article into two halves you are breaking the rythm and flow of the piece. All of the points that you made in the first half could have been made in different ways during the second half. Stated another way, you could have just written the second half and woven the first half in as backstory. (or vice-versa, actually!) Just a suggestion, since you obviously have the skills to write at the highest levels.