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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)

TITLE: three o'clock
By Lisa Hendricks


It was three o’clock in the morning when the pistol was put to her head. She remembered that the truck window was down for a long time, blowing a sharp breeze across her face and legs. Because of the cold, there were few people on the streets at that time of night. There would be scant witnesses in the dark if another crime were to be committed.

It seemed like a good idea, to drive down to the city that night. They needed more rock to smoke, and her companion knew where it walked the streets, piled in the pockets of the dealers. They pulled up to a few men huddled on a corner.

She kept her face pointed in the direction of clock on the dash during the transaction; she assumed the fewer eyes focused on the men the better. So, when the pistol was pulled, she didn’t realize it until her companion’s whole body became tense. Actually, he exhibited the same tension whenever rock came around. They both did; it was the anticipation.

The original reason she removed her eyes from the clock was to see the rock that made her smoking partner get so rigid. It was again only to get that adrenaline rush of anticipation. Instead, the sight of a hard, black gun fueled her adrenaline.

When the word ‘help’ ricocheted through her head, she didn’t consciously think about who she was screaming at. She certainly couldn’t vocalize her cries; that would mean death. But in her head, where she had retreated, she yelled for rescue. To calm herself, she resumed her job as sentinel, although time seemed to have stopped at that moment.

For unknown reasons, the men on the street decided they were not worth the bullets or the hassle. Her companion and the men completed their transaction and they sped toward home. The men had sold them what later turned out to be a brazil nut. Looking back, she reflected that her indignation was toward the bunk drugs, not the gun pulling.

Time marched on and the episode became a lost memory. There would be other drugs, other demons, and other men in her life. It was on another cold day when the memories would come rolling back.

“…and these people need a lot of help.” Her head seemed to be submerged under water as they turned the corner. She resurfaced and only caught the last part of his sentence. She and a group of other students had been walking around the block where the coffee shop was located. The shop was many in a line of storefronts littering the inner-city street. This one looked different, though. To her, it was different enough to want to do her internship there. She even loved the name, “The Urban Jungle.”

As they turned the corner off the busy street, all her memories came flooding back and she realized where she was walking. This time it was afternoon, and the sun was reflecting some light on the sooty snow, but she knew it was the same corner from so many years and so many lifetimes before.

The coffee shop owner went on with his story. “We serve dealers, prostitutes and lost, lonely kids. We show love in whatever way they need, and we never push them away. We are here to listen to them and to meet them where they are. And in doing that, we reach out the arms of Christ.”

She realized again that her screams for help so long ago had not been ricocheting at all. It was a revelation that occurred to her many times that year. Her cries had penetrated so deeply into the heart of the one who cared about her and for her all that time she thought she was alone. She smiled to herself as they opened the door to the shop. This would be an excellent place to serve.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 03/01/06
A seamless transition from memory into the present day, and a very subtle way of depicting her transformation, and the answer to her cry. Skillfully written and moody, very good.
Cheryl Harrison03/03/06
Very good. Kept my attention all the way through. I loved the way you transitioned from the past into the present. Good writing and message.