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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)

TITLE: The Temptation
By Linda Rogers


Gina winced as the kid beside her slammed his locker for what seemed like the 1000th time. With a sigh she reminded herself that there were only 188 days in the school year, and that she only saw him twice a day. She chided herself mathematically, and hurried off to the dreadful 6th hour class.

Why did she agree to take Qualitative/Quantitative Chemical Analysis anyway! Gina's parents, had known poverty, and her father had joined the U.S. military to provide a better life for the family. To them, a college education with academic scholarships was an unquestioned expectation for their children. This chemistry class was created as preparation for pre-med or crime scene professions, and it looked good on transcripts for those applying for scholarships. Thankfully, thought Gina, it was only a one-semester class, and the end was near. Mr. Simmons was the worst teacher she'd ever had, and the labs were insanely impossible to understand. The final exam was rumored to be deadly.

As the bell rang, Gina slid into her seat near Kelly and Shawna. The end of her torment was only days away as Simmons began his normal ranting about the importance of lab reviews. All seventeen students, ranked in the top 10% of their class, were sitting there under their usual level of extreme stress. Once the groups got started, Simmons, as always, casually disappeared into the back rooms. The students always remained on task in his absence.

That day however, Gina realized something odd was happening at the glass cabinet. Kelly had gone for beakers and was standing near Caleb's group. A strange whispering was going on. A few seconds later, Kelly rushed back with the news that Caleb had found the answer key to the final exam. Apparently the absent-minded Simmons had misplaced it on a shelf stacked with older graded papers. Kelly was almost squealing with excitement as she explained that this was the luckiest day of their lives. Shawna asked "Are you crazy?" and Gina was too surprised to do anything but remind them to finish their work.

After school Gina's mind was still struggling to absorb the news. She had never cheated on a test before in her life, and suddenly the opportunity was right in front of her. It seemed so great and yet so scary. It would save her from an incredible amount of stress, and allow her to spend more time studying for her other classes. She felt giddy and even slightly nauseous. It was hard to focus on her homework, as she replayed it in her mind again. Could she do it?

For days, Gina was in utter torment over the matter. But then came Sunday morning. At church, Gina remembered who she really was. She remembered what it meant to wear a trendy WWJD bracelet. She remembered that time in youth camp a few summers ago, when she asked Jesus to be her savior. Gina also thought about her parents, they were people of integrity. Suddenly, as if a bright light had just turned on in a dark room, she knew that she simply couldn't do it. No matter the consequences of failure, Gina knew she'd rather face those than face either God or her parents for cheating!

Her friends had stopped worrying about their reviews, leaving Gina by herself during the study sessions. Many of them went to a party that weekend, relieved that they could have some fun before finals week. Gina felt their scorn, but held to her decision.

As expected, the exam was grueling. Gina labored over it for the entire two hours, while many others completed it long before she did. Would it be good enough? She carried her fear like a dark, heavy cloud over the Christmas holiday break.

When school resumed, Simmons didn't have their scores posted on his window as expected. Later, Gina found out why. Only 6 students had passed the exam. The ugly truth came out like a news flash that day! Simmons had intentionally set out a phony answer key and a total of eleven of her peers, including her friends, had used it to cheat on that final. The cheaters were all members of the National Honor Society and the academic community was rocked with disgrace.

Although Gina's score was only 86%, she stood tall and proud. She had made the right choice in the face of a very great temptation. She knew she'd never forget that feeling.

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This article has been read 449 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Theresa Santy 02/22/13
This is a great storyline and has all the makings of an interesting novel: Interesting main character, inciting indicent, rising conflict, and a major moral decision toward the end.

However, for such a small word count, like the Challenge, it felt squished, like you had so much to tell in 750 words, that you had to 'tell' everything.

But don't despair, because this is only my opinion. Often, I see things differently than the judges.

Plus, I really think you have something here. I would love to see this expanded out into a larger story, where you've built up the setting and characters. For example, the main character's big moral decision at the end is something that would, by itself take more than 750 words to adequately describe, because often, it takes a little more than the clanking of our Jesus-inspired jewelry to set us back on the right track.

Seriously, though, I could see this as a great Middle Grade novel...

C D Swanson 02/22/13
This was such an excellent read...I really loved it!
Nicely done, and so glad that the MC chose the right path. Really good story here and great writing.

God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/22/13
I love this story! It is quite different than others that I have read. I thought it was a creative take on the topic.

Many writers will struggle their whole lives with the show don't tell concept. It's difficult to obtain the perfect balance. You did a lot of telling. For example:Instead of telling that a strange whispering was going on show with something like this: Caleb cupped his hand around John's ear as he whispered just low enough yo make Gina tilt her head, in hopes of over hearing the buzzing.
I hope that gives you an idea of what I mean.

Your opening paragraph was filled with fantastic examples of showing. It painted a picture and helped me relate to the MC. Though the ending might have been a tiny bit predictable, I still found myself eager to keep reading to the end. Your message came out clear without being preachy. All in all a fascinating bit of storytelling.
Richard Hicks02/28/13
Very well done entry. I was shocked and surpised at the ending. You brought the scene and the characters to life very well.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/28/13
Congratulations on placing fifth in your level and for ranking 35 overall! (The highest rankings can be found on the message boards for the top 8 to 15 in each level and the top 35 overall.)
C D Swanson 02/28/13
Congrats. God bless~