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
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“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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