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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Enter (02/27/06)

TITLE: Amy's Choice
By Steve Clark


The clicks of the ignition being turned off echoed in the oppressive silence. Afraid to face her choice, Amy resented the silence that left her with no distractions. “I guess this is it,” she thought to herself. Her hand refused to reach for the latch. Her body felt ten times heavier as the seat seemed to hold onto her, urging her to sit awhile longer.

Reluctantly, she got out of the car, locking it. Filling the meter for two hours, she checked her watch. Five minutes yet. She shuffled slowly down the sidewalk toward the entrance, alone.

In her mind she carried the concerns of her parents, her future, and her fiancée. They weighed heavy on her and pushed her from behind, but something else was fighting them. She knew she had to do this. “It is best,” she convinced herself, adding, “Or, is it?” Not wanting to re-open the debate she had already exhausted, she pressed onward, saying aloud, “God help me.”

Still lost in the soup of her emotions, Amy neared the door. The address was correct, but the only sign was on the inside of the glass door, just above the handle. It said “Enter.”

The word caught in her mind like a log that turns sideways in the river, jamming the others. “Enter,” she repeated in her mind as if choosing a melon in the market. “Enter what? What am I entering?” The more she thought about the word, the more it seemed to lead toward a cave, a cavern of shadowy mystery. It was like seeing a nightmare coming toward you before you were actually in it.

Shaking off the fear as “a normal part of the procedure,” just as her mother had said, Amy took a step toward the door. As she reached her hand toward the handle her eyes caught the sign again. “Enter.” Her hand recoiled as if reaching for a cookie sheet and suddenly remembering it had just come out of the oven.

This was not as easy to do as her mom had told her it would be. Once again she said aloud, “God help me.” Standing there on the sidewalk, trying to do the right thing, she really wanted God’s help.

"Enter." Again the image of a deepening dusk came over her. Nightfall, it seemed. Her feet were anchored in the mire of her struggle. They wouldn’t move. “Please Lord, give me a sign,” she prayed. “Show me what path to take.”

Immediately her feet were free. She walked up to the door, swung it open with great resolve and marched inside. It looked like any other waiting room with styrofoam ceiling panels, fluorescent lights, and an array of chairs with people in some of them. Approaching the receptionist’s counter she was told to sign-in. She picked-up the pen. As she poised the tip near the paper, the lights went out.

In that moment, when the air conditioning fans wound to a stop amidst the silence of people pausing to realize what had happened, Amy remembered the silence in the car. She looked around. Everything was dark – except the glass door. In an instant her body sprang to action. Dodging furniture and people, she headed for the door as if chased by demons. As her hand rammed the push-bar, her eyes caught the reverse side of the door sign. “Exit.” As the door swung open she thought with crystal clarity, “Exit? You bet, baby.”

She danced her way up the sidewalk, skipping and even throwing in a couple twirls. Her joy was immense. It surged through her. She laughed. She was a healthy young woman with her whole life ahead of her.

She opened the car door, got in, and sat there a moment to gather what had just happened. Some people may reject her for this decision, and she was willing to accept that. She may end up on her own, but she wouldn’t be alone. Her Holy Father had come through for her. He told her what path to take and she was now sure He would always be there when she needed Him.

She turned the key and the engine roared to life. “Life,” she thought. “What a good thing.” Sitting in her parked car with a big, uncontainable grin on her face, Amy stared years down the road, and said, “I’m going to be a mother.”

As tears of joy welled in her eyes she corrected herself. “No. I AM a mother.”

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Beth Muehlhausen03/06/06
Some good images here. Interesting take on the topic - "Enter WHAT?" I had to wonder if her fiancee would reject her because she kept the baby...a casual boyfriend's rejection is more plausible. Great punch line at the end!
Val Clark03/07/06
You portrayed Amy's struggle and her later joy, taking it from the emotional to the physical world, really well. I could clearly picture the car, the sidewalk, the clinic and Amy in each of those places.

A few hints:
'“I guess this is it,” she thought to herself.' You can save yourself four precious words by putting “I guess this is it,” in italices, no inverted commas. Readers will assume your character is thinking.

'Five munites, yet.' the 'Yet' is not needed. (Same with words like 'still' and dependng on context, 'now'.)

'In her mind she carried the concerns of her parents, her future, and her fiancée.' This is telling us not showing us. I realize you want to keep back the identity of the place she is entering, and that she is tired of the debate but, for the reader, is there a way you can convey something of the debate without giving too much away?

To heighten the tension keep sentences short. Believe it or not they make the reader's heart race more and feel the emotions of your character. ie 'She shook off the fear. “A normal part of the procedure,” mother said. Amy took a step toward the door. She reached out her hand. Her eyes caught the sign. “Enter.”'

Also, watch out for repetition of words like 'toward'.

One thing that can underpin the emotion for the reader is to not major so much on the physcial. What does she hear, smell, taste or feel as she walks to the clinic? How can the things she experiences through those senses before contrast with the after?

(Sorry if there are spelling errors, Word will not open to let me do a spell check :-( )
Marilyn Schnepp 03/07/06
Very well written story on the great debate - mark one up for the Pro Lifers. Suspenseful and spells out this week's Topic nicely.
Amy Michelle Wiley 03/07/06
This was well done. Good job!

(and what a blessing to get a long critique from Val. Me next? ;-) LOL)
Lisa Smith03/08/06
Thanks for sharing this. Well done. You show the conflicting emotions very well, as well as the pressures that push a woman into "entering" into that dark place. Loved the last line!
Maxx .03/08/06
Captured the mood well ... told a story by telling a different story. I like it! Nice feel to it. You've done well!
Virginia Gorg03/10/06
Well written and held my interest. I figured out early on her dilemma and applaud her decision. Boyfriend or fiancee - either way some males desert a woman. This could be a good article in a magazine dealing with Pro Life.
Shari Armstrong 03/13/06
Wonderful - I loved the way God answered her prayers -and she took no time in second guessing that answer!
Kate Wells03/14/06
Very nice! My favorite line was, "The word caught in her mind like a log that turns sideways in the river, jamming the others."...
As for boyfriend/fiancee - I know someone personally whose fiancee moved away & became a youth pastor when she chose to keep her baby. It happens!
Congratulations on your win! Kate~
Debora Dyess03/24/06
WOW! WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW! Excellent--we've had to face this decision in our family and this really touched my heart. Good job! (I think you should have taken first place :) with this). You ought to submit it to Focus on the Family's magazine for teenaged girls called 'Brio'. I think they'd eat it up.