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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)

TITLE: A Gambler's Prayer
By Joy Faire Stewart


“Lincoln Edward, you know not to wear a hat in this house!” Mom said, before I even cleared the back porch.

She shook her head and rolled her eyes when I told her a cowboy is just plain naked without his hat.

I almost made it through the kitchen when I spied Hi-Fi slurping milk from a dish near Mom’s feet. Without my six-shooter, I had to use my other weapon. Takin’ dead-aim on that “mountain lion,” I pitched my hat at Hi-Fi. He jumped straight up in the air and came down splat right in the middle of the milk dish. I laughed so hard, I had to hold my stomach—’til I saw milk dripping from Mom’s skirt and puddling in her pink, fluffy house shoes Dad gave her for her birthday.

She threw her hands up, like I’d said stick ’em up, her neck turned red and just about the time she opened her mouth to say something, the phone rang.

Taking a deep breath, she said into the phone, “Hello...this is Mrs. Reisman.

“Yes, I’m Lincoln’s mother.

“Miss Hartwood, he did what in school today?”

Mom stomped her foot, milk from her fluffy house shoes splashed the oven door. I grabbed the dish towel covering the dishes she had draining in the sink and mopped the oven and floor. Miss Hartwood must’ve said something really bad ‘cause Mom covered her eyes with her hand.

Mom hiccupped and said, “I’m disappointed in Lincoln’s behavior, too. His dad and I will talk to him. I’ll assure you, it won’t happen again!

“I agree, Miss Hartwood, it must be difficult teaching twenty-five third graders.

“It was nice talking with you, too. Yes, I’ll see you at the PTA meeting. Thanks for calling.”

Uh-oh! Mom turned to me with that raised left eyebrow.

“Lincoln Edward Reisman, what do you mean stealing marbles from the other kids?”

“But Mom, I wasn’t stealing marbles. I won ‘em.”

“Young man, go to your room. When your dad comes home, we’ll talk about this. Meantime, you think about what you’ve done. This calls for filling your pockets with prayers!”

The dish cloth I was still holding, I carefully put back over the dishes—like Mom had it.

The sheriff’s badge dangling from my pocket weighed a ton as I climbed the stairs to my room. I plopped down on my Roy Rogers’ bedspread and kicked off my boots. Hi-Fi jumped on the bed and nuzzled my arm. I smoothed his sticky, wet fur.

I wondered if Miss Hartwood told Mom about me eating the gerbil’s lettuce when she made me stay in from recess. Must not...

Maybe I should’ve made the hole in the coffee can bigger. I won lots of marbles ‘til Angeline got down on the ground and measured the hole in the can. She sure got mad when the marble wouldn’t fit through the hole. Then, everybody got mad at me and told Miss Hartwood.

She kept the can and made me gave all the marbles back. The kids laughed at me, ‘specially Angeline.

I didn’t like marbles anymore.

My stomach hurt.

My heart hurt.

I rubbed Hi-Fi’s soft ears. He purred and washed my hand with his scratchy tongue. He forgave me for the milk bath. Mom said that God forgives and won’t remember the bad things you’ve done if you’re really sorry, and ask Him to forgive you.

I placed Hi-Fi on the pillow and slid over the side of the bed to my knees, “Jesus, I want to fill my pockets with prayers.”

The buzzing of the intercom on my desk brought me back to the walnut paneled office where I sat remembering...

I pressed the talk button. “Yes, Jillian?”

“Dr. Lincoln, your 4:00 appointment is here, and your wife is on line two. She said it’s important.”

“I’ll take the call first.”

“Hi hon, what’s up?”

“Linc, Edward’s teacher just called. Did you tell your son about the marbles and coffee can game?”

Author’s Note

Marbles and Coffee Can Game: A hole is cut in the can lid large enough for a marble to drop through. The player stands in front of the can and drops a marble from waist-high into the can. If the marble goes into the can, the player receives his marble back plus the number of marbles agreed upon in advance. If the marble doesn’t go into the can, the owner of the can keeps the marble. Many view this game as gambling.

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This article has been read 765 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Johnson09/12/09
This is such a funny story...so many comments come to mind... "boys will be boys", "like father like son." I realy enjoyed reading this entry.
Carol Slider 09/13/09
This is such a fun story, and I love the title! Linc... what a character, and so true-to-life. Great job!
Jan Ackerson 09/13/09
I love the phrase "fill your pockets with prayers". Priceless! You've created a wonderful character...there's something very endearing about naughty little boys.
Catrina Bradley 09/13/09
OOh, I love it! Wonderful 1st POV; and a fun story. I could really feel Lincoln's triumph turn to conviction, great characterization. The ending is a hoot, and thanks for the footnote. :)
Kimberly Russell09/13/09
I adored this story! Was great fun and told really well. Nice job.
Chely Roach09/13/09
I loved how he put the dirty dishtowel back on the clean dishes, lol. My kids put their dirty silverware back in the drawer of I'm not watching them.
Fantastic character development; his repentance didn't feel forced. Great ending, too!
Sarah Elisabeth 09/13/09
The title made me laugh before I even read the story! lol Cute, enjoyed the read
Betty Castleberry09/13/09
Your MC is precious, even if he did get in trouble at school.
I didn't expect the ending, but I loved it. Well done.
Gregory Kane09/14/09
My favorite line was "The sheriff’s badge dangling from my pocket weighed a ton" Says it all! Excellent.
Liz Beal09/14/09
Really great job. I enjoyed your descriptions and your ability to change to his later life was very smooth. Well done!
Karie McCaffity09/14/09
What a great title for this story. I could see the Roy Rogers bedspread and feel his despair. Fun to read.
Loren T. Lowery09/14/09
Being from the south, anytime an adult called me by my first, middle and last name, I knew I was in trouble. Also, the phrase, "your son"...how many times did I hear that one???
This could have been me cowboy hat and all. Great job!
larry troxell 09/14/09
a winner! what a great character!
Sherrie Coronas09/14/09
This was a great story and the end was just icing on the cake. Very nice writing. Thank you.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/14/09
So many fun parts to this story, but I'm partial to Lincoln's cat, Hi-Fi. I laughed all the way through this story, and the ending is great.
Mariane Holbrook 09/16/09
I love little boys (I had 2) and your descriptions are priceless! So many good tidbits here I can't list them all. A lovely story! Kudos!
Leah Nichols 09/16/09
I could see the entire scene by your excellently descriptive writing. Great job!
Allen Stark09/16/09
Great story and superb ending. And, yes, it is so important to not look at what we are, but what we are becoming.
Lisa Graham09/20/09
Amazing story! Very well-written with a lot of wonderfully described interaction between the characters! Congratulations on placing 10th in Advanced and 28th overall!