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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)

TITLE: Markdowns, Clearance, and Coupons...Oh My!
By Ruth Neilson


It was uncomfortably hot in the stadium. Gabriela found herself shifting nervously as sweat trailed down her back. She stood pigeon-toed on the sidelines of her surprise event. She still couldn’t understand why she was chosen for an event that she hadn’t trained for...or for that matter, why she wasn’t dressed for any known sport. Blue jean shorts, tank top, and sneakers, nothing was adding up. To add to the mystery was the blue cloth bag that she was handed as she approached the starting line. Her thick, curling mass of hair that normally draped across her shoulders hung captured in a tight French braid.

“Okay, Gabi,” her coach, Carrie Lynn, whispered in her ear, “relax but stay on your toes. Be on the look out for markdowns on high-end items. Avoid the clearance racks until the very end. Don’t forget to use your coupons in the last part of this event. We’ve been training for this for years now...show me that you want this”

The phrases caught Gabriela off guard.


None of her events had those items. She was a runner and a fighter...not...a...

She swallowed painfully. “Coach, what event is this?” Gabriela hissed as Carrie shoved her towards the starting line.

Carrie blinked in disbelief. “You’re joking me, right Gabi? This is your strongest event—shopping!”

Gabriela blinked in disbelief. This was not happening. She despised shopping. Carrie urged her to assume the position of a shopper determined to beat the crowds for the day after Thanksgiving sales. Gabriela shook her head, hoping, praying this was nothing more than a nightmare.

“Ladies, take your positions!” The referee called as he held the buzzer over his head. “On your mark, get set…”


Instincts took over and Gabriela found herself running in the midst of a frenzied pack of shopaholics—if only to survive. Gabriela could hear the frustrated shouts as she pulled ahead of the group.

She took a sharp left, opened her bag, and began to gather clothing that was marked on sale. Somehow, the knowledge of how everything would fit her was there, in the back of her mind. Gabriela skidded right, clearance rack. She had to find the one clothing item in the midst the racks that fit her.

It cost her several moments, but she emerged from the racks clutching the aqua blue sweater, grinning widely. The referee nodded as Gabriela announced her name and the item that she found. She was clear to move to the final portion.

She sprinted towards the cashier and slammed the bag onto the countertop.

“Coupons?” The bored girl asked between the snapping of her chewing gum. Gabriela blinked and fished out a small pile of coupons.

“Gabi, Gabi, Gabi,” Carrie chanted from the sidelines, “Gabi, wake up!”

“That’s on sale...” Gabriela mumbled, “...coupons...”

“Gabriela, wake up!”

Gabriela jerked away from a hand that rested on her shoulders. Her dark eyes flashed open.

“Wha--? Did I win?”

“Win what?” Carrie asked, settling down on the arm of the couch. She reached over and patted Gabriela’s foot, reassuringly. “You were sleepin’ on the couch...”

A dream? Gabriela winced and ran a hand over her face it made so much sense. She closed her eyes and tried to calm her pounding heart. It seemed real—real enough that it scared her.

Carrie was still talking, “so...since you are awake now. Are we still on for shopping tonight?”
I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. Daniel 4:5 (NIV)

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This article has been read 688 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 03/08/07
Wow! What a story! And to think you found a scripture to clarify the dream perfectly! I had to smile at this ironic coincidence. Great job - exciting and creative! Whew! Loved it! (Wish I were in a different level...too many goodies in this one...**smile**)
Allison Egley 03/08/07
Hehe This is so funny. The only thing I would have changed would be to get rid of the line about hoping it was a nightmare. I think that may give too much away too early. Overall, great job. And I LOVE how you tied it in to a Bible verse at the end. And a very appropriate one at that! lol
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/10/07
Clever and original! I enjoyed the story.
Leigh MacKelvey03/12/07
I echo all above! Clever and entertaining.
Jan Ackerson 03/12/07
This is clever--I'm not usually a fan of "it was only a dream," but mostly because so often they are heavy-handed or cop-outs. Not this one! Just the right touch--light, fun, with just a touch of satire. Very, very good.
Rita Garcia03/13/07
"Oh My!" indeed! creative and well written. Really enjoyed reading this.
Catrina Bradley 03/13/07
Very cute! Well written, and even the perfect scripture. Good job. :)
Joanne Sher 03/14/07
So creative - and I LOVE your "take" on the verse! Felt so realistic. Great stuff!