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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)

TITLE: Traveling with Gwen
By Karlene Jacobsen


Gwen gripped the arms of her seat, laughter bubbling up from deep inside as the KLM jet left the ground at Detroit Metro Airport. “Australia… I can’t believe we’re finally going to Australia!” Gwen threaded her long slender fingers through Frank’s thick calloused ones.

“Yeah, it took our daughter going to school there to get us to make the trip.” He smiled as he thought about their daughter’s desire to attend school with Hillsong’s church in Sydney. She had expressed interest in studying under the tutelage of people like Darlene Zsczech and Brian and Bobby Houston. She read everything she could about the ministry school, loved their mission statement and said Brian Houston reminded her of her grandfather. It was tough to let her go so far from home, but with his new job with the airlines, they could fly inexpensively a couple times a year and Jenna could come home.

“G’day mate…” Gwen’s voice broke through Frank’s reverie as she practiced her special “Aussie” greeting. She repeated herself over and over, trying different intonations, lowering then raising her voice, trying to make the most authentic sounding “Aussie” dialect.

Frank sat, entertained at first, then thankful there was only the two of them sitting in the three seat row, followed by irritation. She was obsessed with impressing the Aussie nation. “Honey, why not practice being yourself? That might impress them more…” he tried to reason with her, but she would not hear of it.

“You don’t understand anything, do you? Haven’t you heard the old saying, ‘when in Rome…’?” She mocked him. “Besides, I just love the way Mick Dundee talked in that movie.” She went back to practicing, “G’day mate…”

“Ugh…How long did you say it’ll take to get to Australia?” He groaned as she continued.

“Only two days, that’s why I must practice every minute we’re in-flight! You should consider sharpening your skills as well…” She was beginning to feel exasperated with his lack of concern for knowing the proper way to greet a true Aussie.

“I’m tired, I think I’ll try and get some sleep.” He turned toward the window, put earpieces in his ears so he could listen to his IPOD.

Hours passed and Gwen continued with her persistent repetition of words like Sheila and greetings. Frank tried tirelessly to divert her attention to plans of what they would do and see once in-country. “I wonder if Jenna has our itinerary already planned for us…” he mused out loud. “It would be fun to see all her favorite spots.”

“I hope she takes us to the ‘Outback Steakhouse, that place is Australian you know.”

His plan was working but she was sorely misinformed, he was seeing that clearly. He stifled a laugh, “Are you serious? Jenna says America invented that, didn’t she tell you?”

Gwen frowned. “Oh no, that’s terrible! I can’t believe it!”

She thought for a few moments then ran fingers through her cropped mass of thick auburn hair and fluffed it, heaved a sigh and began to instruct Frank. “Be sure to say ‘kangaroo’ whenever you don’t know what someone has said.”

“What? I am not calling anyone a kangaroo!” Frank was certain he heard giggles behind them somewhere.

“It’ll impress them that you know what it means…” she reached up to play with Frank’s curly blond hair and gave that soft playful voice in that way she always did right before asking him for money or a credit card.

“What? I don’t understand.” He tried to play dumb.

“Exactly, that’s what kangaroo means!” She thought she finally had him on something and clapped her hands in exaltation.

“Where’d you hear that?”

“Aaaaagh, I can’t believe you don’t know! Haven’t you heard the story of Captain James Cook?”

“Yeah, I remember the suggestion of such stories, but were they true?” He turned to face her, his eyes pleading. “Gwen, why don’t we just follow Jenna’s example… then we would truly be doing as you say, ‘as the Aussies do’? That way we won’t draw attention to ourselves.” He was always one who wanted to blend in with the crowd, this was no different.

He knew, however, she would not quit.


Two days later, the couple walked out of the airport terminal and into a car driven by one of Jenna’s friends. For the first time in days, Gwen was speechless as she took in the amazing beauty of the country she had longed to see.

Note:some information taken from http://www.yesaustralia.com/Estilo-historiaing.htm

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This article has been read 986 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Faire Stewart01/23/09
Good job with very believable dialogue. I enjoyed this and learned some things, too.
Chely Roach01/25/09
How incredibly sweet and entirely annoying Gwen is! This was a lot of fun...well done!
Glynis Becker01/25/09
Fun little story...I enjoyed the dialogue.
Beth LaBuff 01/25/09
I had to smile at the "I hope she takes us to the Outback Steakhouse." I wish I was sitting behind these two on the plane. Their conversation is priceless. :)
Catrina Bradley 01/25/09
Frank has more patience than I do, that's for sure. I loved the dialog in this piece, and Gwen was likable in that she was so UNlikable. The Characterization is awesome.
Jan Ackerson 01/26/09
Okay, Gwen was seriously getting on my nerves! That means you wrote her very well...cute story.
Diana Dart 01/26/09
Great dialogue - I was wondering how long Frank would last - what a good husband! This piece had a very natural feel and was well-wrapped up at the end.
Myrna Noyes01/26/09
Cute story! :) I loved how "non-stop jabber" Gwen was silenced in the end by Australia's beauty!

(Did you perhaps mean "exultation" instead of "exaltation" when Gwen clapped her hands?)

Very well-drawn characters and good dialogue!
Dee Yoder 01/26/09
What a good husband he is...and obviously very long-suffering! I can't imagine going on a trip with someone like Gwen...aacckk! Great job with the characterizations.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/27/09
You used excellent dialog and strong characterization to tell an interesting story. I enjoyed it.
Joanne Sher 01/28/09
Just darling - Gwen is definitely quite the character - you drew her exceptionally well considering you only had 750 words. Loved it.
Joshua Janoski01/28/09
Gwen's personality is what shines in this piece. Very funny stuff! I loved the part about Outback Steakhouse.