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TRY THE TEST





TITLE: Face the Music
By Tisha Martin
08/24/05
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This is the challenge entry I used for "Sightseeing." I had several feedback suggesting this be a longer piece. I've added more to it. I'd like you honest opinion. Is it good, bad? Does it need changed? Does it make sense? What are your likes, dislikes?
Her window let her forget what had happened. Had she never agreed to the scheme, she’d be roaming about the countryside with everything she saw out of the window. But her decision had cost her something dear, and she hated herself for it.

Oh the mere thought of it sent chills and anger down her back.

But her window . . .

She was at least grateful for that. Peering out, her heart soared. The sky pulled her into it with its blueness, beckoning her to fly through the air. The tree branches, reaching to the sky like a church steeple, allowed a gray squirrel to scamper around. She glanced at the leaves and trained her eye to analyze each one. Bright hues of red, yellow, orange. Her gaze followed several as they released from the tiny branches they grasped and fluttered to the ground.

A red blurb caught her eye, and she turned her head slightly to the left. A person walked across the lawn. She strained her eyes, attempting to recognize the face and froze. No, she moaned. Her hands instinctively gripped the wheels of the chair and she pushed them back. The muscles in her arms quivered. Slowly swinging around, she looked at the dresser against the wall, hoping it wouldn’t be found. Grabbing the remote, she switched the television on and turned the volume down to a comfortable hearing range. She turned so her back faced the door.

Footsteps on concrete echoed in a slapping sound. Leather shoes.

Jaw clenched, she moved her hands to the chair’s arms. Her fingers rubbed the vinyl covering.

The doorknob wailed as it turned. More footsteps. The door clicked closed.

Her brain failed commanding her body to stop shaking. The eerie silence pounded in her ears until she realized her heart was beating rapidly. She waited for the person to speak.

“So, I see you’re well enough to move about.” The voice had a certain authority you trembled. “I left you by your window.”

She struggled to breathe normally.

“I want the money.” The wood floor echoed as the footsteps drew closer.

She felt the urge to jerk the wheels around to face what she knew would be a cruel stare and a taught mouth. For once, she’d like to defy who had caused the accident. Suddenly her heart smote her. No one had caused the accident but herself. Decisions come every day, and she chose wrong. She was to blame. Her head almost reeled back at the realization. Feeling the rubber wheels beneath her hands, she yanked the left wheel hard, and spun around into the hard, calloused face of her older sister.

“Oh, for the first time looking at me in two weeks, I’d say that’s a pretty nasty expression.” Her sister folded her arms across her chest.

She leveled her eyes with the person standing in front of her. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to speak. “Victoria, I know what you’re here for, and I won’t give it to you.” She spoke quick and, she hoped, with a level-headed tone. “If I hadn’t showed you that place, I wouldn’t be in this mess!” Tears jerked at the corner of her eyes and she scrubbed them away.

The mocking expression returned. “I thought you blamed me.”

She glanced at Victoria’s shoes. Looking into the steel gray eyes as if to challenge what words could not, she pushed the chair past the form and retreated to her window. “How’d I know you’d trade drugs for money?” she spat.

“I told you what I was doing. I needed someplace private; you were the only one who knew of such. Sarah— Victoria moved toward her “—you don’t listen to anything people say. That gets you trouble. Just like it did—

“Stop it!” she screamed, wheeling fiercely at Victoria, causing her to halt. “I don’t need anyone reminding me! I’ve got it all right here!” She jerked the wheelchair back to the window. Tears streamed generously.

It was her window, yes. But now everything outside seemed to turn against her. The tree branches, tussled by the fall breeze, shook their leaves angrily. The blue sky darkened, shadowing the glow of afternoon sun. Squirrels and birds hid from view. Nothing but bleakness, like the inside of her heart.

The window to the part of her world that let her imagination run also made her face up to her decisions and consequences. Her heart trembled as slowly she remembered a verse she’d learned as a child: ‘. . .be sure your sin will find you out.’ (Numbers 32:23b. KJV)

Wiping away the tears that fell in streams, Sarah turned to face her sister. “Victoria,” she began trembling, “I-I was wrong in what I did. And you were, too.” She heard her voice strengthen. “We grew up knowing better. Mom and Dad taught us to do right. They always told us that we didn’t have to follow in their footsteps by living and doing right, that we’d have to make our own choices in life, but I know now that what we did was very wrong—"

Victoria’s cheeks reddened and she opened her mouth to respond.

“You know you were wrong, don’t you?” Sarah met her stare with regret. “Come on, Victoria, it’s time to face the music. Whether you like it or not, you and I were w-r-o-n-g. Wrong.”

Victoria, her hair falling into her hardened face, straightened her shoulders. “Sarah, I’m the oldest and I don’t care what you say. I’ve chose my own life. You can choose yours. As if you didn’t know, I’ve been involved with this drug deal for awhile now. And no one can stop me.”

“Okay, if that’s the way you want it—

“I do.” The tone shot out like a poisonous arrow. Victoria turned on her heel and stalked out of the house.

Sarah watched her sister go. More tears cascaded down her cheeks. “Oh, Victoria,” she whispered, “you can’t get away with it for long. You’ll be the one to get into trouble.” Her voice broke and she buried her face in her hands, weeping.

*****

The side of her face felt sweaty and hot. Her back and shoulders ached. Sarah sat up. Darkness veiled the window; a few street lamps glowed from the sidewalks down the road. Rubbing her swollen eyes, she thought, How long have I been asleep?

Sirens echoed around the room. Her heart jumped, and she spun the wheelchair about to face the television. The blur of a reporter and a tired-looking man standing in front of an ambulance piqued her curiosity.

“A young woman in her twenties was found on the side of the highway only a few hours ago. She was near the old Sutton park on route 216. Carl Houston was driving by and discovered the woman by the side of the road. Carl—" the lady reporter turned to the man “—tell us what happened.”

The man leaned into the microphone. “I stopped my car to see if I could help her, and all she could say was, ‘You were right, you were right.’ Scared the daylights outa me, so I phoned for the ambulance and stayed with her, trying to calm her down.”

“Did she give her name?”

“Ah, I think she said it was, uh, Victoria. I couldn’t hear the last name; she was talking so fast and shaking real bad.”

Sarah lost her breath for a fleeting moment. Heart pounding in her chest and fresh tears flowing, she slammed her fist on the arm of her chair. “Oh, dear God,” she prayed, “Victoria got what she deserved, but please, please keep her safe, so that when she gets better she’ll live for You instead of the Devil.” Sarah sniffed, brushing the tears away, only to have more come. Staring at the television that now showed the ambulance driving away, she uttered quietly, “You faced the music, Victoria, and you sure faced it hard.”
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