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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)

TITLE: Distraction
By April Bailey


I moved into a studio apartment in Shelbyville a week after graduation. I’d passed those pristine brownstones, with their red brick posture and wrought iron gates, on my way to school for four years. They’d become friends—clean, strong, secure friends in a neighborhood worlds away from Howard Street, where I grew up.

Life in Shelbyville seemed perfect. Car horns honked out of courtesy, not impatience. Well-tailored people walked well-groomed dogs, and perhaps uptown fairies scurried off with the community’s dirt, because sidewalks and streets gleamed as if polished. No gangs trolled the blocks. No dealers lingered on corners to peddle drugs. Lawns remained trash-free in Shelbyville and, after a lifetime on Howard Street, I’d grown tired of trash.

Working my way through college, I had saved every penny so that me and my diploma wouldn’t have to return to the ghetto. That piece of paper meant something to people in Shelbyville and, combined with my new address, probably meant I’d be getting a great job in no time. Until then, though, I planned to settle into my new digs.

I had furnished my small apartment with one enormous chair, all I could afford, which served as sofa, desk, table, and bed. Having picked a chair that didn’t smell too badly, I could easily pretend it came from IKEA instead of the Salvation Army. The time soon arrived, after moving in my few belongings, to curl up in my lounger, sip green tea, and welcome serenity. It felt even sweeter than it had in my imagination.

Then, from the window of my new living room, I spotted it. Something had fallen against the curb across the street. A glint from the small object, lying in an otherwise spotless gutter, caught my gaze and held it. A piece of litter? Certainly not. Not in Shelbyville.

Forget it. Serenity sought to seduce me once more, despite the object reflecting sunlight from the street. I could’ve looked away and basked in my steaming herbs, but I found myself huffing, smirking, sneering over my tea at the tiny object screwing up my perfection. “Enough!” I shouted, unfolding my legs and setting the tea cup on the window sill. I rose and stepped out into sweet Shelbyville air, darting across the street.

“Hmm,” I murmured, examining the distraction more closely. A pair of broken glasses lay twisted in the gutter. The lenses were cracked with missing shards, the gaudy frames distorted. They seemed quite out of place in Shelbyville.

I studied the tacky plastic frames, scratched up and covered in dollar store studs. For an instant, a terrifying thought flashed in my head. Could these actually belong to someone living here? Is this the beginning of Shelbyville’s end? A precursor to crack bags and used syringes? I glanced up as a woman passed with her daughter, both of them looking as if they’d just stepped out of a J.Crew catalog.

“Good morning,” she sang the words as if beginning a beautiful song, the child waving as they skipped past.

“Good morning.” I smiled and sighed, refocusing on the trash. No. These couldn’t belong to anyone here. They must have dropped off a garbage truck.

I lifted the glasses carefully, making a note to slather my hands in antibacterial soap after returning inside. “I know where you belong,” I said, tucking the lost litter into my jacket pocket. I would dispose of them later, the next time I passed Howard Street.

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This article has been read 610 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Wilber02/02/08
The glasses almost seem to be a red herring. The real "glitter" seemed to be the idea that Shelbyville is a refuge from fear. I wonder if the MC will spend the rest of her life worrying about fitting in.
Joanne Sher 02/02/08
Just fascinating. I was absolutely engaged. Very, very creative.
Marita Vandertogt02/06/08
This one really makes you think... I'm guessing that Shelbyville is the glitter that more or less stole the MC's soul away...
The writing is excellent. An enjoyable read that stays with you.