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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Inner Person (09/09/10)

TITLE: Open Spaces
By Sharon Eastman


Open Spaces

Amy dabbed the last puff of powder on her nose and smiled at her lovely image in the mirror. She fluffed up her skirt and swirled around. With fifteen minutes to spare, she grabbed her Bible and donned her shoes. "One last time, Justin, will you please go to church with me?"

"No. You know I'm not a church "goer". Go ahead. You'll be fine," Justin replied.

Unannounced, dread struck her in the stomach like a cannonball. Her heart raced; her stomach rolled; and she felt lightheaded. She loved church, but it was a struggle to go with all those people and a lengthy sermon. How could she endure it? A tear trailed down her cheek.

"Never mind. I'm not going," she said grief-stricken.

"Why not? You look beautiful," said Justin.

"It's those old crazy feelings. I'm upset, and I don't think I can sit through the service."

"Well, just relax. You can go some other time."

Amy sat down on the loveseat and turned the TV to Jack Van Impe. "I'd rather go to church, but I guess this will do," she thought, defeated, while the program's theme song pounded.

After the program she laid in bed, downcast, for a rest. She concentrated on the problem that plagued her so agoraphobia meaning fear of open spaces. To Amy, it meant the opposite; she was afraid to leave the house.

Memories of high school flooded her mind. Although she was quiet and reserved, she enjoyed being part of the popular crowd. Football games, dances, and parties were common occurrences for her. But, a few years after graduation her mom died suddenly in a car accident. Grief struck like lightening, and sorrow swelled her soul. Rumors of her father's alcoholism crept through like a secret password, and Amy became overwhelmed. Emotional problems began to plague her, and after a mental hospitalization, she sought professional help.

"Justin, I have a headache. Could you bring me a cold rag and an aspirin?"


He brought her requests, and while she lay resting on the bed, Amy revealed her darkest emotions. "Why is my life like this, so lonely and isolated?! I only have a few friends that call. Sometimes I go out with my neighbor, Jennifer. But I have a hard time talking, and I hardly ever laugh or cry. Sometimes I even feel afraid to go to the grocery store. Dread overcomes me."

"I don't understand this problem, but I love you."

"I wish I could go back to my high school days. Those were happy, carefree days. I felt like I belonged to the crowd. I could laugh and smile, which I did all the time. I was relaxed and comfortable with people. But, all that changed. A piece of me is yearning to be released from this prison a person who wants to laugh and enjoy people.

"What changed it?"

"Mom's unexpected death at a young age. And, finding out about Dad's drinking. She always covered it up. We had sneaking suspicions but never knew how really bad it was." Amy started to cry. "Please help me feel alive again!"

"All right. I'm going to call a therapist first thing in the morning. We'll get to the bottom of this," Justin declared.

Fortunately, the clinic had a therapist available on Monday morning. Justin drove Amy there as her symptoms were in full force.

The therapist had kind, empathetic, blue eyes while Amy's were a washed in tears .Amy confessed her fears, her lonely life, and hopes for recovery. Anne, the therapist, counseled, "This problem, agoraphobia, is often caused by low self-esteem. The only cure is to hold your head high with shoulders back and go! Go to church, parties, and social activities. Soon you'll feel comfortable. And, we have lots of work to do on that self-esteem issue."

"I don't know if I can do that. I've tried."

"Don't give up hope. You have a lot of living to do. My work is done in the secular realm. And, since you are a Christian, I advise that you seek Biblical counseling, too. After all, we should feel special because the Creator of the Universe died for us."

Amy felt a little more confident after her session with Anne and the pastor's wife. It would be a long tough road to travel, but she was determined to free that happy, sociable person that slept in her soul.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/16/10
I could definitely relate to the MC in this piece. It almost perfectly mirrors my own life. You have a few issues with punctuation here and there, but the heart of your story really touched me. The message is the thing that matters most.
Nancy Bucca09/17/10
This is an interesting story. I can relate to the fear. It raised a question, however, as to Justin's faith and why he was reluctant to attend church with his wife, seeing how badly she needed it. On the whole, good piece. Keep writing.
Christina Banks 09/20/10
I can understand the fears that your MC has. When life crashes in around you, its hard to leave the safety of the house. I don't understand why Justin was so willing to take her to therapy, but not to church.