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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)

TITLE: The Footnote
By Rachel Phelps


The lighting was dim. I could make out the forms of a desk, a bench, some bookcases. The leftovers of a fire glowed in a stone fireplace. The only well-lit item was a comfortable leather chair near the fireplace. This wasn’t what I had expected, but then, I had no idea what to expect.

I sat in the chair, immediately relaxing into its depths. It took a moment for it to become apparent that someone was sitting across from me, hidden in shadows. He wore all black, from his high-buttoned shirt to his polished shoes. Something in his manner made me want to squirm.

Even as I gave in to the urge, another man sat down on the hearth, next to my chair. This was a man I knew, though I had never seen his face.
“Lord!” I cried, half-rising to bow before him.

The man in the chair across from me gave a disgruntled “harrumph” and motioned for me to keep my seat. My ally smiled and nodded for me to obey.

“The charges…” the man in black began, looking toward the desk in the corner. “Shall I proceed?”

I became aware of a third presence, this one completely hidden from me – yet not by darkness. It was something – Someone I could not yet see. I sensed rather than saw the signal to continue.

“The matter of the soul of one Thomas Kelby,” intoned the man in black. “His history…”

I relaxed a little. Overall, I had led a clean life. This reading would hold no real terrors, even if it were conducted without the faithful comfort of my ally. With him beside me, it would almost be pleasant.

The reading began.

“May 20th, 1964: Plotted and carried out the physical harm of on Samuel Kelby – brother. Succeeded in causing broken arm and two cracked ribs. Lied to cover premeditation.”

I shifted suddenly, darting a glance at the man on the hearth. His eyes were down, brow knit.Surely even childhood pranks will not be held against me! Uneasily, I recalled the feeling I had had while lying to my mother. I had known I was in the wrong.

“September 8, 1967: Stole $30 from employer’s cash register for personal uses. Blamed coworker.”

That had been more serious… but even so – a teenage lark, nothing more! I found myself hesitating to glance at the hearth.

The list went on – chronicling teenage rebellion, rage against family members, my persistent flouting of church and any authority figure.

“October 13, 1972: Declared there is no God to group of friends on campus. Chose as personal philosophy from this time.”

The chair suddenly seemed much less comfortable. There was an almost tangible glee in my accuser’s voice. I shifted and kept my eyes firmly on my shoes.

Not surprisingly, my conversion was left out of the recitation, though it took me some time to realize it was absent. Petty grudges, shirked promises, arrogance toward God – what had become of the well-lived life I recalled?

“February 12, 1982: Pursued lustful thoughts about one Gina Howell. Continued for several weeks until distracted by one Bethany Dennis, about whom he also indulged in impure fantasies.”

“July 7, 1988: Ignored direct order from so-called Savior and Lord to approach man on street - one Steven McLayland - with offer of a meal. McLayland committed suicide later that same day.”

“November 26, 1990: Lied to wife about work hours to cover for time flirting with one Samantha Natchez…”

“April 5, 1992: Publicly disparaged one Rev. Timothy Haldings in order to make good impression with other church leaders…

“August 19, 1992…”

“September 29, 1994…”

“May 10, 1997…”

“December 2, 2004…”

I was out of the chair, kneeling on the floor as the weight of my guilt crashed over me. The man in black looked down at me and chuckled. I all but whimpered as he lowered the paper.

“Does the defendant wish to speak?”

I had only one thought. I turned to the man on the hearth, undone by the look on his face.

“Forgive me, Lord,” I whispered.

He smiled. “You asked this before, friend.”

“You have forgotten something, Lucifer,” He said, rising from his seat.

The man in black seemed to shrink before him. “No, I have been quite thorough.”

He took the papers from Lucifer’s hand, pointing to the very bottom.

“A mere footnote!” Lucifer blustered.

My ally shook his head. Written across the bottom of my list of sins, in bold, red letters. One word.


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This article has been read 1177 times
Member Comments
Member Date
TJ Nickel04/23/10
a well done story. i like the use of the topic in your title and body of the story, and the list was a very nice element to use.
Joan Campbell04/23/10
Wow - so very powerful! You took us right into that room and I couldn't help but think what would me on my own list. This one is going to stay with me. Excellent job.
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/24/10
Awesome--great job. Good reminder that it's easy to be smug in our forgiveness, thinking we have "been pretty good," when in reality we are scum and it's only God who is good in His grace.
Beth LaBuff 04/26/10
Wow! Masterful! I love your title and whole concept. I agree with the others, this is so powerful! Excellent creativity (and execution) for the topic.
Melanie Kerr 04/27/10
Excellent story - and frightening too, unless you know the Saviour.
Loren T. Lowery04/27/10
I was squirming in the chair with your MC, too. Who could blame him? Many have written what you've expressed here in poetic imagery this week - I like the prose form you chose as well. Thank goodness for that one seemingly simple footnote - I wonder how many autobiographies have failed to note it? Great job.
Carol Penhorwood 04/27/10
I believe this is another winner! Thank God for that footnote!
Lyn Churchyard04/28/10
Great take on the topic. Scary with a touch of "oogieness". How blessed we are because of that one final word.
Mona Purvis04/28/10
Oh yes, this is the real reading that counts! Great take on the topic and lots of suspence. You never disappoint.

Verna Cole Mitchell 04/28/10
Very creative and on-topic with a wonderful message.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge04/28/10
I agree that your approach stands above the others that addressed Judgment Day. Thank you!
Sarah Elisabeth 04/28/10
You have done it yet again, dear. I was breathless. Wow.
Jackie Wilson04/28/10
Intense, clear, with an awesome message. Your writing was wonderful, and the way you laid out the story, from beginning to end, was impeccable.
Chely Roach04/29/10
First place TWO weeks in a row! Congratulations on a great piece of writing! Woot! :)
Janice Fitzpatrick04/29/10
When I read this earlier in the week, I thought then, Wow, what a message. Very well written. I like the In your face Satan moment that each of us can have when we realize that we are forgiven and reconnected with Christ, not on our own merit, but because of Jesus. Congratulations on 1st place. God bless.
Connie Dixon04/29/10
Yes, congratulations on this chilling account. Loved your title. As others have mentioned, couldn't help examining my own list as I sat next to you in your chair. Great job! Really made me think.
Beth LaBuff 04/29/10
Rachel... I had a "feeling" this stunning entry would do well. Super congrats on being #1 (again)! Amazing!
Jackie Wilson04/29/10
Congratulations! Your entry was very deserving of the 1st place spot!
Sara Harricharan 04/29/10
Great job! You are really in your element this quarter--lol! I'm glad I didn't miss this masterpiece! Excellently done!
Debbie Roome 04/29/10
Excellent. Well done!
Patricia Turner04/29/10
Ooooh! I was squirming right along with your MC, even though I could guess the ending. Super huge congratulations on a 2nd 1st place win in a row - and well deserved!
Pamela Kliewer04/29/10
Congratulations! What a wonderful story. I was engaged throughout.
harvestgal Ndaguba04/29/10
Loved it! A well deserved win.
Catrina Bradley 04/29/10
Chilling, until the end. It was expected, but still made me want to cheer. Congrats on 1st place!
Glynis Becker04/29/10
So very well done! Congratulations on a well-deserved win :)
Charla Diehl 04/30/10
Excellent, compelling and a bit uncomfortable too, as I put myself in the MC's position. Well deserved win.