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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)

TITLE: Something Better
By Steve Uppendahl
08/01/07


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I shoulder my way through the fast moving crowds of people. I wince every time my backpack is touched, but I don’t stop to check the contents. If I stop, I’ll start to think, and Lord knows that can only hurt me.

I see her suddenly. She’s sitting alone, her head bowed. Her long, brown hair cascades towards the dark, patterned carpet. Her right hand covers her mouth; her left hand is over her eyes. Her shoulders are lurching forwards dramatically. Even with her two hands covering her face, tears find their way through and drop to the carpet. I stare transfixed. It’s a rare thing to find such raw sadness in public.

I’m torn in two different directions. Katie is a friend. It’s never easy to see someone you care about immersed in that kind of sadness. But, I also know from experience that from such misery enlightenment and understanding can follow. It could also be that I’m just a huge coward.

Either way, I make my decision and slowly walk towards her. I quicken my pace as I see her lower her head even closer to the carpet, just past her knees. She’s just about to break down completely. Even though I’m a bit out of breath, I make the effort to sound casual.

“You okay, Katie?”

She sighs and speaks to the floor.

“What’re you doing here, Sam?”

I glance at our surroundings and answer, “The same as a lot of people here. I’m picking up a friend.”

She finally leans back and smirks.

“An idiot friend.”

I smile and sit down next to her.

“Well, idiot friends need rides too.”

Katie gasps, laughs in surprise, and smacks me across my shoulder.

“Don’t worry, though. It makes me feel better to have some company once in a while. It gets lonely at the bottom. Seriously, you’re not an idiot, not any more than anyone who’s in love is, anyway. You’re just…sad. Because he left.”

She shakes her head and whispers to the floor.

“No. He was starting a new job. I’m upset because I asked him to stay, for me. For us. He left anyway. It’s one thing to suspect you’re number two, it’s quite another to have it confirmed. In public, no less.”

“So you figured you might as well throw caution to the wind and break down in public too?”

Katie gives her patented sideways smile.

“Basically.”

“I’m jealous.”

She furrows her brow, “Jealous of what?”

“Being brave enough to allow your true feelings to come, no matter where you are, or what people may think. A lot of people try to hide their sadness and hurt. I think it’s better to let it out when it happens, even in an airport.”

“Uh, why is it better? Being sad sucks.”

Chuckling, “True. But, that doesn’t mean it has to be all bad.”

Katie rolls her brown eyes and answers looking up at the ceiling, “You mean I should be making lemonade with these lemons? Or since one door has closed, I should start looking for that window to jump out of?”

I laugh again, “Partially. I know you. You’ll do that anyway. But, I think you needed this to move on. Sometimes being hurt is the only way to find the answer to a problem.”

Katie gives no effort to hide the sarcasm in her voice, “Yeah, Dr. Phil, why is that?”

“It clears your head. That can only truly happen when you’re no longer afraid. True sadness and hurt leaves no room for fear, which is a good thing. Fear clouds your thinking and talks you into doing things you know you shouldn’t do.”

Katie mashes her lips together tightly and nods her head before answering.

“You mean like taking him back the last two times because I was afraid of losing him?”

She just stares at me, waiting. I stare back, watching the tears form and then slide down her cheeks. I stay silent. She needs to say it.

“I was too afraid of losing him to realize that maybe he wasn’t worth keeping in the first place.”

She hugs me tight and we just sway back and forth for a few seconds. She starts to head towards the exit, but I pull her back.

“There is one good thing that comes from being sad and hurt.”

She sniffs, “Yeah? What’s that?”

I reach into my backpack and pull out a single
red rose.

“The hope that something better might come along…”


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This article has been read 860 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 08/03/07
Can't believe I didn't see that coming! Your dialog is very realistic, and I love that you chose to put this in the present tense. Excellent characterization as well.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/03/07
I love your realistic dialogue here. I'm glad she's let go of the wrong fellow and has a caring one in the wings.
Dee Yoder 08/04/07
I really like the ending to your story. I admit to being an unashamed romantic that wants everything to turn out OK for everyone!
Dianne Janak08/04/07
Wow... great dialogue and story...So many times to so many people...and finally a lesson is learned and life is never again the same.. I love stories that remind me of this kind of truth..!
Janice Fitzpatrick08/04/07
This is sooooooooo good! Love it! Romance with truth and a bit of humor and better yet a suprise at the end-all the makings of a well written story! I'd love to see this made into an actual short story and see what happens in this relationship. Keep up the wonderful writing.
Janice Fitzpatrick08/04/07
This is sooooooooo good! Love it! Romance with truth and a bit of humor and better yet a suprise at the end-all the makings of a well written story! I'd love to see this made into an actual short story and see what happens in this relationship. Keep up the wonderful writing.
Janice Fitzpatrick08/04/07
This is sooooooooo good! Love it! Romance with truth and a bit of humor and better yet a suprise at the end-all the makings of a well written story! I'd love to see this made into an actual short story and see what happens in this relationship. Keep up the wonderful writing.
Janice Fitzpatrick08/04/07
This is sooooooooo good! Love it! Romance with truth and a bit of humor and better yet a suprise at the end-all the makings of a well written story! I'd love to see this made into an actual short story and see what happens in this relationship. Keep up the wonderful writing.
Jan Ackerson 05/25/08
Steve, I love this story! I'm ging to feature it on the Front Page showcase for the week of June 9. Look for it on the FW home page, and congratulations!
Debbie Wistrom06/09/08
So glad this was showcased.
I fell right in with your MC's emotions and was there all along. I was hoping....but didn't know.
Happy endings are wonderful.
Beth LaBuff 06/12/08
Congrats on the the FW 500 Showcase author with this wonderful story!
Joanne Sher 06/15/08
You know, Steve - I had the EXACT same thought I did the first time I read this - can't BELIEVE I didn't see that coming! Wonderful dialogue, wonderful characterization, and a delightful story overall. Definitely worthy of the showcase. Glad I got a chance to read it - and be surprised by the ending - again. :)