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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Operation Integrity
By Shirley McClay


“This is Agent Desperate. Come in, Agent Sneaky.”

“Agent Sneaky here.” Giggles erupted from his receiver. Jim tried to keep from smiling. “Hey, are you serious about this or not.”

“Sorry. The intrigue just got to me for a moment.”

“Well, this is important.”

“Is the plan good to go?”


A thump on the floor above his home office put Jim on full alert. “Subject is alert and should be on scene momentarily. Operation Integrity about to commence.”

Another giggle. “Understood. Over and out.” Jim, aka Agent Sneaky, hid the radio and turned back to his computer screen.

Melissa hurried to put away the breakfast dishes and sat down at her desk to answer some emails. Her heart raced as her twelve-year-old clumped down the stairs and she pulled out her radio and spoke softly. “Subject approaching.“ Jim’s reply was muffled as she slipped the radio into a drawer.

“Morning Mom.”

Melissa steeled herself. She knew she needed to hold to the plan. “Morning.” The silence was disquieting.

“You let me sleep in.” It was a statement and a question.

“Yup.” Again that same silence.

He padded out to the kitchen. “It’s almost noon. Can we have burgers for lunch?”

“Sure.” Melissa didn’t get up from her chair. After a bit, his footsteps thudded up the stairs.

She finished another hour of computer work then went to switch over laundry.


“In here.” She tucked her radio under a stack of freshly folded towels.

“Um… when will lunch be ready?”

“After I finish laundry.” She poured in the detergent and closed the lid to the washer.

“How long?“

“An hour or two.”

“But it’s lunchtime now.”

“I’ll get to it in awhile.” The washer started filling as she grabbed a dryer sheet.

“Maybe I’ll have some cereal.”

“You know where to find it.” The dryer door clicked shut.

“Mom? You forgot to wash my favorite jacket.”

“I’ll get it later.”

“But I need it.”

“I know. You don’t have to nag. It’ll get done… sometime.” Now the silence had a whole different tone.

“What’s going on? Everything is weird today.“

Melissa heard the refrigerator opening. “We’re out of milk, Mom.”

“I know. The bread is gone too.” She gave a pair of jeans a snap and then carefully folded them.

“When are you getting groceries?”

“I guess today.” She tossed a sock in a pile.

“Can I go with you?”


“Can we go now?”

“No, maybe later.” Another partnerless sock hit the pile.

After a pause he padded up the stairs again.

Her radio crackled to life. “What’s wrong son.” Jim smiled at Mike as he held down the talk button so Melissa could hear the conversation. He kept his radio hidden behind the desk.

“Something’s wrong with Mom. She didn’t wake me up, and she said she was making lunch but she’s not. And now she says I can go to the store with her.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“I haven’t done my schoolwork yet. I’m not allowed to go out until it’s done.”

“That’s true.”

“She is saying stuff but not doing it.”

“That doesn’t sound like her.” Jim forced back a grin.

“Is she mad at me?”

“She didn’t seem mad. Should she be?”

“Well, she should be frustrated with me for getting up late and not getting my schoolwork done. I haven’t done any chores today, either.” Mike ran his fingers through his hair.

“Would it make any difference if she was frustrated?”

“What do you mean?”

“What would you do if she asked you to vacuum?” Jim leaned back in his chair.

“I would agree to do it.”

“And when would it happen?”

“Oh.” He stared at the ceiling. “I think I get it.”

Back downstairs, Melissa heard Jim’s door close and her radio spoke once more. “Reprogramming begun. Report results.”

In record-breaking time Mike was back. He wrapped his arms around Melissa in a tight hug. “Sorry Mom. Here’s a list, want to add to it?”

She smiled at him and at the scrawled words:

putting my stuff away
obeying the first time I am asked to do something

Melissa added:

keeping my word when I say I will do something

doing what I promise in a timely manner

His smile was weak but genuine. Mike grabbed his basket of laundry from the previous day and headed up the stairs as Melissa retrieved the radio from a pile of folded clothes. “Mission accomplished. Tactics worked. Reprogramming successful. Over and out.”

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This article has been read 959 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 02/28/08
I love this! Very creative! Surely you haven't tried this yourself?! Great writing! Wonderful storytelling!
Holly Westefeld02/29/08
Cute. Speaking from experience, however, refresher courses are needed. :-)
LauraLee Shaw02/29/08
OH, this is darling! How creative and clever. I really like the way you put this together and approached the topic. Smiles all the way through.
Seema Bagai 03/01/08
Cute story. I enjoyed reading this.
Debbie Wistrom03/03/08
Smart parents, smart kid, thanks for this lesson, great way of getting it across.
Chely Roach03/03/08
Very cute...I loved it. "Agent Desperate", hee hee!
Jan Ackerson 03/03/08
Oh, so good! You could have written this as a much more conventional story, but you really cranked the level up a notch by adding the espionage element. Creativity off the scale!
Lynda Schultz 03/03/08
Here we have a couple of parents who actually made disciplining their kid a fun thing! Good for them, and good for you. Well done.
Joanne Sher 03/04/08
Absolutely cute and clever. (Shirley may not think so, but she CERTAINLY belongs in advanced) Just loads of fun, with delightful dialog.
Lyn Churchyard03/05/08
Haa Haa Haa Agents Desperate and Sneaky... I love it. Very smart thinking parents. Yes, I think you might have to have a refresher course at some stage, but it will be a short one :)
Very well done!!!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/05/08
So fun and creative. I loved it.
Marita Thelander 03/05/08
The best part were the giggles from Agent Sneaky. Well written, dear.
Tim Pickl03/05/08
Wonderful way to present the topic...and a life lesson learned! Wow!
Joshua Janoski03/05/08
You don't think that you belong in advanced? Well I'm not usually one to tell people when they are wrong, but...

You are wrong.

Haha. Wonderful story. I could picture the parents playing with the walkie talkies and having a lot of fun. What a great way to demonstrate the lesson you were teaching in this story. It was right on topic too!

Hmmm. Now that I think about it, you might actually be right. Maybe you need to move up to Masters very soon. I don't think it will be long. :)
Sherry Castelluccio 03/05/08
This was so cute! Great job and very creative.
Catrina Bradley 03/05/08
Too fun! Very creative story, and great writing. I was a little confused at first who was who and who was talking, but it was cleared up quickly. I enjoyed this very much!
Julie Arduini03/05/08
So much creativity from the title right through. Great job!
Sara Harricharan 03/05/08
ROFL! This is too funny! I liked the humor vibe in this, it's perfect for this piece and I loved the handles of "Agent Sneaky" etc. This was very good. I liked how Mike made a list in the end and even let his mom add to it. That was great. Your last paragraph is a keeper! ^_^
Hanne Moon 03/05/08
This was great! I loved the way the parents handled this instead of blowing up and screaming at the kid. Your characters were very realistic, and the voice was dead on. Loved it!
D. Phenes03/08/08
Loved this story. How creative.
Imaginative Parents..
Sharon Hillary03/11/08
Awesome example for parents! Did this REALLY work for you?
Thank you for the comments on my first writing challenge submission. I checked to see who you were and LOVED this one!!!!