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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)

TITLE: Kissed by the Sun
By Anita van der Elst


Nicole rolled over and raised her arms for a morning stretch but didn’t get far.


Peering down first at one shoulder, then the other, she was horrified to see numerous blisters.

Then she remembered. Oh, yeah, yesterday’s outing.

She’d noticed Curtis her first day at the community church’s College/Career group. Gentlemanly appearing, he’d never spoken to her specifically. Then last week he’d inquired whether she’d be attending the Memorial Day picnic.

Nicole, a shy girl, stretched herself in joining choir and the College/Career group. Desiring friendship, she hoped a ready smile would break through barriers. Until Curtis approached her after the group meeting, it hadn’t.

Her heart skipped. Is he trying to ask me out?

“I’m not sure. I don’t know anyone, really, to go with,” she said.

Curtis shrugged. “Look for me. You can hang out with my crowd.”

She’d gone home overjoyed. Finally someone’s reaching out to me— in fact, someone cute and of the male persuasion.

A volleyball game was in full swing when Nicole arrived at the park. Curtis spiked a ball over the net so she didn’t try to wave to him just then. Play progressed and Curtis rotated off court allowing the next person in line to participate. Nicole waved. His eyes swept across her but he gave no sign of recognition.

Maybe it’s because I’m wearing sunglasses and a hat? She tried to think of something clever to say. Nothing surfaced. Guess I’ll just get in line to join the game. Maybe he’ll notice me then.

Nicole moved from position to position and in and out of the volleyball game. Not once did Curtis speak to her. Some of the young people returned her smile but when lunchtime came, they separated into exclusive conversational groups.

Lugging her lunch basket, Nicole wandered among the picnic tables. As she was about to retreat to her car in loneliness, a fellow choir member waved to her.

“Hey, Nicole! You need a place to sit for lunch, honey? Want to join me and my family?” Wanda hollered.

Nicole gratefully accepted the invitation.

After lunch Nicole watched the softball game with her lunch companions.

“That’s a cute top you’re wearing,” Wanda commented. “Your shoulders are starting to look sunburned though. You use any sunscreen?”

Nicole shook her head. “I forgot. You think I’ll be okay?”

Wanda frowned. “You’re very fair complected. I should’ve offered you sunscreen earlier. I’d get some aloe vera gel to put on when you go home, otherwise you’re going to blister.”

But by the end of the day when Curtis hadn’t acknowledged her even once, Nicole didn’t care about blistering.

“God,” she sat in her car, praying through her tears. “Why don’t those people want to be friends with me? I’m not bad looking. I’m just not outgoing. Why did you make me this way? I thought Curtis was going to be my friend. Why did he say I could hang out with his crowd and then not introduce me? He totally ignored me, God! That hurts!”

She wiped her face and blew her nose.

“Okay, God. You are the One in control. I don’t understand what happened today but I know You do. I’m trusting You to bring friends into my life who will appreciate me for being me, exactly who You made me to be. And thank You, for always being my Friend.”

Now with her nightgown spaghetti strap sliding down onto a blister, she realized she’d forgotten to heed Wanda’s advice. There’s no way I can put my uniform on. Don’t think I can even take a shower. Guess it’s a sick day.

Nicole gingerly donned a sleeveless sundress and headed for the drug store. As she approached the entrance, a tall young man preceding her, paused and held the door open.

“Thank you,” she murmured.

“Oh, man! You really got kissed by the sun, didn’t you? Looks like a big owie,” he said with a half-grin. “I know a good first aid spray that’ll help. Then once those blisters start breaking, an antibacterial ointment will prevent infection.”

“I’d appreciate that,” Nicole replied.

After showing her the appropriate aisle, he held out his hand. “My name’s Matt. I’m the pharmacist here. Hey, you might need someone to keep an eye on that burn’s condition. I meet with a men’s Bible study group at seven o’clock tomorrow morning at the Corner Café. If you’d like, we could have coffee there after.”

Nicole nodded shyly. Yes, God. I’ll keep trusting YOU.

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This article has been read 863 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke01/14/10
Awww, cute! The ending I mean.

Told in an easy to follow style and kept my attention. Good message of encouragement to trust in God.

The sentence about 'keeping an eye on the burn's condition" is not as smooth sounding as 'keeping an eye on the condition of that burn" but maybe you were condensing for word count. And maybe I'm just being picky.

I enjoy how you convey actions-- very easy to 'see'(or hear) Wanda bellowing, people gathered in private groups, eyes that sweep but do not see...

thanks for speaking up for shy people!!
Melanie Kerr 01/14/10
I was expecting Curtis to be a twin which would account for her being ignored. The sentence "You’re very fair complected" is not a familiar way of talking for me. "You have a very fair complexion" is how I would expect it to read.
Mona Purvis01/14/10
I've had that type of sunburn on my shoulders and it hurts for sure. Enough "OW".
Solid entry, interesting story and easy to understand. Paced well.

Rachel Phelps01/16/10
Cute story. I found myself looking for a bit more to the story - intensified conflict, perhaps - but what was there was engaging and well-written. I second the praise for writing about shy people!
Dee Yoder 01/17/10
Aww, I'm glad there was a happy ending! I get so peeved when people get bullied--especially socially--I felt so sorry for the MC! I think we all can relate to being snubbed and the pain that causes.
Barbara Lynn Culler01/17/10
Man, that story could have been me at that age ....except for the ending! Good job!
Noel Mitaxa 01/19/10
Internal and external healing. Good story.
Charla Diehl 01/20/10
This sweet story has such a basic message that we often forget--we must trust God to answer our prayers in His time. Thanks.
c clemons01/21/10
I have never heard the term 'gentlemanly' but then I'm sure there are plenty of words that I have not heard. Also if I were the MC I still would be cautious of Matt, what did he say so different than Curtis that I would now trust him? Oh well, that's just me. Good job.