Friday Fiction: In the Gutter

>> Thursday, February 26

Whew, Friday is finally here! And with it comes Friday Fiction!



Our host this week is Beth at Laughing at the Days Click on over to read more fun fiction, or post your own and add a link on Beth's blog.


I wrote "In the Gutter" as an attempt to "Illustrate the meaning of 'All that Glitters is Not Gold' (without using the actual phrase or a literal example.)" Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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IN THE GUTTER

“Mom, I’m bored. I like my new job, and I’m not sorry I moved here, but I haven’t made any real friends yet.” Becky twirled the phone cord around her finger. “Most of the women my age at the church are married, or just not…my type.”

“I’m sorry, hon. But don’t get discouraged. You’ve only been there a month. Give it time.”

“Yeah, I know. I did see a flyer at church for a women’s bowling league. Maybe I’ll sign up.” Becky sighed. “I hope they take beginners.”




“Becky!” A chubby blonde trotted toward her across the small bowling alley, waving her arm in the air.

Becky recognized Monica Patterson from her new Sunday School class, and timidly waved back. “Hi, Monica. How’s it going?”

“Great! This is going to be so much fun. Come on, we’re about to choose teams.” Monica grinned mischievously. “I see you’ve got your own ball. You must be a pro.”

“Not really. To tell the truth, I just bought this stuff over the weekend.” She half lifted the heavy bag slung over her shoulder and shrugged. “It was the cheapest ball in the pro shop, but it’s really pretty. Bright blue with pink swirls.”

Monica laughed. “You’re going to fit in just fine. We started this league to have fun, not win awards. Well, most of us anyway. Laura, though … let’s just say she knows what she’s doing.”

Becky trailed Monica to the growing gaggle of women at the far end of the bowling alley. Please don’t let me be on Laura’s team. I would die.



Becky fidgeted and bounced her knee up and down. Her new shoes were so neon-white, she was sure everyone was staring at them. Her teammates gabbed and giggled like the old friends they were, and Becky felt like an outsider. She lucked out and was on a team with Monica, but, alas, Laura was also on the “Alley-Oops.” The fourth member, Riley, seemed sweet. At 23, Riley was the youngest of the four, but only had Becky beat by a year.

Finally, or all too soon maybe, it was Becky’s turn to bowl. As she stood, she wiped her sweaty hands on her jeans, then grabbed her pretty blue ball from the return. To her dismay, she fumbled and almost dropped it. When she heard laughter behind her, she wanted to disappear.

“Hey, Riley, remember that time I dropped my ball on my foot?” Monica’s infectious laughter rang out. “I had to wear that silly bootie for a month.”

“Yep, and I remember how ‘good’ you bowled in that that bootie too.” All three dissolved into a fit of giggles, and Becky found herself starting to chuckle. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.




Three games later, Becky had three new friends and didn’t feel so much like an outsider. She did, however, feel like a failure as a bowler.

She had studied Laura’s perfect form and smooth release, and then watched her red and black ball cruise across the lane and back, landing in the pocket almost every time. Laura had explained that this “hook,” as she called it, was possible because of her ball. She had called it a “Hammer.” At $250, it would certainly hammer Becky’s pocketbook, but if that’s what it would take to knock down more than three pins at a time, she was willing to make the sacrifice.




“Rats. Another gutter. Sorry, girls. I just can't figure it out.” Becky sulked and pouted as she slithered back to her seat beside Laura. “I’m letting my team down.”

Laura put a comforting arm around her shoulders and squeezed. “Becky, you’re not letting anyone down. We don’t care about the score, but we do care about you.”

Riley and Monica came close to add their love. “Yeah she’s right. It’s just a game,” Riley assured her.

“I’ve been using this ‘Hammer’ for two weeks now, but I’m getting worse instead of better. Laura, you said the expensive ball was what made you so good.” Her warbling voice gave evidence of threatening tears.

“Oh, sweetie!” Laura hugged Becky again. “I’m sorry; I gave you the wrong idea. It’s not just the ball. It helps me, sure, but my dad teaching me to bowl when I was six is the real reason for my scores.”

