Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Pen and Paper (07/17/14)
TITLE: The Journal
By Jenny Fulton
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“Now listen carefully,” Mrs. Raine spoke from the front of the room, “Your final project is a group project. I’ve assigned your groups and they are on the packets I will give you once I have finished explaining the assignment…”
Mass chaos ensued as students worked to get into their groups. Clarissa winced as she found herself with Jack, Heather, and Tom: three totally different personalities. This was going to be painful.
After a fair bit of squabbling, the three settled on a topic and then promptly began to dispute even more about how to do the work.
As bell rang, Mrs. Raine called out, “Clarissa, I’d like to speak to you for a moment.”
Timidly, Clarissa shuffled up to her teacher’s desk and waited.
“You like to write, don’t you.” It was an observation, not a question.
“I can tell from the papers you’ve turned in. You have a beautiful mind, but I’ve noticed the only time you share it is on these assignments.”
Mrs. Raine hesitated, then pulled an old leather journal from her desk. “I want you to have this, for as long as you need it. It was mine when I was your age and it was a great help to me.”
Clarissa took the soft, weathered book. She could tell it had received a fair share of use.
“You know, Clarissa,” Mrs. Raine said as the girl was leaving, “I was much like you at your age.”
Clarissa hurried home, excited to read Mrs. Raine’s thoughts from so long ago and to begin recording her own. Writing was the one place she felt free. With a pen in her hands she could let her thoughts fly, without fear of what anyone would think or say in response.
She opened up the journal, expecting to see pages already filled. What met her eyes instead were pristine blank sheets of paper.
There was a moment of bewilderment over the strangeness of it all which was quickly pushed aside in her eagerness to begin writing.
"The group project isn’t going well. It would go much better if Jack would listen when others spoke. Heather needs to realize that Tom is a visionary and needs help nailing down the details, rather than getting frustrated with his big ideas, and Tom needs to let the others in the group handle the details rather than trying to manage everything…"
The next day, Clarissa sat idly listening as her group continued with their bickering. Her journal was stacked under her other books and she wished she could escape into it. There was a moment of silence as the arguers paused for a breath.
Clarissa yawned. As she did, she heard what sounded like her own voice say, “It would go much better if Jack would listen when others spoke.”
Three heads snapped around to look at her. Clarissa was just as astonished as they. She hadn’t spoken the words, but they did sound familiar…
The voice continued, “Heather needs to realize that Tom is a visionary…”
Clarissa glanced down at her journal as it continued to voice the thoughts she had written the night before.
The conclusion of the speech was met with shocked silence.
Tom spoke first. “You know, Clarissa, I think you’re right.”
Slowly, the group began to work together. Even Clarissa occasionally chimed in with her thoughts…well, it was actually the journal that chimed in with the words she had written…but nobody seemed to notice the fact that Clarissa’s mouth didn’t actually move when “she” spoke.
What surprised Clarissa even more was how well her thoughts were received.
For many days after, the journal spoke what Clarissa wrote. Gradually, she began to speak her own thoughts, growing more confident that her thoughts had value and that people were interested in what she had to say.
The day arrived when Clarissa knew it was time to pass on the book. Without a word, she returned it to her teacher. A look of understanding passed between them as Mrs. Raine carefully placed the journal back in her desk.
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