Set Free

Tasha had always joked that if she stepped foot in a church, it would burst into flames.  Yet, here she stood; not only inside the church, but behind the curtain, next in line for the baptismal ceremony.  There were no flames.  In fact, she shivered from the conditioned air hitting her bare skin.  I should’ve worn a sleeved dress, she thought as she rubbed her arms.

The burden of terminal cancer brought her to this church two months ago.  The diagnosis had left a canyon-sized void inside her that no amount of alcohol, drugs or men could fill.  She feared death, when demons would drag her spirit away and she’d be imprisoned by eternity.  From a young age, her mom told her there’d be a special place in Hell for her.

The message that God loved sinners kept her coming each week.  She’d already lived longer than doctors predicted.  She dared to hope that she could beat the disease.  Last week, Pastor Wilkins asked for those who invited Jesus into their hearts to raise their hands.  To her own surprise, she raised hers.  She didn’t want the extra attention, but the upward pull of her arm was stronger than the weight of her sins.

A nine-year-old-girl with drenched blonde curls bounced behind the curtain with a towel draped over her shoulders.  Water soaked the lace-trimmed white dress down to her waist.  The gleam in the girl’s eyes– Tasha wanted that.

Anxious for her own baptism, Tasha approached the pastor waiting on the raised platform.  She let herself relax in his arms as he tilted her back into the holy water.  She trusted he’d lift her out before she drowned.  He did.

Water dripped from the ends of her over-processed hair.  The first thing she noticed was the absence of fear.  The idea of angels carrying her spirit to heaven gave her a peace she hadn’t felt for a single day of her forty-eight years of life.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~

The Trifecta challenge this week is to write a piece between 33 and 333 words (mine came in at 326 words) using the following word/definition:

ABSENCE (noun)- want, lack <an absence of detail>

If you’re inspired to try your hand at the challenge, you can find out how to submit your entry by clicking the Tricycle picture, which takes you to Trifecta’s website.  Hope everyone had a safe Labor Day weekend…have a beautiful week!

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58 thoughts on “Set Free

  1. pattisj September 3, 2012 / 8:14 PM

    This is good, Janna, as usual. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 3, 2012 / 10:38 PM

      Thanks, Patti. I appreciate you stopping by to read it 🙂

  2. diannegray September 3, 2012 / 8:59 PM

    Well done, Janna. I was hoping to read more…

    • jannatwrites September 3, 2012 / 11:28 PM

      Thanks, Dianne! I actually did write more, but thanks to Trifecta’s limits, I trimmed a bit. I’m glad you found it interesting enough to want to read more 🙂

  3. uneven steven September 4, 2012 / 12:39 AM

    well written and nice flow to your story. enjoyed it!

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:13 PM

      Thanks, Steven. I’m glad you liked the story…appreciate you stopping by to read it!

  4. Tara R. September 4, 2012 / 6:46 AM

    This was a beautiful description of a baptism, it took me back to my own.

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:16 PM

      Thanks, Tara. I’m glad I could bring back some memories with this story 🙂

  5. Amy Harrison September 4, 2012 / 7:05 AM

    Wow 🙂 Really nice piece of writing 😀 I could have carried on reading 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:17 PM

      Thanks, Amy! I’m so glad you liked it enough to want to read more. Thanks for visiting 🙂

  6. Debbie September 4, 2012 / 7:40 AM

    Nice work, Janna. This describes what I imagine adult Baptism must feel like — I wouldn’t know, as I’m Catholic and we do infant Baptisms. I’m with the others commenting, though — I wanted to read more!

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:19 PM

      A reader wanting to read more is encouraging, Debbie. Thanks 🙂 I was baptized when I was in elementary school, by my choice, so I do have some fuzzy memories of it.

  7. Jonesingafter40 September 4, 2012 / 8:01 AM

    This was gorgeous. I especially liked the “upward pull of her arm was stronger than the weight of her sins.”

    • Annabelle September 4, 2012 / 8:29 AM

      I agree — that’s a great sentence.

      • Michael September 4, 2012 / 12:44 PM

        Ditto; I liked that sentence as well.

      • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:23 PM

        Thanks, Annabelle, Michael and Annette! I’m pleasantly surprised at the attention that line is getting. I appreciate the comments 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:21 PM

      Thanks, Jonesing! I’m glad that line stayed with you. I appreciate you reading the story 🙂

  8. lumdog September 4, 2012 / 10:45 AM

    This is a very well written story. This comes from someone who still thinks the church will burst into flames when he enters it.

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:24 PM

      Hahaha! Your comment made me laugh, Lumdog. I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be flames, but fire-retardant clothing might be an option, should you decide to go 🙂 Thanks for taking time to read and share your comment on my story.

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:24 PM

      Thanks, Jennie. I appreciate you taking time to read it and share your reaction 🙂

  9. Jeanna September 4, 2012 / 1:28 PM

    Oh my. I wish I could live my life with an absence of fear.

