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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)

TITLE: Second Chances
By Ruth Neilson


The wind was out of the south off of the ocean and Bella-Rose shivered, tugging her shawl closer. She hated the ocean. It had stolen her father and brother away weeks ago, leaving her alone in this strange land called Australia because of the foolish promise of gold. They had been washed overboard in a storm, and there had been no rescuing them. Any hope of finding Grady, her brother's friend, was gone with them. Now, she was alone.

Idly, she brushed a stray lock of hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear. Some small part of her wondered what she was going to do. Some girls were desperate enough to sell themselves to survive, but there was no way that Bella-Rose could bring herself to do that. It was against everything she believed in. She had to find someway of surviving--her own way.

So, she walked towards the market from the pier, looking for something, but not knowing what. Maybe a kind smile from a stranger or a help wanted sign. She knew that the market would be filled to the brim with people from every nation and this would be the best chance to find employment.

She paused and sucked in a deep breath, hesitating for the briefest of moments before squaring her narrow shoulders and joining the throng of milling people. Bella-Rose's senses were immediately assaulted by sights and smells that seemed to force the world into this one street. Slowly, she made her way from business to business asking for employment. Each time, she would be asked if she could figure numbers or write her name, but it would always end in disappointment.

The sun was high as Bella-Rose wearily left the market. It was too hot to continue this pursuit. Her stomach growled loudly and, dejected, she settled herself underneath a tree and began to sing softly to herself.

There was nothing here for her, and Bella-Rose knew that there was no way for her to afford the passage home. She chewed on a fingernail and stood. Maybe she could beg the captain to take her back home; he had told her that he would try to help her however he could. It wasn't her fault that this little adventure had gone so poorly.

Yes, that is what she would do, Bella-Rose decided, and she rose, carefully dusting her skirts. She pressed her way back through the market, new determination surging through her veins. She grabbed her skirts and lifted them higher, hearing her shoes strike against the wood of the pier, only to see the vessel leaving.

"No!" She cried out. Bella-Rose's heart sank. That had been her last hope to get home, but she had waited too long.

Someone touched her shoulder gently and she turned. Bright blue eyes smiled at her underneath a shock of red hair. His face was weathered from months in the hot sun, but there was no denying it. Bella-Rose wrapped her arms around his neck, kissed both of his cheeks, and stood there for a long moment.

"Grady...I...ohh!" Bella-Rose stammered, as he wrapped his arms around her waist. She finally pulled herself together and she whispered, "I thought I'd lost you. I didn't know what to do."

He smiled softly against her cheek and whispered something causing a flush of color to flood her cheeks. Bella-Rose dipped her head bashfully. Then she nodded, a small smile crossing her lips.

Maybe this grand adventure in Australia was going to turn out after all.

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This article has been read 648 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dianne Janak01/22/09
Aww... the story just got started! Great beginning to an exciting adventure. Well written.. it kept me interested and wanting more.
Connie Dixon01/23/09
So glad this had a happy ending....or beginning, whichever you call it. Good job! Very engaging to the end.....or
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/24/09
I really enjoyed reading your story and finding the "second chance" at the end.
Jan Ackerson 01/25/09
Sounds like a novel in the making!

Your title may have given away the ending, just a bit.

Romance lovers will really enjoy this one.
Chely Roach01/25/09
I like the sweet twist at the end...awww. Nicely done!
Catrina Bradley 01/25/09
This could easily be the intro to an Aussie Romance. I loved it - adventure, heartbreak, hope, and a strong heroine & dashing would-be hero. :)
Beth LaBuff 01/25/09
You captivated me with her story from the start. I'm glad Grady was still there… now what happens? "encore"
Karlene Jacobsen01/25/09
Awe, how sweet. He was ok after all.
Your descriptions of how she was feeling and her plight were done so well.
Joanne Sher 01/26/09
Wonderful descriptions, and such a captivating read. I hope you continue this!
Leah Nichols 01/26/09
I loved the ending! (I'm a sucker for good romance....) It might be helpful to clue the reader in to the nature of their relationship rather than just the phrase "her brother's friend"....that would build the anticipation and hope that Grady would surface. Definitely a story that could be expanded. Nice work!
Joshua Janoski01/26/09
I agree that this feels like only a small piece of what could be a much larger work. What you have here is great though. Thanks for sharing.
Eliza Evans 01/28/09
I agree with Leah's critique. If there is no established relationship then it seems very trite of her to be swept away just at the sight of him. And would he not be asking after her father and brother instead of whispering unmentionables? ;)
This is solely my opinion, but I think this story would be better if her betrothed (or whatever) Grady was the one swept out to sea and she thought she had lost him. Starting off with something so huge as losing a father and brother feels to me like it should be the focal point.. you can't just gloss over something like that... and you only have 750 words. ;)

I could be way off base .. but I'd love to see this story re-worked and
re-defined. If it is a romance then really zero in on that so it can be developed with more impact and believability.

Just my 2 cents and I hope I have been of some help. Keep writing!

Finally, and this may seem like a pedestrian point but ... I LOVE the names you chose. Bella-Rose and Grady. Seriously swoon-worthy. ;)
Names matter! They really do!! Scarlett O'Hara was originally Pansy O'Hara, if you can imagine that!:)