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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Time-consuming (02/24/11)

TITLE: Skeleton Silenced
By Kimberly Russell


The search had been going on for months but it seemed like years...dog years.
What began as a lark quickly became my obsession. I'll admit it: I never do anything halfway so it didn't take long for this project to take over my life. Spare time soon became nonexistent and extended into sleepless nights.

I was consumed.

My quest? Identify the skeleton in our family closet that had accidentally been unearthed: A brother we never knew.

Years before, in the heat of an argument about birth control, my mother spit out that she had given birth to a child as a teenager. Her life turned into a nightmare of shame and guilt since the status of 'unwed mother' in 1943 ranked right up there with being an ax murderer. I begged her to tell me what happened to the child but all she would say was that it had been a boy and put up for adoption. It was a family secret that was to remain buried and she stubbornly refused to discuss it any further. Shortly after that, she attempted to commit suicide.

Fortunately, she was unsuccessful.

In the meanwhile, we shoved the skeleton back into the closet and moved on. My sisters and I went about the business of growing up. Years slipped by and we occasionally talked about the elusive sibling but made a pact to leave the past where it belonged. What was the point of causing our mother any more pain just to satisfy our curiosity?

Even though I went along with the majority, my mind raced like Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby. How could we go through the rest of our lives never knowing about a person that was a part of us? What if he was someone famous or the guy across the street? It didn't matter, they argued. But it did to me.

I never could leave well enough alone.

"The Project" started innocently enough with a few quick taps on a search engine. You'd be amazed at how much information is made public on the Internet, even if it wasn't meant to be.

And the bones of the skeleton began to rattle.

I spent hours in my easy chair, following a path into uncharted territory. Diet Pepsi within reach and the cat sprawled on my lap, I cruised through years of information. Decades passed at lightening speed even though I ran into walls on a regular basis. The Internet became a GPS, guiding me to my destination.

What would I find upon my arrival? By now I was on a collision course with reality and there was no turning back.

Days turned into months as every free moment was devoted to finding answers. My house became shabby, calls went unanswered, and the pets glared. But I was not deterred.

Who was this mysterious brother and where was he?

The big break came on a stormy Saturday night as I tensed in my La-Z-Boy. On a fluke, one piece of information intersected with another and the rest tumbled quickly into place. Months of exhaustive surfing were about to culminate as I prayed that the storm wouldn't knock out my power before I accessed the missing link.

Nausea hit and my stomach rolled as I punched the 'enter' key and the page loaded up. The room began to whirl as my eyes raced across the screen. Then I leaned over the side of the chair and vomited with the clacking of bones echoing in my ears.

The article was from a newspaper clear across the country. Headlines screamed words like capital murder, life sentence, and clemency. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read about the 1988 murder of his wife and the subsequent legal proceedings that had ensued over the years. After exhaustion of the appeals process, he finally lost his battle and had been executed.

Just two months prior.

Wounded-animal sobs filled the house as lightening flashed outside, appropriate given the stormy condition of my heart. I cried out to God for grace and mercy on the man I never met and when at last I quieted, I shut down the browser and tucked the skeleton in his final resting place.

Silenced forever.

*Please note that this is a work of fiction.

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This article has been read 491 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Theresa Santy 03/03/11
What is this fascinating pull that draws us toward blood relatives? Common in many of us I think. I did not expect that ending. I suppose the MC did not either.

This was clever: "And the bones of the skeleton began to rattle."
Author Unknown03/04/11
Okay- you've got my attention-- a topic close to my heart (it's the topic of my WIP novel ;) ).

I think it's definitely on-topic as you're showing how consuming this became for your MC, and it's not hard to believe it would- it's consumed my brain for years now.

I love the way you express the MC's emotions throughout the story. And I love the metaphors you use.

For me, the format of it is just missing something that I can't pinpoint- and that may be just me. It feels a little like a journal entry- or several journal entries. Not sure- it might also be that it's a big time period trying to fit in the confines of a short story-- I have trouble with that myself. I think if it were focused more just on that last moment,lacing in the history of it,and focusing on the intensity of that big discovery- that it would have ramped up the emotion of it.

Good work! I liked this. :)
Rachel Phelps03/04/11
Wow - what a twist! Great job stringing along the suspense and drawing the reader in. Well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/05/11
Excellent in suspense. I'm glad you didn't leave the reader wondering. I'm glad, too, that it was fiction.--Good job of being on-topic.
Danielle King 03/06/11
I agree with the comments. The suspense was there all the way through and you were bang on topic. Well done.
Noel Mitaxa 03/06/11
I enjoyed your coverage of the research and curiosity that drove it. Nice to know that it is fictional, but it is entirely credible; not simply in the detail, but in the emotions and the light touches of humour that escort us through your emotions.
Loren T. Lowery03/09/11
Great suspenseful writing. Had me hunting along with the MC the whole time, wondering. Not all stories have a happy ending, but a well-told story doesn't necessarily need one.
Bonnie Bowden 03/09/11
You had me going for a minute, I thought this story might be real.

I liked the mystery and suspense.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/15/11
Congratulations for placing in the top 12 of your level and the top 30 overall!