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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Tie (02/28/13)

TITLE: A Tale of Two Cities
By Gail Burks


The inner city was filled with run down, boarded-up buildings, decorated with black, hispanic and white teens on nearly every corner. Jenny was accustomed to the imagery. However, as familiar as it was, things had changed.

That day, Jenny left the office on time. Even though the expressway was a few blocks from her office building, she felt uneasy deviating from her route to go home.

Funny, the city reminded her of Dickens 'A Tale of Two Cities.' The best of times and the worst of times. Homes were boarded up. Storefronts closed. Sidewalks buckled. Gas stations out of business. But, in the morning, it was different. A peace enveloped the streets of the city. Quiet, vacant during the day. Noisy, crowded, and ominous by night.

Jenny commuted from the Brales' Group downtown office, which was state of the art. A vast contrast from the world she oftened ignored. Their world. Shootings. Robberies. Rapes. Every day, the media carried a bad report – a student shot, a woman mugged, a homeless man dead, a bank robbed. But, her world was different.

Jenny walked to the parking lot and entered her 2011 Ford Taurus--- right at 5pm. This time, she called her husband first. At the beep, she said, “Hi, hon. On my way home, on time. I'm stopping at the store for tonight's dessert. By the way, there was a bad accident at 47th. Getting on expressway at 35th. Bye.”

Mason strapped on his helmet, and then secured his backpack. He was prepared to bike to his 6:00p Starbucks interview, a little distance from his off-campus apartment. Mason was glad he attended a State university in the city, but he hated biking. It was both dangerous and a pain. Though, as soon as his car was fixed, he and bikey would part ways.

Twenty-one and self-assured, Mason wore his powder blue shirt, blue striped tie, black Dockers, and black leather jacket. He felt a little like 'Batman.' on his Schwinn. Really cool.

Jenny turned onto 35th street, nearing the expressway. Daylight was morphing into dusk. The traffic light turned red, filling the three-lane thoroughfare with idling boxes of steel. Waiting.

'God is an awesome God. He reigns forever.' (cd playing).

Jenny hummed along, checking the rear view mirror, as was her custom at stoplights. She noticed two young men crossing behind her car. Then, she noticed two crossing in front. They stopped. The light changed, but they didn't move. She quickly glanced over to the car on her left, but the man never turned his head. The cars and SUV's drove on through.

Jenny gently tapped the horn.

The two males stared. Frightened, she picked up her cell, trying to dial 911, but couldn't. She had to stay calm.

The two, donning gray hoodies and low riding jeans, separated and walked to each side of the car. She looked. He was no more than 17 years old, pulling out a small handgun. He shouted, “Get out the car.”

If she did, that would be the end. She prayed.

Quickly surveying the area, she noticed there was nobody around. The stoplight cycled to red again. She made a quick decision.

With as much force as possible, Jen pushed open her car door, hard ---hitting him square. He fell, she accelerated, then heard a sound.

Careening down the street, Jenny lost control and plowed into a hydrant. Airbags deployed. She was alive. But, then she felt something wet. She felt pain. Jenny looked down. Blood oozed from her upper arm.

Mason, waiting to cross the street, saw the crash. He raced over. Surprisingly, people were just standing, doing nothing.

Disembarking, he shouted to the crowd, “Call 911. Hurry!” Opening the car door, he asked Jenny if she was ok. Barely nodding, she mouthed. “Thank you.” Her arm bled profusely. Quickly, Mason's early training with the Boy Scouts kicked in . Removing his tie, he reassured Jenny help was on the way, and that he would make a tourniquet to slow the bleeding.


Weeks later, Mason met Jenny and her husband, at Starbucks. The first time since the accident. Taking his break, he treated the couple to one of his specialty drinks, joining them.

“Thank you, Mason for everything. The doctors said your quick action saved my wife's arm. They removed the bullet, too, with no damage.”

“Great. And, by the way, Jenny, I thank you for showing ME what true courage is.”

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This article has been read 366 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 03/08/13
Oh, this is good!

There are a few spots that are a bit rough and they could be improved with a bit of rewording. Feel free to PM me if you want specifics. It really didn't detract much from the story itself, though.

Nice job building intensity and tension.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/10/13
I enjoyed this allegory. How true it is that each city or town is two totally different places depending on time and position. You did a much better job of describing that than I did, but I did get your message loud and clear and I think it's a great one.

I wonder if you had started with the accident and cries for help if that would have had a greater pull for the reader. In today's era of instant gratification, it's vital to pull the reader in immediately.A tiny note: okay should be spelled out or both letters in caps OK

Overall, I think you did a great job of bringing the characters to life. You used the topic in s different way. I think the symbolism behind it is intense. I like the ending. You answered my thoughts and left me with a sense of true love and friendship. Nice job.

If you would like more feedback, throw a brick on the message board. Here's a link for you to copy and paste to take you there: http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=36659
Adele Threadgold03/12/13
Wow I like this story - short direct and instantly pulling you in - grea job.
Bonnie Bowden 03/12/13
This story strikes a chord. One day my sister and I were traveling through a different area of town and were stopped by several youths (no gun though). My sister decided just to floor it and probably saved our lives.

Exciting and well done.