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

TITLE: Spring Break Friends
By Sara Harricharan


“Best spring break ever!” Lena cheered, collapsing on the mall bench, depositing her shopping bounty on the floor.

“I bet it has something to do with your birthday.” Stacy teased, joining her with a contented sigh.

“I’m just glad there is a spring break.” Joan shifted her armload of bags. “And for these awesome sales!” She gasped. “Look at that jacket!” Dumping the bags next to Stacy, she made beeline to the window.

Lena and Stacy exchanged a glance and giggled. “For a math geek-she loves to shop.”

Stacy grinned. “She finds the most amazing stuff in any sale. See that sweater?” Lena nodded. “Half-off, paired it with something she got for five dollars, cut in half and sewn together and voila! Instant cuteness. Robby even complimented her.”

“Really?” Lena’s eyebrows raised. “Math geek or not, great choice with her over that other girl.”

Lena glanced over her shoulder to see if Joan had gone after the jacket. “Oh great! Look in front.” She hissed, whipping around and looking straight ahead.

“It’s only eighteen dollars!” Joan chirped happily, trotting back to the bench and staring at them curiously. “What’s wrong with you guys?”

“Gina.” Stacy spoke through her teeth. “Don’t let her see you!”

Joan blinked. “Why not?” She looked over her shoulder for her classmate.

“Don’t!” Lena whispered fiercely. “She'll see you!”

Joan frowned. “Gina’s nice, I tutored her.”

“She’s crazy!” Stacey sniffed. “Marrying some idiot ten years older.”

“Twelve.” Joan corrected. “She’s twenty-four and he’s thirty-six. We’re hiding from her because she’s married?”

Lena’s eyes turned to mere slits. “Look, I don’t want to talk to her, okay? I’m fed up with her happy talk of being married, fulfilled in life and her dumb religion. I’ve got better things to waste my time with!”

Joan nodded slowly. “Right.” She shook her head quickly. “Wrong!” Before they could stop her, she turned around and headed to the window where she’d been admiring the jacket. “Gina?”

A dark head turned, delicate pixie features lighting up in delight. “Joan!” A happy embrace followed by a jumble of eager greetings. “I just saw this jacket and thought of you!” Gina exclaimed.

Joan grinned. “And I was looking at it a few minutes ago and thinking how wonderful it was!”

Gina laughed. “It’s really great to see you-or rather, to talk to you. I think I’m being boycotted, invisible one week and non-existent the next!” She shook her head.

“You’re just the first one to take the plunge.” Joan comforted. “Are you here by yourself?”

Gina shook her head. “No, Jared just went to get chocolate popcorn, Moose something or the other.” She brightened. “You can join us if you want. We’re just walking until we see something interesting.”

“Really? Thanks. Chocolate sounds good, but I’m with Stacy and Lena right now.” Joan waited for her reaction.

A faint smile trailed across Gina’s face. “Really? Tell them I said hello and I’m sorry they couldn’t make it to the wedding.”

“I’ll pass it on. Great to see you again!” Joan hugged her impulsively. “Share some of the popcorn with Jared.”

Gina winked. “I can try!”

Joan chuckled to herself, hurrying back to the bench. To her surprise, it was empty and only her shopping bags remained, a few knocked over on the floor.

The bustling busyness betrayed no hint of where the two had gone. Joan sighed softly, gathering her shopping bags. “Gina? Gina! Wait up…” Joan hurried after her. “I guess I’m coming with you after all.”

Gina waited patiently, reaching over to help with the bags. “They left you too, huh?” Joan gave a tiny nod as Gina linked her arm through hers. “Been there, done that, girlfriend. Don’t worry about it. How about a pound of that chocolate thing?”

Author's Note: There's a specialty gourmet popcorn with chocolate called Moose Trail or something. Can't remember the actual name.

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This article has been read 1443 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Erin Brannan03/10/07
Is it Moose Munch? They have that at Harry and David's and it is SOOO good! This story was well done. As a girl who was married when I was 22, i know the feeling of being left behind by friends. As in this story, it just shows you who your real friends are. This was very true to life. Nice job!
Marilyn Schnepp 03/11/07
Interesting story of four friends shopping; however, I must be dense as I didn't get the point or the message. It was on topic however, and an enjoyable read. Good job.
Betty Castleberry03/12/07
You captured the character of these girls well. Perhaps the point was to do the right thing, and not cave into peer pressure? Not sure, but your MC did the right thing, anyway. This was well written and enjoyable. Kudos.
Jacquelyn Horne03/12/07
Disturbing, but all too true, story here. Glad that Joan could not be "suckered in" to the other girls' way of thinking. Good writing.
Rita Garcia03/13/07
I love the interaction between the characters. You held my attention with the up and downs of friendship and shopping weaved throughout, what a great mix.
Jen Davis03/13/07
You did a good job of capturing the voices of young girls. A couple of phrases I thought were really cute: “For a math geek-she loves to shop.” “Instant cuteness.” One suggestion would be to eliminate some of your short sentences describing the character’s action, especially when the dialogue expresses the emotion. I was also glad to see that Joan did the right thing.
Bonnie Way03/13/07
Great story. I loved the interactions between the friends, the way you captured their characters, and how Joan did the right thing.
Julie Arduini03/13/07
I thought this captured the conflict well. I enjoyed the cute phrases too. Shopping bounty was cute. I married someone ten years older, hmmm, were my friends like that and I didn't know? This would be great in a girls' magazine!
Catrina Bradley 03/13/07
Very enjoyable read. I have a daughter about this age, and she's realizing that true friends and false friends are STILL sometimes hard to spot at first. She thought all that ended in jr. high. Good job with the dialogue between the girls, too.
Loren T. Lowery03/14/07
Realistic setting enhanced with some great dialogue. And, I think, the "chance" meeeting was not really chance at all. Good job.
Patty Wysong03/14/07
Good job!! The dialog was great and I could picture and hear the girls hissing...Glad the friends had eachother!! =)
Sandra Petersen 03/14/07
Good job of breaking through stereotypes. Not all math 'geeks' are fashion-consciousless. Good message about not isolating others who have done something different (marrying a much older guy.) I would say, despite Joan's shopaholic tendencies, and Gina are much more mature than Stacy and Lena.

I do think that with four characters in the space of 750 words, you can not help the reader to 'see' any of them in any great depth. (Something David Ian commented on one of my articles a long time ago.) I was a little lost in the beginning figuring out who was who.

Overall, good message and dialogue between characters. Thanks for sharing.
Joanne Sher 03/14/07
The dialogue felt so right and realistic! Definitely reminded me of what "friends" can be like, too! Great read.
Leigh MacKelvey03/14/07
Hi, I thought I had read yours! I'm glad I found it. The charcters were real and their dialogue was very much in the "now". It is hard to develop charcters as much as everyone would like to see within the word limit. I feel bad about this in my own entires, but don't know what to do about it! I thought you did a great job with it for as many charcters as you had. I picked up the line about how Gina was not liked because of her "religion" as well as her marital status. I got the feeling, the "being married part" was just an excuse for the 2 friend's avoidance of her. It's real, it's what we as Christians face evryday, isn't it?
Myrna Noyes03/14/07
I really enjoyed reading this, and was so cheered by Joan's strength of character and friendliness! I get so irritated when people reject others for such ridiculous reasons! I didn't like Joan's shopping friends at all, but I would love to know both Joan and Gina! (I'd fit in with them, because I love chocolate!) Very well-done and realistic story! :)
T. F. Chezum03/14/07
Well written story with good character interaction. Good job.