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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)

TITLE: Self-Inflicted Injury
By Vickie Buchanan


Self-Inflicted Injury

Chloe folded the towels and put them in the cupboard. Helping with laundry was one chore she did to help Betsy, and she did it happily. This was the nicest foster home she had ever been in, and there were plenty to compare in her 15 years. Orphaned at the age of 3 with no family to care for her, she was bounced from home to home. Never adopted, she had resigned herself to being in the system until adulthood.

Betsy and Clay had made her feel comfortable the very first day. She loved her room and enjoyed helping Betsy. This was a home and she was part of a family. As she settled in that first night, Clay had prayed with her. She felt safer than ever before. She was the only foster child in the Phillips’ home and they gave her attention she had never had. There was a growing fondness between them.

Finished with the laundry, Chloe went to her room to do her homework. She heard the doorbell, then voices, but she knew it didn’t concern her. It was nearly an hour later that she emerged from the bedroom and headed for the family room. To her surprise, Betsy and Clay were still at the dining room table with the visitors. The woman seated next to Betsy wore a suit and high heeled shoes. She looked very professional and serious. Next to her sat a young girl in a tee shirt that resembled a pajama top. Her dark brown hair was short and cut badly. She looked tired and dull. The woman was gathering up papers into her briefcase, preparing to leave, but the girl remained in her chair.

Chloe knew what was happening. There was a new foster child coming to live with the Phillips. Coming to live with her!

“Oh, no!” she thought. “Just when everything was perfect.” Chloe felt a sudden dislike for this undesirable looking girl. She froze at the doorway, staring, when Betsy noticed her.

“Chloe, come meet our new guest. Her name is Devon. She’s 12, the same age you were when you came. “

They both muttered ‘hellos’ with little feeling. Devon was still reeling emotionally at the sudden change in her world. Her father was dead and her mother would probably be in jail a hundred years. It didn’t matter who anyone was.

The house was fairly large, and Devon was able to have a room of her own, too. Betsy helped her prepare for bed and, as he had done with Chloe, Clay prayed with her. Chloe went to bed without saying goodnight.

Chloe began spending more time alone so she wouldn’t have to talk with Devon. She didn’t want to hear about her problems. Sometimes she ate in her room, or came to the table after Devon had finished, making excuses. She began to miss the family time they had together before Devon came. So much had changed. Betsy cut Devon’s hair and saw that she dressed nicely. There were new “favorites” for dinners. Devon cried sometimes, and Betsy would sit with her and hold her. Chloe was feeling sad a lot, and didn’t feel well. She finally had to talk about it with Betsy.

“Nothing is the same since Devon came. I don’t have any time with you and Clay any more, and you spend a lot of time with her. I end up in my room reading, and you guys are watching TV and laughing. It’s not fair!” Chloe’s brown eyes were wet with tears that were about to fall down her cheeks.

“Chloe,” Betsy began, softly, “You are in your room because you choose to be. You could be watching TV and laughing with us. Devon could learn from you, and you could have the closest thing to a sister you have ever had. Your jealousy has made this a problem, Devon hasn’t. “

Chloe realized Betsy was right. She had created a self-exile out of jealousy! She wasn’t being excluded; she was refusing to share. She was missing an opportunity to help a sweet little girl who was suffering. Chloe didn’t remember her parents. Devon did remember hers, and she ached with loneliness. Chloe went to the living room and sat next to Devon, smiling warmly at her. Devon grinned and began chatting.

When Clay came in to pray with her that night Chloe knew what she needed to pray about.

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This article has been read 407 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beckie Stewart04/09/09
Great story of hope and redemption of a hurting soul.
Dennis Ricci04/09/09
Beautiful story. I love how you portrayed Chloe's withdrawal and Betsy's loving rebuke and restoration. Well done!
Jan Ackerson 04/10/09
Sweet story with a good title.

Your next-to-last paragraph is more "telling" than "showing". Consider leaving that paragraph out, and letting your reader come to the same realization that the character came to.

This would be lovely for older children to read.
Mary McLeary04/13/09
Great story for older children. There are so many children this age that need to see love in action.