Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

A Friend Who Sticks Closer

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I think I mentioned I’m a writer. (Maybe, oh, a thousand times.) Today, I thought I’d tell you about the first story I ever sold.

I’ve always loved stories–first reading them, then making them up. In the early ’80’s my man bought me a typewriter for Christmas, because he’d picked up on my need to write. But I didn’t have many writer friends, and the writing support was a little sparse since Gary was on twenty-four-hour call in the oil field.

And to be very truthful, I didn’t know what I wanted to write. (Or how to write it. Did I mention English grammar and I weren’t on very good terms in high school?) All I knew was that I wanted to make up stories and have other people to read them.

I typed my story and sent it to R-A-D-A-R, which is no longer called R-A-D-A-R.

Standard Publishing will have new Middler Sunday school curriculum in the Fall of 1999 and R-A-D-A-R, 8121 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati OH 45231 will be changing its name. The new theme list (available for SASE) calls it the “New Middler Take-Home Paper.”

I prayed about the story and for God’s will as I wrote it, but I didn’t hear from  R-A-D-A-R for a few months. On the day of my Granddad’s funeral in 1987, I came home to find a letter in my mail box.

They bought it! I was so excited!!! Not because of the money (believe me, it wasn’t much) but because someone wanted to publish something I’d written. WOOHOO!

R-A-D-A-R bought all rights to my little story, so it’s no longer mine, and to be honest, it wasn’t very good. I’ll share some of it, though.

Here’s how I wrote it–


My oldest son was a very social kid, and I wanted my character, Charlie, to be like him. He never saw a stranger, and was always ready to befriend a lonely kid.

I gave him my great-granddad’s first name and gave my nephew’s first name to the other main character. The foster-mother was named for Omega’s bff’s mom.

I called the story, THE FRIEND. R-A-D-A-R didn’t change the title, or very much in the story. 😦 They probably should have.

Here’s a little of the story–

. . . Again Ryan wound up and threw the ball to Charlie. Charlie jumped to his feet, excitement bubbling all through him. Ryan was the best pitcher Charlie had ever seen. He raced across the grass to Ryan’s side. “You’re great!” Charlie exclaimed, catching Ryan by the shoulder. “Whose team are you on?”

Ryan didn’t answer. He jerked away from Charlie and started walking away. Charlie ran around in front of him. “No, wait a minute. You really are good. Are you on a team yet?”

Ryan won’t join Charlie’s baseball team, even though he’s a true natural. When Charlie’s Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Edgerton, walks up, he learns Mrs. Edgerton is Ryan’s foster-mother. Charlie sings her praises, but Ryan only says, “She’s okay, I guess.”

Finally Charlie asks, “Don’t you like anything?”

Ryan squeezed his eyes shut real tight, then opened them and looked at Charlie. Charlie could see hurt in Ryan’s eyes.

“I’ll tell you, Charlie. The reason I don’t care about being on a baseball team, and don’t care about my foster-mother is that I can’t care. See, my dad is a baseball player for a semi-professional team. So during the playing season, I have to live in foster homes. Then when the season is over, I go back to live with my dad. I never get to go back to the same foster home. I never get to keep the friends I make. And if I’m on a team, I’ll make friends. And if I like my ‘mom,’ we’ll start being friends. I’ve left too many friends already; I can’t make any more.”

Charlie felt tears coming to his own eyes. Poor Ryan. All those friends he’s made and had to leave. But doesn’t he know about the Friend that never leaves?

“Ryan, that’s too bad,” Charlie said. “But I know Someone that will be a friend to you always. Someone that will stay with you no matter where you go.”

Ryan looked at Charlie with disbelief. “Who can go all the places I go, and live in all the towns I live in?”

Charlie smiled and put his arm around Ryan’s shoulders. “Ryan, in the Bible in the book of Proverbs it says, ‘There’s a friend that sticks closer than a brother.’ Jesus is that friend, Ryan. He is always with us and he’ll never leave us.”

A smile came to Ryan’s face. “I want to hear more about this friend,” Ryan said, and the two boys headed for the Edgerton house.

That’s my one and only children’s story, although I have an idea or two for a couple more, I’m not sure that’s the market for me. Charlie ended up sounding a little like a miniature preacher, didn’t he?

To be very honest, I’m not sure the state would let a baseball play stick his kid in foster care every year. (Somehow, I doubt it.) But back in 1987, I didn’t have Internet (if there was Internet at the time) so I didn’t know how to check it out.

BTW: In case you’re wondering, that’s a real Bible verse. Proverbs 18:24.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,  but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

My first story earned $35. R-A-D-A-R published it twice. I was paid once.

The worst part? They spelled my name wrong both times. Susan Spees Shay.

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

I'm so glad you dropped by my Small Town World! Hope you'll leave a comment. I really enjoy hearing from you!

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