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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)

TITLE: Split Personality
By Sara Harricharan



Mademoiselle Grond complimented each student as they turned in their homework. I watched the stack grow with each set of papers. I was wa
iting for Melissa to notice me.

“Psst! Melissa!” I motioned to my French workbook. “What’s that mean?” I’d finished all the assigned activities last night, except for the last two pages, which hadn’t made any sense at all.

Melissa glanced at Mademoiselle Grond before inching between the desks to take a look. Her expression brightened at once. She understood what I did not. She pointed to a line of jumble. “They’re asking about your best friend’s favorite desert, and what they like to eat.”

“What they like to eat?”

“Yeah…you know…this chapter was on food?”

The last filmy piece of the puzzle clicked for me. I managed a weak smile. “Oh right. Thanks, Mel.”

She winked. “Anytime, hon.”

I frantically scribbled answers across the lines, hoping to finish before the classroom emptied. My brain struggled and sputtered, giving out when the classroom door clicked shut. My stomach half-churned, stilling when a new emotion spread over me.


I bit my lip, wishing for single line of nonsense to translate to French.

Mademoiselle Grond moved busily around me, having already stuffed the newly collected homework assignments into her already overflowing Vera Bradley tote. “Lita, move for a moment? The chairs…”

“Sure. Sorry.” If she didn’t insisted on forming a circle with the chairs, there wouldn’t have been any need to change them back. But of course, I could not tell her that, so I simply slid out from the desk and stood to the corner to let her bustle.

“Never mind. Straighten yours when you’re finished.” Mademoiselle Grond flashed a tight smile, brushing past. It was only a half-second later before she spoke once more. “Lita, turn the lights off before you leave. The door’s locked, pull it behind you.”

I blinked up at her in surprise. She’d interrupted the train of thought just as I’d puzzled out a sentence to write on the skinny black line. “I’m almost done. I just have one more line to finish here, then I’ll tear it out and staple and that’s it.”

The expression on her face changed from the permanent polite smile to a look of irritation, followed by contempt. “That’s fine. Slide it under my office door, you know where it is.”

My face flamed red as my headache tripled itself. “Sure.” I heard myself say. “Okay.”

The fake smile was more forced, as she paused half-way to the door. “Actually, just leave it on this desk. I have a class at eight here tomorrow. I’ll pick it up then.” The door closed hollowly behind her.

I dug my fingernails into the palms of my hands, needing the immediate pain to counter the familiar rush of emotions I didn’t want to deal with. I hurriedly scribbled out the sentence, systematically ripping the pages out of the workbook to staple together. The repetitive action pushed past my defense and I felt the first tear trickle out.

It shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. She was one way to everyone else and so…strange to me. Today wasn’t a good day. My empty stomach was forgotten in the wake of this new pain.

The pages were gathered, stapled and neatly set on the desk. I collected my things, turning the light off and checking the door.

Why does she hate me, Daddy? I asked the question, but did not want His answer. I wanted to hate her back.

It was easier.

Does she hate you?

I never did anything… Thoughts failed me and I struggled to keep my face blank, smacking off the tears before I rounded the corner and ducked out of the college. In the darkness of the back walkway, I let the tears stream freely down my face.

Why does she hurt me? I demanded.

Why do you let her hurt you? He countered.

I didn’t have an answer for that.

Breathing was getting rather difficult, so I pinched my arms until the pain caused the tears to subside and blew my nose. There was a point there. I didn’t have to let her get to me. I didn’t have to take the little snipes she threw in my direction. I didn’t have to care if she picked favorites.

I squared my shoulders, lifting my head to night air. The end of her hold over me. The beginning of a new choice.

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This article has been read 788 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 04/23/09
I really felt for this student. I picked up on the stress BIG TIME. Very good writing.
Josiah Kane04/25/09
I liked your title, and description of the work. I think I may have missed something though. The ending--though topical--seems tacked onto the body of the story.
Myrna Noyes04/27/09
I could feel the tension between the two characters in this story, and I would've liked to have known more about the reason for it. Did the teacher truly not like Lita, or was it just Lita's assumption, colored by the fact she was struggling with the class work? You did a good job of showing Lita's emotions!
Jan Ackerson 04/28/09
I can easily imagine one of my students having these exact feelings--and I HOPE I'm not like that teacher! Good writing!
Seema Bagai 04/28/09
This piece felt natural and realistic. Good work.
Joanne Sher 04/29/09
Excellent job with emotion in this piece. I think you did skirt the topic a bit, but this is very, VERY powerful writing. I was right there.
Dee Yoder 04/29/09
Did you miss the topic? Well, maybe a tad, but I like the story so much, I don't really care! Very good job of putting the reader in the moment with this MC.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/29/09
I was right with your mc. I'd had those same feelings as a student in junior high school because of my beliefs.
Well done.
Beckie Stewart04/29/09
This was well written as you could get into this person's mind and deep struggle. Like the ending of hope.
Carol Slider 04/29/09
Though I didn't quite understand why the teacher disliked Lita so much, I certainly felt for her! You conveyed her roiling emotions very well. Good work!
Betty Castleberry04/29/09
You brought your MC to life and made me feel for her. The topic is a bit fuzzy, but this is really good work. I enjoyed it very much.
Jae Blakney04/29/09
I think it's on-topic. I would suggest editing for grammar. For example, in the last paragraph but one, Lita says, "...I pinched my arms until the pain...blew my nose." You've portrayed the emotion well, and I find myself identifying with Lita. The characters seem real, and I can understand Mlle Grond's annoyance and frustration at what must feel like her failure to effectively teach Lita. Your prose has a nice flow and makes for an easy, interesting read.
Bryan Ridenour04/29/09
Very well written. I really felt for your MC and I personally felt her pain. Well done.
Kimberly Russell04/29/09
I was caught up in the story so I didn't even think about whether you missed the topic or not.....looking back, maybe a little but still nice work.
Karlene Jacobsen04/29/09
Oh, I felt so bad for the girl. I thought she was at most in high school and was surprised she was in college.
Otherwise, a provoking story.
LauraLee Shaw04/29/09
I'm all emotional now!!! Boo hoo!!! Know what that means? YOu had me there. Thank you so much for this well-written piece. Your ending was my favorite. :D