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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Vote/Voted off the Island (05/29/14)

TITLE: Home Coming
By lynn gipson


Alexandria Windham was every school boy's dream. She had long, flowing, raven hair and sparkling brown eyes that always seemed to be smiling. She was five-foot seven inches tall with legs that went on forever. A smile from her would brighten even the darkest moments of anyone's day.

Alex, as she was known to her friends, was smart and popular with her peers. She had been in the running for Homecoming Queen the two previous years. She lost out both times by only a few votes, bitterly disappointing her mother.

Alex was a class act, and that's exactly what she was, an act. Hidden deep beneath the effervescent smile was a child that felt dead inside. She simply went through the motions like a dark haired teenaged puppet with strings being pulled by her mother, Maureen Windham.

Maureen was a stunning but cold and domineering woman who wanted more than ever for Alexandria to chosen Homecoming Queen this final, senior year. Maureen was running for Mayor of their small town, and it would look especially good for her to be able to introduce her daughter as “this year's Homecoming Queen.”

“I need for you to win this time, Alexandria!” Maureen demanded.

Maureen never showed her daughter the slightest bit of approval. She called her "Darling" but the word always felt flat of any emotion. Her father was slightly more loving, and would tell Alex he was proud of her from time to time, but neither parent ever thought to say the words "I love you."

Alex couldn't care less about being a queen of any sort. She was not the kind of girl who needed to stand before a crowd and be oohed and aahed at. In fact, she preferred not to be. She would rather read, paint, and sing in the church choir. Those were her passions.

Maureen prodded and goaded Alex to be more of a lady and to understand that physical beauty was what it took to make it in this world, while Alex believed that outward beauty was only skin deep.

The night of the Homecoming, three girls were voted off the court until the only two girls left standing were Alex and a lovely girl named Barbie. Barbie was definitely beauty queen material, so much that she was named after the famous doll.

When Barbie was chosen as queen, Alex smiled, hugged Barbie and glanced at her mother. Maureen shot Alex a look of pure hatred. Alex knew her mother was disappointed, but nothing could have prepared her for what came later.

“Alexandria, how many times have I told you not to be such a slouch? You slouched out on that stage tonight, and that's why you were out voted. I'm ashamed to have you for a daughter!”

A few weeks later, the school principal, Mrs Harris, called Maureen to say she was concerned about Alex.

"Alex is just not herself, Mrs. Windham. She seldom speaks. There is evidently a problem." Mrs Harris informed Maureen over the phone.

"Nonsense! And her name is Alexandria! My daughter has no problems, Mrs Harris. I'll have a talk with her.”

Maureen was waiting on her daughter when she got home from school. "Alexandria, what in the world has come over you? Do you know your school's principal called me at work today? I'm running for Mayor. I can't have people saying something is wrong with my daughter!"

"Mother, my grades are straight A's. I'm doing fine."

Maureen refused to recognize the symptoms of major depression in her daughter. She began to berate Alex for her attitude and manner of dress. Alex fell deeper and deeper into her spiraling vortex of despair. Her father didn't even notice.

One cold, winter day Alex failed to come home from school. By seven-thirty in the evening Maureen was frantically calling her friends. No one knew anything of Alex's whereabouts. At midnight there was still no sign of her. Maureen was furious at her daughter for staying out so late.

Authorities were called in the next day, but Alex seemed to have vanished without a trace. The last person known to have seen her was a classmate who noticed her after school. He said he saw her walking along the riverbank, and thought it odd because the temperature was freezing that day.

Two days later Alexandria's body was found floating in the river, and on that very day Maureen received a letter in the mail.

“Mother, I'm sorry to have been such a disappointment. ALEX.”

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This article has been read 259 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 06/05/14
Whoa! Powerful and jarring.
Excellent story, good job with setting up the story in terms of expectations.

The mother was ruthlessly involved with her own agenda, and sadly...I've seen this occur more times than not.

Well done. This should score well with the judges.

God bless~
Judith Gayle Smith06/06/14
Poignant. You have MY vote!
Joe Moreland06/07/14
This was stirring and emotional. My only bit of red ink is that maybe Maureen was too cruel and selfish. That would be okay if the entire story was from the perspective of Alex, but, since it switches back and forth between Maureen and Alex, it would maybe work better if we saw some glimmer of self-doubt or concern on the mother's part. That would make the final result that much more impactful. As it stands now, it's sad for us to read, but I don't come away necessarily believing that Maureen has learned anything about herself.

Take that with a huge grain of salt, because it's just my feeling as I read it, others may see it entirely differently. None of that takes away from the fact that you have a beautiful story here, with believable characters and a dramatic, impactful and, sadly, realistic plot.

Very nicely done!
Mar  06/07/14
Wow, powerful and emotional read! Just so sad for me, :( i have heard these stories so often, breaks my heart. Imagine how, with just one or two more lines at the end, it would have moved your readers, if you wrote her entering into the kingdom and Jesus crown her homecoming queen! Voted off the land but coming home, daughter of a king! :)
Allison Egley 06/07/14
Good job with this.

I do agree with the comment that a glimmer of hope at the end for Maureen would have been nice. I'm not talking a big revelation at the end. Even a dismissive "Perhaps I've been a bit hard on her... naw." before the end would have done it for me, because it would give the idea that she would revisit that thought at the end.

Over all, though a very powerful story. Nice job.

Graham Insley06/08/14
The hope and encouragement we give to our loved ones is SO important. You make that point in a very powerful way.

I read this and see the positive message, mentioned above, highlighted by the grim details of your well written tale of woe.

Good writing. Blessings.
Larry Whittington06/08/14
Pride drives self and others.

Those who drive others without concern for their good are bullies.

Change only comes with humility.

This was a well written story which could be the background cause of much evil in the world today.

Try to get this short story published for many to read. It may be a "wakeup call" to those it applies to.

Noel Mitaxa 06/09/14
What a powerful but heartbreaking ending to a well-crafted story.
Sheldon Bass 06/11/14
What a tragic tale and all too real for some families. The drive for affluence and demand for societal conformity to an illusory reality without concern for the soul is heartbreaking. Sorry, I almost took off on a tangent there. You did a great job with this piece. I connected well with your MC, and felt the stab of horror at the end. Wonderful work.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/13/14
Wow, this just sent me to my knees. I wanted to reach through the page and whack the "mother" in the back of the head while scooping up the poor girl and just letting her feel loved. There is an Alex not too far from any reader. I did stop and pray for them all. I hope your story encourages readers to open their eyes and reach out to help those hurting around us. You did a fantastic job with this one. Congratulations in ranking 7th overall. Happy Dance!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/13/14
Sorry the one didn't show up. Congratulations on ranking 17 overall.
C D Swanson 06/13/14

Congratulations on your placement. I thought this was a fine story. Glad it got recognition.

God bless you~