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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Flat (01/03/13)

TITLE: Joy in Gravel and Smoke
By Glynis Becker


The car engine sputtered, a hideous gasping noise followed by a billow of fowl-smelling black smoke. Amanda tightened her grip and pushed forward in the seat, muttering, willing the car to keep moving. “Just a little ways, you can do it, girl,” she said encouragingly. Like it made any difference. The car couldn't hear her and she really didn't know if it was a short distance or not. This was not familiar territory for her, in more ways than one.

These flat highways that rolled on until they touched the horizon were not her home at all. What was she doing here? She was a Rocky Mountain girl, born and bred, and had never had any intention of coming down from their lofty heights. She loved the crisp, clear air and the smell of pine trees. Now she was knee-deep in prairie brush and the distinct odor of hog farm.

She eased the car onto the shoulder, not needing to signal. There wasn't another car in either direction for as far as she could see. Which was pretty far. Luckily the sun was high and she wouldn't be stranded on this lonely road in the dark. Amanda grabbed her phone and slammed the door hard behind her. This just beats all, she thought to herself.

Looking down at the phone, she sighed loudly. No bars. Okay, God. Now what? I'm in the middle of nowhere, alone. Is this really where you called me to go?

Amanda sank down on the hard gravel of the road's shoulder, hunched over her knees and gave into her despair. “I thought we had a deal,” she pouted. “I'd to do Your work and You'd keep me safe. I'm not sure You're living up to it.”

The surprise sound of a siren made her head pop up. Amanda watched as a police car slowed down and pulled off the road. The black cloud surrounding her own car made it difficult to see anything more than a shadowy figure getting out of the car. Standing, she brushed off the back of her jeans with one hand and fanned away the smoke with the other.

“Do you need some help, ma'am?”

The concern on his pleasant, young face almost did her in again. She smoothed the hair off her forehead, wiped the tear-streaks from her cheeks and almost in a whisper replied, “Yes.”

Her black-and-white knight moved efficiently toward the front of the car. “I'm not the best mechanic, ma'am, but I'd venture to say that your car is busted. I'm guessing that your cell phone won't work out here, either. From Colorado? Beautiful place. I'm sorry that your welcome to our little corner of the world wasn't warmer. If you don't mind I'll call Jake at the tow truck service and see if he can't come pick you up and take you back into town.”

“Thank you, Officer....” Amanda's voice trailed off, hoping that he would finish the sentence for her.

“Spencer.” He paused. “Were you on your way through? This isn't usually a destination for out-of-towners.”

“I'm coming to the reservation to teach school. I graduated last month and God wants me here.” She frowned a little. “At least I think He does.” Something inside of her gave way and she inexplicably felt safe pouring out her story. “Isn't it supposed to be easy? Following the Call, I mean? I haven't even finished moving out here and I'm so homesick--. Maybe I didn't hear Him right.”

Officer Spencer mulled it over. She could tell this was his way. Slow to speak and thoughtful. “The way I see it, no one God ever called had it easy. I'm not sure why we expect it to be. Our American upbringing, I suppose. Teaching on the reservation? That's a calling. A good one. God brought you here. He'll see you through it.” He paused, then smiled. “Funny, isn't it? You being from the mountains, you understand hills and valleys. We always think we want this flat, smooth road where not much happens. Until something does--” he spread his hands apart, sweeping over her and the car--”and come to find out: that's where life is.”

Amanda laughed. Of course, he was right. She'd needed the reminder that she wasn't alone. She prayed a quick apology, then silently added gratitude for all the bumps in the road to come.

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This article has been read 323 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Phee Paradise 01/11/13
Nice story, well told and great imagery. The characters and dialogue are real and your use of the topic was well done. I enjoyed it.
C D Swanson 01/12/13
Creative and interesting. I enjoyed this well written piece. Thanks. God bless~
Michael Throne01/17/13
I like this story. The point of the story is strong; nice tie-in to this week's theme! The writing is smooth with a nice flow, and the story itself is compelling. Well done!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/17/13
Oh I really enjoyed this story. It was a delightful lesson on the cliche' the grass is always greener. You did a nice job of pulling me into the story.

I had to smile at this sentence: Now she was knee-deep in prairie brush and the distinct odor of hog farm.
It sounds like she is in knee deep in the stench, which of course isn't possible. If you had added something like the stench assaulted my nostrils that might have worked better.
I did spot some tiny typos or punctuation errors (like 4 dots instead of three in ellipsis) but no big deal.

I fell in love with your MC. I could so relate to her telling off God. It gives the character such depth and made me smile. It was especially grand that right after that comment God sent help. And who says God doesn't have a sense of humor? Loved it! :)