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

TITLE: Wheels
By Kenneth Bridge


Seventeen years of big wheels, skateboards, Mongoose BMX bicycles, and backing up the family SUV in the driveway had finally culminated in this moment. Justin didn’t know if he should laugh or let out a whoop or hug the five-year-old Honda Accord his dad just bought him. What he did was saunter up to the driver’s side, open the door, and slide behind the wheel just as if he had been doing this sort of thing every day for years.

Under his dad’s watchful eye, he buckled the three-point seat belt, carefully adjusted the mirrors and turned the ignition key, thrilling to the sound of the engine coming to life. “See you at eleven,” he shouted.

“Better be ten pm if you don’t want your driving career ending after just one night,” his dad reminded him.

“New license, new car, new freedom,” exulted Justin. “But ten pm on the Friday night I get my OL and car for my birthday. That’s way too confining,” he said to himself as he unbuckled the seat belt.

Justin punched the buttons on the dashboard sound system until his favorite rap station was cranking. A few minutes later he pulled into the driveway at Kyle’s house and tooted the horn.

“Cool wheels,” admired Kyle, still a couple months and two uncooperative parents away from his own transportation, as he slid into the deadman’ seat next to Justin. “Let’s cruise.”

A couple hours of cruising White Mountain Boulevard became boring much faster than Justin had expected and so they parked next to an EGame store and went in to check to see what was available in the swap section. Matthew Parker and Joshua Santo, two kids from Justin’s homeroom were there. Other than homeroom, Justin and Kyle ran with a different pack than these losers, but Justin was bored and these guys had a knack for finding excitement. They seemed appreciative of his new wheels and before anyone knew what was happening, the four were cruising the Boulevard, windows down and the stereo cranking.

Justin felt a little uncomfortable when Matt and Josh lit matches in his back seat, and a lot more uncomfortable when he realized the sweetish aroma from their home-rolled cigarette was not tobacco. When they started yelling out the window at other cars, Justin had enough and found an excuse to drop them off in their neighborhood.

It was getting late so Justin dropped Kyle off and began heading homeward, suddenly feeling very tired. He glanced at his watch and noticed that he really had to get moving to make it home by ten. He decided to cut through a side street he seldom used. His attention was drawn to the light of an open door where a woman was talking to somebody inside. Suddenly Justin’s heart leaped as he saw the car rolling down the driveway toward him. As he started to swerve to avoid it, the woman spun around and screamed, “My baby.”

It was only a few seconds, gone by way too fast for conscious thought, but Justin took in the infant car seat, the rolling car, the hilly street leading into a main highway with fast moving traffic, and stopped midswerve to cut across the driveway.

An awful grinding sound seemed to tear at all his hopes and dreams. Then everthing came to a stop.
Justin’s fender was pushed around the wheel. He wouldn’t be driving it away. The other car had only a paint scrape. More importantly, the soft crying inside meant the child was safe.
Justin was embarrassed at the fuss the mother was making. He didn’t feel like any kind of a hero. He simply felt tired, and very young and scared. Looking at the accusing 10:42 on his cell phone as he dialed home, he was frightened and relieved at the same time when he heard his dad answer.

“Dad, can you come get me?”

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This article has been read 725 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 06/16/07
A fantastic story of a "fast-thinking, caring and heroic teen!" Indeed, proof positive that all Teens are NOT irresponsible and self-centered! Super job! Plus, well written and creative!
Dee Yoder 06/18/07
I enjoyed reading this story! Your descriptions were flowing and realistic. The main character is likable, but not too "perfect" to be believable.
Pam Carlson-Hetland06/19/07
Good story, great writing, and believable. I have known the teenagers who could get into mischief, choose and dump the wrong friends, and do something incredibly self-sacrificing all in one day. This would be a great story for teenagers to read. Good job.
Joanne Sher 06/19/07
What a wonderful "portrait" of the complexity of a teen. Great job with the characterization especially.
Jan Ackerson 06/19/07
Definitely well-written.

Some teens may see this as preachy and unrealistic, although this adult certainly liked it...a great deal!
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/20/07
This is very well written. I like how you built up the suspense, as well as how you showed the mixed emotions typical of a teen.
Brenda Welc06/20/07
Nicely done. I was shocked by the events as they unfolded. Well written and good storyline.