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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)

TITLE: Prisoner of Lies
By Karlene Jacobsen


“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free,” the pastor continued. (1) He was on his fourth closing of the morning, and it did not look like he was winding down anytime soon.

Lucy sat rigid in the century-old wooden bench on the front row; it had been her designated spot since graduating children’s church eight years ago. She was twelve then believing her spot to be a sign of importance as she clung to every word her dad-the pastor- spoke.

Today, she closed her eyes, willing him to stop. You don’t know what I’m going through. How can you say that? Her eyes darted around, looking for a hasty exit. I have to get out of here. There was one thing Lucy knew; truth was her enemy. Two years at college taught her that. To avoid rejection, tell people what they want to hear; anything else was social suicide.

Several more minutes of the pastor’s final closing remarks, then the pastoral blessing was pronounced. “The Lord bless you and keep…” the rest was lost to Lucy as she planned her escape.

Thankful they had driven separately, Lucy leaned over to her mom, gave a quick hug, and said, “I think I might return to school early, I’ve got a paper due.” It was a lie, but effective; Lucy was free.

“Lucy, are you all right?” Her roommate, Sally was worried. Lucy hardly ate, and seemed to be fighting the flu far too long.

“I’m fine,” Lucy snapped. “I wish you guys would just leave me alone.”

“Fine, if that’s what you want.” Lucy’s sharp tone stung Sally. She had never seen Lucy so cross before.

Sally was hoping Joe would know how to help, when they agreed to meet at the campus Starbucks for coffee.

“What do you mean, she’s sick?” Joe wasn’t sure why Sally was talking to him. Lucy let him know it was over. Countless times he called to apologize, only to have the phone slammed in his ear. “Look, Sally why are you telling me? Shouldn’t you be talking to her parents? I mean, if she’s really sick, they can help her…”

“She won’t talk to them!” Sally interrupted. “She says they won’t understand.”

“Whoa, what do you mean, ‘she won’t talk to them’? They’re so close;
she tells them everything.” Joe was confused. He understood Lucy’s anger toward him. He violated her trust, wouldn’t stop until she finally gave in to his passion; but shutting her parents out? That did not make sense.

Sally rolled her eyes, expelled air from her lungs, and then began to explain as to a child, “She went home for a visit last month – ‘to think’ she said - and came home more irritated saying it was the worst weekend ever and clammed up. She doesn’t talk to me about anything. She’s always too “busy” to take the phone when they call. I hoped if anyone might know anything, you would. You’ve been glued to each other since you met two years ago.” Then her brow furrowed, “Why isn’t she talking to you? I don’t understand…you guys were planning a wedding when you graduate. What happened?” Her deep brown eyes burrowed into Joe, demanding answers.

He hesitated then decided the truth would be the best road to travel. “Do you mind if we go somewhere a little more private and talk?”

“I’m not sure this is such a good idea?” Apprehensively, Joe entered the dorm room then noticed Lucy sprawled on her bed, golden hair covering her face. “She’s sleeping,” he whispered. “Maybe I should come back later…”

“Not a chance!” Sally wasn’t about to let Joe go. “She’ll awaken soon.” If what he says is true, then he’s the one to help her.

They didn’t have to wait long. “Sally, please…! I’m trying to…!” she choked on her words when she caught sight of Joe. “What are you doing here?” She demanded, hissing through clenched teeth.

Joe would not be shut out any longer, “A lot of people are worried about you. It’s time you tell us what is going on!”

“I can’t,” her voice cracked; she turned to the wall, unwilling for him to see her face.

His heart ached. Climbing onto the bed, he wedged himself between her and the wall then proceeded to peel hair from her soggy face.

“The truth will set us free. We’re in this together.” He said tenderly, his face drenched with his own tears.

Notes: (1) John 8:32

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beckie Stewart09/04/08
This is sad...but you leave the reader with curiousity and the possibility of hope.
Sunny Loomis 09/05/08
Lucy definitely needed to talk with someone. Good story. Glad there's a hint of hope at the end.
Shirley McClay 09/08/08
I loved your ending... hope, true romance and tough love. Nice job.
Leah Nichols 09/09/08
Great take on the topic even though it focused more on truth. You had a lot to cover in just a few words! Watch grammar, and maybe put some physical breaks between each section of the piece. Good writing! :)
Jan Ackerson 09/09/08
Very good story with just the right touch of both mystery and hope.
Marlene Austin09/09/08
Very clear details - flu symptoms (nausea/vomiting), "you don't know what I'm going through", she COULDN'T tell the truth, her father a pastor, and her boyfriend finally "persuaded" her - sounds like pregnancy to me. At least the boy says they will work through this together, but no matter what, it will be a very difficult truth to confess. Hard truths here. :)
Carole Robishaw 09/10/08
Good writing, but so sad that this is something that happens way too often.
Kristi Peifer09/10/08
I would love to read the exchange between Lucy and her parents. This could be a good starting talking point for a youth lesson!
Sheri Gordon09/10/08
This story has piqued my interest--I'd like to read more to know the characters better.

A few gammar and punctuation edits would really tighten this piece up.

I like the hanging ending--letting the reader use their own imagination.
Betty Castleberry09/10/08
I'm suspecting a pregnancy, but could be wrong. You gave just enough information to hold my interest. Nicely done.
Danae Cowart09/10/08
You asked for a comment regarding how an editor/publisher might see it. I'm not one, but thinking of this as a premise for a book, I think you have good tension here--that draws a reader in. You've put a ton of material into these 750-odd words, so in a book form, this would of course stretch out to a few chapters, with more details about the MC's situation in life aside from this problem she's having. I think it would be good to explore the idea of making this a book.