Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (04/08/10)
TITLE: The Blank Page
By Celeste Duckworth
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Blinking wildly, I asked, “Can you repeat that Professor Morales?” I heard his unmistakably disappointed sigh.
“Yes! What is the significance of a blank page?”
“Wowza!” I scratched my head and looked at the ceiling as if it could tell me what I should say.
“Does anybody else know the answer?” he asked the class.
I turned around and saw no hands and everyone was trying to become invisible and appearing nervous.
“O.K. all of you will find on your desk a typewritten story that is eight pages long. You are all to read this and then we will have a discussion of this question when you all are finished.” Professor Morales’ voice was terse.
This story was about a man and his devoted Golden Retriever dog. Their journey together was portrayed by an author with great skill in his craft. With all the twists of danger and rescue on both parts of the main characters, the reader was drawn into a deep love between the dog and his owner. The prose and words flowed over the story like a swift river. Before we reached the end of the story, we all began to realize that the dog in our story would be a hero but his task would cost him his life. However, his master would be saved. The dog died. The story ended.
The silence in the class was thick with distress as we all raced to the final page of our assignment. The moisture was gathering at the corners of my eyes and I felt my throat tighten, for Professor Morales would surly ask me the question. A question I would not be able answer due to the emotion being squeezed from my heart. The dog died! It was all I could see and all I could feel. I wanted to bawl out loud and to try to speak would expose my current weakness. I covered my mouth with my hand. I heard someone’s foot softly thumping the floor, over and over again. I looked down at my desk.
“Please don’t ask me, please don’t ask me,” I whispered.
I glanced around the room again and saw the grief and disbelief mirrored on each face in the classroom. We all were feeling the same thing and struggling with our emotions because the dog died! Grief has a paralyzing effect on its victims. Still there were no sounds. Motionlessness, even the foot tapper stopped.
Professor Morales still said nothing but looked around the room.
Then the professor asked a student beside me, “Jake, do you now know what a blank page is?”
Jake tried his best, even cleared his throat to release the pent up words.
“The dog died,” was all he could say as he looked at the professor. His voice cracked. He sat down slowly. All eyes were avoiding the Professor’s.
“Anybody else?” the Professor was scanning the room for survivors.
Abruptly my eyes widened....I knew the answer. I GOT IT! I waved my hand like a distress flag to help my fellow students.
The professor raised his eyebrows. “Go.”
“The significance of a blank page is that it has the potential to change the atmosphere in a room, in a city, a nation and in a people. It’s able to move a man to tears or to love. It can even mobilize a nation to war or bring a nation to peace. One blank paper has the power to speed up, slow down, build up or tear down. It can even change the hearts of men. It needs only to have words arranged upon it to bring about the miracle. There is potential for power on that page! That Blank Page is dynamite! One only needs to put a pen to it.”
Professor Morales nodded.
The pen (and blank paper) is truly mightier than the sword.
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