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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Banquet - deadline 8-16-12 10 am NY time (08/09/12)

TITLE: Second Best
By Laura Manley
08/15/12


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Nadine lay in her darkened bedroom listening to the wind howl outside on a frightful Friday night. She kept reliving the announcement of the Father/Daughter Banquet at the Student Council meeting that morning. She was a senior now and although she dreamed about it every year, she knew that she better forget about going.

Nadine pulled her pillow up around her head to drown out the arguing that was an every Friday night event. She could hardly wait until morning when she could go visit her friend across the street.

Saturday morning arrived to find her dad in the living room pouring himself a glass of beer. She crept past the living room and down the hall way into the kitchen. Nothing would ever change; that is until she graduated from high school. College was just around the corner. She had earmarked any money she earned for that purpose way back when.

As she entered the small kitchen, she saw her mother fixing breakfast. Pancakes and eggs were a Saturday delight for Nadine. Her mother never ate breakfast on Saturdays because of the stress she was under. Her dad wouldn’t dream of eating because he was always coddling his beer glass.

“Good morning, mother.”

“Good morning, dear. Did you sleep well?”

“Sure,” Nadine said, know that was what her mother wanted to hear.

“May I go over to Linda’s after breakfast?”

“Sure, honey. You go and have a good time with her.”

After Nadine’s scrumptious breakfast, she went into the hall where the rotary dial phone sat on a small table. “Hi Linda; want some company?” The girls chatted for a few minutes and Nadine went on to her bedroom where she dressed. She scurried out the back door so she could avoid her dad.

Linda came to the side kitchen door and let Nadine in.

“How’s it going?” she asked Nadine.

“Same old thing; my dad is already drinking.” Nadine shared everything with her best friend, Linda, so Linda knew all the things that went on in Nadine’s life. On weekends, Nadine practically lived at Linda’s house. It was her only chance of any semblance of a normal life.

The girls talked all afternoon. Somehow the subject of the Father/Daughter Banquet came up. Linda said her dad was taking her and had even given her money to go buy a new dress for it.

“Hey, you want to go shopping with me for my dress?” Linda asked.

“Sure,” Nadine answered a little less enthusiastic that her counterpart. “Where do you want to shop for it?”

“I thought we’d go to the mall, but not for a couple weeks since the Banquet isn’t until the 23rd of the month. That will give us plenty of time.”

The next two weeks came and went. Nadine was once again sitting in Linda’s bedroom almost hating her friend because she was going to the Father/Daughter Banquet. She still hadn’t asked her dad because it was on a Friday night. She knew from experience what Friday nights brought; she would keep her feelings to herself.

On the Wednesday before the Banquet, Nadine walked to school as usual. But there was no Linda that day. Linda had been sick for a couple days and finally stayed home. When school got out, Nadine immediately called Linda to see how she was feeling.

“Not good,” Linda said sounding like a seal.

The next evening, the telephone rang. Nadine’s mother answered it. Nadine was engrossed in an “I Love Lucy” episode when her mother turned the TV off.

“Hey, I was watching that!” Nadine said with indignation; a tone she didn’t normally use with her mother.

“Just a moment, dear. That was Linda’s mother on the phone. Linda is still very sick and won’t be able to go to the Father/Daughter Banquet with her dad tomorrow evening. Mrs. Clarkson has invited you to go with Mr. Clarkson. What do you think?”

There wasn’t any thinking about it for Nadine. “Wow, are you kidding me? Of course, I want to go.”

“Well, there’s one more thing, Nadine. Linda wants you to wear the dress you and she picked out when you went shopping.”

“Wow; what a friend! I’ve wanted to go to this Banquet for years. Never did I think I’d be going with my best friend’s dad. Can I call Mrs. Clarkson and thank her for the invitation?”

“Of course, her mother answered,” happy her daughter was being able to live one of her high school dreams.


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This article has been read 244 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/16/12
This is a riveting story. It tugged at my heartstrings for sure. You did a wonderful job of getting inside the MCs head.

You could make the story even stronger by using narrative descriptions instead of taglines like she said. For example something like this. "How's it going?" Nadine's brow furrowed as she lowered her voice. Her eyes didn't quite connect with her friend's. Hopefully something like that will give some insight onto the character's emotions. It's easier to say Nadine worried about her friend but describing her actions helps the reader paint a picture.

You really did a wonderful job on this story. It makes me sad for all those who suffer on silence. It prompted me to pray for them ad well. You covered the topic while conveying an important message. You also did it without sounding preachy or judgmental which isn't always easy to do.
CD Swanson 08/16/12
This was a gripping story that held significant meaning in each and every word written. It's a story that anyone can relate to...we've all known or know someone like the MC.

You've managed to convey her inner anguish in a savvy way that shows the reader what she is going through. The turmoil and the disappointment apparent as evidenced by her "resolve" that it's the "same old thing."

The ending was powerful and showed the MC rejoicing without being overly solicitous to the reader.

Nicely done. Great job.

God bless~
Catrina Bradley 08/16/12
Great job! You introduced a conflict and gave your MC a personality early on, and yu kept me reading to find out what happened next. I love the twist at the end, tho I hate that it does nothing to put a "happy ending" on her home life. But reality isn't always rosy, and I appreciate that you didn't give your story a fairy tale ending.
Genia Gilbert08/18/12
You took a grim reality and gave it a bright finish. Good job.
Ellen Carr 08/19/12
Well done. This is a great story about a situation that is all too commmon.
lynn gipson 08/20/12
I knew we had something in common only I was much younger....This is excellent writing and I can relate to pulling the covers over your ears dear.....Thank you for this.

God BLess, Lynn
Bryan Rudolph08/20/12
Oh boy, do I ever love it when an author tells me a story with such intimacy that I would swear out an affidavit that I was on scene myself – and, this gripper did it ! And then, to twist it ! All right, I can only conclude with one further comment, no, one plea – please, keep on writing !
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/21/12
You did an excellent job of making your characters real while presenting a difficult situation and providing a realistic solution.
CD Swanson 08/23/12
Congratulations! God BLess~