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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)

TITLE: Beyond the Closet Door
By Joanne Sher


“But I’m afraid, mama.”

“Don’t be, little one. Mama’s here, and I will protect you.”

Phoebe curled up in a ball and snuggled into her mama’s chest. Marlene, her body against the closet door, was thankful the door opened inward. She also praised God that her friend Danielle had called and warned her of Frank’s news, and his impending arrival.

“The boss called him into his office, and Frank came out steaming,” Danielle had said in a whisper. “He’s cleaning out his desk right now – and I just saw him put a bottle of bourbon in his briefcase.”

”Thanks, Dani. Just pray, would you?”

“You know I will! And remember; you have my number.”

How long ago had that conversation been? Marlene looked at her watch, placing her arm by the flashlight she’d brought into the closet. Twenty minutes ago – felt like longer. For all she knew, Frank was pulling into the driveway this very moment and would barge into the house before she could finish her thought.

Running her hands through Phoebe’s blonde locks, Marlene sighed. There was one thing she did know, as surely as she was breathing. When he did walk in that door, that bottle of bourbon would be empty.

Lord, protect my baby. Tell me what to do next. No three-year-old should have to go through this.

It had been one thing when Frank took out his frustrations on his wife. She could handle it. But two days ago, Phoebe had been the target. Her baby girl had welts on her legs to prove it.

Frank had stormed out, furious at Phoebe’s crying, and drove away to who knows where. Since Frank had crashed the other car a week ago, Marlene and Phoebe were stranded.

He hadn’t been home since. According to Dani, he’d reported to work the next morning an hour late. He hadn’t made it home last night either. Here it was, the next morning, and it appeared he had been fired, and he had a bottle of liquor. She knew her husband – he’d head right home now, and have one of his fits. The worst thing would be for her and Phoebe to be out and available to be his punching bags.

“If we can just wait him out.”

“Wait for what, mama?”

Marlene kissed Phoebe on the top of her head and held her close.

“Wait quietly until mama says it’s ok. All right, sunshine?”

Phoebe nodded and kissed her mother gently on the cheek.

The slamming of a door and heavy footsteps broke the silence. Marlene leaned harder against the closet door, turned off the flashlight and whispered to Phoebe, “very quiet, sunshine, very quiet.”

Marlene tried to tune out the noises from the other side of the closet door – the sounds of swearing, yelling, broken glass – but she could not. She rocked back and forth, cradling Phoebe in her arms.

Thank you, Lord. That could have been one of us.

Phoebe touched her mother’s cheek.

“Can I whisper sing, mama?”

Marlene nodded. “As long as it’s quiet, sweetie.”

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so….”

Marlena focused on the words of that precious song, coming from the mouth of her precious angel. She was finally able to block out everything else but the singing and Jesus’ love and protection for her.

Oh, God. Thank you for reminding me!

By the time Phoebe had finished singing, the house was silent.

“Just a few more minutes, my little one.”

She opened the closet door a crack and recognized snoring. Signaling for Phoebe to stay put, Marlene ventured out.

Walking as quietly as she could, she found the house a shambles: chairs were thrown askew, there was a new hole in the entryway wall, and the curio cabinet glass had shattered all over the living room floor. She found Frank asleep on the couch, his car keys on the floor where he’d obviously dropped them.

Thank you, Lord.

Marlene quickly grabbed the car keys and slunk back to her daughter.

“Come on, sunshine. We can go now.”

Phoebe picked up her backpack from the closet floor, and Marlene grabbed her suitcase. They tiptoed out toward the car, closing the front door quietly behind them.

As she buckled Phoebe into her carseat, Marlene let out a sigh of relief.

“Where are we going, mama?”

“Far away, sunshine. Just remember that wherever we go, Jesus will be close beside you – and so will I.”

“Jesus Loves Me”
Words By: Anna B. Warner
Music By: Wm. B. Bradbury

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This article has been read 1291 times
Member Comments
Member Date
terri tiffany11/24/06
Good dialogue - good story but I did notice at times you might want to change your verb tense to just past tense. The ending left me wanting more as if part of a longer story. Good descriptive words throughout!
Ann FitzHenry11/25/06
What a touching piece! The title was perfect. I felt the fear in the story.--Good job.
Sue Dent11/26/06
I liked the way you had me wondering why she was thankful the closet door opened inward. I sat there for like an entire second to figure it out then went on to read that the were INSIDE! That was so neat the way you made me think. And thank-you for letting them get out safe. I might have waited outside somewhere but who knows what the neighborhood was like or the weather. There I go thinking again! Good job, good dialogue. I can't wait till he wakes up and finds them gone!!!
Helen Paynter11/27/06
Lovely story - deceptively simple in its language, and very powerful for it. I was right there in my mind, holding my breath with them! Well done.
william price11/27/06
I loveth this. Great story line and writing. Its nice to read about something that was beyond the closet door, that is Godly. God bless.
Betty Castleberry11/27/06
Great job of dealing with one of our society's problems. You grabbed my attention right away. Very well done.
Laurie Glass 11/27/06
You had me hanging on every word. I could have cried and I like pieces that touch me emotionally. Great job.
Shanti Singh11/27/06
Excellent job. I really liked this. It held my interest and was very believable. Great writing!
Edy T Johnson 11/28/06
You certainly got a big story told in just these few paragraphs. What a contrast between the two parents, one selflessly protecting the child, the other oblivious to the pain he causes his loved ones! A pitiful situation for all concerned. Great writing, here!
Jan Ackerson 11/28/06
The phrase "Can I whisper sing?" just broke my heart. Excellent writing, and so sad.
Donna Haug11/29/06
In spite of the danger, the mom made the little one feel safe in her arms. You conveyed that so well. Good writing!
Dennis Fletcher11/29/06
Well done, written very well
Debbie Sickler11/29/06
I loved this! The beginning had me a little confused, because I thought the mom was tucking the little girl in. I couldn't figure out why she was glad the door opened in, but once I got that they were in the closet (and the daughter wasn't worried about a monster in it or something) I loved the story. The picture of them cowering in the closet together was touching, but then to add a little girl 'whisper singing' Jesus Loves Me was the perfect touch. And I loved the surprise ending of having their bags packed in the closet with them. Great ending to have them escape the closet and the danger. Did I mention that I loved it? ;)
Amy Michelle Wiley 11/29/06
Good for them for leaving. Great story, well done.
Sara Harricharan 11/29/06
This was very realistic. Felt as if I was right there and could feel every emotion. Great job with the characters and with using the song. :)
Lynda Lee Schab 11/29/06
Wonderful story with smooth, believable dialogue. Kept me on the edge of my seat throughout and tugged on my heart strings too. Great work!
Donna Powers 11/29/06
Very touching and well-written. Your description brought me right into the closet, and depicted their fear very well. Thanks very much for sharing this.
Ruth Neilson11/29/06
wow...powerful. I'm at a lost for words--I could see the entire sequence of events occur in my mind.
Shari Armstrong 11/29/06
Heartbraking -and unfortunately reality for so many families. Well written.
Marie Fieldman11/29/06
Go Mama go! I'm glad that this situation didn't hinder the mom's or the little girl's faith.

I have only ever heard of one other story that happened in a closet... The suspense really got me.
Suzanne R11/30/06
The poignancy of the contrast between the violence outside and the tenderness inside was very effective. Well done.
Catrina Bradley 11/30/06
Why didn't this win?!? You know I love your story, but I realized I never left a comment. Such a rollercoaster ride - awesome. Again - why didn't this win??? :) Keep up the good work, Joanne.