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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)

TITLE: Graduation on the Line
By Gini Branch


“Have to write how many words on what?!” Gwen scowled at her syllabus. Her academic advisor had suggested this creative writing class. “Why did I listen to him?” She wandered down the aisle of the bookstore looking for her textbook, resigned to her fate. She wanted to graduate at the end of this semester and get on with her life. At least that’s what she had told to her advisor. This class looked like a good idea at the time.

“Excuse me. Could you tell me where to find this book?” Gwen held the syllabus so the clerk could read it.

“Yeah, right down here.” He led Gwen to an empty shelf. “Must’ve sold out. Might try Raffins. Or you could order it online, I guess. Sorry.”

“Thanks.” Gwen sighed and headed for the exit.

“Hey, Gwen.” Dave joined her as she walked out. “Want a latte?”


“Ready for the last semester?” Dave and Gwen had been in several classes together the last four years and had weathered many college day crises together.

“Not really. Might have to drop this class.” She waved the paper in her hand.

“Which one’s that?”

“Creative writing. It was supposed to be sooo easy and look at this.” She pointed to the final assignment.

Dave glanced at the paper she held. The assignment did look daunting, even to a journalism major. “That’s pretty stout for a class like that.”

Gwen nodded as she found a seat. “Just a latte for me,” she said.

Dave ordered and then sat down opposite her. “You know, this might be a good thing for you, in a way.” Gwen obviously didn’t agree from the frown that she gave Dave.

“How’d you figure that? I’ve never written anything more than a letter to my Mom that could be considered creative.”

“That’s just it. Everything has been reports and papers. This could be just for fun, if you look at it that way.” Dave walked to the counter and retrieved their order.

“Only you could see it that way. I might not graduate because of this course.”

“Getting a bit ahead of yourself, aren’t you?” he said. “Look at this first piece you’re supposed to do. A couple hundred words about how you feel about this course. How hard is that going to be?” Gwen had to smile. He was right about that. She had formed some opinions already.

“Then you read a chapter from your book and rewrite the first piece. Come on. You’re able to do that much, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, but that 5000 word thing at the end--” she looked into her coffee. “What about that. Even you, the journalist, said it was a big deal. A paper is one thing, but this is different, somehow.”

“Tell you what. I’ll coach you if you really think that’ll help, but you gotta be able to take what I say the right way. Criticism hurts sometimes. Especially with a creative piece. It’s a part of you, your baby, sort of. Know what I mean?”

“You’re on, my mentor.” She feigned a bow before him. They laughed together, finished their coffees.

“You want to take a look at a really neat writing forum I found a while back. Sorta gets the muses flowing.” Dave was already dragging out his computer so Gwen scooted around beside him as he typed in the address. “Look at this.”

Gwen read down the screen. “It’s a Christian site, right?”

“Yes, some of the other sites have stuff that gets a little explicit. That’s one of the reasons I like this one.”

“Don’t they have a bunch of that preachy stuff? That’s just not my thing.” Gwen said backing away from the screen.

“Here. Try this one, and see what you think.” Dave found an article that he’d written under a pen name.

“Ok, but if it’s what I think it is…” Dave turned the screen toward Gwen and she began to read. She read more. “That wasn’t at all what I expected. It was actually good.”

“Thought you’d like it. Look here, they have a weekly deal where you write on a topic. Let’s see,” Dave said flipping through a few screens, “This week’s is Help. Wonder what I could do with that?”

“Well, what about a story about a guy that befriends a girl that needs mentoring for one of her classes?” Gwen winked. Dave smiled broadly and said “See, you’re already becoming a creative writer.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 02/27/06
Very clever use of THE word. Excellent job in writing it too.
Jessica Schmit03/03/06
Great job using the word and great creativity. Your story flowed really well and held my attention throughout. Great!