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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)

TITLE: Bon Courage !
By Yvonne Blake


A January wind swirled about my bare knees, while I waited. The steely-gray clouds shielded the morning sun as the smoke from my neighbor’s chimney drifted lazily along the ground.

“When the smoke is low, it soon will snow,” I could almost hear Granny saying.

It sure felt like snow. I shifted my stack of books to my other arm and stomped my numb feet, as I watched the yellow bus approaching. As it squawked to a halt, its diesel fumes mingled with the wood smoke, creating a choking cloud. A blast of loud rock music belched from the opening doors.

I inched along the crowded aisle. Most avoided my pleading eyes, not wanting to squeeze three together for the half hour ride. I smiled a “thanks” as Tammy scooted over, giving me some of the green vinyl seat.

“How can you wear a dress in this weather?” she asked.

“My mom doesn’t let me wear pants except on gym days.”

“It must be a bummer being a preacher’s kid,” she said.

Devin slouched in the seat across from me, his bleached, spiked hair bobbed in time to the drumming of his pencils on his frayed jeans. He turned and caught me staring at him. I looked away, but not before he winked and gave a flirtatious pucker. My face burned, and he laughed.

I wriggled a little to hold my position, clutching the corner of seat before me. At least I didn’t have my flute with me.

Had it only been one week? I loved band practice in my old school, and up until now, it wasn’t so bad here. I enjoyed marching the intricate formations during football season, and the Christmas concert was wonderful, especially when Mrs. Hubbard, the choir director, sang “O Holy Night”.

But last Monday, Mr. Duffy passed out new music for the spring concert, combining the choir and band for a show of movie themes. I flipped through the stack… “Brigadoon”… “South Pacific”… “Jesus Christ, Superstar”… What’s this? I waited until after practice.

“Mr. Duffy, I can’t be in this concert. This song goes against my beliefs as a Christian.”

“But, its just music. You don’t have sing the words, just play the notes.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Duffy, but I can’t.”

He didn’t understand, and by the end of the week, others followed my lead and dropped band and choir. I didn’t go back, but I knew it wasn’t over.

As the bus swung into the school driveway, I lost my grip and my lunch fell to the floor, beneath Devin’s muddy sneaker. In the jumble of everyone scrambling for the door, I snatched the paper bag. I hoped there was something left of my applebutter sandwich.

As I fiddled with my locker combination, the warm air caused my cheeks to tingle and my toes to burn as they thawed. I wove through the swirling hallways to my first period… French class! I loved the flow of this musical language.

My friend, Mary, smiled at me as the bell rang. Today we were beginning “La Belle et La Bête” by Beaumont.

“Un riche marchand avait trois filles…” read Mrs. Roy.

The PA speaker interrupted, “Beverly Phillips, please report to the principal’s office.”

Time stopped, as everyone looked at me. Mary spun in her seat, her eyes bulging behind her wire-rimmed glasses. We locked in a knowing gaze, as the silence around us broke into laughs and jeers.

“Oooooh, Beverly, you’re in trouble now!”

The shock and fear in Mary’s face turned to determination as she raised her hand.
“Mrs. Roy, may I go with Bev to the office?”

“No, I don’t think it’s necessary. I’m sure she knows the way herself.”

My vision blurred and my cheeks burned as I stoically made my way to the door. Mary pressed a paper in my hand as I walked by her desk. Outside the room, I leaned against the concrete block wall and looked at her note.


The empty hallway seemed to stretch for a mile. It took all my strength to take a step. Each click of my feet on the polished tiles calmed my beating heart.

“Bon courage…Good courage…Bon courage… Good courage…”

As I neared the office, I felt my chin lift and my back straighten, ready to stand for my Lord.

“Bon courage…Good courage… ‘Be strong and of a good courage…be not afraid…for the Lord thy God is with thee…”

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This article has been read 1273 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 11/15/07
This is a good story and you told it well.

What happened next?? This left me wanting to read more.
Jan Ackerson 11/16/07
This was very, very good--excellent writing, lots of "show, not tell", and a character to really care about.

I'm not clear why she is in trouble, nor why she's in a new school--maybe this was a word count issue? No matter--this is some of the best writing I've seen this week.
william price11/17/07
Crisp writing. I agree with Jan, inspiring writing. I liked the details and your characterization. I too was left with a few questions, BUT excellent job. This was very enjoyable and impressive. God bless.
Joanne Sher 11/19/07
Your characters are very real, and I could definitely feel your MC's anxiety - and what an encouraging friend. Enjoyed this read.
Patty Wysong11/19/07
Oh, Well done!! I haven't been on a school bus for...umm, 'many' years (LoL) but it all came rushing back thanks to your descriptive writing. Great job of using the descriptions to move the story along and to show us. Made me shiver with cold, too! Great job!! Hugs!
Beth LaBuff 11/19/07
This brought back a lot of memories. I requested not to sing a song from "Jesus Christ, Superstar" while I was in HS too. I love that your used French in this. You've done a great job!
Dee Yoder 11/21/07
Excellent writing! Love the characters, the title, the dialogue. You wrote a memorable piece that's a pleasure to read.
Julie Arduini11/22/07
Great work, Yvonne! You're now in advanced!!
Richard L. Provencher 03/19/08
A very nice story, well connected and without preaching by the preacher-child. Good ending too, leaves our options open as to what really happened.