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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: A Single Black Tear
By Marita Thelander


The school bell rang and students shot out of every exit of the old brick building as if the fire alarm had been pulled. Jenna trudged along, head down low. Peering through black heavy bangs that hung over her left eye, she focused on the toes of her black canvas Converse shoes.

Just a few more blocks. Quickening her steps, Jenna almost ran the remainder of her way home. Anxiety rose in her and she hungered for the safety of her room.

Slamming the door to her room, she cranked up her music.

“Jenna, turn down your music! Why do you have to listen to such horrible stuff?”

Frustration seeped out as she turned the music down and abruptly opened her door to address the parental figure standing at the end of the hallway.

“I’m sixteen, Mom. This is what sixteen year olds do.” The words spat out of Jenna’s mouth with such venom and anger it caused her mother to step back in shock.

Jenna locked her door and cranked the music back up. In Jenna’s view, music could never be too loud. The more screaming and hateful the lyrics, the better she liked it. Sliding her hand under her mattress, she pulled out a razor blade. Tears were already beginning to form as she threw herself on the floor in her favorite spot in the far corner of the room. The furthest away from everything in her life she hated.

She sat for a moment, letting the hate and anger of the music numb her brain. She let her finger trace the single black tear shaped tattoo between her thumb and forefinger. Pushing her left sleeve up, she held the razor blade in her right hand and proceeded to draw it across her forearm. Watching the blood seep from the cut, Jenna could finally cry.

After an hour of feeling numb, Jenna went to the bathroom, cleaned up her cut and reapplied dark thick eye liner. Pulling her black hoodie over her head and stuffing her fists in her pockets she headed downstairs.

“Where are you going, Jenna? Dinner’s almost ready.”



Jenna began this self-destructive hateful process at fourteen. Who did she hate? Men. Every man that ever looked at her, she hated. Before Jenna reached adolescence, men were attracted to her. Not boys, men.

Jenna couldn’t put her finger on when the sexual abuse begun, she must have blocked it from her memory. She did, however, remember when it stopped. The day she decided to not care about her appearance anymore. Gradually, she slipped into a fashion statement of utter darkness. If it was black, she liked it.

Her mom was shocked when she came home from work one day to find Jenna sitting at the counter eating milk and cookies with jet black hair. The downward spiral of self-abuse continued through her teen years and followed her into her early adult years. Originally she wanted to make herself unattractive to men, and was quite successful. The depression that followed this destructive behavior became a bigger issue for Jenna.

After six painful years Jenna longed to be free. Free from the pain, hatred and depression. With no where else to turn, Jenna began to slip into the back row of a little mission church in the heart of downtown. Slowly, she allowed herself to let go of the pain and embrace the hope and peace God had to offer.

Then she met Bryce.

Never in her wildest imagination did Jenna ever think she would fall in love. Bryce walked side by side with her as she journeyed out of those dark days and into the light. After several months, Jenna began to trust Bryce. Eventually she shared her story and showed him the many scars on her arms. Scars that marked the days when she needed to feel something more painful than her memories.

Bryce gazed wide eyed at Jenna’s arms. Tenderly he began to touch the scars with his fingers. Gently bending his head, Bryce kissed her arms.

Jenna could not stifle the gasp as she trembled under such tender scrutiny. She closed her eyes, and tears streamed down her face. Bryce wrapped his arms around her and let her weep healing tears. For the first time in her life, Jenna longed to be in the arms of a man.

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Laury Hubrich 02/21/08
Wow! This is a very powerful piece. I love the ending. It's so tender. A love like Jenna wasn't used to. Wonderful! Keep on writing!
LauraLee Shaw02/21/08
I'm thankful for the happy ending but sad over the tragic circumstances of her life beforehand. My true hope is that Jenna found the Truest Love of all through Bryce...the love of Jesus Christ. Would love to hear that part of the story in a sequel. Very powerful, passionate and persuasive writing in this piece.
Jan Ackerson 02/22/08
The first half of this was excellent--you really brought us into Jenna's world. In the second half, you "told" more than "showed"--in other words, it read more like a narration or a summary.