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:34 PM

      Interesting thought, Jeanna. I’m not sure if a life without fear would be a good thing. For me, experiencing fear makes me appreciate the peace even more when it comes.

      In this story, the character experienced a moment of peace and clarity with her declaration of faith (baptism). As she goes on with day-to-day life, other fears are sure to creep back in, but this moment of peace is what she’ll remember and try to attain in her relationship with God.

      I’m glad you stopped by to check out my Trifecta entry!

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:34 PM

      Thanks, Renada. I appreciate you reading it!

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:35 PM

      Thanks – I’m glad you liked it, Rebecca!

        • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:48 PM

          Thanks, Rebecca! I appreciate the compliment 🙂

  10. Carol Ann Hoel September 4, 2012 / 4:10 PM

    You are an expert at short fiction. Good story. Well done. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:36 PM

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story, but you’ve given me way too much credit, Carol Ann 🙂 I appreciate you taking time to read the story!

  11. deanabo September 4, 2012 / 5:27 PM

    Beautifully done.

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:37 PM

      Thanks so much for reading, Deanabo!

  12. Kelly Garriott Waite (@kgwaite) September 4, 2012 / 5:44 PM

    Very beautiful – I love your opening as she’s waiting, rubbing her bare arms, the thought of a sweater moments before she’s to be baptized.

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 7:39 PM

      Thanks for stopping by to read the story, Kelly. I’m glad the opening stood out for you when you read it. My mind tends to wander (especially when nervous) 🙂

  13. Ben Nelson September 4, 2012 / 7:55 PM

    Wonderful story. Thanks much Janna – so glad i happened upon it.
    Ben

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 8:34 PM

      Thanks for taking time to read it and share your opinion, Ben. I do appreciate it 🙂

  14. nrhatch September 4, 2012 / 8:23 PM

    Nice one, Janna. 😀

    • jannatwrites September 4, 2012 / 8:43 PM

      Thanks, Nancy! Glad you stopped by to read it. I hope you are feeling better since your last post.

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2012 / 8:27 PM

      Thanks, Rebecca! It’s awesome to see my name in print when I didn’t type it 🙂 Thanks so much!

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2012 / 8:29 PM

      I appreciate you taking time to read it, Ruby!

  15. philosophermouseofthehedge September 5, 2012 / 2:09 PM

    This is an especially well written line ( full of imagery, emotion, and meaning): “the upward pull of her arm was stronger than the weight of her sins.”
    And the detail of the last paragraph “over processed hair” – excellently positioned phrase describing an adult (physically, emotionally, her life and soul) The contrast with the young girl (her hair, lace dress, eyes) and the adult – just perfect
    Very nice, indeed

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2012 / 8:32 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on the story. I’m glad there were elements of the story that stood out for you, Phil!

  16. Tina September 5, 2012 / 4:13 PM

    Beautiful. I liked how you contrasted the child’s baptism with the woman who has “been around”. I think that midlife religious conversions are more intense because those people have already experienced the dark before they look for the light. You captured that perfectly!

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2012 / 8:33 PM

      I think you may be right, Tina. When we experience pain, we appreciate the absence of it even more. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts on the story 🙂

  17. Linda Vernon September 5, 2012 / 7:15 PM

    This flowed nicely and had a happy ending. Two things I love in a story!

    • jannatwrites September 5, 2012 / 8:34 PM

      A happy ending is always a nice thing (in stories and in life 🙂 Thanks for reading, Linda!

  18. Christine September 5, 2012 / 9:46 PM

    I’m no expert on faith, but this is beautifully written. I really like the juxtaposition of the down-to-earth details (the chill of the air conditioning) in the first half against the spiritual nature of the second half of the piece.

  19. jannatwrites September 5, 2012 / 10:31 PM

    That makes two of us, Christine, as I’m no expert, either 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the story, and I appreciate you taking the time to share the elements that you liked.

  20. Trifecta (@trifectawriting) September 5, 2012 / 10:47 PM

    As usual, I find myself drawn to the little details you share about your characters, her regret about her clothing choice, her troubled relationship with her mother, the state of her hair. All little things that show, rather than tell, the reader who that character is. Well played.
    Thanks for linking up. Please come on back for the new prompt.

    • jannatwrites September 7, 2012 / 6:23 AM

      I appreciate you taking time to read and to offer your reaction to the story. Thanks 🙂

  21. Imelda September 6, 2012 / 3:42 PM

    Well written, as always, Janna. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 7, 2012 / 10:29 PM

      Thanks so much, Imelda. I appreciate you reading it!

  22. RogRites (aka BetaRules) September 7, 2012 / 2:32 AM

    This is nicely written. The”upward pull of her arms” appeals even to an unbeliever.

  23. jannatwrites September 7, 2012 / 10:30 PM

    I’m glad you liked that line, RogRites. Thanks for reading 🙂

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