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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)

TITLE: Thick Salty Tears
By Chase Glantz


I went out to my car the other day and had to do my usual missionary dance. There is no garage door opener. That means having to illegally park my car, run all the way around to the front door, amble up some stairs, go all the way through the office area, back down some stairs (that are so steep they should be sent to governmental labs to see their effect on the human brain), and down into the mission's once junk cloistered garage that now housed my dirty red wheeled machine. While on one of my mini pilgrimages, I faced an encounter that to this day, stirs my soul.
The girl's face was covered in dirt and had wrinkles that made her age too early. Her long blond hair had been yellowed with the grime of neglect and her eyes, that were once thought to be a vibrant shade of piercing brown, seemed dull and hollowed by hopelessness. As I almost brushed past her, she irked out, “Spare some change? I need it for bus...” and her voice trailed off.
Five million thoughts raced though my head: “She looks really hungry, perhaps I should give her the money.” Then I think, “Wait, she'll probably just waste it on booze or drugs, so maybe I shouldn't.” Then I think, “In all honesty, if I spent a couple of days out on these streets, I'd be self-medicating too... so maybe...” and every scenario plays out in my head in a nanosecond as my pulse races. So I play the safe card with, “I have some leftover takeout in the car. Are you hungry?” With a string of cheerful profanities, she muttered, “Yes... yes please...”
I pull open my car door carefully, as not to leave myself open to theft, and grabbed the box. As I handed her the greasy food, she her response was nonplussed: “Do you have any spare change, I really need to catch this bus...” Immediately I stiffened up and prepared my best excuse, but then I stop. The voice echoes in my mind “Surely, I tell you, as you did unto the least of these, you did unto Me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV). As I reach into my wallet, I begin to pull out a few dollars when I my thoughts are interrupted with the woman's small voice, “I can really treat you right for five dollars...” she said with nonchalance and hope. I felt my ears turn red with embarrassment as I try to play it off as it did not phase me, “I appreciate it, but no thank you...” she interrupted, “Are you sure? You're a very attractive man...” I can feel my ears turn a scarlet and my face follow suit. After thoroughly swallowing the lump in my throat, I peel off five extra dollars. “Tell you what, here's five dollars anyway. I don't want you to miss your bus.”
In utter shock, she reached out for the bill and can only give out a stutter, “G...g.... God bless... God bless you...” I then said, while looking her dead in the eye, a well rehearsed, “God bless you too,” and got into my car. As I pulled my car in I felt a wave of horror, stupor, flattery, and sadness all within hitting the mission's garage door button from the inside. I watched her eat my leftover pasta with caution and gloom as the door shut down in front of my eyes. As the door shakes slightly from the impact in unison with with my spine, a cold chill went down my body, followed immediately by thick salty tears.

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This article has been read 312 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jackie Wilson01/14/10
That is exactly what goes through our minds... A sad, but realistic, situation in your story.
Noel Mitaxa 01/14/10
Gritty, realistic portrayal of the event, the awkward conversation and of your MC's emotions and swirling thoughts. I feel that clearer paragraph breaks would give it greater impact, as would keeping to one tense. Since it confronts us with a social and spiritual wound that is not going away, you may get away with keeping it in present tense. But overall, very well done.
Carol Penhorwood 01/14/10
Very, very moving...so much pain in this world! Well done!
Karlene Jacobsen01/18/10
The battles we fight in our minds, whether or not to give that cash...
A space between the paragraphs would help make it easier to read.

Other than that, it's an excellent piece.