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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: Graffiti King


The school bell rang. The din of chairs screeching, student chatter and books slamming shut echoed in the classroom.

“Peter Mason, I’d like a word with you in my office over lunch.”

“Yes Sir.”

Peter had only been at the school for six months. His father’s job regularly moved them from state to state. This was his second school in three years, making it difficult to make friends and be accepted by his peers.

“Hey Mason, what’s Olsen want to see you for this time?” Jeremy Spears sneered.

Jason shrugged and kept walking.

“Mason,” Spears shouted after him. “See you after school… usual place.”

Peter sighed and headed for the gym’s locker room. What’s wrong with hanging out with Spears anyway? I keep telling Olsen I don’t do graffiti. I can’t even doodle. Spears is just a friend who’s good with Nintendo games and happens to like art. So what?

The gym was his favorite place. Oddly enough, it was the only class he didn’t share with Jeremy. He entered the locker room and quickly changed into his gym gear.

One of the team’s pole-vaulters came over while Peter was placing a sweat band around his head. “Mason, I didn’t think you were going to show. Good to see ya.” He snickered and slapped Peter’s back.

Peter turned but the guy was gone. What’s he on? Peter pushed open the swinging doors, entered the gym and did his stretching routine. His favorite apparatus were the rings, and he was grateful he had them to himself for the next hour.

“Mason,” the coach shouted. “Didn’t you hear the bell? Go shower. Principal Olsen is waiting.”

He showered quickly, dressed and was running his fingers through his matted hair when the coach entered the locker room.

“Mason, you have an ability that will get you to the 2012 Olympics. Don’t waste your time painting walls in your spare time.”

“Coach, I…” But the coach had already left.

What is it with these jerks? He stormed off to the administration block, notified the secretary he had arrived and sat heavily in a chair to wait.

“Come in, Mr. Mason. Take a seat.”

Principal Olsen didn’t even look up when he stepped behind his desk and sat down on his swivel chair. He was reading a newspaper. Rude imbecile.

They both sat in silence for a few moments before Principal Olsen spoke. “It’s come to my attention… again, that you were seen immediately following the graffiti incident here at the school on the weekend. Somehow your picture and story made front page news.” He emphasized his last words by tossing the folded newspaper across the table for Peter to read.

Peter stared at the photo, obviously taken by a security video camera, and the caption below. Graffiti King Identified on Camera. In the hood of his sweater was a pressure-pack can.

“How? Spears. It had to be Spears… Sir…”

“I’d like to believe you, I really would. However, Spears is seen… here.” He pointed to a gate, off to the left of Peter. “He may have avoided the camera rotation but…”

“Why would I carry a spray can in my hood, Sir?” Peter felt his pulse racing. Not even his gym workout caused such stress.

“I’m sorry, Peter. This time I have to issue a suspension. Your father has been notified. You can collect your things now before classes resume, return to the office to collect your suspension letter for your father and leave while everyone’s in class… to save face.”

Peter left in a daze. He couldn’t believe it.

He emptied the contents of his locker into his backpack and shut the door. He made his way back to the gym and wandered over to the rings. He was overcome with disappointment. He took one last look and turned to see the coach standing nearby.

“It’s only for the remainder of the term, Peter, and unfortunately, Olsen won’t let you use the school gym after school hours either. I tried, but he won’t budge.”

“Coach, I didn’t do it. Honest.”

His coach sighed, place his hand on Peter’s shoulder and spoke with compassion. “Look, stay away from Spears. He’s bad news. If you can keep out of trouble, I’ll talk to Principal Olsen about a summer training program.”

Peter smiled weakly. “Thanks Coach.”

With regret, Peter returned to the administration block, collected the letter and headed for home determined to hold on to the hint of hope that his coach had given him.

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This article has been read 820 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shelley Ledfors 02/07/08
Excellent! Kept my interest throughout. Great illustration of the topic and well written.
Dee Yoder 02/07/08
Good illustration of the topic! Only a smidgen of red ink-I think there was two names given for the MC in the first few paragraphs. I went back to read which name went to him, and then was on my way with the rest of the story. (Jason/Peter? Although, I could have gotten them mixed up with the other character!) Very engaging characters.
Joanne Sher 02/07/08
Excellent characterization of Peter especially, and spot on as far as the topic is concerned. Very well-done.
Laury Hubrich 02/07/08
Great story! I especially like your title:) Your two first names really aren't noticeable. Dee did well to catch that! :) I had to reread it to see what she meant! This is a great story for teens. Don't be discouraged, that mistake is a small one. Keep on writing. You are very talented!
Jan Ackerson 02/10/08
Good one, Chrissy! Right on topic, and very realistic.
Sharlyn Guthrie02/10/08
Your story is well-written and right on topic. I could relate to Peter, having moved often in my life. The character of a new acquaintance doesn't always come through immediately.
Betty Castleberry02/10/08
Ouch! What a hard lesson to learn. This really held my attention. Well done, Miss Chrissy.
Gregory Kane02/11/08
This is engaging writing that holds the reader’s attention to the very last line. I liked the way that you used italics to peek inside the MC’s head, especially as his inner thoughts were quite different from what was being said and done. I would like you to have continued using this technique in the last part of the story, so that we could understand what he was really thinking about his suspension.
Loren T. Lowery02/11/08
I don't think you can get much closer to being on topic than this. And you presented it in a poweful way by developiing a great vulnerable but promising protagonist in Peter. The reader really cares about him, his circumstances and his outcome. Great message, great writing!
Sara Harricharan 02/13/08
I felt sorry for Peter. I really wanted to cheer him up and tell him to keep on holding to that hope and not to worry that someday the real culprit will get the payback. ^_^ You made me care about the characters and wonder what was going on with the principle and all. Good job with the topic-and Peter. I enjoyed this! ^_^
Marita Thelander 02/13/08
I like how you used italics to show his thoughts. I learned something today ; ). This is a good example of the topic, too.
Leigh MacKelvey02/13/08
I was taken by the whole story and read with growing interest and a little suspence , wanting to know what was going to happen. I guess a well-written story by a good writer will do that to you!
Peter Stone02/13/08
Right on topic and a great read. Sad to see the guy get set up, but he could have avoided it if he had kept better company. Only red ink comment is that if a spray can had been put in his hood, he would have either felt it, or, certainly would have found it later.
Lyn Churchyard02/13/08
This is one of those stories you HAVE to read to the end. I don't think he did it, and I think the Principal is a jerk for not checking into it further. LOL, sorry, I tend to get riled when someone is accused of something and not even given a chance to prove their innocence. Wish there was someway of proving he didn't do it. Maybe in a future Challenge? :)
Maxx .02/13/08
Chrissy: Very good... I liked the way the guilt question is left unsettled. Makes the reader think and project from inside onto the story. You'll do well with this!
Lyn Churchyard02/15/08
Congratulations on placing 12th in your level and 33rd overall. Well Done Chrissy!
Randy Foncree02/15/08
Chrissy, enjoyed the read. Well written and interesting. This would make a great short story, or maybe work into a novel. Thanks for sharing it and God bless you...Randy Gene
Charla Diehl 02/19/08
Good story that fit the topic perfectly and held my interest all the way through. Congratulations on placing in the top 40 overall and for taking 12th place for your level.