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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Media (in any form) (11/11/10)

TITLE: Paper Perceptions
By Francy Judge


Paul inhaled deeply, letting the aroma of Columbian Roast wake him up. A pink halo was just beginning to rise above the city skyline outside his window. But as he stepped through the alcove into the warm kitchen, Melanie hurled a newspaper at his face. A perfect pitch that poked him in the eye. And another paper at his belly. Now he was awake. Usually, Melanie greeted him with a Colgate clean kiss. What was this? Pages rained down around him, covering the floor like fallen leaves.

“Are you crazy? The Sunday Times? And the Daily News? What was that for?”

Melanie collapsed into sobs. “See page two, Mr. Mayor!”

On hands and knees, Paul sifted through black and white headlines. He leaned back against the oven and read to himself. . .

Conservative Mayor Caught Cheating—(not so conservative afterall!)

A close-up shot of Paul and a bright-eyed blond leaning close and talking over a candlelit table graced half the page. Another picture of him entering the Sheraton Hotel with the same woman overlapped the corner. Paul’s forehead caved into new wrinkles and his nose flared.

“Those rotten—”

“So who is she? She looks about twenty, like half your age.” Melanie’s words dripped with bitter sarcasm.

“She’s not—”

“Oh, excuse me—twenty-five…and perfect, better than the middle age housewife you’ve been stuck with for fifteen years. Fifteen years! And I thought you’d be different—a preacher’s son, my high school sweetheart—and you’d love me for better or worse, even if you did want to be a politician.”

“Wait a minute—how can you believe this…this trash? You know I love you and love God and could never do anything to hurt you.”

“I thought so, but many godly men have fallen under the spell of beautiful women.”

“God knows I’m telling the truth. Let me see that paper again…I don’t know how that reporter twisted the truth, but she did. What a leech! She just wanted to suck a juicy story from me…could care less if the gossip ruins my family.”

Paul combed through the story, looking for some evidence to prove the story was a lie. He could feel Melanie’s eyes piercing through him as if she was trying to figure out who this stranger was. Then he saw something…

“Look here! See that’s a man’s hand in the bottom of the photo. That’s Bill Thompson. He sat next to me at the fundraiser. This wasn’t an intimate dinner for two; there were twelve at our table. That leech of a reporter zoomed in on us to get a story. That was Bill’s cousin who sat down for a few minutes after he introduced her to everyone. She drank too much, so Bill and I helped her back to the hotel. Bill is a few steps ahead of me in the other photo.”

Melanie snatched the paper out of his hands. “Let me see. I thought you looked love-struck when I first saw the picture.” As she stared at the evidence, Melanie’s eyes softened. A tear wet the page. “Sorry. I’m just nervous that some day you’ll get sick of me and want to find some one else, someone younger and prettier. Maybe I am a touch paranoid with all the media attention.”

Paul pulled her close and looked right into her hazel eyes. “God brought us together and no one, not a blond, a redhead, a purple streaked brunette, or even the paparazzi can split us apart.”

“But everyone’s going to think you’re having an affair…you’ve got to admit that was a convincing article. I’m not usually a paranoid wife.” Melanie crumpled page two and tossed it in the trash.

“All we can do is pray and tell the truth.” Paul bent down to pick up the rest of the newspapers and found one with Melanie’s picture…

“Mayor’s Wife: Pregnant in Prada”

“Hey, if you believe every word in the paper, then you bought five hundred dollar Prada boots this week and you’re three months pregnant.”

Melanie covered her new boots with a Daily News page and smiled.

“You didn’t? Did you?”

“Well, maybe.”

Paul glanced at the papers on her lap. “And we already have three teenage daughters, so you couldn’t be…could you?”

“Well, maybe the news is true…sometimes. You want that coffee now?”

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This article has been read 503 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/20/10
I loved the whole story, but especially, the ending.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/20/10
Nice twist in the end but I think if I were the wife I wouldn't have been comforted about part of the news being accurate. I'm so glad I don't have paparazzi in my life!:)
Nancy Bucca11/24/10
This is a very interesting story. The ending was sweet and unexpected.