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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)

TITLE: Elizabeth's Dilemma


If there ever was a time in Elizabeth’s life when she needed inner strength, it was now! At the age of 45, she was facing an emotional crisis that would take every ounce of strength and determination and she didn’t feel a bit strong, only weak, like lukewarm lemonade.

Just a few months ago, Elizabeth was doing great. Her move to Virginia proved productive and her new job as Instructor for undergraduates at Virginia Tech was going well. Her new boyfriend, Tod, wanted to marry her and she loved him, more than life.

But now, she was facing a dilemma that would force her to confront an evil that she saw coming, weeks ago.

Marsha was a co-worker and had been working at Virginia Tech for 10 years. Their relationship started out well; lunches and dinners were happily spent and ideas for teaching shared, but something was not right with Marsha.

Marsha had one quality that drove Elizabeth nuts—her obsessive nature, but confronting her friend about it would be hard, for Marsha always dominated and controlled the conversation.

Marsha had to be faced because the relationship was on a dangerous curve and Elizabeth didn’t want to be on the receiving end of Marsha’s uncontrolled wrath.

Elizabeth mused, When did this uncomfortable feeling about Marsha begin? She took time to think about it when something came to her….Yes! That’s it! That’s when it all started…

It was on a gray November day and Marsha and Elizabeth were having lunch at Marcie’s, when Marsha blurted out that her relationship with Skip, a manager at Virginia Tech, was deteriorating and she was feeling angry and resentful. She even went so far to say that, “If I could do something that would shake him up—make him think about the harm he’s caused me, why, maybe it would scare him real bad…What do you think?”

Elizabeth remembered saying something like, “Well, I don’t know; you don’t want to do anything that will hurt him…” At least, that’s what she remembered….

December came fast and with it Elizabeth’s resolve to face Marsha. It was on a snowy, Christmas-like day that she decided she would confront her friend. She had called Marsha earlier and asked to meet her after work at Martha’s Bookstore for some coffee and doughnuts.

Both arrived at about the same time and the conversation began.

“Marsha, I asked to see you today to talk with you about a matter that has been bothering me for a long time. You see...” She was about to finish her sentence when Marsha blurted out, “Elizabeth, wait, I want to share something with you about Skip. Remember Skip?

Well, I did something last night that cooked his goose! I poured a tiny amount of arsenic in his coffee and he’s still on my couch! I guess I’ll call the coroner’s office tonight and say that he just passed out and I thought he was just dead asleep from his drinking…He did drink a lot last night. And well, I guess he’s just plain dead, now! Ha! Well, what do you think? Say, you had something you wanted to talk to me about?”

Elizabeth sat in stoned-cold, silence. It was too late to say anything, especially to a murderer!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 04/27/06
A strange and eerie story. Don't exactly connect it with inner strength...but thanks for sharing.
Helen Paynter04/27/06
Shocking... a strong message to be bold in confronting issues that trouble our consciences
Teri Wilson04/27/06
This was intriguing, but I did not see the connection to inner strength??
terri tiffany04/27/06
Needs to work on punctuation and dialogue some. I felt the ending was abit shocking and could have been developed differently. You have talent that just needs some tightening up in certain areas.
Jan Ackerson 04/29/06
The behaviors of your two characters don't quite ring true for me...especially the casual confession to a friend. I wonder if it'd make a stronger story if Elizabeth comes to realize what Marsha has done through observation, deduction--and then has to decide what to do about her knowledge. I think you were definitely right on topic, though--that's certainly a situation that would call for inner strength!