Friday, February 26

Friday Fiction: The Good Bad Day

I joined FaithWriters in September 2006, and entered my first challenge on October 9, for the topic "Firefighter". I did my first "happy dance" when it placed 5th in the beginner category. This is how my writing journey began...

The Good Bad Day

As blinding smoke billowed across the interstate, Paige strained to make out the car in front of her. She was already late for class, and now this blasted fire had the heavy Friday traffic more jammed than usual. Too late, she saw the cherry red of brake lights. WHAM. The airbag smothered her, and now her vision was blocked by white instead of black. UGHH. Why now, God?!? Rubbernecking drivers steered around her car as the airbag slowly deflated. Cautiously, she got out to see whose day she had ruined. She froze in place. Stunned and embarrassed, she watched a fireman in uniform get out of his car.

He took a quick look at his fender. "I don't see any damage. And I'm afraid I don't have time to wait on a police report - I've been called to a fire." He gave her a friendly grin, and Paige wanted to shrink into the concrete.

"Wait!" Hastily she grabbed her purse and fumbled for paper and a pen. Coughing and tearing from the smoke, she scribbled her name and cell number. As she handed it to him, a breeze cleared the air. She saw that, not only was he a fireman, he was a very handsome, young, fireman. Flustered, she stuttered, "Um, yes, I can uh, see. You're a fireman. Well, uh, please call me. I mean call me if you change your mind. Or... whatever..." Aggh! When will I EVER learn how to talk to a man? I'm 22 years old, for crying out loud! I'm such a dolt. He thinks I'm a TOTAL idiot now. Miserable, Paige slunk back behind her wheel.

He gave her another grin and a wave as he pocketed the wrinkled receipt she had written on and jumped back in his car. As he sped away, Paige muttered to herself and struggled to move the now-deflated airbag so she could leave also.

"In a memorable epigram the historian Richard Hofstadter stated: "Memory is the
thread of personal identity jwioud dcmcatcae dioedild...." The words ran together on the page of Paige's Christian History textbook. She was already bored stiff after just the first sentence. WHAT was I thinking taking this class? This is NOT what signed up for. Paige had THOUGHT this class would be a fun and interesting elective to fill her schedule the last semester of college. Not only that, it might even make her parents happy for a change. Being home, alone, studying, on a Saturday night is depressing enough. Images of the good-looking fireman filled her daydreams, but the jingle of her cell's ring-tone jolted her back to the present. She greedily snatched the phone from the nightstand, welcoming a diversion from studying. She didn't recognize the number, but answered it anyway - even a wrong number would be better than reading anymore of that monotonous book.

"Hello, Paige?"

"Yes?" she answered curiously. Something in his voice sounded familiar.

"This is Tim. We met yesterday on the interstate?"

Paige was so overwhelmed, she could not utter a word.

Tim apparently mistook her silence. "You rear-ended me. The fireman, remember?"

"Oh, yes, I remember you!" she finally gushed. Ok, Lord, help me stay cool, and don't let me say anything stupid. "So, how was the fire?" UGH, that was stupid!! "I mean, how are you?"

"I'm okay, no damage. And the fire is out, too." He chuckled at her gaffe. "No casualties, praise God. But I wanted to check with you, make sure YOU were ok. You know you need to take your car to the shop to have your airbag replaced?"

"You are so sweet! I'm fine. And my dad told me the same thing about the car. I'm going to make an appointment on Monday." Yea! I made it through a whole sentence without embarrassing myself. Thank you, Lord! "My dad's a fireman, too, back in Des Moines." She strove to not be a stammering fool.

Tim said slowly, "Look, I know we don't really know each other, but I'd like to. Um, there's a concert at my church tomorrow evening. Would you be interested in going?"

After chatting a few minutes more, making plans, Paige hung up glowing and excited. She dropped to her knees and gave thanks. She had been waiting so long to meet a Christian man. She was tired of frat boys who were interested only in parties and sex.

How ironic. God, who is the all-consuming fire, and the unquenchable fire, sends me a fire-fighter!

