The Official Writing Challenge
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I think the last line sums up your story perfectly: "danced circles of joy over the worn linoleum floor", as you explore the limitations imposed by a desire to study contrasted with a longing to break out of those restraints. Nicely told.
At points the narrative and particularly the dialogue stumbled a little - but nothing that further practice won't resolve. Keep on reading other FW entries (and don't forget to leave comments) so that you can see how other people weave their tales together.
Oh boy, been in these two MC's shoes, and nothing seems lonelier than that first Christmas away from home! I can feel their happiness at the unexpected surprise, too!
I really got caught up in this story, having been unable to get home for Christmas before. It stinks to miss family that much.
BUT, I was so glad your MC's had a happy ending.

Really enjoyed reading this. :)
Wow . . . I can definitely relate. I've been home for Christmas twice in the last fifteen years and I'll spend this one out in the Gulf of Mexico as well.

Your story that captivates the reader. Good job.
Well-told, with some very nice "showing" phrases, especially about the narrator's emotions.

The situation itself didn't grab me much, as it's pretty typical in this "spread out over the country" time. I needed some additional tension to really reel me in.

Very nice writing!
Surprises like that are so nice. :) I could really feel your MC's pain and then her joy... good job!
Marlene, I just wanted to let you know that you did well in the Challenge this week. Even though you didn't quite make it into the winners' circle, you made it into the highest rankings for Level 2, placing 15th for the level.

If you would like to check the highest rankings for yourself, you can see them here:

With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)