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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Confident (07/05/07)

TITLE: Little Joe
By Charles Toscano
07/11/07


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On Little Joe's third birthday, he stood atop "Bone Crusher", the towering slide that had claimed many a broken ankle, elbow, and wrist. "Bone Crusher" stood a breathtaking 7 feet tall, and as Little Joe peered down that shiny aluminum chute, he felt butterflies fluttering in his tummy.

But despite his fear, Little Joe crept slowly beyond the point-of-no-return. And when he looked out over the grassy plain of the playground and surveyed the surroundings below, Little Joe felt strong and brave and confident.

He spotted his mother and father in the distance.

"Mommy! Daddy! Watch me!" Little Joe shouted.

They looked up in unison. His mother gasped! His father dropped the lighter fluid and bolted toward his son! But it was too late. In the twinkling of an eye, Little Joe sat and launched himself down that slide. And as he dismounted from the ramp at the very bottom, he soared high into the air, completed a full somersault and landed squarely on both feet. Thump!

Little Joe raised his hands high above his head.

"Ta-daa!" He yelled.

On Joey's seventh birthday, he stood atop "Flesh Pounder", the 3 meter diving board that had claimed many a walloped belly, back, and face. "Flesh Pounder" stood a breathtaking 9 feet 11 inches tall, and as Joey peered out past the end of that narrow plank, he felt butterflies dancing in his belly.

But despite his fear, Joey crept slowly beyond the point-of-no-return. And when he looked out over the glimmering surface of the water and surveyed the surroundings below, Joey felt strong and brave and confident.

He spotted his mother and father on the concrete below.

"Mom! Dad! Watch me!" Joey shouted.

They looked up in unison. His mother gasped! His father dropped his sunglasses and bolted toward his son! But it was too late. In the twinkling of an eye, Joey jumped and launched himself off that board. And as he reached the pinnacle of his trajectory, he completed one-and-a-half somersaults and pierced the water perfectly straight, creating the tiniest of splashes. Kerplink.

Joey emerged from the pool and raised his hands high above his head.

"Ta-daa!" He yelled.

On Joe's twelfth birthday, he stood atop "Sasquatch Skid", the double-black-diamond ski trail that had claimed many a broken arm, leg, and collar-bone. "Sasquatch Skid" leaned a breathtaking 45 degrees, and as Joe peered out over the steep drop-off, he felt butterflies tumbling in his stomach.

But despite his fear, Joe crept slowly beyond the point-of-no-return. And when he looked down over the peaceful stretch of deep, soft snow and surveyed the surroundings below, he felt strong and brave and confident.

He spotted his mother and father getting off the chairlift.

"Mother! Father! Watch me!" Joe shouted.

They looked up in unison. His mother gasped! His father dropped his goggles and bolted toward his son! But it was too late. In the twinkling of an eye, Joe launched himself down that mountain. He swished and swooshed and rocketed over a large mogul. He completed two full somersaults with one half-twist and landed on the snow with grace and beauty. Swiiiishhhh!

Joe slid to a stop in front of the lodge and raised his hands high above his head.

"Ta-daa!" He yelled.

On Joseph's nineteenth birthday, he stood inside his church, in the presence of the God that had claimed many a lost soul. The altar seemed a million miles away and as Joseph peered through the congregation, he felt a million butterflies swirling inside his abdomen.

Joseph crept slowly toward the aisle. But when he looked to the Cross and surveyed his surroundings, he felt small and afraid.

He spotted his parents just a few seats away.

"Not today," he whispered.

Homeward bound, Joseph put on his headphones and walked ahead of the rest of his family. His head hung low as he tried to understand the Grace of God through the Blood of Jesus.

Nearby, a car lost control on the wet pavement and careened onto the sidewalk.

"Joseph! Watch out!" his parents screamed.

His mother gasped! His father dropped the umbrella and bolted toward his son! But it was too late. In the twinkling of an eye, Joseph was struck. Like a rag doll tossed by a playful puppy, Little Joe flopped through the air then crashed to the ground. His head slammed into the pavement and he died.

****************************************
Dear Lord, please help me to be confident in You and not in myself. Amen


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This article has been read 448 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 07/12/07
What a wrenching ending! Gave my heart a few extra thumps, that's for sure, and you really hammered the point home.

I'm on the fence about the parallel structure...I found myself skimming each section just for the words that were different, because I'd already "been there." On the other hand, the basic setup was engagingly written. I'll have to think about this one.

Good reading for youth groups.
Dee Yoder 07/13/07
I agree that Youth groups would like this article. The young seem to need drama and trauma to get their attention, but my poor mother's heart is squeamish! Don't EVEN want to go there, y'know?! Good job with capturing my attention. Though I didn't want to read the ending, I couldn't stop!
Sharlyn Guthrie07/13/07
I really like the message and the structure of this piece. The last section does seem a little abrupt, and I think I'd have Joe totally dismissing the message he just heard instead of contemplating it. Just a thought. You are an engaging writer. Keep up the great work.
Lynda Schultz 07/14/07
WOW, and double WOW! This is fantastic.
dub W07/16/07
I liked the structure and the toyed repitition. Everything worked until the abrupt ending.
Joanne Sher 07/17/07
This is amazingly insightful and engaging and effective. Loved it!
Kristen Hester07/18/07
This is a WINNER in my book. Wow. I am so sad he died but it is such a powerful message. Great job!
Debbie Lassiter07/19/07
Wow! I laughed with glee as I read about Little Joe's childhood antics. I smiled calmly as he walked forward in church. I gasped when he was struck. You really engaged the readers and drew us in. Outstanding!