“Do you think… Would you teach me?” Becky lifted her eyes hesitantly to Laura’s.

“I’d love to! But you’ll need to start over with your pretty, blue ball.”


---
PhotobucketCatrina Bradley 1/24/08

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Word-filled Wednesday: Stepping off the path

>> Wednesday, February 25

I have a love-hate relationship with convicting sermons. I love how a Word I've heard preached many times is delivered in just the right way, and I say, "ohhhh!.. uh ohhh." And the hate, of course is for the gut-twist that follows the "uh ohh."

Pastor's point-packed lesson on Joshua 1 tonight inspired my WFW. He spoke at length on Verse 7.



Be strong and very courageous.
Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you;
do not turn from it to the right or to the left
,
that you may be successful wherever you go.
Joshua 1:7



What convicted me tonight was his point on the words I have bolded above: "Do not turn from it to the right or to the left". When God says THIS is what you are to do, don't step to the right or to the left and say, "Ok, God, I hear ya, but this is way is almost the same and just as good."

I found this photo to illustrate Joshua 1:7 - I think it would be a fun challenge to walk on that narrow path. (I have a thing for paths, stepping stones, boardwalks, and stuff like that. But that's probably another blog entirely) Soon enough, though, the grass would start to look really inviting, and oooo - I want to climb on that rock!



When we are walking the way that God has set for us, the temptations on the side of the path make it hard not to step off to the right for just a minute and go run and play. When I get to Heaven, I'm likely to bonk my head on the pearly gates because I'm just a bit off the path.

Peace & Love & Jesus Hugs
Cat


For more Word inspired art, run to the 160 Acre Woods and visit Amydeanne!!!

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Got me some bloggy love. :)

>> Sunday, February 22

I love the feeling of being loved, don't you? And since my blog sometimes reveals the parts of me that aren't always loveable, I feel especially loved to have received an award for it!

My friend and sister in Christ, Sara

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The Lord is With Me

>> Saturday, February 21

I’ve read Genesis 39 and the story of Joseph in Potipher’s house many times, but in the past I was always focused on the famous story of Potipher’s wife and her framing of Joseph. This time, however, I was struck by a different truth in that chapter.


“the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made [it] prosper.”
Gen 39:23


The Lord’s favor was upon Joseph. Like Midas, everything he touched turned to gold.

A slave rises to 2nd in command and entrusted with the Master’s household.

A prisoner is put in charge of the prison.

Why? Joseph’s faith never wavered, and the Lord’s favor was upon him.



As I was meditating on this, I began thinking of my own life.

A dirt-poor farm girl rises to the top of her class.

A socially inept, naïve, waif becomes the belle of the ball and part of the in crowd

Later, a secretary is put in charge of the business.

A hireling becomes the confidant and adviser to the leader.

The Lord was with me, and whatever I did, He made it prosper.

I’ve done some stupid things, walked down many wrong paths with my eyes wide open. But I’ve never lost faith in the protection and salvation that comes from the Lord. I lost my head, misplaced my morals, but never, ever doubted my Saviour. I took Him for granted, but never forsook Him.

And the Lord’s favor has been upon me.

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Friday Fiction: It's For You

>> Friday, February 20


Friday Fiction! Yay! :)


This week's host is Yvonne at My Back Door.
Click on over for links to more short fiction, or to add your own link!


I hope you enjoy my selection today. (I hope this isn't a rerun). It's For You was my entry in the "Telephone" challenge for Faithwriters.com. I liked it, but the judges that week had a different opinion. It's For You didn't make any of the highest rankings lists. For that reason, I'm asking for your help - will you spill a little "red ink" on this blog post? ;) Tell me, honestly, why you think this one may have scored lower than others did.

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It's For You
Oscar heard the payphone ringing as soon as he got out of his car. Huh. I didn’t even realize that antique still worked. Never seen anyone using it. It was still ringing as he strolled past it, and he snatched up the receiver on impulse. The dead silence that met his “Hello” was devoid of any normal background hums or clicks, and he was about to hang up when he heard, “Oscar.”

