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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: Jean's Double Word Play
By Jan Ackerson


Jean Douglas had been on nine miserable blind dates in seven months. The degree of her misery varied: one date held promise until the man used the word “supposably”—not just once, but three times during the evening. On another memorable occasion, she never made it to the end of her driveway. Her date had paused on the way to his car to clear his throat in a loud and liquid manner, then expectorated with a splat. Jean had pivoted and walked back into her house, locking the door behind her.

She now decided that she had simply been born in the wrong era. Longing for some past genteel age, she immersed her soul in literature and imagined herself as a heroine on a windswept moor, courted by a handsome and brooding man who knew how to use such words as felicitations and amity.

Because Jean’s sparse income as a research librarian did not allow her to spend frivolously, she vowed never to join the online matchmaking services that touted their successes nightly on her television set. Still, her lonely heart longed for a soul mate, a fellow linguaphile.

So Jean’s mind whirred with possibility when she discovered one afternoon during her lunch break a website that enabled its members to play Scrabble online. She sat up, uncrossing her legs with their sensible work shoes, and shrugging off her woolen cardigan. If I can find a man who is truly adept at Scrabble, she thought, might we not be companionable in other ways? With surging hope, she registered for membership, then searched the listed screen names for those who sounded both male and literary.

In the last minutes of her break, Jean (now jean_loves_words) started a game with word_dude602, opening with a very satisfactory JUNKET. She noticed that the game included a little box in which Scrabblers could send messages with their plays; not wanting to seem too forward, she typed in only a succinct Good afternoon, word_dude602. Happy Scrabbling!

Over the next few days, during every break, Jean and word_dude602 played Scrabble turns and exchanged jovial banter—which Jean brought to an immediate halt when word_dude602 played a particularly rude word, accompanied by an indecent suggestion. She blushed, cancelled the game, and waited a week before gathering the nerve to try again.

Her next opponent was dartagnan4102. Surely a man who names himself after the fourth Musketeer will be no rude buffoon. He opened respectably—WORTHY—and with a friendly note: Did you know that Jean is the real first name of Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird”?

Jean smiled at her monitor. This is encouraging.

Twenty plays later, the game tied and nearly completed, Jean found herself checking her computer often for dartagnan4102’s next move. Their play had been fiercely competitive, their messages full of literary allusions—a quotation for nearly every word. So Jean was alarmed when dartagnan4102 played FAITH along with this comment: Here’s my mom’s favorite Twain quote--“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

My mom?

Jean fired off her next play with these four words only: How old are you?

The answer came forty agonizing minutes later: 15—how old are you?

With a sigh, Jean played her final tiles and searched out another opponent. Still convinced that Scrabble was her key to finding a companion of the heart, she went through several more players in rapid succession. At least I don’t have to don heels for these gentlemen…

mrscrabble never played a word of more than four letters.

im_your_hero was sweet and funny—and eighty-four years old.

man_of_letters played brilliantly, scoring three “bingos”—and never said a thing to Jean.

It was with a melancholy air that Jean started her sixth online Scrabble game, this one with poetry_guy551. She sat in the break room with her laptop and an apple, and resolved if this one isn’t satisfactory, I shall resign.

Her on-screen rack displayed an unfortunate selection of tiles: LWOELYY. Jean munched her apple and stared at the letters.

“Yellowy.” The unfamiliar voice came from behind her, near the soda machines.

Jean turned to see who had spoken—and had shown her a bingo for her first move. A man with warm eyes bowed slightly and nodded toward her computer.

“Yellowy. Thirty-two points, plus fifty for the bingo. Maybe we can play during lunch some time.” He smiled and headed down the hallway, the suede elbow patches on his tweed jacket exactly the same color as his eyes.

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This article has been read 1535 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter04/26/07
Sweet and funny - and what a hilarious last line! I think I'll remember this one for a long time.
Lynda Schultz 04/26/07
From the least expected corner comes the answer to a maiden's prayer. Very good.
Lynda Lee Schab 04/26/07
Very creative and lots of fun. Loved every "word." :-)
Mo 04/26/07
I really liked this one!
Betty Castleberry04/26/07
This is charming. I think you should expand. I'd like to know if they actually played at lunch. Kudos for an engaging read.
Sheri Gordon04/27/07
What a really fun story. I especially liked the screen names for the Scrabble players -- I can never think of good screen names.

