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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: Coffee Talk
By Kristen Hester
02/04/08


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Audrey kept her head down and held her coat closed tightly as she made her way down the city sidewalk. This part of town made her nervous, especially at night, but her friends enjoyed the trendy area. They had insisted on meeting outside the popular coffee house, Khaldi’s.

Because her head was down, she didn’t notice the three men blocking the sidewalk until she was only a few feet from them. She turned to go around the group. “Excuse me,” she said politely.

Dex, a tall man wearing baggy jeans and a knit cap stepped in front of her. “Hellooooo, pretty lady.”

She tried once more to change her direction, but the shortest of the trio now blocked her path. “Stop and talk to us, Sugar. We won’t bite.” The scent of his leather jacket and cheap cologne assaulted her senses causing a wave a nausea.

“Please....leave me alone.” Tears filled her eyes. She tried to hide her panic, but it was obvious. The third man came up from behind and pressed his body against hers. “How ‘bout some lovin’, Honey?”

At his touch, Audrey’s survival instinct kicked in. Her fear turned to anger. “Back off!” She shoved the man and took off running down the sidewalk.

“We weren’t going to hurt you,” Dex yelled after her. The three laughed as they watched her flee like a pursued animal.

Audrey ran until she reached the coffee house. She flung open the door and rushed inside. She didn’t see the young man until it was too late. She smashed into him with such force, he nearly lost his balance.

“Excuse me.” Embarrassed and still shaking, she pulled away and tried to keep walking, but he stopped her.

“Whoa!” He put his arms on her shoulders and held her a few feet away. “Are you okay?”

The concern and compassion in his voice were so sincere, she began to relax. She looked up into his chocolate eyes, and felt safe. The men outside had looked at her with lust in their eyes. In his, she saw only kindness.

“Yes, I’ll be fine. Some jerks on the street were rude, that’s all.”

“Go have a seat and I’ll bring you some coffee. On the house.”

She noticed he was wearing an employee badge that read “Jason.”

“Thanks, Jason.” She smiled at him and then made her way to the table.

A few minutes later he approached her, minus the employee badge, with two coffees.

“Mind if I join you? My shift is over.”

“Not at all.” It surprised her how comfortable she felt with him.

He let out a loud sigh as he sat down.

“Rough night, too?” She blew on her coffee as she studied his face.

“Yea. I just had some rude costumers that spilled coffee, purposely made a mess, and snapped their fingers at me. They called me ‘boy’.” He mimicked the girls. “Hey, boooooy! Clean up this mess.”

She giggled at his high-pitched impersonation. “That’s terrible.”

He shrugged his shoulders. “It’s just part of the job. I’ll graduate from the U.T. next year. Then I’ll find a real job.”

Her face brightened. “I’m a sophomore. What’s your major?”

“Business. And you?”

“Education.” There was a pause as they realized they had a connection.

“So, what had you running in here like a scared rabbit?” he asked tenderly.

As she shared her story, he leaned in, looked into her eyes, and listened intently. Finally, she glanced at her watch.

“Well, I’d better go. I’m supposed to meet my friends outside.”

“I’ll walk you out and make sure you’re safe.”

“Thanks.”

He helped her into her coat. As they walked slowly to the door he asked, “Can I call you sometime?”

“I’d like that.” She reached in her purse for a pen.

As they stepped outside a group of giggling young women approached them.

“Hey, Audrey, there you are,” said a tall, confident lady wearing too much makeup. She looked at Jason, and then back to Audrey and grinned. “You met Boy!”

Jason turned to Audrey in shock. “These are your friends?” His disappointment was obvious.

Audrey’s face turned red. She opened her mouth to defend her friends, but over Jason’s shoulders she spotted her troublemakers. Instinctively, she began to back away.

“Yo, Jason!” Dex called out. Jason turned and slapped hands with his friends.

It was Audrey’s turn to feel betrayed.

The couple parted company and left with their respective friends. They were no longer interested in exchanging numbers.