Oscar nearly dropped the phone. The voice had an eerie quality, reminiscent of 2001’s Hal.

“Oscar, you haven’t called your mother lately.”

“Huh? Who is this?”

“The last time was Mother’s Day. She’d really appreciate a call from her son.”

“How do you know…”

“Oscar, give her a ring. Here, it’s on me.”

The voice was gone, replaced by the incessant drone of a dial tone. Oscar furtively glanced left and right, then hung up. That was weird. I should call mom, though. I’ll do it this afternoon. Yeah, that’ll be better. I’ll have more time then. After a troubled look at the payphone and another scan of the wind-swept parking lot, Oscar hurried on.

**

“Dave, was it necessary to speak to Mrs. Jamison in that manner last night?”

“Excuse me?” Dave actually took the receiver from the side of his head and looked at it before putting it back to his ear.

“I think you heard me.”

“Look, I don’t know who this is, or where you got your information, but I said nothing out of place to that … woman.” Dave was tempted to hang up, but his curiosity wouldn’t let him. There was something about the voice on the other end. It didn’t sound quite…human.

“Maybe not, Dave, but the way you said it was less than kind. She only wanted a ride this morning. Is that the type of ministry the church can expect if you become a deacon?”

He didn’t know what to say. Thanks to his wife, it was no secret he coveted the position, but no one could have overheard his conversation with that batty old woman last night.

“Dave? You still have time to go pick her up. Why don’t you call her – I’ll even dial for you.”

Immediately a dial tone hummed in Dave’s ear, followed by the digital beeps of a number being dialed.

Dave slammed the payphone receiver back into its cradle when the connection was made and a phone started ringing on the other end. He stormed off muttering. “Must be someone’s idea of a sick joke. Don’t know why I answered that thing anyway. Someone probably took my seat while I was out here wasting my time.”

**

Gloria was running late. Nothing had gone right this morning, and now to top it off she had to park at the far end of the lot. I really wish I’d worn flats instead of heels. Oh, well, at least I’ll look good as I walk all the way to the front row. Of course, my luck today I’ll fall. She about jumped out of her skin when the payphone shrilled just as she approached it. Years of working as a receptionist left her unable to let it ring, so she answered it out of habit.

“Gloria.”

She wheeled around to check behind her before realizing it was the phone. “Um. Yes?”

“Why did you lie to your boss yesterday?” The calm, clear voice was kind even as it rebuked.

“I didn’t! I would never!” Gloria sputtered protests.

“And now here you are lying to me. Tsk. You weren’t really sick yesterday.”

Gloria was stunned. How could anyone know she only wanted to read her new book instead of working on her day off?

**

Reverend Nielson watched from the church steps as his flock fled the morning worship service. It seemed more than a few were going out of their way to avoid the old payphone at the edge of the parking lot. That’s strange; I watched those same people try to use that phone before church. Now they won’t even look at it. When the crowd had cleared, he made his way over to check out the object of his curiosity. Lifting the receiver, he noted that it was indeed dead. As he tapped his temple with his fingertip, he noticed a piece of paper on the ground. He picked it up, and on the reverse side read, “Condemned”. Strange. Usually they just say “Out of order”.

Suddenly, the phone began to ring.


copyright 2008 Catrina Bradley

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WFW: He Lifted Me!

>> Wednesday, February 18

Wow, it's been a while since I've checked in! I tend to hibernate in the winter, crawling inside my shell like a hermit crab (or like a hermit).

Psalm 40:2 is one of my favorite verses. It's a reminder to me of what God has rescued me from, especially when I'm having a bad day. My worst days now are nothing compared to an average day before God lifted me out of the pit and set me firmly on the Rock. I'm not feeling especially creative, but wanted to share today in an attempt to peek out of myself for a second and touch base with the world.


Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out the 160 acre woods for more visual inspiration from scripture!

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Friday Fiction: Her First Letter Home

>> Friday, February 6

I'm a day late for Friday Fiction, but I'm here!



