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

TITLE: The Proxy
By Debbie OConnor


Jake Matthews pulled his father’s Toyota into the Sellar’s driveway and took a deep breath. He picked up Keri’s corsage and walked to the front door. After a few awkward moments alone with her parents, Jake was relieved to see Keri enter. She wore a backless green gown that showed her lean figure to its best advantage. Jake wished there was a little more to the dress, but Keri looked lovely.

“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?”

“I 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?”

Jake shrugged.

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.”

“Was it?”

“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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This article has been read 1357 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita Neuman04/27/06
Wonderful example of inner strength!

“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?”
Those 2 quotes should be in the same paragraph, since it's the same person speaking.

Other than that, this flowed and was very easy to read. the awkwardness of a teenage first date was really well-written!
Kirralie Smith04/27/06
Well written and easy to relate to. Great to hear another voice for purity and righteousness that glorify's the Lord!
Melanie Kerr 04/28/06
You communicated his awkwardness really well. Although the dialogue was good, I find that long stretches of dialogue without the tags, "He said" or "she said" lose me as to who is talking. Not sure that I understood the end.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/28/06
The beginning was realistic...picture taking, etc; but the ending (to me) was not. Even in my day and age, (which was eons ago) the farewell conversation at the door would have seemed fictional. The writing was very well done, however, and it did keep my interest throughout.
Crista Darr04/28/06
This piece addresses a much needed, often neglected ministry. I would like to know more about WHY he refused her advances. What is it about being a Christian? How can being a Christian help the girl? Also, how many teens know what a "proxy" is? I'm afraid that I don't know either. :) I do LOVE the heart of this piece. I hope you polish it and get it out there.
Maxx .04/28/06
Excellent points, great ministry message. SInce you're n the dreaded Masters level, I'll pick at a few things more deeply. The opening paragraph was a 100% "tell". There was no real setting of the scene, no senses used. I wasn't able to experience what the young man was experiencing. On the other hand, you used dialogue very well and moved the story right along. Since the main point is the young man's distaste for sensuality, you might have taken us deeper inside his head as he wrestled with the feelings. Would have let us experience his emotions. Overall, nicely done! Congrats on tackling a tough subject with class!
Purity Snowe04/29/06
This is nice. Just needs more pretty words .. you know, deep scene building. Great story!
Suzanne R04/29/06
This would be a good story to teach kids about resisting temptation etc - you've provided a positive role model there.

The concept of 'The Proxy' was clever too.

I have a sneaking suspicion of who wrote this ... somebody who is great at writing for teens!

Good job.
Jan Ackerson 05/01/06
I didn't have any problem with the dialog or the characterizations, but I wasn't clear on the "it was a setup" line. But I'd definitely like to have teens read and discuss this, preferably at prom season. It has gotten totally out of control here: the expectation is that that's when couples will "hook up." Many even book hotel rooms. This is a great story, very strong.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/01/06
This is a great story for teenagers. They are smarter than most of us give them credit. They will understand what a proxy is.
Kathleen Morris05/01/06
I just asked a sixteen-year-old honour student and a fourteen-year-old bookworm if they knew what a proxy was--they didn't. But don't let that alarm you. They raced to a dictionary and found out what it meant. Teens are inquisitive. If they don't know, they'll ask. I don't think you should change the title. I think It's very clever. Teens won't be confused. I have a bunch, and I also teach the teen Sunday School class at church. This topic is MAJOR with them right now. They NEED to hear it...especially the ones that don't know what a proxy is. Give them something to think about...don't spoon feed them. Great job!
Jean Elizabeth 05/01/06
Wonderful entry. You did a great job portraying a strong young man solid in his faith. Keep the title - it fits perfectly.
Rita Garcia05/01/06
Enjoyed this story of a first date, realistic. well done!
darlene hight05/02/06
I like the concept of this alot. I'm not sure that I felt the dialog was believable. I don't hear kids talking about real things. It tends to be more about what so and so did or making fun of teachers etc.I really like the ending when he was honest with her but also affirmed that she was beautiful. That would have won many brownie points with any young lady and possibly given room to discuss more important things.
Linda Emmons05/03/06
As one with a lot of time working with teenagers, I thought this story was very realistic in setting and dialogue.