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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "It's No Use Crying over Spilt Milk" (without using the actual phrase or literal exampl (02/07/08)

TITLE: Sally's Spot
By Ruth Neilson
02/10/08


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Shannon winced as she turned her right arm. She sucked in a deep breath as she examined it closer; five circles seemed to be etched against her fair skin. Her parents and the family that they had been hiding with were gone and Shannon was left alone in a cramped shack. Being arrested was humiliating enough, but the worst part, at least for Shannon was the crude jeers followed by the sound of a razor making quick work of her once long, brown hair. Now she was no different then the women who surrounded her.

Nervously, Shannon sank onto a rough pallet and gazed around as she ran a hand over her smooth head. Women milled around the shack, murmuring softly amongst themselves. Shannon frowned as she continued to watch. Most of the women walked with a limp—though some were more pronounce than others; others seemed to twitch as they held conversations with the thin air.

“That’s Sally’s spot!” A grizzled woman declared, glaring at Shannon.

Shannon blinked in confusion and pushed herself to her feet. “I-I didn’t know this was anyone’s spot,” she tried to explain as the odd woman moved forward threateningly.

“No one sits on Sally’s spot!”

“Sally, this little lamb didn’t know.” Another voice interrupted the increasingly precarious conversation and Shannon found herself letting out a sigh of relief. Maybe this woman wasn’t a twitching lady.

“Sally’s spot. Lambie know now?” Sally asked, her unfocused eyes gazing in Shannon’s general direction.

Shannon’s rescuer nodded once. “That’s right; Lambie now knows and won’t sit there again.” She paused and reached for Shannon’s arm. “C’mon Lambie, let’s get you settled, ‘kay?”

The woman led her away from Sally and gazed at Shannon for a long moment. Finally, Shannon broke the silence, “I’m Shannon.”

Her rescuer shook her graying head once. “Not any more. In here nobody has their old names...in here no one wants their old names.”

“But Sal-”

“‘Sally’ wasn’t always Sally, just like you aren’t Shannon anymore. Consider it a survival method or a way to escape from this nightmare for a few brief moments.”

The young woman frowned in confusion as her hero pressed on. “You just call me Gram and we’ll call you ‘Lambie.’ You’ll understand everything in a few days or so.”

Lambie shifted slightly running a hand up her arm. “Gram...what happened to my parents? We were separated during the raid...”

Gram held up her hand for Lambie to stop talking. “That’s a fact that speaks for itself. You being here and they aren’t means they were registered Christians and you, my young friend, have an important decision to make that makes sitting in Sally’s spot the least of your concerns.”

Lambie felt her head start to spin. She had to keep living somehow. She felt a small twitch in her eye as she continued to think and pray to whatever god there was out there for an answer. The police and soldiers made it clear why she was here, someone told where her family’s hiding spot was—but now, could she allow herself be put into the same situation?

The sound of boots trooping through the cold mud combined with crude jests filled the air. The women stilled, and the door slammed against the wall, causing the shack to shudder.

A dark pair eyes gazed through the crowd before narrowing in on Lambie. Carelessly, they shoved the other women out of the way before cruelly grasping Lambie’s shoulder.

“I’ll go for her.” A small, but strong voice piped up. The men glanced at each other and shrugged as they released their bruising grips.

What did it matter what woman they brought in as long as it was someone for them to question. The girl smiled faintly as she willingly went with the soldiers; then, hesitating long enough to glance over her shoulder to mouth, “don’t sweat the small stuff.”


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This article has been read 620 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan02/14/08
I had to read this first as it had my name in it :) I liked the part about the girl having to make a choice as to what she believed. The story was a little confusing at the end, and an editing buddy would have helped with the overall polish of the piece. With a little more work on it this could be quite impactful.
Patty Wysong02/15/08
...and she thought that was 'small stuff'? Wow. I liked the subtle shift from Shannon to Lambie, complete with the twitching she felt.
Leigh MacKelvey02/16/08
Compelling writing. I , too, had a bit of trouble st the end, but after reading a second time, I think I got it! Your descriptions were great.
Joanne Sher 02/16/08
Great description and characterization. I was intrigued throughout.
Laury Hubrich 02/16/08
At first I thought this was the Holocaust and then I thought the end times. Am I close at all? This was most intriguing.
Laury
LauraLee Shaw02/19/08
Your descriptions are very vivid and engaging.
Jan Ackerson 02/19/08
Superb job of establishing an atmosphere, and of compelling your readers to move along through the piece. Excellent!
Dee Yoder 02/19/08
Chilling. I wouldn't want to be in her shoes when she finds out what the "small stuff" really means. Very compelling read.
Holly Westefeld02/19/08
I would love to see this expanded, perhaps in the general articles section. You create excellent impathy with Shannon's fear and confusion, as well as a vivid sense of place. You could probably build a novel around all the possibilities ripe in this piece.

I, too, unfortunately, had difficulty following the ending. Somehow the phrase "don't sweat the small stuff," just didn't quite seem to fit, to me. I had to do a lot of thinking about the spilt milk connection, and am still not sure I got that right. Finally, I wonder if a different title would more completely cover the scope of the story, as Sally was left behind fairly early on.
Debbie Wistrom02/20/08
Thanks for the brick, I enjoyed this bold piece very much. Thanks.
Sara Harricharan 02/20/08
Gave me goosebumps reading this. I'm still not sure at the end if it was Lambie that went or someone else. Either way, I admired the courage to mouth "don't sweat the small stuff" You made it real with "Sally" and the name changes and also losing her hair. Wow. Nice job here. ^_^
Beth LaBuff 02/20/08
Amazing work on this incredibly creative story. Perfect title too.