Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TALKATIVE (09/08/16)
By Leola Ogle
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The Shy family adhered to the town’s philosophy. In fact, they lovingly embraced it. They were introverts, as were all the town members.
She was nicknamed Chatterbox. It wasn’t an affectionate nickname. Everyone found her incessant chatter annoying. “Why can’t you be quiet like your sisters?” Mother asked. “Do you have to prattle all the time?” Father asked.
Nightly at the dinner table, each Shy family member related the events of their day. “School was fun,” said Cindy Shy. “I like my teacher,” said Lori Shy. “I did laundry,” said Mom. “I sold a home to the Andersons,” said Dad.
Alyssa wiggled, anxious for time to share about her first day of kindergarten. When it was her turn, she blurted, “I love school. My teacher is so pretty. Her name is Miss Ashley. The boy next to me is named Max. He told me he hates girls and stuck his tongue out at me. I told him he’s mean and mean kids make God sad. He told me to shut up cause I talk too much. It hurt my feelings, but I made a friend. Her name is Lucy and she has red hair. Miss Ashley says I write my name very well. I told her my favorite color is pink and I can say my ABC’s. She said ‘that’s nice, but I didn’t ask what your favorite color is or about your ABC’s.’ She said I should only speak when necessary or called upon. So, I asked why and she said it’s polite. I said I always try to be polite and how can talking about nice things not be polite. She said I should be quieter.”
Lori and Cindy rolled their eyes at each other. Mother’s face was red. Father said, “Obey your teacher, Alyssa.”
Alyssa tried being quieter but words burst from her like a river rushing over a waterfall. People sighed whenever she was around. Most tolerated her. Some berated her.
Alyssa understood she was different from others in Hush. It hurt to be shunned and made fun of and to know she didn’t fit in with her family. She never doubted they loved her, but she knew they wished she were more like them.
She tried so very hard to be accepted, but her need to express herself through words was a boiling cauldron inside her. So she lined up her dolls and told them stories. She shared jokes, and laughed, imagining they laughed with her. She told of her day at school and pretended they enjoyed hearing all she had to say.
She felt there was no one in the world like her. Her wounded spirit could lead her down several paths. She could become bitter and angry, taking her misery out on others. She could withdraw into a shell, never risking to be hurt again. Or she could accept who she was and allow her personality to flourish.
She chose the latter.
She talked as much as she liked. Some people cut her off. Some walked away. But, it did not stop her. By the time she was in high school, she formed a club called Extroverts. For three months, she was alone.
Then Kendra joined. Then Benjamin. Several months later, ten had joined her club. None of the ten talked as much as she did, but it was nice to have friends who accepted her.
When the principal called her into his office, she feared the worst. “Alyssa, we will not keep you from having a club, but the board has decided to limit membership to the ten you already have. We don’t want there to be rebellion against the norm.”
Alyssa left the office with her head hung. Then she saw him – the handsome new boy in school, Brody. He was from New York. New York!
When Alyssa introduced herself, Brody responded, “Nice to meet you. This is the quietest school ever. Hey, I like your hair. Purple streaks. Awesome. Do you drive? I have a Mustang. I want to be an actor someday. Moving in the middle of the school year is a bummer. So, what do you do for fun?”
Alyssa knew she had found her soulmate.
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