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

TITLE: Up In a Swing
By Sharlyn Guthrie


What do you see, Katie? Can you see Miller’s Dairy Farm and the old country school? Have you ever been higher on a swing? I came to this park every evening when I was your age to swing, dream, and pray about my future. I especially hoped for a daughter someday. And God is so amazing! He gave me you.

The summer I was sixteen, on an evening just like this one, I was leaning back in that very swing, legs extended, my long hair flowing behind me.

“Hey! I thought that might be you!” The sudden interruption surprised and annoyed me, but I dragged my feet and stopped regardless. I didn’t know much about Kent except that he was twenty-one and a new Christian. He had attended our Bible study a few times, although he lived in a town some distance away.

“Hey, yourself! What are you doing in Podunks-ville?” I asked

“I think God wants me to do some witnessing. He brought Liz Harney to mind. Don’t you know her sister?”

“Shelby and I are on the same cheerleading squad,” I answered.

“Have you ever witnessed to her?”

“She knows I’m a Christian. We’ve talked about it some.”

“Let’s go then.”


“Let’s you and me go witness to Liz and Shelby. What do you say?”

That’s how I ended up in Kent’s car, heading out of town toward the Harneys’. Slowly it occurred to me that I hadn’t told anyone where I was going, and I was barefoot. “Oh well,” I thought, “It’s for a good cause.” Besides, it was kind of exciting.

The further we drove, the less talkative Kent became. As he turned onto the river road, darkness enclosed us. It was still several miles to the Harneys’.

As I considered those facts, Kent pulled the car to a stop and switched off the headlights. “Wha…” I began, but he had already grasped my arm and was pulling me toward himself. “Kent, I thought…” He covered my mouth with his and groped, tearing my shirt as I writhed and pushed against him.

Breaking free, my hear pounding, I slid toward the passenger door and swung it open over the steep, overgrown slope leading to the river. “Please, God, rescue me!” I prayed.

When I hesitated, Kent grabbed my wrist. “Don’t.” he said evenly.

“No! YOU don’t!” I shouted, breaking into sobs. “I want to go home!”

God answered my pleas for help. Kent re-started the car, turned around, and headed back toward town. I kept my back to him with my hand on the door handle, prepared to leap if he so much as made a wrong turn. Before he came to a complete stop at the end of my driveway, I bolted and never looked back. It was the last time I ever saw him.

Inside my bedroom I fell to my knees, thankful to be alive. But I also felt ashamed, stupid, and no longer safe. It was many years before I told anyone about that night.

Oh Katie, I hope I haven’t frightened you. You are so full of dreams and eager to experience life, just as I was on that long-ago summer evening. Would I deny you the freedom you have so responsibly earned? Not for anything. But I had to share my experience with you in hopes that you might learn from it. These are the things I hope you will remember:

Nearly every person who is sexually assaulted knows their abuser.

Most abusers use deception and enticement rather than force to get close to their victim.

It is often the violation of trust, even more than physical injury that causes long-lasting emotional pain.

A person who is sexually assaulted is in no way to blame for it.

It is still assault, even if the person doesn’t say ‘no’ or fight back.

A survivor of sexual assault may wait a long time before talking about the incident. They may be embarrassed, ashamed, fearful of their assailant, afraid of not being believed, or simply eager to forget it. Eventually, though, talking about the assault helps with the healing.

I hope that it never happens to you. Oh, how I wish that I could protect you every minute of your life. But that would be like making you sit on that swing, yet never allowing you to experience the joy of swinging. So hold on, Katie, I’m giving you a great big underdog push, but I’ll be here if you ever fall.

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This article has been read 988 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 06/16/07
A very touching story from 'mother to daughter'; and a topic that should be opened up for those who are growing up into a world that is not all peaches and cream. Nicely done in this unique setting of daughter in a swing. Creative, Nicely done, and well written. Good job!
Jan Ackerson 06/18/07
Great! I love the title, which leads us to expect a pretty-pretty story, and then you wallop us with a dose of raw reality. Teens will love this.
Marty Wellington 06/18/07
Liked the twist you brought into the idyllic opening scene. Great way to teach a lesson. Nicely done.
Joanne Sher 06/18/07
Engaging, excellently-presented lesson that all teens need to hear. You did a great job of giving us what we needed to hear in an engaging tale.
Dee Yoder 06/18/07
Very good! Every teen needs to read this story. I wasn't expecting the assault in the car and that's probably the way most assaults happen. Great writing.
TJ Nickel06/20/07
What I liked best: the facts and the use of the facts in the assault story. You have something to say that is significant here. You used the information well and crafted it into scenes masterfully.
Analysis/Critique: the lack of quotes or italics in the opening and ending paragraph creates a confusion as to whether this is spoken or internal dialogue. If spoken, it creates other issues; if internal, it creates a secondary issue in a story so necessary to be told, read, and internalized for growth of readers not being an event of action (as the words weren’t spoken). So, I’m not sure of the effectiveness of the piece towards its goal. Also, in response to effectiveness towards creating action and knowledge of how to handle the event, I’d suggest going away from reality to a degree and having the victim get out of the car instead of allowing her assaulter to drive her home, and potentially having God help her find her way in the dark. That symbolism and action, I think, would greatly benefit the story.
My take: Regardless of issues, I can’t applaud you enough for taking on such a subject, and can recognize within the storytelling - a gifted writer.
Brenda Welc06/20/07
My 13 year old daughter will be reading this for sure. Well done! Thanks for sharing your experience with readers.
Kristen Hester06/20/07
What a great non-preachy way to address a very important subject. This really kept my attention. Nice!
Benjamin Graber06/20/07
That has to be a terrifying situation to be in, but it is a message that needs to be shared. Great job.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/20/07
This was a creative way to tell a story and present important information at the same time. Well done.
Sara Harricharan 06/20/07
Whoa. Amazingly deep. I didn't see that twist coming. I was sort of hoping it wasn't going in that direction, but it did and you handled it well. Good job.
Edy T Johnson 06/21/07
How I wish this story had made it into "the book." It is one every young person should read. Do get this message out there, somehow, where the world of youth can read and understand the danger ready to prey on their innocence. I'm glad I came looking to thank you for your welcome comment on my entry. Your story goes in my "favorites," and I will be sharing it with my grandbabies! Thank you!
Kate Grey06/22/07
Good story, and your sensitive handling of this important topic is commendable. It did hold my interest, and to me it read like a narrative all the way through. :) SisJ
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/24/07
This is very well done. Great job handling a very important topic. I thought the use of the sort of internal dialog worked very well.
David Butler07/03/07
A sensitive way of treating a sensitive issue. A good example of narrative used to deliver an important warning. It certainly held my attention.
I wasn't sure what the deeper meaning of the title was... or maybe there isn't meant to be ? It's good stuff though.