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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: A Matter of Principal


“Hon….neey!” My banshee scream drew stares from the gathering crowd. Nameless faces gawked; they just stood there with no emotions, no feelings. Not one person helped or came to our aid. Overhead, the blood-red sky reflected my pain as it flowed into the gutter at the edge of the street.

My screams continued, until they bounced around in my head and slowly became muffled cries. Then I felt someone lean over my bent figure. His hands, whisper soft, floated down my arms. “Shhh,” he soothed. “It’s all right.” The stranger helped me to my feet and held me as I sobbed. When my pounding heart settled down, he gently led me away from the dreadful scene.

Suddenly, I was awake. I stretched my arm across the cold sheets and pulled my husband’s pillow into a hug. I yearned for his scent,his warmth and buried my face in the memories.

In the morning, a loud voice broke through the sleep barrier. “Elizabeth, get up! You’re gona be late!” My sister shook me until I groaned. I opened my eyes and saw hers just inches from mine.

“Oh, Liz.” She let go of my arms and sat on the edge of the bed. “Did you have another nightmare? I thought I heard you cry out in your sleep.” She brushed the hair from my face. I swallowed and nodded.

“Here.” I grabbed her hand and let her help me out of bed so I could get dressed. She had come to live with me after my husband’s death, and she fussed over me more like a mother than a sister. Still, I loved her.

She followed me into the bathroom and watched as I fixed my hair and put on my makeup. “You know, it’s been over a year since…since the accident. You should be more social…” She hesitated. I glanced at her in the mirror but said nothing.

“Lizzy, maybe, if you could meet someone, the panic attacks would subside.” Before I could answer, she kissed my cheek. “Gotta go; love you.” She turned around at the doorway. “I hear the new principal is good looking…and single.”

I brushed my teeth in a hurry; there was no time for breakfast. When I arrived at school, familiar voices called out my name. “Morning, Mrs. Keller.” “Hi, Mrs. Keller.” “Mrs. Keller!” I greeted the teens and reached for the handle to the office door.

“Good morning, Elizabeth.” A warm hand brushed against mine and opened the door for me. I looked into the eyes of Christopher Shane, the new principal, and smiled. Good thing I went easy on the makeup. I touched my warm cheeks and took my place at the front desk, as Brighton High School’s receptionist.

For the next two months, I enjoyed quiet days and restful nights. Principal Shane brought a peaceful stability to our little high school…and to me. He was the heartthrob of certain love-struck circles, and even though the girls’ excuses for coming to the office became somewhat amusing, he handled the situation with a mature grace that gained my admiration. Well, it was more than just my admiration. My feelings, whenever he came near, had me convinced my sister was right about my need for a social life.

The day he asked me to call him by his first name, I left the school like a leaf on the wind and floated to my car. The policeman on duty that day waved from across the parking lot. “Good night, Mrs. Keller.”

I smiled and waved back, but when I turned to unlocked the door, a terrifying explosion ripped through my euphoria. My keys dropped; my knees buckled. I saw Christopher and Officer Garcia race toward the tangled steel and broken glass of a two-car accident.

A gut-wrenching cry came from the depth of my being. I bent over and relived the fateful day of another accident. My heart surged to my throat and I panicked, just as Christopher came to my side and gathered me into his arms.

“I…can’t…breathe…” I sobbed.

“Shhh,” he soothed. “It’s all right; help is on the way.” He assured me there were no students involved, and that the injuries of the victims weren’t life threatening.

When my pounding heart settled down, he released me and took my hand. “Let’s get some coffee and talk,” he said.

Then he gently led me away from the dreadful scene and put my nightmare to rest.

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Member Comments
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Joanne Sher 09/20/07
Excellent characterization. This story kept me hooked from beginning to end. Your last line is perfect - and the tie-together was masterful.
Betty Castleberry09/20/07
You relayed your MC's fears very well. I like the handsome new guy. This is very well-written, but I want more. Is there a romance brewing? Thumbs up.
Lynda Schultz 09/20/07
Great stuff.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/20/07
Love the hint of romance in the air. I was a little confused about whether the explosion was real or a flashback at first, but you cleared that up before the story ended. You kept my attention throughout.
Laurie Walker09/21/07
This is so fantastic! I'd love to see it expanded, as I would imagine many others here would as well.
Catrina Bradley 09/24/07
A gripping opening, and masterful writing throughout. The repeated lines were a nice touch. I'm wondering if the principal was the man at the original accident scene? or maybe he was an angel portending of the man who she was yet to meet? I really liked this one. Wonderful job!
Loren T. Lowery09/25/07
Isn't it amazing that even out of the most horrific occurances in our lives, God still has a good plan for us. Sometimes we do need to step out, but He is there, hands outstretched to help us along the way.
Janice Cartwright09/26/07
You made me feel your MC's fear and the emptiness she felt at the loss of her husband. But then I dreaded the second romance was doomed also to end in tragedy. I was so glad for a happy ending.