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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)

TITLE: The Marissa I Used To Know
By Ifeoma Dennis


There’s a girl I know called Marissa.

When she was 12, she couldn’t wait to turn 13 and become a real teenager.

When she finally turned 13, lots of things started happening.
First, a new friend visited her one particular day and her mother told her it meant she was no longer a kid and could get pregnant if she did what husbands and wives did, so she should not allow boys touch her body.

Then, she fell head over heels in love with the tall, dark, handsome Joe in her class, and believed that the sparkle in Joe’s eyes when he saw her meant he felt the same.

She and her girlfriends pledged to abstain from pre-marital sex, drugs and alcohol.

By the time Marissa turned 14, Joe was yet to ask her out and rumors started flying that he was dating a sexy but drab girl in their class.

To worsen matters, Marissa started having problems with her parents over clothes to wear, the places and parties to go to, even the make-up to wear, and over squabbles with her younger sister, Michelle.
“You’re the elder and you should learn how to compromise and even overlook some things for peace to reign,” her parents would tell her.
“You guys hate me, that’s why you’re always picking on me!”
Then she would run up to her room, slam the door shut and cry, thinking of how to run away.

When Marissa turned 15, she had a crush on Prince William, fell in love with the TV soap, One Tree Hill and signed on to Myspace.com, the internet networking site that became her addiction.

Joe’s rumored affair with the sexy, drab girl became fact, and Marissa started having bouts of depression every now and then, wishing she was sexier and could have plastic surgery.
A friend introduced her to alcohol, telling her,
“It releases endomorphins into your system and endomorphins make you happy.”
Yes, Marissa liked it.

She would go into her room, close her doors and shut herself away from the world.
Sometimes, she’d hear her mother ask,
“Where’s my Marissa?”
“I’m right here, Mama,” Marissa would say.
“No, not you. I mean the Marissa I used to know,” and Marissa would say nothing at all, thinking her mother had gone crazy.

Marissa did become a sweet 16.
She fell in love with rock music, and the neighbors complained of noise but since this was Nigeria and the Police had better things to do than arrest a teen nuisance, they could go hug a transformer for all she cared.

She dated a guy she met in Myspace for four weeks; another she met off the Chatzone page of a newspaper for another two, dated a classmate and a thirty-one year old at the same time for another two weeks, and met a billionaire’s son whom she thought was the one until he asked her for sex and Marissa backed away, remembering her mother’s advice.
Then, she graduated from high school.

At 17, three out of five of he girlfriends were no longer virgins, and Marissa was yet to decide whether the Nursing course she was studying was her true calling or being a rock star or an engineer.

She broke up with her thirteenth boyfriend, and joined Facebook.com. It seemed hotter than Myspace, and was better than partying most nights.

When Marissa turned 18, she found out that soda and alcohol added 40 calories to her weight, so she started taking Cranberry juice.
She was filled with a new hunger to discover herself and romance novels suddenly lost their appeal.

She laughed when Michelle squealed over the newest TV soap, Gossip Girls, and talked her out of running away.

She felt grown up, yet she still felt lost.

Sometimes, he mother would ask,
‘Where’s my Marissa?” and she would reply,
“I’m right here, Mama.”
Her mother would turn and smile,
“Yes, I think she’s coming back.”
Then Marissa would smile and say,
“Mama, I’m still lost. I need space, and I need my family.”

“We love you, Marissa,” and a warm hug to go with it.

"Provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” Ephesians 6:4 [KJV]

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 07/23/09
I bet there are a lot of girls out there that could relate to Marissa. She certainly traveled through the chamelon sets of a teenaged girl. I'm glad that she didn't chose a destructive path though and changed her direction, lending hope to this story. Great piece.
Jackie Wilson07/25/09
There are probably many parents who feel this way. As your story illustrated, there are so many chances to make wrong decisions during those years. Was glad to see that your mc was able to find her way back home.