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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Savory to the Taste (07/26/12)

TITLE: Names
By Sarah Elisabeth


Pavement flashed beneath the front bike tire. Faster, faster, faster I pumped. Slower, slower, slower I seemed to go. Sun beams burned the back of my neck. I never was one to get out in the sun much, especially this summer. Who wanted the heat when you could sit in front of the TV all day eating ice cream and getting fat? At least that’s what my one and only friend just told me. My ex-friend.

He used to be the only one who didn’t make fun of me. Didn’t call me a fatso and other stuff I stuff down and don’t think about. The kids at school gave me nicknames that went with whatever I was eating.

“Hey fatty hamburger patty.”

“Hey big belly jelly.”

“Hey cream puff cheeks.”

The next hill loomed and my chubby calves burned. I couldn’t make it, but I had to. Had to prove I could if I wanted.

Sweat ran into the corners of my mouth. The salty tang made me crave French fries. Or a bag of potato chips. Right now, though, a giant gulp of water would taste best. My tongue was swelling in proportion to the hill I was halfway up.

After I had stormed out in the middle of a movie at my ex-friend’s house, I grabbed his bike, yelling at him that I could not eat for a week and lose all the weight I wanted to. Could ride the bike to the next state if I wanted.

I gasped for air, staring at the pavement of the neighborhood street I was pumping up. I’d never ridden a bike to or from my ex-friend’s house before. The seven blocks seemed like miles and miles. But I had to make it. Too late to turn back now.

Heat rushed through every pore on my face, the sides of my head pounded. I topped the hill but another one loomed. The bike quivered beneath me. My hands slipped from sweat and I gripped down on the handlebars. Spots danced on the pavement now, weird patterns of bright blues and reds on the dirty gray sidewalk.

An ocean of noise roared in my ears. The bike slowed. Cruel voices and names swirled around in my mind.

Then those noises faded and something else broke through.


Someone called my name. My real name. I let the tips of my tennis shoes drag the pavement still dancing with blue and red dots.

“Tommy? Are you okay?”

On the curb just ahead of me, a truck came to an abrupt halt and the driver hopped out. My ex-friend’s dad, Mr. Adams. Tall, lean, built. The kind of dad who would take you to church on Sundays. The kind I’d always wanted. If I had a dad. If mine hadn’t died before I had a chance to remember him.

I hung my head rather than look at Mr. Adams as I muttered, “Sorry I took Mark’s bike. I just wanted to go home.”
“You look like you’re about to pass out. Come on over to the truck.”

I slowly dismounted the bike, and made my legs follow him, vaguely aware I’d let the bike fall to its side. I hoped it didn’t get scratched up.

Mr. Adams held something into my still spotty vision. “Drink slow.”

I took the mini Gatorade and sipped it like he said. I didn’t want him to get mad at me. He didn’t. “What’s up, Tommy?”

I shrugged. Suddenly, what Mark had said didn’t seem cruel. He never meant to hurt me. He was my one and only friend.

“You want to come back to our house and finish the movie? Mark paused it.”
All I could do was nod and drain the last of the Gatorade while he put Mark’s bike in the bed of his truck.

On the short drive back, Mr. Adams said, “Before school starts up again, I promised Mark I’d take him to the gym and teach him safe ways to work out. You could come along, if it’s okay with your mom. But we’ll be going at 5:30 in the mornings. Think you can handle that?”

An air conditioned gym. I glanced out the window at the flying pavement and heat. “Yes sir.”

“I think you’ll like the strawberry protein shakes I make.” Mr. Adams winked at me. I grinned. Who knew but by the time school started I’d have a new tasty nickname, like Muscle Milkshake.

I could do it - with a little help.

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This article has been read 546 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/03/12
Ooo, great story! The friend's dad seems really authentic and just the kind of friend or dad you'd want. My only red ink is that for some reason I thought the MC was female until his name was used. Good job!
C D Swanson 08/03/12
Loved the entire engaging piece. It was on topic and entertained me from the first word to the last.

Thanks. God Bless~
Myrna Noyes08/05/12
I enjoyed this descriptively written sad-then-happy story. You made me really feel for Tommy. Nice job!
Laura Manley08/06/12
Yes, names can hurt... I think you did a wonderful job in your descriptions as Tommy made his way up hill after hill. And what a phenomenal way to end the story with a solution to Tommy's problem. What a neat dad; one I'm sure Tommy wishes he had. Very nicely written.
Ellen Carr 08/06/12
I really enjoyed your story and the MC rang true. Well written.
Noel Mitaxa 08/07/12
Now I know why - whenever I get the urge to exercise - I obey a stronger urge to sit down until that first urge goes away. Great inner profile of your MC, and good character description throughout. Well done.
Loren T. Lowery08/07/12
You got me into the story right away by putting me into your MC head; and, although I couldn't relate to the "overweight" thing, I could have empathy over the name calling and the desire to improve, be anything I wanted, prove myself, etc. And that, in part, is what made this story a good read for me. I also liked your ending - there are people who understanding and care and take time to make you feel valued.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/07/12
I felt like I knew your mc well. I was glad you worked out a good situation for him.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/07/12
I enjoyed this and could feel the panic and fear build with each pump of the pedals. I did think it was a female though. But now that I think about it, I like having the MC who struggles with weight and body image be a male. It's more stereotypical for a female to have an eating disorder but it does happen to boys and your story will help open the eyes of parents who may think it's just a girl thing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/09/12
Congratulations for ranking 8th in your level and 11th overall!