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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “Don’t Try to Walk before You Can Crawl” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/17/08)

TITLE: Cherish Your Innocence
By jodie banner


Tawny awoke to an unfamiliar rancid stench assaulting her nostrils. She struggled to cover her nose but couldn't move her arms. Bile spilled into her mouth and pooled around her tongue, gagging her. Something was covering her mouth. This was all wrong. Where was she?

Tawny looked around, she was sprawled on a cracked, damp concrete floor next to an old, soiled mattress. Duct tape held her legs and arms. Her heart began pummeling her chest. She couldn't breath. Hot tears stung her face. She had to relax, take slow deep breaths. A slight movement to her right startled her. She strained her neck and was able to make out a small, unconscious form on the mattress. Tawny managed to shift her tiny bound frame to where she could see. The form on the mattress let out a low moan. It was a girl, probably about her own age. None of this made sense. She wanted her mom. Tawny closed her eyes and tried to remember the last time she had spoken to her.


There was a knock on her bedroom door.

"Go away Mom, I don't want to talk about it!"

"Her mother opened the door and sat on her bed. "Tawny honey, I know you're upset about tonight, but you knew the rules for the computer. You are not allowed to have a "MyPlace" account. When my sister called and told me she had stumbled upon your webpage, I had no choice but to ground you. There will be other sleepovers. You do understand, don't you?"

Tawny stood and faced her mother, every pore on her body seeping defiance. "Mom, Everybody goes on "MyPlace". You're making me a social outcast!"

"You"re only thirteen. A lot of young girls get into trouble on those sites. Who is this boy Matt you've been chatting with?"

"How did you find out about him?" Tawny looked down and picked at the purple polish on her nails.

"I will always be older and wiser, don't ever forget that. Now spill it, who is this boy?" Her mother stood up and placed her arms around her.

"He's thirteen and lives in New York. How cool is that?" Tawny looked up and searched her mother's face for a reaction. "He's in the eighth grade too. Matt says my braces make me look older than I really am. He even called me hot! None of the boys at school ever even look at me!"

"How do you know this Matt is really who he says he is? I want a phone number tomorrow so I can contact his parents."

"Yeah right Mom, he's really some creepy old guy who just wants to rape and murder me. I think I would know better. Matt actually gets me. His parents are way worse than you guys, so chill. They never let him out of their sight."

"You haven't even been on a date with a boy; how can you think you know so much?"

"That's not my fault, it's yours! I'm not allowed to date until I'm sixteen, remember!" Tawny flopped on the bed and buried her face in her pillow.

"Tawny, stop trying to grow up so fast. Being thirteen can be a lot of fun. You should try it sometime. I'll call you down when dinner's ready." She walked out and closed the door behind her.

"AAAGH! I can't stand you!" Tawny threw her pillow at the door as it closed. Her mother was so lame. Like she would have been caught dead at some stupid sleepover.

As soon as dinner was over she had climbed onto the roof and down onto the porch railing. Matt and his parents were only in town for one day and she wasn't about to miss meeting him.


She heard the sirens first. Then she caught a glimpse of a flashing red beacon through the sliver of a window near the ceiling. A few moments later the door splintered open. Searing shards of light blinded her. She was surrounded by voices calling her name. A woman knelt next to her and told her she was safe. The tape was removed from her mouth, causing blood to ooze from her bruised, swollen lips. Tawny shaded her eyes with her newly freed hands and watched as paramedics placed the unconscious girl on a stretcher.

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This article has been read 642 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Carol Shaffron01/24/08
Wow, how easy it is to forget these kinds of things really happen- alot. I doubt most end so well. This is heart wrenching even so..yes, young people, take the time to be young. In fact, it's never too late to take the time to be young
Nancy Quinn01/25/08
Powerful and a good reminder to teach our children to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. God bless you - keep up the great writing!
Joy Faire Stewart01/25/08
Powerful message in this piece and very well written.
Yvonne Blake 01/28/08
Wow! What a message for young people!
Good descriptions and dialogue. You ought to send this to a teen magazine.
Great job...keep writing.
Sherry Castelluccio 01/28/08
Very well written story. It's very frightening that things like this actually happen in the world. I'm so thankful my daughter is only five...great work.
LauraLee Shaw01/28/08
Very realistic dialogue and extremely well-written. I pray this will be a message to many...
Joshua Janoski01/29/08
Wow. Very powerful. This is a good message to get out to all the young teenagers. The Internet can be a great place to meet people (like on this website), but it can also be very dangerous. Great writing!
Hanne Moon 01/29/08
Our children are so vulnerable to dangers they can't even imagine. You did very well showing the girl's thoughts and emotions, and the motivations behind her actions. Keep up the good work!
Sharlyn Guthrie01/30/08
Great message written in a captivating story. We were thinking along the same lines this week. I like your hopeful ending.
Temple Miller01/30/08
Powerful, heart-wrenching story. Wow.
Sara Harricharan 01/30/08
You definitely captured it here. The title(Love your title!) and the story follows with chilling realization, the dialouge was right on for the teen girl. Good job here. ^_^
Catrina Bradley 01/30/08
Awesomely convicting. The opening paragraph was a great - made me keep reading. The lesson so important. Too bad most kids believe it could never happen to them. I remember having similar conversations with my daughter through her teen years and you gave me chills thinking about what could have been. Great job.
Dee Yoder 01/31/08
Chilling descriptions of the horrible things that can happen from Internet connections. Teens often think they know more than they do-part of their charm and their trouble!