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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Dead End (02/06/14)

By Meghan Andersch


The order is final. The courtroom empties. I can’t believe it’s over.

I stumble down the long stairs of the courthouse and out into the gray winter day. Bernie walks beside me, nattering loudly about injustice and the corrupt system. His voice swirls around me.

“We’ll fight it, babe. You’ll see,” he says. He tries to put his arm around me and I shrug it off. He scoffs and stalks away.

I sense someone looking at me and glance up to see her, The Other Woman, standing on the sidewalk a few steps away. She walks up to me and I am surprised to see tears in her eyes.

“How are you doing?” she asks.

I lock my own tears away and force words past the thickness in my throat. “Okay.”

She hugs me awkwardly and presses something into my hand. I look down at the white business card.

“I have a friend,” she says. “I didn’t tell her anything about you, just mentioned I knew someone. She says you can apply to get in on scholarship.”

She blushes.

I nod. “Thanks.”

She bobs her head and hurries off toward the parking lot.

I tuck my hands deep in my pockets and trudge down the street. When Bernie comes up behind me in his old pickup and honks, I get in. Just like I always do.

We drive home and I see a familiar car outside. My stomach lurches.

Bernie looks at me sideways. “I invited them,” he says. “Figured you could use a pick-me-up.”

“Yeah.” I try to smile, but can’t quite make it happen. My hands are shaking.

“What’s that?” Bernard asks.

I pass him the business card.

He laughs. “Is this a joke?”

I shrug.

He tosses it into the yard as we go into the house. “Let’s get this party started!”

Three days later, the drugs run out and I am coming down. I stumble to the bathroom, stepping across several prone bodies of people whose names I can’t even remember.

I lock myself in the tiny room and stare at myself in the mirror. The person who stares back is a stranger. I want to scream at her. How did I get here? How did I fall so far?

The depression I’ve been trying to outrun for three days crashes over me. I’m done. I can’t fall any farther. The world would be far better off if I weren’t in it.

I open the medicine cabinet and begin rummaging for razor blades. Two quick swipes and I’ll be done. The pain will be gone.

As I am rummaging, something falls out and sails to the floor. I start in disbelief. It’s the card Bernie tossed into the snow bank.

How did it get here?

I pick it up. The ink is blurry from being wet but is still just readable. I scan it again. Rehab. I’ve been so many times. Why try again?

Memories start racing through my mind and I don’t try to stop them this time. Daniel, the day I delivered him at the hospital, his scrunched red face screaming, so mad. Learning to walk. Learning to talk. He would talk to anyone. Not a shy bone in his body.

I shudder as I remember the day they took him away. I remember when they finally let me see him again, how he crawled straight into my lap and cried. “I’m sorry, Mommy! I’ll be good, I promise! Can I come back home?”

I slump to the filthy tile floor and bawl.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep you safe. I love you.

I hope she tells him that, The Other Woman. I want Daniel to be safe and happy. I want him to grow up in a stable home. But I also want him to know Mommy loves him. I didn’t decide to give him away.

I cry harder and clutch the card to my chest, as if I’m drowning and it’s a life preserver. Maybe this isn’t the end. Maybe there’s hope for a new beginning after all.

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This article has been read 75 times
Member Comments
Member Date
CD Swanson 02/18/14
My goodness...this pulled at my heartstrings!

I felt the pain and anguish of the MC. Excellent writing.

GOd bless~
Brenda Rice 02/18/14
You covered a lot of territory within the word count we are allowed.

You pulled me in instantly and I was right there with your MC in that bathroom.

Very well written. Thanks for sharing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/20/14
Congratulations on ranking 6 in your level and 24 overall! The highest rankings can be found on the message boards.