© 2006

We'd love you to join us for Friday Fiction - our host today is Shelley Ledfords at "The Veil Thins". Add your link, or just read some fiction by the best Christian writers I know.

Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

Friday, February 19

Friday Fiction: Scarifyingly Not Unpleasant

I'm in the lookout for Summer right about now. Ahh, but just who is seeking whom?




Balmy breezes ensnare the unsuspecting prey and hold him willing captive. Waves crash against boulders; gulls swoop and screech; family chatter echoes up and down the shoreline. The scarifyingly not unpleasant cacophony melds into a soothing hymn to his ear, hypnotizing and subduing him. The prey relaxes into the sand.

A nibble. I've got a nibble. Dare I claim a catch at this early stage? 'Tis a most promising nibble, to be sure.

Gentle rays from a distant sun caress and flush his skin, seeping into wrinkles, folds, and pores, working with the coating of sunscreen to burnish him oh so slightly. An occasional breaker produces a mist of cool refreshment and a contented sigh.

Ahh, I smell victory's sweet aroma blowing in on the ocean breeze.
The prey wiggles his saggy hind-end and his soft shoulders, digging a more comfortable nest in the sand. His hand reaches to his face, removes his imitation Ray Bans, and pulls his cap down, concealing his thinning gray pate and shading his eyes. Another peaceful sigh escapes as he drops his mottled hand back to the ground at his side.

Yes, this one finally belongs to me. He simply needed a convincing demonstration of my charms.

"George? Georgieee!!" A diminutive woman donning a wide-brimmed hat and a sheer jacket over her modest bathing suit rounds the protective rock and invades the solitude. "Oh, there you are! What on earth are you doing?"

No, woman! Quiet your shrieking. He is as good as caught in the claws of my clutch. Go away.

"Laying in the sun." The prey reaches for the brim of his cap and tugs it down further over his eyes. A satisfied murmur leaves his lips as his arthritic frame absorbs summer's heat from the sun-soaked sand.

Yes! Now leave him alone.

"I can see that. I mean why are you laying on the beach? You hate sand."

Busybody. Mind your own beeswax.

"And you're not too fond of summer, either, George. Thirty-five years I've been trying to get you leave the air conditioning and get out here with me. So what gives?" Her bony fists poke her hipbones and her elbows stick out like stork's knees as she stares down her husband.

Woman! Are you not on my side? Leave him be. I will not let this one get away again.

A lonely cloud seeks out the sun like iron to a magnet, affording the prey a few minutes of cool respite. He props himself on his elbows and removes his cap, allowing the breeze to drift across his sweaty scalp

The phrase 'scarifyingly not unpleasant' harkens to his tongue, but he refrains from such blatant transparency.

"Everyone out here looks always looks so relaxed, like they're having so much fun. And you love summer so much you plan our only vacation around it. I thought maybe I ought to give it a go. Maybe I might have been wrong all these years, who's to say? Maybe I ought at least give it a try."

He's on the hook now...

The prey lay back down, resettling into his nest and shading his face with his cap just as the sun reappeared.

Could it be? He doesn't seem to be retreating. Is it possible?

"Well, then, what's your verdict?"

Yes, what is your verdict?

From underneath the brim of his cap, the prey's smile bespoke his surrender.

Summer claims another victim.

© 7/16/09

Sherri Ward at A Candid Thought is hosting Fiction Friday today. Pop on over for more reading or to post a link to your own short fiction.

Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

Friday, February 12

Friday Fiction: GATOR IN THE 'HOOCH!

Wanna shoot the 'Hooch with me? With all of this cold and snow, I'm summering in my mind. Come along for the ride.....


Lindsay was sprawled next to Nick under the big oak tree, fanning herself with her "Life is Good" baseball cap. Nick angrily swatted at a pesky fly on a never-ending insect-kamikaze mission.

The posse was all there: Nick and Lindsay had been a hot item since Junior year; Melody couldn't decide which of the twins, Josh or Jason, she liked best, so she hung out with both. Graduation was a week in the past; the last summer of freedom was trickling away.