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This article has been read 684 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 02/07/08
Double surprise twist. Nicely done.
Sheri Gordon02/07/08
Very nice ending. Good example of the proverb, and very good writing.
Karen Wilber 02/08/08
I had a feeling those guys would turn out to be his friends, but didn't expect the girls to be hers. Great last lines.
Pam Carlson-Hetland02/08/08
Excellent story. Sadly, it's very realistic for today's culture. Great ending pointing out that judgmentalism is often two-sided. I liked the title, too.
Peter Stone02/08/08
Great ending - both characters had friends that made them look bad. I did not expect that.
Holly Westefeld02/09/08
I, too, like the double twist.
What I'm trying to figure out, though, is where Audrey's friends went, as they had already left the coffee shop, but were not outside to meet her, where they would have encountered her as she fled the assailants. Were they both early, her friends visiting some other establishment before returning to meet Audrey, who had had time for a cup of coffee and chat with Jason?
Sorry--It's probably just the word count, and someone who has read too many mysteries in her life. :-)
Ann Renae Hair02/10/08
Wow, you got me! I didn't see it coming at all.
Could be because I enjoy romance, so I was all caught up in their meeting. I assumed her friends went to look for her.
Too bad they didn't hook up and not hang out with their rude friends.
Great story. Loved it.
william price02/10/08
A double twist. I was wondering if you were going to hit on the topic, but then you tied it up nice at the end. Now if your MCs went to A&M they wouldn't have had that problem )
Another great job, Mrs. Hester. God bless.
Lyn Churchyard02/10/08
Double whammy! Sneaky, very sneaky.. but so good!
Shelley Ledfors 02/10/08
Wonderful! You drew me right in to the story and really nailed the topic...twice!
Jan Ackerson 02/10/08
Excellent, Kristen, and what I appreciate most is that you stepped out of your comfort zone and wrote a change-of-pace story. And you did a fantastic job of it, too. Time to stretch a little farther, perhaps?
Patty Wysong02/10/08
Double nice!! I felt her fear and then her connection, and finally her surprise. Super.
Betty Castleberry02/10/08
Wow, Kristen, I love the *two* surprises at the end. You did a great job with this. The writing is wonderful.
Sharlyn Guthrie02/10/08
How embarrassing -for both! You set this up well, saving the double whammy for the end. Nice job.
LaNaye Perkins02/10/08
I loved your double whammy at the end! This was great and I enjoyed avery word of it.
Joanne Sher 02/10/08
Love the double twist! Extremely well-done. Great characterization, as usual.
Beth LaBuff 02/10/08
Great dialog in this wonderfully woven tale of twists and spills. You've written this creative piece very well.
Dee Yoder 02/11/08
I didn't expect that ending, either! Good job with the characters and the plot twists.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/11/08
You did a great job with the suspense as she was approached by the bad guys, then the contrast of a safe haven haven with Jason, and finally the double whammy at the end. Could you fix it in another story that they leave their sorry friends and make a friendship of their own?
Loren T. Lowery02/11/08
The juxtapostion of the two sides was very well done, in fact I could see how easiy one can be swayed both by one's friends or how they behave.
Laury Hubrich 02/11/08
Oh Kristen, way to play with our minds! Very good story. Excellent writing, as always:)
Laury
Debbie Wistrom02/11/08
Didn't see the delicious twist coming, it's a good thing we get smarter as we age,,,,keep up the good words.
Beckie Stewart02/12/08
I reallly loved this story.....saw the friends coming with her, but not him. I thought your last line was not necessary as it was obvious they would not want to connect with each other anymore. You had me from beginning to end in this story.
Leigh MacKelvey02/12/08
Wow, you got me! I didn;t see either twist coming. I kept waiting for Jason to take her outside and make a fast move on her.As usual, great writing, Krsiten. Keep stretching, girl!
Sara Harricharan 02/13/08
Aha, a double twist. Wow, bet she didn't see that one coming! lol. You do well with this first-look meeting and how they seem to connect so well until they realize they have practically zilch in common. Nice job-this is one of my favorites for this week! ^_^
Rita Garcia02/13/08
FANTASTIC! You could turn this into a book!!
LauraLee Shaw02/14/08
This was a REALLY great piece. The double nailing of the topic was something only a masterful writer could do. Just brilliant on so many levels.
william price02/14/08
Congrats, Kristen, for writing the best double twister endings of the week and not only taking a stretch and a chance, but doing it masterfully as well. God bless.