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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)

TITLE: Just this side of crazy
By Amy Davey


“Wait! Don’t sit there!”

Startled, Karen nearly jumped out of her skin as a skinny blonde girl raced up to her in sheer panic. She had been heading to a table by the far windows in the school cafeteria when the girl’s voice stopped her dead in her tracks. She waited for the girl to catch up with her, anxious to hear why she had seemed so insistent in her plea.

“You don’t want to sit there, trust me. You just moved into new house on Peacock rd. south of the railroad tracks right?”

Karen was still confused, but she answered that the girl’s was correct.

“My name is Brandy; I live on that street too and I saw you this morning walking past the bus stop. You have to stay away from that crowd over there; they’re from the north side of the tracks you don’t want to hang around with them! They’re very different than us.”

“What do you mean?” Karen asked, confused but curious.

“Anyone who lives there, they are plain crazy! They say they belong to another city, a Paradise, and one day they’ll go there; that where we live now doesn’t even compare to it. My old neighbors made friends with some of those people, and afterwards they picked up and moved to that side of the tracks. They went just as nuts!”

“I don’t understand; why don’t they just move to that city then?” Karen asked, still very confused.

“Well that’s the craziest part of all; they say that this city they’ll be going to isn’t from this world. They say they’ll go there when they die, and then they’ll live forever! Pretty crazy huh? And then to top it all off, when you do get around them all they want to do is talk about how you need to move over there and how it’s so much better than living where we do, … as if! It’s a trick, look at where they live, it’s a ghetto but they act like they’re rich. You should watch out for them.”

Karen wasn’t sure what to think, the claims did seem a bit strange, but she didn’t know this Brandy person and she had learned not just to take someone’s word for something unless she knew they were a trustworthy source. She simply gave a nod to Brandy and thanked her for her concern, though she noticed that Brandy didn’t even invite her to sit at her table. Karen sat down in the middle of the room at an empty table to eat and ponder what she had just been told. Looking over to the group by the windows, she couldn’t help but see how happy they were, even though they were such a small group. As she watched, they began to sing together and held hands as they encouraged one another. It was like a family. Karen suddenly wished she had a family like that and not one with parents who were always working or attending functions, a family that might actually have time for her. She finished eating her lunch but she continued to watch this curious crowd of people as the day dragged on, and wondered just what they were all about.

After a long first day at her new school, Karen was more than ready to go home. She hastily packed her bag with what items she could cram in, and tucked the rest of her books under her arm before heading for the doors amid the mob of kids heading in the same direction. Shoved and jostled in every direction as she made her way slowly down the hallway, she felt her books begin to slip out of her arms. Despite her attempts to regain her grip, Karen’s books tumbled to the ground with a loud “Thwack”. She bent down to pick them up, and was soon pushed to the ground beneath the stampede. With each blow from being kicked and stepped on she felt more and more desperate, why couldn’t anybody see her down there? They were all wrapped up in their own desire to get out.

Feeling a hand on her shoulder she looked up, there stood one of the kids from the table by the windows; he held her books and lifted her to her feet. Walking home from school that day, Karen became friends with a kid from the other side of the tracks. Now she lives just three doors down, waiting for Paradise.

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This article has been read 359 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Nancy Bucca07/21/11
I love this sweet story and the fitting conclusion to which you brought it. Thanks for sharing.
Juliette Chamberlain-Bond07/23/11
Yes, it is frequently not what we say but our actions which can 'touch' others.
I like this story and the way in which you tell it.

I would suggest the following:
'...very different (than) from us...'
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/23/11
I absolutely love this story. It would be perfect, with a bit of polishing, to submit to a tween magazine or as a Sunday School handout.

I can tell you are working on showing vs telling and you're doing a good job, but every once in a while you slip back into telling. Take your line:
Karen was still confused, but she answered that the girl’s was correct.

Other than girl's should be girl you are still telling not showing. Just a little change will paint a picture for your reader> Karen crinkled her eyebrows; she glanced at the table, shrugged her shoulders, and looked with wide eyes at the girl and then slowly nodded her head.

Mine is a bit wordy but you can see the girl is confused and struggling with what to do. Hopefully as a writer, you'll paint a picture with your words.

You're doing a great job and there are many places where you do a great job of showing.

Your characters are perfect and the scene in the cafeteria could have been a snapshot of every school cafeteria around. I liked your ending,especially the fact that the teen solved her own problem by using her brain instead of having an adult solve it for her. Great job.
Amica Joy07/24/11
I like your story. Especially because the Christians in your story are true witnesses. They are not turning people off with noisy & unbalanced proclamations. Your idea of "here" and "there" is GREAT too.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/02/11
Congratulations for ranking 10th in level one! Keep working on that showing vs telling and you'll be ranking in the top 3 in no time!:)