And I learned some new words reading this: felicitations and amity -- I had to look them up.

Great romance story.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/28/07
This is my favorite of all I've read so far this week, and I'd be very surprised if I'm wrong in guessing who wrote it!
Bob Zoellner04/28/07
Well done. I enjoyed this read. When you are able to reveal yourself, please use "felicitations and amity" in a sentence to help us out!!!! :-)
Sally Hanan04/29/07
Very clever with a brilliant ending to boot.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/29/07
I've always had a short attention span, and if what I'm reading is boring or gets bogged down...my mind will wander elsewhere; however, this piece was riviting! Kept me on the edge...waiting for what would happen next!? Great job of writing, as always - Loved It! (Got the word "yellowy" even before the guy whose eyes matched his tweed elbows did; LOL) Very Creative!
Rita Garcia04/30/07
"the suede elbow patches on his tweed jacket exactly the same color as his eyes."
Now that's an original comparison ... love it! This story has it all - charm, fun and romance!
Joanne Sher 04/30/07
Loved this bibliophile's romance. Great stuff.
TJ Nickel04/30/07
Masterful writing; felicitations. With all the stretching going on to write within a genre, this stands as an example of how being a master with words and sentences can develop amity between the writer and any challenge. (my best shot at it, thanks for stretching my vocab too!)
Teri Wilson04/30/07
I how I adore a great Scrabble story. I remember the wonderful one you wrote for the Space challenge - I loved it, too. Very rich main character. Loved the whole thing. I'm beginning to wonder, however, if I could beat you at Scrabble. I'm pretty good, but now I'm beginning to have my doubts...
Tabiatha Tallent04/30/07
I loved this! She had been looking so hard, and what she was looking for was right there, how cool is that? Great work.
Pat Guy 04/30/07
Okay ... so this one is perfect = 14. What more can I say? ;)
Cheri Hardaway 05/01/07
I found it! This is just awesome! You caught the heart of Jean so well and made your readers fall in love with her. And she found love when she least expected it, which is how it often happens. Blessings, Cheri
Sara Harricharan 05/01/07
I love Jean! What a great lady, I like that she stuck through the scrabble, so intent on finding her 'match' only to have the match find her. This was a good twist on a cute love story. The touch of the different names were very creative.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/01/07
You have done an admirable job with this succinct story. Indubitably humorous!
Esther Gellert05/01/07
I loved the way you had us hanging on each new competitor wondering, 'Is this the one for her?'
What a great ending.
Jacquelyn Horne05/02/07
Love sneaks in softly, after looking in all the wrong places. Good job.
Bryan Coomes05/02/07
Great job! A smooth and entertaining read. I found myself smiling and laughing at times at her frustrating misfortune of meeting suitable men. Loved the conclusion of finding someone "in person" after her cyber searching...
Julie Arduini05/02/07
This was humorous, a creative take on romance and just flat out amazing writing, as always!
Dara Sorensen05/02/07
As always, I enjoy reading your pieces! I really liked how you kept it open-ended with a bit of hope at the end, too and didn't quickly tie everything up--it's something that makes me want to keep reading the rest of the story.

I must say, I loved this line: "Longing for some past genteel age, she immersed her soul in literature..." How many times I did that! I still do, maybe why I like history so much. Anyway great job! ^_^
william price05/02/07
I heard this was THE story. And yes, beyond a doubt, this is another classic from the great, Jan. Wish I would have read it sooner. Great writing always inspires me. God bless.
Sara Harricharan 05/03/07
***Congrats on your highly commended!***
Jen Davis05/03/07
I agree with William's comment: “...another classic for the great, Jan.” An excellent piece. I loved it from the first paragraph and the ending was brilliant! Well done, friend.
Clyde Blakely05/06/07
Chong Shipei12/30/10
I sooooooooooo love this story. It is so unique, my favourite so far, among all the romance stories that I had read!

I love your internet screen name... it is so... good.