Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Break (02/06/06)
TITLE: A Needed Break
By Venice Kichura
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“Gimme a break!” Stephanie wailed as Mrs. Edwards, the school guidance counselor, sprinted up to her.
Slamming her office door, Mrs. Edwards began her lecture.
“Stephanie, you’ve already had too many breaks. Not only am I giving you another detention but I’m also calling home and setting up a conference with your mom.”
As she dialed, Stephanie squirmed in her chair, hands covering her face, choking back muffled sobs.
After leaving a message to please call her back regarding Stephanie trying to skip school, again, she sighed, thinking how some hard-to-contact parents were often trickier to reach than their kids. Recently, she wondered why she’d chosen this profession. Just as many of her students were flunking out of school, she felt she was failing on her job, too.
Stephanie got up and started to go back to class.
“Wait. Sit down.“ Mrs. Edwards said, now calmer. “Anything you want to talk about?”
Staring out the window, Stephanie shook her head. Then as she turned to Mrs. Edwards, the pain in her eyes seemed to ask, “Do you really care?”
But before she could say, “I do care,“ Mrs. Edwards prayed silently for wisdom and compassion even though she was angry with God.
An uncomfortable silence followed.
“Cupcakes?” Mrs. Edwards broke the silence, wondering why she was rewarding a student who had broken the rules. Left over from her surprise 40th birthday party, they were only harsh reminders that she’d been trying to get pregnant for ten years.
Taking a cupcake, Stephanie looked up and scanned Mrs. Edwards’ office. She noted the display of diplomas and said, ”You must have had to go to school for years to become a counselor. I’m too stupid to even finish high school.”
“Not true, Stephanie.”
“Get real! You know I’m hopeless. Two years in the 11th grade. Not good at anything. I’ll never get into any college or technical school. So dang poor we live in a trashy trailer on the wrong side of town. Never any breaks for me…”
Breaks!Mrs. Edwards fumed inwardly, wanting to scream. She thought of her two younger sisters who were on welfare and usually pregnant.
Too many deadbeats looking for breaks. What it takes is hard work. Not breaks.
“Let me tell you something,” she said, pointing her long, skinny finger. ”When I was your age we moved at least three times a year because my father couldn‘t pay the rent, but I didn‘t………”
She stopped midway in her speech, realizing Stephanie wasn’t listening, but focusing on the small Bible lying on the corner of her desk.
“Are you a Christian?” Stephanie asked.
Mrs. Edwards nodded.
“Awesome dog,” She said, quickly changing the subject, as she studied photos of Mrs. Edwards‘ beloved Dalmatian.
“Nope. But that doesn‘t mean I don‘t want them“, she stammered, wiping tears sliding down her cheeks. ”Guess I’m looking for a break, too.”
Now feeling very unprofessional, she’d not only shared cupcakes, but part of her own hurting soul.
“But I know God has a plan,” she said, wanting to believe it. “And he has a plan for you, too, Stephanie. I’m here for you. We’ll get through whatever is troubling you, together…You and I…But skipping school with your boyfriend isn’t the answer.”
Stephanie arose from her chair. “Thanks, Mrs. Edwards. Well, I’d better get back to class. It’s almost noon.”
Mrs. Edwards reached out to hug her, reminding her she could stop by and talk any time, although she still had to serve her detention.
Maybe there’s hope for me as a counselor,she thought, encouraged she just might have bonded with Stephanie.
Thanks, God. I needed that break.
Then remembering her milestone birthday, she said outloud, "There’s always adoption."
Walking back to class Stephanie muttered, “Just maybe there is an answer.”
Back in her office, Mrs. Edwards bent down to pick up some papers Stephanie had dropped on the floor.
Probably Stephanie’s homework. Better rush it down to her before the bell rings.
Then, curious, she opened the folded pages…Scribbled in a corner was an address---“4201 Center Street…Westside Women’s Clinic….Monday, 12:30 PM.”
Not two, but three of God’s special children had been blessed with a needed break.
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