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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write something in the YOUNG ADULT or TEEN genre (06/07/07)

TITLE: Midnight
By Julie Arduini


11:58:45 p.m.

The hard rock music echoed throughout Marc’s room, darkened by charcoal colored paint and closed blinds. His whimpers were melodic, in perfect synch to the music.

He lifted his head off his childhood desk, filled with mementos of his mediocrity. Fourth in a fifth grade spelling bee. Tenth grade drama program as understudy never called on. Eleventh grade yearbook opened to Ginger’s picture with a promise of a great friendship their senior year. Pasted to Marc’s sweaty forehead was the college rejection letter. Marc plunked his head back down with a thud.

‘Where are you God? Don’t you care? Are you too busy with the special people to see me?’

Marc cried out, drowned out by the pulsating death music screaming on. A sob escaped, his tears falling on the letter opener in his hand.

11:59 p.m.

Marc grasped the letter opener to position, his fingers taut with purpose. He’d show them all with his blood spilt all over the memories. It actually would be their blood. The college stuffed shirts that passed him by. Ginger who led him to believe he had a chance, and dropped him cold when he finally got the courage to ask her out. The friends who rarely called because they had other plans, plans that didn’t involve him. Family that wanted to know why he was always so moody.

His note felt like a masterpiece of explanation. No one remembers the average. If the only college he cared for wasn’t interested, if the only girl he desired rejected him, what’s left? There were his parents of course, but they had his beloved baby sister Michelle and big college success brother Mike. The family would move on eventually. They most likely would chalk the whole episode up to God’s will.

God’s will. The youth pastor would probably use that theme as his springboard at the service. Pastor Joe reached out a few times, taking Marc out for pizza twice, calling every couple of weeks. Pastor Joe attempted to assure Marc not getting the college of choice was God’s will. Marc paused to yell again.

‘God, will You show yourself? Is Pastor Joe all You have in your arsenal? Cuz I have more than the letter opener. I have my own will and it doesn’t have anything to deal with Yours!’

Marc thought he was screaming but his voice was soundless against the music. He slowly maneuvered the opener towards his wrist, rehearsing the act. He glanced at his neon clock.


Marc’s eyes widened as he realized the time. He loosened his grip on the opener to wipe the sweat onto his torn jeans. His stomach twisted and convulsed. His throat parched, he took a cleansing breath and went into active position once again. He started to close his eyes but realized the music stopped.

‘I need my death tunage.’

Marc stood up and went for his CD player. With finger almost on repeat, a strange sound from across the room diverted his attention. Marc pivoted and went to the bed where his cell phone rested. He checked the caller ID and dropped the letter opener.

The display read Jesus…

Marc cleared his throat and started to violently shake. The phone continued to ring. Marc put the opener on the bed and reached for the phone. He flipped the phone open and croaked out a hello, which sounded like a question.

“Marc? Hey it’s me. You were on my mind, I felt like I really needed to call you. Everything okay?”

Marc felt close to vomiting. The moment felt completely surreal and a presence, a peaceful feeling completely permeated not just his room, but his life, hung in the balance. He coughed out his next question.

“What? Who? Who is…who is this?”

“Marc, can you meet me for coffee? I think we need to talk. I can’t shake the feeling that something’s very wrong.”

“Jesus? Is this Jesus?”

Marc sounded like a lost child. The caller detected the urgency.

“Marc? It’s Pastor Joe. Hey buddy, seriously, let’s get together, right now. It’s Pastor Joe De Jesus. Ten minutes, okay? Let’s meet at Perkins in ten.”

Marc closed his eyes, crying in relief. Apparently Pastor Joe was what God had in His arsenal. Marc replied yes, he’d be there. He threw the opener in the garbage and tore up the letter. If Pastor Joe was all God had up His sleeve for the new day, suddenly, it seemed enough.

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This article has been read 994 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sheri Gordon06/14/07
Ooh, I love this. It left me with chills.

Having gone through some similar issues with our oldest son, and now some emotional challenges with our 16-yr old, I believe you captured their feelings perfectly. Your story is what God has in His arsenal for me today. I needed to read this.

By the way -- it's also written very well. You had me interested from the first sentence.
Gregory Kane06/16/07
A very atmospheric and moving piece with a nice touch of humour.
I notice that you have used a lot of short punchy sentences in the simple past tense – he stood … he pivoted … he dropped. This works well to convey a mood of hopelessness. But I felt that the last part of the story, from the phone call on, needed a lighter mood. Perhaps a different tense, maybe a more descriptive or reflective style of writing?
Leigh MacKelvey06/18/07
You get better and better! I loved this story. It was dark, but real, and so needed for teens and their families. Excellent job.
Sara Harricharan 06/18/07
This is a personal favorite of mine. It's exceptionally dark, but yet in a way for you to understand the darkness and accept the hope. The short sentences are good, they add weight to this and make it more realistic. The ending wasn't as complete as I'd hoped. The last paragraph was good, but after going through all his feelings and then building up the drama with the phone call and the letter opener, it kind of stalled a bit. Otherwise, I can't help connecting so well to this. Excellent job, excellenting writing! This is a great way to end the quarter. ^_^
Dee Yoder 06/19/07
This is very good! Your ending was perfect and the character had me hoping he'd make a turn away from his intended action. Good story for teens.
Jan Ackerson 06/20/07
Excellent story, great words choices, wonderful job establishing the setting. This is definitely a keeper.
Benjamin Graber06/20/07
Wow, powerful story. Dark, but the ending has the ray of hope that I really like in a more darkly themed story. Great job!
Brenda Welc06/20/07
You gripped me--one of my favorites I have read today. I am glad God gave this to you write. Thanks for sharing your spirit with us. God Bless!
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/20/07
This is an awesome story--unforgettable.
Kristen Hester06/20/07
Wow! This is deep! It gave me chills. I'm so glad it ended well.
T. F. Chezum06/20/07
Great job. Excellent story, well written. I enjoyed the read.
Sara Harricharan 06/21/07
Julie! Way ta go! ***Congrats!***
Myrna Noyes06/21/07
CONGRATULATIONS on your third place in Advanced! It was a very good story with a strong message of hope and God's care for struggling teens! Great job! :)
Seema Bagai 06/28/07
Wonderful story. You captured the boy's emotions well.
Cheri Hardaway 07/05/07

This was so awesome!!! I loved it! Fantastic job! Congratulations on third place!