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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)

TITLE: The Writing on the Wall
By Lynda Lee Schab


The writing was on the wall. Literally. And it was outlined with a huge, red heart.

J. Smith
Mr. McGuire

She hadn’t seen it at first, probably due to the fact that she was about to wet her pants. She raced into the nearest bathroom stall and paid no attention to the graffiti on the wall.

But when she stood at the sink to wash her hands, she couldn’t miss it.

Jenny Smith felt herself begin to perspire and wished she had put on extra deodorant that morning. It was written in marker, so erasing it was out of the question. The only thing she could do was cross it out with a marker of her own. Unfortunately, she didn’t typically carry a marker in her back pocket.

The door opened and, instinctively, Jenny spun around so she was blocking the heart. It was Kelly and Alexis from third period.

“Hi guys,” she said a little too quickly.

Kelly and Alexis gave her a strange look and said a hesitant hello before disappearing into two separate stalls.

Needing to escape before someone else came in, Jenny bolted out the door. She would come back with a black marker as soon as possible.

On the way to class, Jenny thought about who could have drawn the heart, but, more importantly, who could have known about her crush on Mr. McGuire. No, scratch that. This wasn’t a silly school-girl crush. She really thought she was falling in love.

But it was her little secret; she hadn’t told a soul how she felt. Well, except her mom. She told her mom all of her secrets.

Someone else knew. But who?

Maybe her body language had given it away. Had she looked at him a little too wistfully in class? Had she – gasp – flirted with him, unknowingly?

The bell rang and she slid into the science lab. Mr. McGuire looked at her and smiled. “Hi Jenny,” he said.

Jenny didn’t respond. Although her heart was melting, her face remained icy. Avoiding eye contact, she took her spot in the back of the class.

While Mr. McGuire described the difference between biotic and abiotic objects, Jenny took the opportunity to look around the classroom. Which one of them had figured out her secret and took it upon herself to shout it to the world by posting a bold, red announcement on the girls’ bathroom wall?

Jenny noticed Paige Becker turn and peer at her over her shoulder. Was Paige smirking at her?

Stephanie Wilson shot her a glance and raised her eyebrows.

And Jenny could have sworn that Becky Thompson and Leah Ray exchanged a sly look after sneaking a peek in her direction.

Then again, maybe she was being paranoid.

Twice, Jenny found herself in “la-la land” while listening to Mr. McGuire. He had this calm, soothing way about him that made her feel like butter. Some people might not understand how she felt. They might even say it was wrong. But the truth was, Jenny didn’t care.

What Jenny did care about was the fact that someone knew her secret. And how horrified she would be if Mr. McGuire found out. She wasn’t quite ready to reveal her feelings. Maybe someday, but not yet. And certainly not today.

The bell rang and the students piled out, heading for their next class.

“Jenny? Can I talk to you a second?” Mr. McGuire asked.

Jenny’s heart pounded as she made her way to his desk.

“There’s a rumor going around,” he started.

Jenny felt herself start to panic. He knows! Now what am I going to do?

Mr. McGuire went on. “Someone has brought it to my attention that there’s a certain girl who has a crush on me,” he chuckled. “This is high school, so it does happen from time to time. But as flattering as it is, we try to nip it in the bud as soon as possible.” He cleared his throat. “So, I was wondering, if you don’t mind, could you talk to her? It’s Jessica Smith. She’s coming in next period.”

Jessica Smith?

Jenny opened her mouth but nothing came out.

“Oh, and by the way, Jenny,” Mr. McGuire went on. “You’ve been assisting me in the lab for what, three weeks now? I realized I don’t know much about you. Are you free after school to grab a cup of coffee?”

Jenny flushed. Wait until she told her mom about this one.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Suzanne R11/05/06
Very cute - fun!

I was surprised with the coffee after school ending. Maybe things are different in other parts of the world, but where I taught, we would NEVER take a student out alone - too many legal potential risks apart from anything else.

However, that's just my pedantic-ness coming out. It was a fun piece. You described the main character's emotions really well. Fun.
Joanne Sher 11/05/06
Definitely fun and cute - I was also taken by surprise with the coffee invite at the end - as well as a teacher asking a STUDENT to deal with a crush issue. That part seemed a bit unrealistic, but the story was well-told, and interesting. You did a great job of characterization with Jenny - I definitely felt like I was right there inside her head!
Lynda Lee Schab 11/06/06
Authors note: I just have to mention that Jennifer is NOT meant to be a student. In my writer's mind, she was an assistant teacher - an ADULT teacher - helping Mr. McGuire in the Science Lab. It never even crossed my mind to write about a student-teacher relationship. Obviously, it didn't come across that way - sorry.
Jan Ackerson 11/06/06
Glad you clarified, as I had the same qualms.

That aside, this is charming and well-written--you really captured her emotions perfectly. I just love romance!
Pat Guy 11/06/06
I can see why the reader thinks Jenny is a student but regardless (after we know she's not) :) you wove together thought, dialogue, atmosphere so well. It's a fun read. (I'm sooooo glad you didn't use the 'P' word!) ;)
Sandra Petersen 11/06/06
I am glad you clarified the fact that Jenny was an adult lab assistant, but I too assumed from the schoolgirl type reaction that Jenny was a student.

Otherwise the dialogue and twist at the end was superb.

Boy, do I remember those feelings!
Pat Guy 11/06/06
[size=9]It does my heart good to see a Super Master mess up once in awhile[/size] ;)
Sara Harricharan 11/06/06
This brought a chuckle! What a fun read, Jenny is a very vivid and realistic character and I loved the twist at the end. Great job!
Val Clark11/07/06
On second read it is more clearly an adult speaking. Neat twist to a light romantic tale. Ah, the first moments of love! lol
Marilee Alvey11/07/06
It was a great story. You had me right there. I must say that my antennas went up at the end. I was SO glad to hear that she was an assistant! Just a few insertions should clear that up, huh? It's amazing to me how we think we've passed these youthful feelings but can be transported right back there by talented authors. If you don't believe it and get the chance, just take a walk down your old high school halls while school is in session. Those old insecurities come right back! That was part of the problem here. We felt her "youthful" embarrassment and assumed she was a student, in total denial that those feelings can come rushing back no matter what our age. I enjoyed your story very much!
Beth Muehlhausen11/07/06
I thought Jenny was a student, too...thanks for clearing that up! I remember crushes like this, only mine was named Mr. Lawson. :-)

Enjoyed the story!! The emotion kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time!