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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: You Shall Love Your Neighbor
By TJ Nickel


Evie married Joe when they were both twenty-five.

Joe was a good man, as men are judged in this world, but he was not a Christian. He was a defense attorney, filled with a passion to help those in need, and equally filled with a passion to be loved. Both passions came from a rocky upbringing through which he had persevered.

Evie was a Christian writer, so capable and gifted she’d won a Pulitzer Prize with her first novel. She took her career seriously, as a calling from God. At times, she would disappear for months - either traveling or in the small writing office in their home.

What was a fairly peaceful marriage for five years was about to come to an end.

“You tell me this now? What do you mean, you’ve suffered me?” Joe yelled, with pains that reached into his youth.

“You’ve never asked, so I haven’t told you before. That’s part of suffering.”

“I don’t want to be suffered! You say you don’t want a divorce, but if I’m making you suffer, maybe I can’t handle that!” he yelled.

“Hun, please, please don’t say such things. I love you. You just don’t understand me well enough. You don’t have the same affections for God as I do, and the things I do create a terrible jealousy in you. I can’t make you see God as I do. What am I to do but suffer this difference? I chose to marry you, and I still choose it…would remarry you today even. I love you.”

“That isn’t love! You should learn to be so jealous. It’d make me feel more loved than this, this, suffering of me. I’m a man. You, in all your knowledge and writings of characters surely know a man needs to feel like a man!”

“Sure, and I do. That’s why…” Evie trails off and bows her head to him.

“Yeah, that’s why you suffered me! It was all a façade then. How’s that big word for you? And another I’ve learned from you, you’ve transmogrified our love!”

Her heart bleeding from the dagger, Evie fell to her knees in tears.

“Ah, I can’t handle this. Always about you, isn’t it? Now you and God are gonna have to have your time without me. I’m outa here!”

With that, Joe grabbed his overcoat, briefcase, and keys and stormed out the door.

The next three days were spent in the home with absolute silence between them. On the third morning, Evie picked up her pen to write.

“Never again will I say ‘peacetime’ in the context of war. I’d rather war than have this peace.”

Finally, she came out of the office and asked Joe to meet her after work for a nice dinner at their ‘hot-date’ restaurant. With a nod, he agreed.

Joe, in a spirit of reconciliation and romance decided to leave work early and do something a little wild to woo his woman back to him. He rented a tuxedo with a top hat to boot, and purchased a dozen fine roses to arrive at the restaurant with. His mind was on three hours later when he stepped into the street to cross towards the restaurant. Just then, Evie was getting out of the cab and noticed a fine gentleman in a tuxedo about to be crushed by the oncoming van. The horn sounded, Joe froze and turned, and Evie lunged to push him to safety.

Lying there with a crushed body, Joe gathered her into his strong arms and his tuxedo began soaking in her blood.

“No!” he screamed through tears, “Oh, Evie! Evie, this looks bad.”

“Forgive me, Joe.”

“Forgive you! Oh, I love you. I can’t believe you did this for me. You do love me!” he said through tears.

Reaching to his face, she warred for truth, “Joe, oh, my precious Joseph. Forgive me. I didn’t know it was you.”

All his life’s pains came to a hollering climax.

“You what? You did this for a stranger? We’ll have no children and I’ll have no wife, because you died for a stranger? You’ve never loved me at all!”

As he let go of her in disgust and placed his hands on his own face in shame, she let go of this world, her left hand flailing down upon the roses.

For the rest of his life, Joe suffered Evie. He suffered her and finally learned to love her as she’d always loved him: as a neighbor.

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This article has been read 954 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Chrissi Dunn04/26/07
Very sad and dramatic. Also a realistic example of the problems encountered when 'saved' and 'unsaved' are married.
James Wood04/26/07
It is difficult when the marriage is not equally yoked. It makes for high highs and low lows. Well told, but some of your wording caused breaks in the flow of the story. For example:

"Just then, Evie was getting out of the cab and noticed a fine gentleman in a tuxedo about to be crushed by the oncoming van."

An important plot point like this should be two seperate sentances, since two important things are happening:

1) Evie out of the cab.

2) Oncoming van.

Good story, I enjoyed it.
Jennifer Wetter04/27/07
A different perspective of loving a neighbor and loving God. I must admit both are equally hard to do when you get to caught up with the world.
Jan Ackerson 04/27/07
I loved the sentences about peacetime and war that Evie wrote, and I REALLY loved the rich irony in "you did this for a stranger?"

The ending--it's a thought-provoker, that's for sure.

On the first read, I found the dialog perhaps a bit stilted or melodramatic, but on subsequent reads, I decided that it fit the tone of the piece, even contributed positively toward establishing that tone. Godd job!
Julie Arduini04/29/07
This all was solid and well done but the ending is haunting, one of those you won't shake after moving on to another story, even if you want to. Excellent work!
Erin Brannan04/30/07
As someone who is married to a non-Christian man, this piece was especially gripping. The more I think about it, the more genius I think the ending is. Very thought-provoking and well written. I'm going to read it again =)
Jacquelyn Horne04/30/07
This is good writing. I don't see the romance here, however. The story is very good, and truthful. Shattering in some ways, but very honest. Something that almost anyone will be able to identify with.
Cheri Hardaway 05/02/07
I struggled with the uneven yoking at first. But rarely will we find perfection in an imperfect world.

You brought your lesson home vividly, and the reader is left with an aching heart for both Evie and Joe.

I don't know if I would classify it a romance, but I most certainly classify it an awesome job of writing with an incredibly impacting message. Good job.

Sara Harricharan 05/02/07
Wow. This is heart-wrenching. Evie was so strong through the whole story, I had to root for her all the way! ^_^ You did a good job with a not-so-happy ending, it takes quite a bit to pull it off so smoothly.
I think there were a few spaces missing though when the van nearly ran Joe over. Otherwise, I liked this.
Brenda Welc05/02/07
Touchy subject well handled in this story. Very shocking ending. I loved it!