"Man, it's so hot my sweat's boiling. Y'all wanna shoot the 'Hooch?"

Lindsay sat up so fast her head swam. "Yah!" The thought of lounging in an inner tube, floating in the cool Chattahoochee, was heaven. She rubbed sweaty blond bangs off her forehead and cheered.

Echoes of agreement bounced against thick, humid air. "Shoot-The-'Hooch! Shoot-The-Hooch!"

Melody broke it up by demanding, "Ok - let's go if we're going!"

Lindsay rescued her hat from the wind whipping through the convertible as Nick sped north on I-285.

"Lindz, take it off or you're gonna lose it."

"Nope, I'd rather hang on to it than burn my nose." She tightened the strap and jammed the cap firmly over her wind-mussed curls.

"Turn up the tunes, dude," called Josh from the back seat.

When Nickelback faded to a news-teaser, Nick moved to change the station. Lindsay clutched his arm. "What'd she say?"

"Dunno, what?"

"I coulda sworn she said "Gator in the 'Hooch. Leave it - I want to see."

"Guys, you hear that? Lindz thinks there's a gator in the 'Hooch!"

Hoots erupted from the backseat and Nick snickered. Lindsay smacked his arm. "I didn't say that, I said she said it. I think. Shhhh - commercial's over!"

"...Department of Natural Resources was helping capture the alligator. Officials hoped the animal would provide clues as to where it came from.

The alligator was sighted around Powers Island, a popular launch area within the Chattahoochee River National..."

"Told ya." Lindsay folded her arms and smirked.

"Hey, Lindsay, hate to burst your bubble ...," Josh shouted.

Nick lowered the volume, "What, dude?"

"She said 'Powers Island.' You know, like, where we're going?"

"Man, what are the chances? It's probably a hoax, anyway."

Melody shrieked when her toe touched the river water. "Its COLD!"

"C'mon, quit being a baby." Josh grabbed one of her arms and raised his eyes at Jason, who promptly took the other. Her screams of protest were drowned when the twins plunged into the river, carrying Melody with them.

She came up sputtering and giggling. "When you least expect it..."

"Yah, whatever, not scared," Josh retorted

Nick grabbed the rented tubes one by one and chucked them toward his friends, then he and Lindsay waded in. The posse climbed onto their inner-tubes for the float through Atlanta.

"Ahhh, mucho better." Lindsay dribbled water over her steaming skin. "Don't forget, we're on gator watch."

"Not the gator again," Nick groaned.

"Hey, the outpost dude even said to watch out."

"Lindz!" Jason called. "Gator at 12:00!"

Lindsay whipped around, almost spilling out of her tube, and heard gales of laughter. "Dude, that's cold." She laughed nervously, peering around.

She had just relaxed when Jason cried, "Lindsay, what's that beside you!" She popped up, glancing wildly to both sides. This had them all, even Nick, rolling.

"Fine, mock me. Just don't ask me for help when the gator gets you." She slid down in a huff, adjusting her bikini straps to match her tan lines, and pulling her cap over her nose.

All grew peaceful, and she enjoyed the cool water, the heat of the sun, and the orchestra of nature and city.

Nick interrupted her solitude. "Lindz," He hissed


"LINDZ! Gator!"

"Right. Not falling for it."


"Mmm-hmmm." She didn't budge, even when Melody screamed. Man, they're trying hard. Not gonna work.

She was wrenched from reverie by Nick's strong hands hauling her off her tube. "Quit!" Her protest was muffled by Nick's smothering embrace. She struggled loose and saw his horrified stare. When she looked back, she swooned.

The pointy teeth of a gator were shredding the tube as his muscular neck jerked his head back and forth. Then, taking his prize, the proud animal dove to the bottom.

Lindsay sat wrapped in a group hug. Comforting murmurs soothed her. Her shaking had reduced to a tremble.

Jason spoke up. "I get it now. 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf.' I can't wait to tell mom."

