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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)

TITLE: Terms and Conditions Apply
By Debbie Roome


They had sleek, blonde hair to their waists, straight white teeth, tanned limbs and only wore brand label clothing. They were the social queens of Myrtle High and it was an honour to be noticed by them. I was surprised then when they approached me one balmy, spring morning. Tayla wore a denim mini-skirt that showed off slim, brown legs, and a clinging designer T-shirt. Micky pranced along in skin-tight jeans and a low-cut, lace creation.

“Hey Shannon.” Tayla opened the conversation. “We’ve noticed you’re looking good these days. That hair cut really brings out your best features. ”

I felt flattered and warm inside. Had they really noticed my efforts to look good?

“So how would you feel about hanging with us sometime? We’re going to the beach on Saturday and Dave and Nick will be there.” Micky gazed through sultry eyelashes. “Think you could come?”

I hesitated, suspicious of the attention. Why would they suddenly pick me out of the crowd? I certainly wasn’t in their league. I was just me. Average looking, average academically, average at sports. “Why now? Why do you want me to come along?”

Tayla answered. “We think you could fit in with us. We’ll help you with your looks and makeup. Redo your wardrobe; give you some lessons in boys. Show you how to have a good time.”

It was tempting. The girls and their group of cronies were the envy of the whole school. Pride wormed its way into my heart and I brushed aside my misgivings.

“Cool.” I said. “I’ll be there.”

The girls flounced off and were at the end of the corridor when Tayla turned around. “By the way,” she called. “There is one thing you need to do first.”

I caught up to them wondering what it could be.

“You need to get rid of Lesley.”

“Yeah. She’s a real loser. If you want to hang with us you’ll have to cut her out.”

“Lunchtime tomorrow at the cafeteria. We’ll say you have an announcement to make. You get up and say you’re moving on. That Lesley no longer features. That you’ll be with us in future.”

Laughing, they strutted off, wiggling their hips and flirting as they passed some jocks.

I felt sick. I might have known terms and conditions would apply. Lesley had been my friend for years. I thought of her smiling round face and laughing eyes. I thought of the way she helped with my school work and listened to my endless litany of problems. I couldn’t do that to her…or could I?

I spent a restless night, my mind shifting from one view point to the other. Lesley could be annoying at times. She was a little frumpy and she didn’t like the beach. Maybe it was time for a change. A new image, new friends. I pictured myself swanning the corridors of Myrtle High, hair sleek and shiny, skin flawless and boys falling at my feet.

On the other hand, were those two vamps to be trusted? They had never bothered with me in the past and had a reputation for letting people down. What if this was their warped idea of fun. What if I betrayed Lesley and ended up with no friends at all.

Lunch time arrived and once the students were settled, Tayla banged a plate with a spoon. “Attention everyone. Shannon has something to say to us.”

I climbed onto a chair and faced my peers. Tayla and Micky had smirks on their faces and their friends were grinning like hyenas. “These two girls have invited me to join their group.” I began. “However their offer is conditional on me publicly ending my friendship with Lesley.” I looked at Lesley and saw confusion and hurt twist her features. “Well I’m here today to say that life doesn’t work like that. Lesley is the best friend I’ve ever had. She’s honest, caring and good fun. I’m not giving her up for a bunch of girls who don’t know the first thing about true friendship.” I turned to Tayla and Micky as I hopped off the chair. “Anytime you want to hang with Lesley and I, you’re welcome.”

The cafeteria was pin quiet, frozen in motion like a waxworks museum. Then a girl stood and slowly started to clap. Others joined in until the room was shaking as they applauded and stamped their feet.

Smiling, I linked my arm through Lesley’s. “Come on friend. Let’s get out of here.”

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This article has been read 1133 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Wilber01/17/08
Oh boy, it would be great to see this happen and many, many kids would applaud. The way you used the phrase "terms and conditions apply" was right on topic. Too bad those Jr. and High School decisions don't come with some fine print to read before agreeing. Good example for the topic.
Dianne Janak01/18/08
Aww... how sweet... I was hoping she would do the right thing in the end! And I loved it that many others saw through the popular girls like she did. Really good story... thanks!
LauraLee Shaw01/18/08
I enjoyed your title and especially your ending. It reminded me a little bit of the "Never Been Kissed" movie at the end when she tells all the girls off at the prom. ;)
Gregory Kane01/18/08
Suspenseful climactic scene in the cafeteria. And a thoughtful deliberation of the pros and cons of the choice offered. Excellent and appropriate writing for a teen audience. Well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/18/08
I was happy to see a right choice made here. I liked your mc.
Peter Stone01/19/08
Encouraging to see the MC chosing to keep the bird in her hand than fall into a flattering yet obvious trap.
Joanne Sher 01/19/08
That certainly took guts. I enjoyed the battle within your MC's mind.
Kristen Hester01/20/08
I am sooooo glad the MC made the right choice! I love a stand up and cheer story, and this made me cheer.
Sally Hanan01/22/08
Oh yeah; this was great. There's nothing more enjoyable than reading and giving a ra,ra,rah at the end along with the characters.
Gerald Shuler 01/22/08
The pro/con battle made this piece a delight. I thought this might even end with a "Lady or the Tiger" cliffhanger where she stands up without the reader ever knowing what she had decided.
The end. What do YOU think she did?

But the clapping crowd beat the tiger completely.
Holly Westefeld01/22/08
Shannon's courage is inspiring.
I love happy endings, even though I don't always use them myself.
Betty Castleberry01/22/08
This made me think of the movie "Clueless." You did a great job showing the shallow values of the popular girls. I like your MC. She's the real winner.
Debbie Wistrom01/22/08
Thank goodness we don't have to go through all that again, great lesson, so glad she had the guts to stand on the chair, so few of us take those important risks.
Jan Ackerson 01/22/08
Awesome--I can even see something like this set to music as a scene or two in "High School Musical."
Lisa Graham01/23/08
Excellent take on the topic. Great MC voice and loved the ending.
Rita Garcia01/23/08
Great writing, great take on the topic, fantastic ending!
Loren T. Lowery01/23/08
I liked the gusto of Shannon, especially when she told the clique, any time you want to join me and my friend you are welcome. Nice job with the topic and great writing.
Sara Harricharan 01/24/08
I LOVE your ending. I'm so glad that she stood up for herself, her friend and true friendship. I loved her character and how she struggled with the choice, but made the right one when the time came. Great job.

LauraLee Shaw01/24/08
Congratulations! I'm so glad this one will be seen again and again.
Sheri Gordon01/24/08
Congratulations on your EC. Wonderful example of the topic.
Beckie Stewart01/26/08
Oh to have that really happen in real life when you were the less desirable and offered something better. I am glad she chose to do the right thing.