Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Confident (07/05/07)
TITLE: Searching for Happily Ever After
By Jan Ackerson
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“You need to take charge of your life, Goldie,” said my friend Gretel over a snack of jam tarts and toffee. “You doubt your every move—where would Hansel and I be now if we were so wishy-washy? I’ll tell you where—in that hag’s stewpot!” She was mumbling through her tarts, but I had to agree—I lacked confidence.
My other friend, Red, nodded as she filled a basket with sweets. She must have noticed how my eyes widened. “They’re for granny, Goldie, don’t look so disapproving. And Gretel’s right, you’re a shrinking violet. You need confidence, if you’re going to outwit a wolf.”
“Or a witch,” said Gretel unnecessarily.
I sighed. They’d been prattling about their scary encounters for years. Unfortunately, no such adventures had ever come my way. Maybe I was lacking some trait that would attract excitement. “Well, what do you suggest?”
Red and Gretel exchanged meaningful glances, but since Gretel was munching toffee, Red spoke. “You need a mentor—someone who’ll give you that extra boost of confidence. And we know just the person!” She reached into her cape and produced a business card.
Mary Q. Contrary—Life Coach.
So I found myself, two days later, strolling through the forest with a mentor. “Goldie,” Mary said, “it’s not just your lack of confidence. You’re making the wrong decisions, and what’s worse, you’re making them timidly. You need boldness, girl!”
I stepped carefully over a twig. “What do you mean?”
“Stop here for a moment.” Mary pointed through a sunlit opening in the trees. “See that little cottage? If you were here by yourself, what would you do?”
“Just keep walking, I guess.”
“Then that’s what we won’t do! C’mon, Goldie!” Mary grabbed my hand, pulled me toward the cottage, and pounded on the door. No answer.
“Let’s go,” I begged, tugging on Mary’s sleeve.
“Oh, you want to go? Then we’re going in.” She opened the door and pulled me inside. “What do you see, Goldie?”
“They’re coming back soon…look, there’s breakfast on the table. Let’s go.”
“No, Goldie. Honestly, be adventurous! Go on, taste it!”
I stared at the bowls on the table—filled with some lumpy, grayish substance—and shuddered. But Mary pushed me forward. I sampled from the largest bowl. “Ewww! Too hot!” Really, it was positively steaming.
The medium-sized bowl was cold as ice. But the smallest bowl was warm and surprisingly sweet. With Mary’s urging, I ate it all, while ignoring an itchy feeling that what I was doing was wrong, wrong, wrong.
“Can we please go?” I was terrified that the owners would walk in any moment.
Mary simply urged me into the next room. “Not yet. Let’s talk a bit about what just happened. Sit!”
There were three chairs; I took the closest. It was huge, made of branches lashed together, and uncomfortably hard. Mary settled into a cushy chair covered in velvet and started to lecture me on self-confidence, self-esteem, self-selfishness. A twig poked my back; I moved to the smallest chair…and crashed to the floor, scattering splinters everywhere.
“Mary, let’s get out of here,” I gasped, rubbing my bruised bottom.
“There you go again, Scaredypants. Boldness, remember? What’s behind that door?” She hoisted me off the floor and dragged me to the next room. We saw three beds there, and everything in me screamed go home, but I asked myself: what would Mary do? I’d learned a lesson from the chairs, and headed for the middle bed, but Mary shook her head. “Don’t be defeated by the broken chair, Goldie. Go for the small bed.” Surprisingly, it was soft and comfortable. I shut out the warning voices and closed my eyes…
…only to be awakened by a feeling that someone was watching me. I squinted into the afternoon sun; there was a man in silhouette. Mary had disappeared. The man grinned and perched on the nearby bed. “Am I disturbing your sleep?”
I stammered, rendered speechless by embarrassment—and by his stunning brown eyes. “I…I…”
He extended a hand. “I’m Benjamin Behr. My aunt and uncle called me when they saw their cottage was broken into. You don’t look too dangerous, though…what are you doing here?”
He laughed through my entire explanation, and we’ve been laughing together ever since. I’ll let you write the last sentence of my story.
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