© 6/13/07

Thanks for reading! This fiction story was inspired by an actual news teaser. When I heard "Gator in the Hooch - details at 11", I knew I had just heard the perfect story title. From those three words, I penned my very first Editor's Choice winner in the FaithWriters Writing Challenge, for the topic "Write something in the 'Young Adult or Teen' Genre".  I still want to rewrite the ending - very weak!

You can post your own short fiction story and join the Fiction Friday fun! Our hostess this week is Vonnie Blake - click on over to her blog, My Back Door, and add your link to MckLinky, or simply read the amazing stories posted by the Fiction Friday participants.

Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

Monday, February 8

Book Review: EYES OF ELISHA by Brandilyn Collins

by Brandilyn Collins

The murder was ugly.

The killer was sure no one saw him.

Someone did.

In a horrifying vision, Chelsea Adams has relived the victim's last moments. But who will believe her?

This snippet from the back cover of Brandilyn Collins' Eyes of Elisha; doesn't do justice to the experience of reading this novel. "Ugly" doesn't begin to describe living, and dying, through the victim's eyes, and "sure" is but a drop of oil in the vat that is the killer's slick confidence.

New believer Chelsea Adams has been given the Spiritual gift that St. Paul teaches is the one we should desire.

Chelsea has been given the gift of prophecy.

She didn't ask for it, and she doesn't always appreciate it. She goes so far as to ask God to take it back until she is more prepared...because Chelsea doesn't like what she sees or what God calls her to do about it. And she has no idea who to turn to.

Her husband Paul is personally at odds with Chesea's new faith, and he can't accept that her "visions" are sent from a God he doesn't believe in. He does, however, love his wife, and he trusts her. Even though he doesn't agree with her, he stands with her (though cringing), and never fails to support her.

I would say that a husband like Paul could only exist in make believe if it weren't for Chelsea's constant prayers that he see and know the Truth.

I admire Ms. Collins for not whitewashing her Christian characters. Chelsea prays, questions, doubts, and is compelled to talk about her faith. I personally identify more with Officer Reiger, a believer who isn't as bold as Chelseay, but wishes he were.

Brandilyn Collins has a knack for ending each chapter with a cliffhanger; she forced me to keep turning "just one more" page as the clock wound late into the night. If you don't want to be similarly entrapped, then don't read this book. But if you love an enthralling story, characters that become friends, and a theme that will be engraved on your heart and cause you to ponder the limits of your own beliefs, then I definitely recommend you read Eyes of Elisha.

My rating:

4.5 out of 5

Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

Thursday, February 4

Something to watch this weekend (besides that game on Sunday)

I'm pleased to share this message from my friend Sherri Cline.

Something to watch this weekend (besides that game on Sunday)

Last night I had the absolute pleasure of being able to attend an advance screening of the biopic "Temple Grandin," which premiers this Saturday on HBO at 8pm. I would like to encourage everyone to see this film.

Temple Grandin is autistic. She was diagnosed during the 50's, when "frigid mothers" were blamed for their children's conditions, and people were encouraged to institutionalize their autistic family members. Instead, Temple went to school, including college, eventually earning a PhD. She has designed machinery and mechanisms for the cattle industry to make slaughter a humane process.

Temple Grandin "thinks in pictures." The film does a wonderful job of showing what Temple (played phenomenally by Claire Daines) sees when folks talk about something as simple as shoes (every pair of shoes she's ever owned, seen in magazines, and those of the person she's talking to), and as complex as animal husbandry (a farmer and cow standing next to each other in wedding clothes). When she enters a room, we see still-shots of what she focuses on visually, and what she is sensitive to in terms of sound.

As a mom with a daughter with autism, this movie brought into focus how my child senses the world. I identified with the mother (Julia Ormond) as she talked about her struggles and triumphs.

It would be difficult to convey exactly how this movie touched me so, and therefore I am hoping that you will experience it for yourself--I feel that it does such a good job of showing a "neurotypical" individual what it's like to step into the world of autism for a couple of hours.

Please share this information with others, and encourage them to see this film.



John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing

All showtimes can be found by clicking here!

Click this for a downloadable pdf file coloring book on HBO's website that helps explain autism to others.

Want to read more about "the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world?" You guessed :)