Thank you Sherri Ward for hosting Friday Fiction this week!
Click on over to Sherri's blog A Candid Thought for more short fiction.


For the Faithwriters topic "Australia/New Zealand, I set out to write about the first person evangelized to by the first missionaries to New Zealand. After extensive reading of online journals and official reports from the time period, this is what my original idea morphed into. I hope you enjoy it.

***

Her First Letter Home


Rangi Hoo, New Zealand
October, 1819



Dearest Mother and Father,

My apologies for not having written sooner. The "Active" returned to dock only yesterday, bringing livestock, timber, cloth, and miscellany sundry goods including...finally! Paper and ink! I am now able to impart we arrived in New Zealand safely and in relatively good health this July past. Rev. Butler took ill for a time on the passage, which put our hearts at ill ease to be sure, (after all, who would lead us, and what would we do without his guidance after we’d arrived?), but by God’s Good Grace he has rallied and is in as near robust health (if not weight) as when we set sail.

It is also surely God’s grace that has allowed the Mission Society to acquire such marvelous land from the natives, not to mention for a very good sum. I must admit to being skeptical when I first viewed from sea where we were to land. A paltry rock and dirt beach, backed by a forest so thick with blossoming underbrush and trees bearing new leaf I could see neither passage nor promise of one.

After debarking, however, we were led along a path, which before had been hidden to me, into a bright clearing and the mission settlement. Tho t’was only a short distance through the thicket, I was made to help carry baggage, which wearied me considerably.

You will be comforted to know that the natives (who are called the Mowri) seem quite peaceable. I know one of your concerns over my making this trip was danger from the native peoples, but your mind may now rest over that matter. With one exception, the Mowri people have proven agreeable and, more often than not, quite helpful to us.

In appearance, they are not at all like I had expected (although what that might be I’m not quite sure.) They are a tall people: long, lean, and perfectly proportioned. They carry an aspect of peace, or joy. On the whole, they are not easily impelled to anger, nor do they act in a forward manner. Much to my consternation, they are also quite immodest, and walk about in a state of near undress.

We have employed many locals to help with the work of the mission. I’ve befriended the native girl who helps me in the main house. (I’ve had to instruct Kura to dress properly when working in the house, as it is her misguided nature to go about uncovered.) In addition to household duties, Kura is teaching me the native tongue and the local culture. If I am to make a difference in this God-forsaken world, I must be able to communicate with the peoples.

For compensation in axes, hoes, and fishhooks, natives help till and plant our garden and construct the buildings necessary for the mission – a church (of course), school (to which I’m told the chief has already agreed to send his children), and other various lodgings and establishments.

I have previously alluded to an incident (isolated and not cusomary I assure you!) that I feel I need share with you so as not to withhold truth and in so doing commit a sin of omission.

One afternoon whilst Rev. Butler was away preaching at a sister mission, a Mowrie chief made a scene outside the house by climbing and standing atop the fence demanding axes and hoes. He was quite adamant, and for the sake of pure honesty I must tell you, also quite naked. (I promise I only caught a glimpse and from that moment on I busied my eyes elsewhere.) He ranted on for quite some time, refusing to listen to reason.

That this chief was an exception among the natives was impressed upon me by the chagrin of the other Mowrie present to witness his antics. He was in time convinced that because the Reverend was not in residence we were unable to help him, and he departed peaceably.

The natives come to us only for what goods they can acquire. They listen politely when we endeavour to teach them of the Gospel of our Lord, but God has yet to open their ears to hear the voice of His Holy Spirit. We covet your prayers that our labours may bear fruit for His Glory in the fullness of His time.

The hour grows late, and I must conserve the oil.

I miss you all terribly.

With Enduring Love,
Your Daughter
Angelica


* * * * *


Author’s Notes:
This letter is a work of fiction. The letter writer’s experiences and the places she describes are real; however "Angelica" herself does not exist in New Zealand’s history.

“Reverend Butler” refers to Reverend John Gare Butler, the first ordained clergyman to reside in New Zealand.

Sources:
New Zealand Electronic Text Center: http://www.nzetc.org/
New Zealand History Online: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/

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