Great title, and very good story.
Holly Westefeld02/22/08
You paint a vivid image of revenge turned inward.
I know how that word limit can sure interfere with all we have to say, but I concur with Jan that some of the intensity was lost in the middle, though the ending reeled me back in.
Perhaps a brief flashback, as she cried in her room, would fill in the history better than straight narrative. Now getting involved in the church, and meeting Brice, that's a bit trickier to fit in to the word limit.
Thanks for a happy ending!
Marilyn Schnepp 02/23/08
From the abuse came the hatred of self; and from the hatred of self came the destructive abuse of self...completing a vicious circle of mayhem. A sad story brilliantly and tenderly told here in this entry. Well written and a good take on week's Topic.
Joanne Sher 02/23/08
WOW. You made me hurt inside, but the redemption is amazing. I really don't know what to say besides WOW.
LaNaye Perkins02/24/08
Your entry really touched my heart. You had me from the title to the last word. Keep writing!
Gerald Shuler 02/24/08
The symbolism in the title is as powerful as the story itself. I wonder if the sea our sins are thrown into when we ask forgiveness is made up of humanity's countless single black tears.

Great entry.
Beth LaBuff 02/25/08
Powerful and heartbreaking! You've written this very well. Your title is perfect...and so descriptive.
Lyn Churchyard02/25/08
I felt your MC's despair. What a touching story. Well done Marita!
Joy Faire Stewart02/25/08
Excellent job showing the emotions of the MC and I was happy for a healing ending.
Debbie Wistrom02/25/08
So much pain, but so much healing available, so glad she sought the chuch. Keep writing.
c clemons02/25/08
Very good, nice take on the topic.
Catrina Bradley 02/25/08
Wonderful job conveying the MC's inner darkness. The middle "narration" part was a bit of a jolt, but I was sucked back in by the end. Great writing!
Seema Bagai 02/25/08
The beginning and the ending were powerfully written. The middle seemed to be just an explanation and not part of the narrative. Fix that up, and this will be a great story for teens. Keep writing.
Joshua Janoski02/27/08
You never cease to amaze me with your writing Marita. Here is a good example of a story that might be true or might be fiction, but I can't tell the difference, because it felt so real as I was reading it. Many teens struggle with this very issue, and the hurt really came through here.

I loved your title and the ending too. :)
Shirley McClay 02/27/08
This line was awesome.. Scars that marked the days when she needed to feel something more painful than her memories.
Excellent writing. Thank you for sharing. I echo what someone else said... your story made me wonder if it was true!
Sara Harricharan 02/27/08
This is beautiful! I loved the character of Jenna and especially the hope at the end. I was so hoping that there would be someone special for her. Someone that would understand and didn't mind the scars. Your last line really sums up this piece. ^_^
Patty Wysong02/27/08
The first half of this story made me feel Jenna's pain. Wow. The second half wasn't as powerful but I'm very thankful for the hope she found--and I loved the ending. ;)
Sally Hanan02/27/08
You packed a lot into this good piece. I think it would have been even more dramatic if you had focused on only one part of the girl's story--that way you have more room for description and dialogue.
Loren T. Lowery02/27/08
Wow, what a trek down a dark hallway. You made everything very, very believable and my heart ached for your MC. I'm so glad she found someone to hold on to and believe in. Hopefully, this kind of writing will help others to let them there is hope in place of despair. Great job!
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/27/08
The first section is particularly powerful with its vivid description of the journey into darkness of a troubled teen. I was glad you brought her to happiness with someone who would love her, scars and all.
Sherry Castelluccio 02/27/08
This was hard for me to read because I could so identify with Jenna. I was a little confused how the transformation happened but so glad for the healing and the beautiful ending. Well done. (And I'm reminded of my own healing as well. Thank you :)
Laury Hubrich 02/28/08
Congratulations! What a well-written piece! 3rd place, wow!