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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)

TITLE: The Penance of Brandon Scott
By Lauryn Abbott


Brandon looked over the sea of faces that sat before him. The auditorium was nearly full with high school students, who frankly didn’t want to be there. They looked bored, cocky or disinterested. He saw the stares, heard the whispers and knew he’d get through to a few of them. Not all certainly, but if he got a few, then he’d done his job. He adjusted the mic as he waited for them to settle.

“Hi there. As Principal Wilson mentioned, my name is Brandon Scott. I’m here to, hopefully, get my message across. I know most of you don’t want to be here and, honestly, I understand that. I’ll try to be brief, so you can get on with your day. There are pictures to accompany my story.”

“Not too long ago, I was like most of you. I got decent grades, was a star football player, had a girlfriend and was fairly popular. I had a bright future, with offers from 4 great universities for full football scholarships. See that picture above my head on the screen? That’s what I used to look like before becoming a Public Service Announcement.”

“As you can see, my life has changed significantly. Like many of you, I thought I was invincible. I thought I had it made. My life was all planned out, and it was good. What I didn’t realize, was how quickly things can change.”

“For me, that change came Homecoming night, senior year. We’d won, and were ready to party, so we did. It was a big party, lots of people and lots of booze. A group of us decided to play Truth or Dare, ‘cause you know, guys, girls how could you lose, right? After going round a couple times, it got more intense. My last turn, I chose dare. I was dared to street race from one light in our town to the next at 100 mph.”

“I accepted that dare, but asked how would I prove it without witnesses? So, 5 others agree to go with me – my girlfriend included. Here are their pictures. As you can probably imagine, I crashed. Here’s a picture of the scene. Pretty gruesome, huh? I came out of it a paraplegic, but I did come out of it. No one else in the car survived. Worse yet, I hit another car. One with a mom, her young daughter and two of the daughter’s friends. Here are their pictures. These young girls were having a sleepover, but begged the mom to take them out for late night ice cream. None of them survived.”

“Are you with me? Did you count along with me? There are 9 people dead because of my stupid, foolish and reckless behavior! Me – I did this. Because of me, all these families were shattered. I won’t call it an accident, because I chose to drink, I chose to play the game and I chose to take a stupid dare! I killed 9 people – girlfriend, friends, kids, and a mom. I did that!”

“Why didn’t I die too? I ask that all the time. My best guess is that God figured He could make something good come out of it. It was determined that I was unable to serve time in prison for what I’d done because of my condition. So I was sentenced to 5 years of telling my story. It may not seem like much to some, and honestly, I agree. But I have to live with this every day of my life and I relive that night every time I tell the story. My 5 years were up 2 years ago. I paid my debt that was meted out by the court, but I will never pay the debt I truly owe. Now I do this for my own penance, because it’s the right thing to do.”

“I’ve found I’ve been forgiven by some of the family members. I don’t know why. Others can’t, or won’t, and I understand that. I’m unable to forgive myself. But if I can get through to some of you, maybe the deaths of my victims won’t be in vain.”

“You’re young. You have your whole lives ahead of you. You’ve probably never given any thought to your own mortality. I can assure you there are no guarantees in life. You have the power to make your own choices. I beg of you, think before you do! I’ll be available to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.”

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This article has been read 644 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 09/04/08
Wow, chilling story and compelling writing. A sad story that could have come from the front page of today's newpaper.
Kristin Slavik09/05/08
Nice job tackeling a tough issue. Good topic for truth or dare.
Anita van der Elst09/06/08
Heartbreaking story; you've told it well.
Joy Faire Stewart09/06/08
Excellent writing on this difficult subject, but one that needs to be shared.
Chely Roach09/08/08
Wonderful writing...very intense emotion. Fabulous take on the topic.
Marlene Austin09/08/08
Powerful setting, intense message and deep passion - all expressed masterfully in your writing. :)
Betty Castleberry09/08/08
Sad to think these things really do happen. Your MC is dedicated, and I do think something will come of his mission. Nicely done.
Shirley McClay 09/08/08
You made me tear up... tragic!!! Very well written!
Pamela Kliewer09/08/08
Wow... you made me tear up as well. This is an emotion packed piece that needs to be told everywhere. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 09/08/08
This would be a very powerful assembly!

I wonder if you could interrupt Brandon's narrative a few times with what he's feeling...have his throat tighten, have him wipe his hands on his legs...that sort of thing. I felt slightly detached from him, emotionally.

It's so sad that things like this happen all the time, including to the daughter of one of my co-workers. Brandon's right, though...if just a few people take heed, it could make a world of difference. Thanks for sharing this!
Sheri Gordon09/08/08
Very powerful message--and wonderful dialogue. I was surprised that the entire piece in dialogue worked so well--but it did.

The only nit-picky thing I have is that in most cases, numbers should be written out in word form.

Excellent job with the topic. Very good read.
Leah Nichols 09/09/08
I think you did an excellent job....very effective writing!
Catrina Bradley 09/10/08
Very powerful testimony, and I'm certain Brandon did get through to at least one. I'd like to see some of the audience reaction, and like Jan said, his own reaction to telling his story. But alas, the word count, I know. I loved the part where he said his 5 years were up 2 years ago - that line got me. Great job!