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

TITLE: The Tuesday Afternoon Algebra Lesson
By T. F. Chezum


“Hey! What’s up?” I dropped my lunch tray on the table and pulled out a chair.

“Hi Rob.” Tiffanie glanced at me as I sat down. “I’m just taking a break.”

“Looks like your reading,” I scoffed.

Tiffanie didn’t reply; she lifted her book revealing the cover.

I paused for a moment. “The Bible? You always have your nose pressed into that thing!”

“I like reading the Bible,” she carefully marked her place and closed the hardback, “It helps me grow as a Christian.” She leaned forward, her elbows perched on the table and resting her chin on her thumbs. “When was the last time you read the Bible?”

“I’ve read the Bible more times than I can count,” I huffed, swiping a trio of fries through the pool of ketchup swamping my plate.

“That’s not what I asked.” Her brown eyes seemed to stare through me.

“My grandpa was a pastor, I practically lived in church.” I didn’t try to disguise my insolence. “As far as the Bible goes, I about have it memorized.”

A perplexed expression crossed my classmate’s face. “I don’t understand why you’re so defensive.”

“I saw what it does.” I took a bite of pizza.

She shook her head. “I don’t get it.”

“Grandpa gave his whole life to the church; he died broke. That ain’t for me.” I ran my fingers through my hair until my hands clutched together at the back of my head. “And besides, I’m happy where I’m at. I don’t need to grow no more.”

“Everyone needs to grow.” Tiffanie grabbed a book from her backpack.

I took a swig of milk. “What’s that?”

“Algebra.” She heaved a sigh. “I’ve got-a study for the final.” A dejected look etched her features.

“What’s the big deal?” I took another bite of pizza.

She swiped a few fries from my plate.

“You should be more like me.” I leaned onto the table. “I know where I stand so all I’ve got to do is deal with what comes along.”

“I can’t do that.” She shook her head. “If I don’t strive to make myself better then I can’t succeed. You sound just like everyone else out there.”

“What’s wrong with that?” I chuckled. “It works.”

“Not for me.” She grabbed a piece of graph paper and drew a straight line across the top. “If this is my goal, and I’m only here.” She made a dot lower on the paper and began to draw a line upward toward the top of the page. “I know it takes perseverance, but if I work at it and pray I will make my way to my goal.”

“What’s your point?” I asked.

“Look at the people out there.” Tiffanie jotted an equation on the paper. “Unhappiness plus restlessness minus moral guidance equals.” She drew a straight line angled downward from the top edge of the paper. “These people live without hope. They’ll never get where they want. It’s sad.”

“Are we talking about religion again? Like I said, I know where I stand, and I’m happy with that.” I smiled. “I’m not falling away like them.”

“You’re right. But look at this.” She scribbled more calculations on her paper. “Contentment plus apathy minus concern for others equals.” She drew a line below the line at the top of the page. “Parallel lines never meet, Rob”

I opened my mouth to talk, but didn’t speak.

“Do you see what I’m trying to say?” she asked.

“Let’s just say I agree with you.” I drummed my fingers on the table. “How can you help all of us retched people? You can’t just bend a line, you know.”

“But you can change its direction.” Her eyes brightened

I shrugged my shoulders. “How?”

“Just add Jesus to the equation.”

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This article has been read 944 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 06/14/07
Clever calculation; just adding Jesus will change any equation. Enjoyable story!
Mo 06/15/07
Nice last line.
Lynda Schultz 06/16/07
As much as I dislike math, it turned out to be an excellent illustration of Biblical truth. The story, and the lesson, were both great.

I stumbled over one thing: I suspect you meant "wretched" and not "retched?"

Nevertheless, well done.
Joanne Sher 06/18/07
Love the illustration (and I also hate math LOL). Great dialogue, too.
Jan Ackerson 06/18/07
I was a math nerd (as well as every other kind of nerd) so I really liked this...it was a painless way to deliver an important lesson. Tiffanie may not like algebra, but she did well with geometry (the bit with the parallel lines...), and with adding Jesus to the equation. Wonder if that'll fly with her math teacher...Good job!
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/18/07
Now that's the kind of algebra I can understand! Great job!
Joy Faire Stewart06/19/07
Unique take on the teen topic and excellent POV.
Jacquelyn Horne06/20/07
Good witness article.
Kristen Hester06/20/07
Oh, this was so clever! I liked how the MC was the one with the doubts. Great job!
Sara Harricharan 06/20/07
I think the third sentence is supposed to be "you're" instead of your, right? ^_^ Apart from that, even though I am dedicated to hating Algebra and whoever invented it-ROFL, you made this interesting. And your last line is definitely a keeper.
Julie Arduini06/20/07
You made math fun for me, it's a miracle as I loate math! This was well written and very relatable to the genre.