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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Start (01/16/06)

TITLE: The First Day
By Rachel White


Sarah gazed proudly around her classroom. Everything was as it should be, clean and in order, awaiting her first students on the first day of school and, most importantly, on the first day of her new career as a high school English teacher. She had spent most of the past week getting her room just right, hanging and rehanging carefully selected posters, scrubbing pencil marks off of almost everything, checking and rechecking her supplies, and even cleaning the pencil sharpener. Satisfied that her hard work had paid off, the eager new teacher stood in front of the classroom, head held high and smile in place, ready to meet her new students.

A few moments passed by, Sarah standing at her post, wondering where everyone could be. As her eyes went to the hall to see if anyone was coming, she happened to notice the clock hanging above the door.

“Oh, good gracious,” she muttered under her breath. There was still ten minutes until the bell would ring. She felt acutely self- conscious and was glad nobody had seen her standing there, smiling like a fool at an empty room.

She clipped over to the wall of sun-filled windows. A sea of students came in from the parking lot, pooling on the lawn. Sarah noticed with a start that she did not look a day older than most of the teenagers. How would they ever take her seriously? She pushed the thought from her mind. Her tailored slacks and blouse would distinguish her from them. She had planned her wardrobe every bit as meticulously as she had her classroom.

While Sarah was settling her mind about her appearance, a brunette girl pointed up at her, drawing the attention of her friends. They all burst out laughing.

Heat colored her cheeks as she jumped back from the window. They had caught her staring. "This is silly," she thought. She would not let herself be shaken so easily.

She looked at the clock again. Seven minutes to go. Perhaps she should look over the roll sheet once more, if for no other reason than to occupy herself as the seconds struggled by. It was nowhere to be seen. Frantically she went through her papers, searched her desk drawers, and even checked the garbage can. Then it dawned on her that she had left it sitting on her coffee table at home. She had been practicing pronouncing the names while eating breakfast. Her heart began to race as panic assailed her. "What am I going to do?" She shifted from foot to foot, her eyes darting back and forth.

“The office!” She made a mad dash for the office, trying to look composed. Halfway there the five-minute warning bell rang. Forgetting composure, she nearly ran to her destination, bumping into a few people along the way.

“I need a roll sheet!” she gasped to Sally, the secretary.

Sally smiled at her, trying not to laugh at the frazzled newbie panting in front of her. “You look like you have the fear of God in your eyes. Or is it fear of a bunch of young-uns?”

Sarah gave a half-hearted smile, trying to be polite. Did she really look that bad? A quick glance at her reflection in the mirror hanging on the wall told her she did. "I was so composed, so sure, so ready this morning. Now I looked like a lost child caught in a wind storm. What happened?" she thought.

As if reading her thoughts, Sally handed her the roll sheet and whispered, “You had too much self-confidence.”

Sarah took the paper and thanked Sally for her help. What did she mean by having too much self-confidence? Wasn’t that a good thing? She started back at a light jog. But the more she thought about the secretary’s words, the slower her stride got, until she was standing still.

Understanding washed over her like cool water on a hot day. "I had too much self-confidence and not enough God-confidence. I trusted in my preparedness and my ability rather than in Him. Lord, you have succeeded in shaking out all of the fleshy confidence. Now please fill me with the confidence that comes from knowing you are with me and working through me. Lord, you and I both know I can’t do this by myself."

With that, Sarah entered her classroom, not knowing what lay ahead of her, but knowing full well that her silent prayer had been answered.

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This article has been read 577 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 01/24/06
Very charming!
terri tiffany01/26/06
Nice writing! Nice starting paragraph and geat tie up conclusion! I did notice I think you meant 'slipped' not 'clipped'. I felt for your character but especially loved the 'take away' from it. thanks!
James Clem 01/30/06
Rachel - Congrats!

This one was my favorite of the week - yep, I read all of them.

I also notice you've entered the challenge twice and won a Highly Commended both times!