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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Acceptance (01/12/04)

TITLE: Acceptance
By Gary Sims


The Man, uncomfortably dressed in the too-small suit, a tie covered with train engines,
and strikingly-white socks, walked into the church building. He immediately felt out of
place as the scurry of activity he witnessed filled and overwhelmed all of his senses.
Everyone seemed animated and excited. Three young children were looking closely at
the donuts on the table, stealing a look to their parents to see if they were being watched.
The foyer was filled with several small groups of people, all eagerly involved in
conversation. The din grew as a stream of people continued to flow into the area and as
each group began talking louder than the next in order to be heard.
A line to the coffee pot seemed to be a safe and purposeful destination and it would
afford him a better view of the room, away from the door where a person with a Name-
Tag seemed to be eyeing him closely.
"Act like I belong here," he said to himself. "Act natural. No one will notice."
The hunched-over figure in front of him, straightened and, with coffee in hand and cane
over his arm, began looking for an exit from the line and a safe entry into the growing
mass of humanity. "I spill this stuff every week," the octogenarian said. "There are too
many people in this room. Grab your coffee and follow me."
Surprised by the order, he reached out and fumbled with the stack of Styrofoam cups,
knocking them over and onto the floor. Carefully restacking the cups, he grabbed one of
the floor escapees for himself, filled it with the steaming brew, and a handful of sugar
packets. Looking around he could see the older man waiting for him across the room.
"Name-Tag" person was still watching him with an inquisitory look. The cane
supported, coffee toting gray-haired man seemed to be the safer of the two options, so he
quickly ducked his eyes and headed in that direction.
"First time here?" Gray-Beard asked as they found a cubby hole at one side of a long
hallway. As they sank into the little cul-de-sac, the hallway filled with a long procession
of Robed-Angels winding their way through the throng and the ever growing number of
"Yes, sir. I haven't been to a church in quite awhile." Suddenly his tie felt extremely
tight. He would need his inhaler if he didn't get out of the corner and into a space with air
"Why don't you sit with me during the service?" Gray-Beard quipped as he began a slow
reemergence into the flow. "I have a spot reserved that gives me a good view but also an
easy exit. I think you will like it here. It will begin to feel like home before you know
The Robed-Angels had gone and the crowd subsided as everyone seemed to have heard
an imaginary tone calling them to the sanctuary. "I will introduce you to Charlie, after
church. He leads a small group of single men for Bible study in his home. I think you
will hit it off real well with them. I heard they were talking about forming a train club.
You like trains, don't you?"
"Huh, yes sir. I like them a lot." The Man looked around and then quickly followed
Gray-Beard into the sanctuary. "He's right." The Man thought to himself. "It is
beginning to feel like home."

Member Comments
Member Date
L.M. Lee01/22/04
what a great story...loved the ending.
David Ian01/22/04
Gary, you rock! This is great! I loved the fear of "Name Tag" person and the general din and chaos from a visitor's POV. Cool Cookies!
Mary Elder-Criss01/24/04
I really enjoyed this story. Having been in this position before visiting a new church, you truly captured the nervousness. That we would all be as accepting as the older gentleman, and make such a difference. Great job!
Kathy Pollock01/24/04
Gary, this is so cool. You really captured how it feels to not know what's going on when everyone else does. Been there. Great job.