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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

By Sally Hanan


Angelika was masticating. Even though she was looking in from the outside, and the book store window was a bit grimy, Mrs. Hobbs was certain she could see the girl’s jawbone moving up, down, in, out . . . such a nasty habit: gum chewing. So uncouth.

She clicked the wheelchair into forward to get closer to the glass and rapped it with her cane. Angelika must have seen her out of the corner of her eye, because Mrs. Hobbs could have sworn she saw the girl’s left eyeball twist into the back of her cranium before it turned her way; if she were a swearing woman, that is.

Angelika’s svelte body wisped its way toward the door and pushed into it from the inside with a slow swish. Mrs. Hobbs felt her breath quicken along with her motorized chair, as she rose up the ramp at full throttle before almost doing a wheelie into the establishment.

Angelika’s chomping was audible now. Mrs. Hobbs made sure that she was seen turning the volume down in her hearing aid—a sophisticated device that had enabled her to turn off her husband during football season, God rest his soul.

“So? Did you get it in then?”

Angelika moved to stand in front of the visitor, arms folded across her barely-discernible chest, fingers draped like silk ribbons on the black turtleneck dress. One eyebrow lifted slightly with the shake of her head.

“Mrs. Hobbs. I have told you that I will call you when the book comes in.”

Mrs. Hobbs slumped her head into her neck. “Alright then.” Her cane ascended into the air. “Help me get back to the bus stop.”

“Mrs. Hobbs! I have told you before that I cannot leave the premises.” Angelika’s legs took a few steps to the wall. “Now, please; I have a lot to do.”

Feeling like a deflated balloon, Mrs. Hobbs removed herself from the store. Bubble gum popped behind her right before the door shut her out.

Her chair remained at the bottom of the wheelchair ramp for quite some time. Occasionally, a surreptitious set of fingers would reach up and wipe at her eyes. Once her breathing settled into a less labored pattern, Mrs. Hobbs buzzed her way mechanically until the wheels came to a halt at the bus stop.

“Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow, How to Win Friends and Influence People will get here.”

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Sara Harricharan 05/07/09
LOL! What a fiesty character Mrs. Hobbs is! I do hope her book comes in and though it is sad to see the missed opportunity to befriend this bubblegum-chewing girl, the irony is spot-on!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/09/09
Such a sad MC. I don't believe the book will help her much. She's not very likable, but she is very real--good character study.
Sharon Kane05/11/09
I wasn't at all sure where this was going, but the last line said it all, and then, yes, it all rang true! Good job!
Lollie Hofer 05/13/09
I'm thinking Angelika could benefit from the book. The story had a great message. Thanks for sharing.
Betty Castleberry05/13/09
I picture Mrs. Hobbs as crotchety. She should have a lot more to worry about than a little gum chewing.

You did a great job giving life to your characters. Kudos.
Dee Yoder 05/14/09
Underneath all that bluster, beats a very lonely heart! It just takes a bit more time to ferret out the truth in a person like this MC. Most of us don't want to do that! Funny how we often remember these kinds of folks though.