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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)

TITLE: The Red Dress
By Laura Manley


Libby Gibson had seen the red dress in a Department store window since the first part of November. Libby wanted the red dress. One afternoon, Mrs. Gibson overheard Libby talking on the phone to Libby’s best friend, Sylvia.

“Oh, you should see it, Sylvia. It’s red and has sequins on the top part of the dress. The skirt is long and full. It also has a red jacket that goes over the dress which just comes to the waist.”

“That sounds so cool,” Sylvia responded. “Do you think your mom will buy it for you?”

“I’ve already asked and she said “no,” but I’m not going to give up that easily.”

To hear Libby talk, you would have thought she was a teenager, yet she was only eight years old. She was truly what her mother called a “girlie girl” and loved to dress-up.

At dinner that evening, Libby approached her parents once again about the red dress.

“Mom, dad, could we talk some more about getting that red dress I’ve been wishing for? Mom, you’ve seen it; isn’t it beautiful?”

“Well, yes, Libby, it is very beautiful. But I can’t think of any good reason to buy you the dress just because you want it. You have no place to wear it.”

Libby’s dad spoke up and agreed with her mother. Libby went to bed that night quite discouraged. She was usually better at getting what she wanted.

One day shortly after the family’s discussion at the dinner table, Libby came home from school very excited.
“Mom, where are you? I need to talk to you right away!” Libby yelled, out of breath.

Mrs. Gibson came out of the kitchen wiping her hands on her apple-designed apron.

“What is it, dear child? You’re itchin’ to tell me something, so go ahead!”

“Mom, you know how much I have been wishing for the red dress in the Department store downtown?” She thrust a piece of paper into her mother’s hand and said, “Now, there’s a reason for me to get the red dress!”

Mrs. Gibson read the piece of paper which announced the upcoming Christmas Program at Libby’s school. There would be singing and a play, and it would be held on the afternoon and evening of December 17, just days before the Christmas break.

Before Mrs. Gibson could say a word, Libby asked, “So, mom, can I get the red dress for my program? P-l-e-a-s-e?”

“Libby, this is something I will have to discuss with your dad. I can’t just go out and buy the red dress on my own.”

“Why not?” Libby asked.

“In a marriage, Libby, you discuss with one another things that would affect the other. And then, your dad and I always go to the Lord for guidance in what He would have us do. You know that, Libby.”

“Yes, but, I want that red dress bad!” Libby said, becoming angry in her tone.

“Libby, there won’t even be a discussion of the red dress if you don’t change your attitude right now. Understood?”

Libby knew where the boundaries were; sometimes she just forgot. “Understood, mom.”

Libby’s mom and dad discussed the purchase of the red dress for Libby. It would not go to waste because Libby’s little sister could wear it in a couple of years. So the dress was purchased and Libby was one happy little girl.

Shortly after the dress was purchased, Libby came home looking quite sad. Her mother noticed immediately and sat down with her at the table.

“What is it, Libby? Is something bothering you?” her mother asked.

“Sylvia’s dad lost his job yesterday. They don’t have a lot of money anyway, but now it’s even worse.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Libby. Perhaps we can invite them for dinner at Christmas.”

“Mom, I’ve been thinking all day in school about Sylvia and her family. I want to do something special for Sylvia. You know my new red dress? I want Sylvia to wear it for our Christmas Program. I wouldn’t feel right if she didn’t have something just as pretty. I have other things I could wear.”

“Oh, Libby, I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done. You’re really growing up to be able to be so selfless and think of your friend. Yes, I think that would be wonderful, Libby. I am so proud to be your mother.”

“Thanks, mom!” Libby said as she ran to call her friend Sylvia.


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This article has been read 678 times
Member Comments
Member Date
PamFord Davis 10/09/09
I like the way you revealed the different sides of a little girl's growing character... and how what mattered so much at one point, carried so little weight in her happiness later.
Jan Ackerson 10/11/09
What a sweet ending!

Since you asked for critique: Avoid over-using Libby's name; find more places for pronouns (she or her). Work on varying sentence structure (more complex, longer sentences). Be sure that your dialogue actually sounds like the way real people talk. Finally, find a more compelling title to draw readers in.

I appreciate your asking for critique...your writing is fine in the basics, and will improve more and more as you learn from other writers on this site.
Shilo Goodson10/11/09
I think this is a great story. My only real critique is that in the beginning, Libby doesn't really seem to talk like an eight-year-old. She didn't seem like the same kid as the one who was later begging her parents for the dress.
Noel Mitaxa 10/14/09
I 'red' and enjoyed it, because you've gently taken us to the twist at the tail. Keeping your ideas clear will help your syntax to develop while keeping it in line. To express a great thought - however awkwardly -is always better than using literary skill to say very little.