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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beautiful (11/07/05)

TITLE: My Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, Beautiful Day
By Debbie OConnor


The blaring alarm shatters my peace. I dread crossing the frigid room.

My head aches. Should I call in sick? No, I can’t call in; I have to type the proposal.. I hesitate. I could sleep for ten more minutes. No, I’ll be late. Oh God, please help me!

I shower. The headache lingers. I grab a bagel and Diet Coke for the road.

Traffic is heavy and I’m late anyway. I bustle inside, toss my bag and run to make coffee.

“Cheryl?” someone calls. “Cheryl?”

“Yes?” I reply.

“The copier is jammed. Can you fix it?”

“Sure, Babs. Just let me get the coffee going.” I mutter to myself, “I’m sure I’m the only person capable of clearing the copier!”

Once these tasks are accomplished, I start billing. My mood lifts, then Sandra breezes in. “Cheryl, pull a collections list so I can get some money in here.”

“Just let me finish billing,” I say, masking my irritation. “Joanne and David want me on the proposal.”

“When do you think it will be?” she snaps.

“Give me an hour.”

I prepare bills and stuff envelopes while fielding phone calls. Pressure mounts—my head throbs.

David enters. “Hey, Cher! How are you?”

My face says it all.

“I have treats,” he says and plops a jelly doughnut on my desk. I hate jelly doughnuts.

His cheerfulness grates on me. A former romantic interest, David was a huge player in my coming to Christ. We are like siblings who love and annoy each other in equal measure.

“Thanks.” I smile weakly. “Let me finish billing and get Sandra her list.”

“Okay, get free…we have lots of work to do.”

Through the wall, I hear Sandra complain, “I still don’t have that list!” I stop billing and print it. Five minutes later, I place it in her hands.

“It’s about time,” she huffs. “I came in early to make these calls.”

“Maybe you should have told me yesterday.” I no longer feign politeness.

“Cheryl, you’d better check that attitude. I never let my kids talk to me like that and I’m not about to let an employee talk to me like that.”

I apologize, but I am furious.

I finish billing and David comes in to start the proposal. He hands me his outline. “Palatino, 11 point” is circled in red at the top. I have been typing for David for years—it is always “Palatino, 11 point.”

“What font do you want this in?” I ooze sarcasm. David smirks back.

“I thought we’d start with our history—is this the best word to describe us?”

“Why don’t we edit after I get it in the computer?”

“Okay,” David says. “I’ll leave you alone.”

I type furiously, highlighting sections that need rephrasing. I print the rough and call David back. We labor for hours. By 5:30, I ache to leave, but we order pizza.

At 7 p.m., we have a finished proposal. David and I walk out together. Suddenly, he turns and says, “I didn’t like the way you were with me today.”

His rebuke is so gentle that I am humbled. I apologize wholeheartedly. We part friends.

I struggle to unlock my car through a fog of tears. Cheryl, you are such a jerk! You were so hateful. No wonder David doesn’t want to date you. You’re scary… mean! You’ll never get married—who would want to live with you?

I am halfway home before I am aware of my surroundings. A spectacular sunset has streaked red, purple and orange through the deepening blue sky. Wispy clouds look like brush strokes that meld the colors into a breathtaking masterpiece.

I stop abusing myself. “Father, thank you for that sunset—it is wonderful, beautiful!”

You are more beautiful to me than that.

I am stunned. “Lord, is that you?” I was so awful. How can it be?

When I get home, I grab my Bible. “Father, if that was you, please show me.”

I open the Bible and my eyes fall on this verse: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”*

I consider the scripture and read the chapter surrounding it. You made me; your works are wonderful—not horrible.

Jesus didn’t die to save that sunset, as glorious as it was. He died for me. He says I’m beautiful—who am I to disagree?


This is a true story. Only my name has been changed.

*Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Title inspired by Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst

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This article has been read 1177 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Crista Darr11/14/05
The fast-paced dialogue kept my interest throughout. The conclusion is truly touching and the title is fantastic. This is a great piece of writing!
Linda Watson Owen11/14/05
I agree! This dialogue is so well written! Very real!
B Brenton11/15/05
This is wonderful. Well written, but it seems like the start of something more.
I was just getting into it.
Beautiful characters.
Writing style: awesome!
janet rubin11/15/05
Many readers will relate to this one. Good job.
Denise Stanford11/15/05
This is a pleasing, delightful, very good, beautiful piece of writing about a terrible... oh you get the message - Deni
terri tiffany11/16/05
Whew..I'm tired for her! great pace and great reminder of how we need to be out there. I thought the people were so realistic! Very good!!
Laurie Glass 11/16/05
True to life and so well told. And that's one of my favorite verses. Great job.
Anita Neuman11/16/05
Great job! The fast pace was just enough to get us really involved without driving us nuts.
Sally Hanan11/16/05
Congrats on such a great entry Debbie. This was my favorite sentence I stop abusing myself
Beth Muehlhausen11/17/05
Nicely done - you brought the reader "inside" your character! I bet most of us have found ourselves in a similar spot.
Shannon Redmon11/17/05
I liked this! It was fun to read and hit home so hard! Thanks
Garnet Miller 11/18/05
Unfortunately, I've had a few of those days myself! Great story:)
Phyllis Inniss11/19/05
Very realistic the way the emotions of the characters are expressed.
Val Clark11/20/05
Such a realistic portrayal of a working day, interaction of characters and your characters thoughts! A fast paced story that packs a punch at several levels. Yeggy