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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Touch (the sense of touch) (08/05/10)

TITLE: Little Girl Lost
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


Dan was shaking as he opened the door to his 15 year-old daughter’s hospital room. The girl in the bed was covered in purple bruises. Tubes were connected to every part of her body. The ventilator was breathing for her.

Dan leaned in for a closer look, he couldn’t tell if this was his daughter or not. His eyes scanned her face; he caught sight of the familiar birthmark just below her ear and slumped into a nearby chair.

As Dan sat next to his daughter his mind whirled. Why did Tracy run away to begin with? Where had she been these last 4 months? He shook his head; only Tracy would be able to answer these questions and from the look of her banged up body, it was quite possible that she might never wake up again. Tears streaked down his tired, wrinkled face.

A doctor entered the room and shook Dan’s hand. “Your daughter has a severe head injury. She’s in a coma for now. We’re waiting for the blood tests to come back. It does appear that she’s been raped. Hopefully, she’ll wake up in a day or two; but there's no way to know for certain. It’s important that you talk to her. I know she has IVs and bruises on her arm, but I would encourage you to hold her hand and massage her limbs. It’s quite likely she’ll recognize your voice and your touch, she’ll know you are here.”

After the doctor left the room, Dan reached out to rub his daughter’s arm; but he jerked his hand back before it reached her. He sank back into the chair and buried his face in his hands. His whole body shook as he sobbed.

Gradually Dan’s snores kept rhythm with the humming of the machines that were keeping his daughter alive. He felt his mind rushing back through time.

Suddenly, he was no longer a tired, worried father, but a brand-new Daddy.
The nurse tried to hand baby Tracey to him. Dan stepped back and shook his head. “No, she’s too little. I’ll hold her when she’s older.”

His vision flashed forward a few years. Dan walked through the front door. Tracey toddled toward him with her arms outstretched. But Dan stepped around her. “What’s for dinner?”

Once again he felt dizzy as the years rushed by. “Daddy, Daddy, look what I made in school today.”

Dan made a beeline to his chair. “Later, Daddy is tired from work. I just want to read the paper.” Tracey stopped smiling; her shoulders slumped down in defeat. Dan just looked down and read the sport's scores.

The next vision took place at a softball came. Dan found his wife; she wife hissed, “Where have you been? The game is almost over.”

Tracey ran to the sidelines, “Daddy, I just hit a homerun!” She tried to high-five her dad, but the fence blocked her hand.

Dan shifted in the chair as time marched on. Tracy was getting ready for her first homecoming dance. She twirled around, eager for her father’s approval. “That dress is too low-cut. It makes you look like a little tramp.” Dan saw the tears in his daughter’s eyes before he turned around and stomped out of the room.

The last scene was in Tracey’s bedroom. Dan was reading the note that Tracey left him before she ran away. In his sleep he murmured “Why God, why did my baby leave me?”

A beautiful voice whispered into Dan’s ear. “All of her life, Tracey has been searching for your approval. A daughter needs to be hugged and loved by her father. When her own Daddy refused to pick her up, give her a hug, or pat her back she went looking for affection from others. Your daughter hungered for the touch of another male. You could’ve been her role model but you chose to be selfish.”

Dan woke up with a jerk. He jumped out of the chair and rushed to Tracey’s side. This time he didn’t hesitate to pick up her battered hand. He massaged her arm. “Please come back to me Tracey. I promise I’ll be there for you. Please baby, please.”

The only response was the beeping of the monitors and the whooshing from the ventilator.

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This article has been read 875 times
Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp08/12/10
I've got goosebumps! This is so tragically true for so many young girls but even truer is the fact that many people don't know how to touch with hugs because they never had them and thus, the circle repeats itself. This should be a must read for every father out there so I hope you work on publishing it.

I loved the ending...was it too late? I suspect not as the monitor was still beeping! Amen

Is it Tracy or Tracey? :)
Virgil Youngblood 08/12/10
Outstanding take on the topic, with a message every father needs to hear.
Sarah Heywood08/13/10
Talk about reaping and sowing! A sobering story, but one with a promise of hope - nice writing!
stanley Bednarz08/15/10
What a great story idea for the sense of touch that has both internal and external signifigance.

Forgive me because my writing mind wanders so much: I would have loved to put a mysterious janitor in there, or some third person instead of the dream, and made him a mysterious messenger to bring the mc to that moment.

But this is your piece, and you deserve credit for such a fresh take with a strong well conveyed message. You deserve credit for an expected but powerful ending.

Thanks for sharing this.
Kate Oliver Webb 08/16/10
Tragic story, repeated too many times throughout the world, but one which we need to be aware of daily. The power of touch--and the time it takes to reach out--are so meaningful, not just to family members, but to all members of the human family. You told the story beautifully.
Lord, help us see as you see, and touch others in your stead.
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/16/10
Tragic, but happens in real life all too often. I found the paragraph with the "voice" giving the meaning a bit of unnecessary, but that's just my opinion. Great job otherwise. You really made me hurt for the father.
Hanne Moon 08/17/10
I loved your concept and loved the ending. I think you need to brush up a bit on punctuation rules. Along with Amy, I feel the paragraph with the "voice" explaining why his daughter ran away a little too much. You've already shown why she left...you didn't need to tell it again. This is a great story and the moral behind it one all parents need to take to heart. Good job! :)
Rachel Phelps08/17/10
I agree that the realization paragraph was unnecessary. Trust your well-crafted story to guide the readers to the message without extra pointing. Great take on the topic.
Maria Egilsson08/17/10
I agree with a couple of comments on the "voice" as the story implies very well the same concept. I like happy endings and I hope this young girl wakes up and the relationship improves. But real life doesn't always have the endings we want and that is why stories like this one, are sobering reminders to us. Well done.
Carol Penhorwood 08/17/10
A sad story filled with so much truth! Heartbreakingly real.
Catrina Bradley 08/17/10
A story I can totally relate to. Superb. I LOVE the ending!
Joan Campbell08/18/10
Such a well written, heart-felt message. As with some of your other articles, this causes the reader to stop and think about their own relationship with their children - so valuable!
I expected a happy ending, but I think it was even more powerful the way you wrote it.
Sandra Petersen 08/18/10
I thought this message to fathers was very important and well told.

A little technical thing: numbers like four and fifteen should be spelled out.

I agree with the others about the voice that comes to him after his dreams. You go from showing the reader the moral message of the story via the dream vignettes to telling the reader what they should do or not do via the voice. The dream sequences were enough to persuade the reader what needs to be possibly changed in his own personal life.

Good choice of past memories for the father to contemplate, ones in which many dads may relate.

Edmond Ng 08/19/10
So much truth in your story of how so often we neglect to show enough care to express our love to one who needs a touch. Your message in the story comes through very well. Thanks for sharing this.
Genia Gilbert08/19/10
Shann, this was a good story, and so relevant to the times. Congratulations on placing in both the top 30 and the Top 15 in your level. You are so great at commenting on others' entries, and deserve to have praise where it is due. Good job!
Sherrie Coronas08/20/10
This is a powerful story. Congratulations on placing in the top 30!! Thank you, also, for your encouragement on my stories. The feedback is much appreciated!!
Theresa Santy 08/28/10
This is a powerful and well-told story. So relevant. I can't tell you how many friends I have who continue to struggle with the acceptance of the the absence of their father's touch.