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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: Bitter Sweet Tough Stuff


I entered the house earlier than usual, but the clock told me it had passed ten o’clock on a school night. It never bothered me before this past Sunday. Everybody I hanged with stayed out late, skipped school, or had even dropped out. It was normal for the neighborhood.

“You’re home early.” My mom smiled as she looked up at me from her book.

I shrugged still unsure how to discuss the thoughts whirling in my head. Why had Sunday changed things so much? The choice definitely had been the right one, but suddenly my whole life looked so wrong. How did you tell your friends you couldn’t do most of the things you used to? I had wimped out yet again and had simply walked off to think at least an hour ago.

Mom put her book down. Her concerned expression said it all, but then she smiled.

I sat down next to her at the small kitchen table that took up most of the kitchen’s open area. The scent of chocolate filled the room making me glance about. Mom hadn’t had much time to enjoy baking let alone make sure I had a cooked meal in the evening for a long time. Sadly, I had not been home for her to cook for.

“I thought you might want a brownie and a glass of milk.” She rose from the table to reveal the chocolate goodness hidden under a dish towel. “I was hoping they would still be warm when you got home.”

“Thanks.” I took a bite knowing mom waited for me to say something else. “I know you’re waiting for me to just talk.” After saying it, I had to laugh. It felt good as mom joined in.

She said nothing, so I dove right in. “How do I deal with not liking what my friends do anymore after having happily just done the same on Saturday? I know I made the right choice in church on Sunday. However, I can’t just dump them, but I haven’t been able to explain my change to them. I know they know something happened. I think some are already voting me out of the gang.” The words gushed out of me even as tears streamed down my cheeks. “I’m not sure I can start all over with new friends.”

My mom hugged me. It felt good to have her always reassuring arms around me.

The moment shattered as someone pounded on the door. I wiped my eyes hastily as mom went to the door to check the peep hole. My heart leapt into my throat as my gaze took in two cops.

“Mallorie Thomas?” asked the mountain of a black man dressed in crisp blues.

I simply nodded unable to fathom why they were there. What had the gang done after I left? I had left as soon as they started acting rowdy and restless.

“You need to come with us. We know you are part of the Snipers and were with them earlier.”

I slowly rose from my seat with a sorrowful glance at my brownie and then my mom. I should’ve stayed home like I had truly wanted, but I had felt too scared to diss the gang. Now I would pay for it. I gave my mom a hug as I joined her at the door.

“I’m sorry I didn’t stay home.” I pulled away and wiped my eyes again. “I’m not afraid. I know I left before they did anything. I had an interesting talk with Mrs. Holsten at her subway booth, which delayed me getting home.”

“This will not be easy, but stick to what you feel is right.” Mom smiled at me and brushed my hair back.

“I’m sticking with Jesus from now on because He makes it all feel right.”

I turned to the officers. “I’m ready to go. I guess this is where you cuff me.” The candor in my words shocked me as much as the peace inside.

“That should not be necessary in this case.” The big, black cop had a nice smile.

With that said I stepped out into my future totally unsure of where it led, but knowing everything was about to change. I definitely had to change how I spent my time. If I still remained free I could go to the weekly youth session on Wednesday nights at church. I could cook with mom in the evenings. This could work out.

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This article has been read 601 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Alfreda Byars02/07/08
Love your story, it's so much like kids of today. Good writing.
Jan Ackerson 02/08/08
Great title, very good job with the conflicts of a brand new Christian.

My only nitpick is that in a few places, you omitted a comma where one is needed to set off a clause. Just a sprinkling of commas here and there will kick up your writing skills a notch.

Love the character development here.
Patty Wysong02/08/08
Good job! And I love how the title ties in.
Shelley Ledfors 02/10/08
A thought-provoking piece. Great take on the topic.
Ann Renae Hair02/10/08
Well done. I enjoyed your story.
Holly Westefeld02/10/08
I like the optomistic tone of this piece.
While being born again can bring dramatic changes in short order, the MC seemed to have had a quicker change of voice, word choices, etc., than I might expect.
Marilyn Schnepp 02/13/08
"Everybody I Hung out with" took me off guard at first...but then I got over the "hanged with" and let myself enjoy your story of "Bitter Sweet Touch Stuff"...Keep up the good work. Practice makes perfect! Nicely done.