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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)

TITLE: What the Moon Knows
By Betty Castleberry
07/22/09


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When I heard the clock in the hallway strike two, I got up and pulled on my clothes. Maxey said he wouldn’t wait long, and if I didn’t show, he’d know I didn’t care about him.

I crept down the hallway and peeked in Mama and Daddy’s room. Daddy was snoring and Mama lay so still I watched to make sure she was breathing. Convinced they were sound asleep, I tiptoed out the front door.

The moonlight cast a soft glow across the path. Underneath my bare feet, the packed clay felt cool and hard. Katydids clicked from the bushes along the path. I found Maxey standing under the shag bark tree just where he said he’d be. His black hair and lean frame made my heart do a somersault.

He flicked a cigarette butt down and ground it into the earth with his boot. “Hey Janie. You done it.”

“Yep, I told you I’d come.”

He sat under the tree and patted a spot beside him. I joined him.

Maxey shook his head. “Your daddy would kill me if he found me with you.”

“I’m sixteen now. I see who I want to see.”

“Then why ya meetin’ me in the middle of the night?”

I picked up a stone and turned it over in my palm. “Well, it ain‘t you. I don’t think Daddy would like me seein’ nobody.”

Something scuttled in the bushes nearby. Startled, I dropped the stone.

Maxey grinned. “It’s just a coon. Did ya think it was your daddy?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

He let out an audible breath. “You know your daddy wouldn’t have all the money he’s got if folks like me didn’t smoke.”

I pictured Daddy driving around our tobacco fields checking on the workers. He said he had worked his way up to owning his own farm, but the truth is, I’d never seen him working in the fields. Maybe he worked some before I came along. I had to believe him.

Wanting to think about something else, I looked at Maxey. “Why’d you drop out of school?”

“Wasn’t nothin’ for me there. I don’t need to know how to solve algebra problems.”

“I miss seein’ you there.”

“You’re the only thing I miss about it, truth be told.”

A breeze puffed my hair across my cheek. “Max, do you believe in God?”

“Yes and no.”

“It can’t be yes and no. You either do or you don’t.”

He leaned toward me. “Do you?”

“Yes.”

“See the moon? When I see something that big that lights up the whole sky, then I think there just might be a God. But when I think about how things turn out for some people, then I think there might not be. Why is it that my daddy can’t find a job and my mama is sickly? If there‘s a God, he don’t care about us. ”

I touched Maxey’s hand. “God cares about everybody. Sometimes God puts us though trials to teach us something.”

He lit another cigarette. I watched its red tip volley back and forth from his fingertips to his mouth. “You look classy. You’re wearin’ a fancy blouse.”

“Thanks, but It’s just somethin’ Mama bought for me. It ain’t really special.”

“Well, it sure looks special. I can’t never buy you nothin’ like that, Janie.” He seemed deep in thought. “You don’t need me. I’ll be just like my dad and never amount to anything, even if I try. Besides, your people wouldn’t accept me. Maybe your God will help you find somebody you deserve.”

“I don’t care what my people think, but I do care if you believe in God or not. I can‘t be with somebody who don’t.”

Max snorted. “That’s the best excuse I heard yet for dumpin’ somebody.”

My lower lip quivered. “Sounds like you’re dumpin’ me.

Max lifted my chin. “You. Don’t. Need. Me. Now go home.”

I stood up and dusted the dirt off my backside, trying to keep my dignity in tact. “Maxey, I’m gonna pray for you.”

He shrugged.

I ran all the way back to the house and went to my room. Kneeling at my bedside, I did pray for him. Through my window, I watched clouds move swiftly across the moon, obscuring it, then bring it back into sharp focus. For an instant, the man in the moon became Maxey, his head bent in prayer. That had to be a sign. I smiled.


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This article has been read 648 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 07/24/09
Vivid writing. I could picture the scene as it unfolded. The subtle touches of differences in class (and maybe even race) were woven in nicely.
Sharon Kane07/26/09
Well this did NOT go where I expected it to! A strong girl here who knew what was best for her. Lord give us more like her.
Bryan Ridenour07/27/09
Very well written. I wish all teenage girls had a desire for their boyfriends to have a relationship with God. Good storytelling. Well done!
Loren T. Lowery07/27/09
When I first started reading this I was expecting to see a spunky, defiant girl swept away by the ne're-do-well biker, but instead a found two good hearts that bent the story in a very unexpected, but very good way.
In that it held my interest throughout, says to me that it was written well.
william price07/27/09
I liked this! A real sincere tne and voice. Great job! I'm glad you let on there was a glimmer of hope for Maxey.
God bless.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/29/09
When I read your story, I was reminded how often good girls are attracted to "bad" boys.You made it clear that this girl would hold true to her principles, even though she hoped Maxie would change. You drew me in so tightly that I hoped he would, too. Good writing.
Carol Slider 07/29/09
Great job of making these characters come alive! I like the hopeful ending, and the hint that Maxey might come around, after all.
Diana Dart 07/29/09
Love the title, so poetic. The characters in the story were very real, with the dialogue hinting and drawing a picture for the reader. I especially liked the cigarette descriptions, just gave it some colour you know. Nice. Good ending too, not at all as I expected.
Mona Purvis07/29/09
Good clean writing, telling an interesting story from an interesting POV. Holds the reader. Gets the message in without trying. Love it.
Mona
Sara Harricharan 07/29/09
Ahh, young love, but what a way to handle it. "I'll pray for you, Maxey." That's simply priceless, I loved that line, great characters, great ending, loved it!
Leah Nichols 07/30/09
This story had an unexpected twist to it, but felt very real. I can't add any more than what others have said. Well done!
Loren T. Lowery07/30/09
Betty, I think you said that this was a new approach to your writing...it looks like it paid off. Wonderful and congratulations on your EC Placement.
Mariane Holbrook07/30/09
You hit a homerun with this one, Betty. A real winner, for sure! I want to see you in the BOB listing next summer, ya hear??? Big time kudos, my friend!!!
LaNaye Perkins07/30/09
Wonderful writing my friend. You did a fantastic job of keeping my interest throughout the entire piece. Well done Betty!
Debbie Roome 07/30/09
I was right there in the middle of this. Realistic and well written. Congrats on your EC.
Catrina Bradley 07/30/09
Masterful writing. The scene and the characters jump off the page. I like that the story didn't end in any of the expected ways. Congrats - you deserve your EC. :)
Chris Janzen08/03/09
You did such a great job on developing these characters in a short story format. This story had so much heart and feeling to it. What wonderful interpretation...a teenage girl praying for the boy she likes to know Jesus. Just beautiful. Congrats on your Editor's Choice win, it is well deserved!