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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)

TITLE: Insurmountable Odds
By Ebony Broussard


“I know I can reach it. Just…a…little…further…”

“It’s too far, Josie. We can’t hold you.”

“Yes, you can! It’ll take just another few seconds. Hold me.”


“Don’t drop me! I’m almost there! Don’t drop me!”

“I can’t do it,” Sarah cried, “for God’s sake, Josie, come back! My hands!”

Josie felt the rope shake for only an instant when she realized she had gone too far. Sarah fell to the ground, arms sprawling above her head. “No, Sarah!,” Maya yelled. But it was too late. Maya and Liza slid across the wet grass under Josie’s weight, desperately seeking footholds but they could find none as the edge of the overhang raced toward them.

The countdown had begun. Let the rope go or go over the edge with her. Maya’s mind raced. Maya, Josie, and Liza shrieked and jerked to a halt. “Sorry I took so long,” Sarah said, gritting her teeth under their weight and a straining arm holding on to a climber’s hammer she had jammed underneath the root of a tree. Sarah had managed to grab the very end of their rope and was stretched awkwardly under the strain.

“Hurry, hurry!,” Maya and Liza yelled, gathering some footing but still struggling with the rope. Josie took her cue and began using the face of the rock to climb back to the top. When Josie reached the top, Maya reached out her hand and helped her up. Liza ran from behind Maya and started yelling.

“You’re crazy! Do you know we could’ve died? You could’ve been killed!”

“But you weren’t and neither was I.”

The tension stood thick in the air. Calamity is said to make brothers, but the events of the day would challenge their friendship for many years to come. The ride home was a quiet one, everyone reflecting on their feelings and Josie’s actions. Sarah was a hero but no one said “thank you.” There was implied “thanks” in the hugs that were given as each girl reached her home that evening.

Maya could not sleep. Her hands ached where the rope had bit and tore skin. Her muscles in her arms, shoulders, back and legs had begun to ache. She knew the next few days they would remind her of the work and the tension of their experience. After lying in bed for a while, she sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She had started to let go of the rope. She knew the odds of survival were insurmountable. She would have killed a friend in order to save herself. She sought to do now what she could not quite do in the moment --- reason. 'I had to save Liza too. I could have killed a friend tonight --- holding on or letting go. What would the others have done?'

Liza tossed and turned in bed, cut up pretty good from the dragging. For some reason she had opted to wear shorts that day. ‘Bad decision,’ she said to herself as she looked at the cuts and the bruises beginning to form on her legs. They would be ugly for a long time. “Looks like pants and skirts for a while, girls,” she said shaking her head at her once glorious gams.

She was hungry so she crept down the hall to the kitchen and fixed a bowl of cereal. Dinner had been good but she didn’t have much of an appetite then. As she spooned in the sweet, crunchy cereal, she felt her aching limbs relax.

Sitting at the kitchen counter, she spotted a drying towel hanging off of the edge of the counter top. She found herself righting it before she even thought about it. Would she have been able to let go of the rope to save herself? Angry, she felt like she should have let go to teach Josie a lasting lesson: don’t reach further than your grasp --- especially when you could put other lives in danger. ‘Josie has always been selfish like that,’ she thought to herself. They had gathered enough rock for their paleontology project. But Josie, wanting to be on top, decided to get rocks from the side of the cliff and when she discovered how rare some of the formations were, she wanted to collect some of them. How could she trust Josie? How could she trust Maya?

Josie had lost most of their rocks, but God only knew what they had lost that day.

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This article has been read 619 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Llewelyn Stevenson 01/17/08
Enjoyed it.
Yvonne Blake 01/18/08
I've never rock climbed, but I could feel the tension.
I liked the part where Liza fixes the towel that is about to fall off the counter..symbolic of her friend?
Good writing.
LauraLee Shaw01/22/08
This is very well-written. You provide excellent suspense at the beginning, the reader wondering what is going on. Then after we figure out it is a rock climbing adventure, the suspense continues in a different way. Excellent. Your title is superb, your grammar and structure is well done.
Marita Vandertogt01/23/08
I really like this. You say a lot in a few words. Excellent way of creating conflict and introducing questions that the reader can also wrestle with for themselves, with no easy answers. You make the reader think. Great take on the topic. The only suggestion would be maybe to add the word "really" in front of lost in the last line - (or something to that effect) - to emphasize the point, but that's purely opinion. Excellent writing!
Holly Westefeld01/23/08
The suspense really drew me along.
I did have to read it a couple of times to sort out the characters, and never did get a solid picture of the opening sceen, and just what roles the three girls played in handling Josie's rope. One thing I have to watch out for is presuming that my reader knows what I am thinking.
Too bad there weren't enough words left to share Sara's and Josie's afterthoughts.
Karen Wilber01/23/08
Fantastic. I had to read the beginning a couple of times to figure out where they were on the cliff - then I got it. I like how you reflected on the girls' thoughts - the quietness of the ride home and later that night. Also wish I could have known what Josie was thinking later. You left the reader wanting more - and that's cool.
Beth LaBuff 01/23/08
I wished I could have known Josie's thoughts at the end too. The questions and thoughts each girl had were so haunting. Great writing!