Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)
TITLE: The Proxy
By Debbie OConnor
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“You look nice,” he said as he handed her the corsage.
“Thanks. You look good, too.” She pinned a boutonniere on his lapel while her mother shot stills and her father filmed. Jake couldn’t wait to leave.
After ten agonizing minutes of pictures, Keri’s parents let them go. They laughed with relief as the door shut behind them.
“I’m sorry, my parents love pictures.”
“No problem,” Jake said. “We have plenty of time.”
Several minutes later, Jake walked Keri up to the door of a Mexican Cantina. Seated on an upstairs deck, they watched the sun set across the Columbia River.
“You are a good singer, Keri,” Jake said to make conversation. “Have you always liked singing?”
“Yeah, Mom says I sang into spoons as a toddler. I don’t remember that, though.”
“Do you sing at church?”
“No, but I started singing in grade school and have been in choirs and ensembles ever since.”
“What about you? Have you always been into sports?”
“Of course,” Jake laughed. “My dad had me playing ball when I was in diapers. I don’t remember that either, though.”
Keri giggled. “You know, I’ve had a crush on you for over a year.”
Jake felt his face grow hot. “You have?”
Jake was uncomfortable. “How do you like school?”
“It’s okay. I’m good at English. I love to read romance and thrillers. Do you like to read?”
“Yes, but I like classics, science fiction and the Bible.”
“You read the Bible?” Keri looked surprised.
“A little every day.”
“Isn’t it hard to understand?”
“Sometimes, but I pray, research and ask for help.”
“Oh…” Keri struggled for a new topic. “Who do you think will be voted King and Queen tonight?”
Before long, Jake and Keri entered a transformed gym. Live music blared over a crowd of chattering teens. “Do you like to dance?” Keri asked.
“I don’t know,” Jake said.
“Well, let’s find out.”
Keri led Jake to the center of a throng bobbing to music. Lights swirled overhead; the stench of forbidden smoke and alcohol permeated the air. The music slowed and couples embraced; some kissed passionately.
Jake could see that Keri wanted to keep dancing. Reluctantly, he drew her close. They swayed to the music. Keri closed her eyes and rested her head on his shoulder.
“So, where do you want to go to college?” he asked abruptly.
Keri’s eyes opened. “I don’t know,” she said, gazing deeply into his eyes. “I have a year left.”
“I’m looking forward to UW next year.”
“What will you major in?”
“Biology—I want to be a doctor. Do you know what you want to do?”
“I’d like to keep singing, but I don’t know that I can make it a career.”
Jake was relieved when the song ended. As the night went on, Keri clung to him more. He tried to maintain a healthy distance without embarrassing her.
Jake was glad to walk Keri to the door at the end of the evening.
“Thank you,” Keri said. She leaned toward Jake and closed her eyes.
“Keri,” Jake said.
“Yes?” Keri opened her eyes and straightened up.
“I’ll see you at school.”
“Sure,” Keri said. She started to go inside, but stopped. “Why did you ask me out?”
“I wanted to get to know you—I thought it might be fun.”
“Not really,” he said as gently as possible. “You seemed to want me to hold and kiss you, but I’m a Christian. I don’t believe in being physically intimate until I’m married, and I’m not ready for that.”
“I’ve dreamed about dating you for a year,” she said. “I wanted romance. I wanted you to think I’m beautiful.”
“Keri, you are beautiful, but that isn’t enough.”
Keri looked at Jake. Her eyes sparkled with tears, but she smiled awkwardly at him and whispered, “Thanks.”
Suddenly, Jake knew their whole night was a set up. The One who sought Keri’s heart would satisfy her in a way no man ever could. Jake was only His proxy.
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