Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: First (as in original) (01/10/05)
TITLE: A Promise Kept
By Lori Othouse
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Looking down the street through heavily lined eyes, Sara felt the all too
familiar feeling again. She needed a fix...soon. Maybe Joey had some cash. No, he
would only expect something in return and she swore she would never do that again.
But as she started to sweat, she began to wonder if she should reconsider.
Trying to control her jittering fingers, she didn't see the friendly stranger until
he was right in front of her. They collided with a thud, knocking his notebook to the ground
and scattering papers everywhere.
"Hey, watch it!" she snapped.
"I'm...I'm sorry," he replied. "I didn't see you." His gentle eyes met hers. "Are
"Yeah, what do you care?"
"You just look like...you don't feel good."
"I'm fine, okay?"
As he gathered his belongings, she attempted to light a cigarette but her shaking
hand made the flame dance wildly. Exasperated, she jammed the lighter back in her
pocket. The gentle stranger looked at her with compassion.
"Look, if you need some help, I -"
"You'll what? Help me score some crack?" She looked him up and down. "I
don't think so."
"No, not that," he said, lowering his voice. "I've got something better."
He pulled her into a side alley. Was this guy for real? He was way too clean cut
to be a dealer; besides, she knew everybody on this side of town. He reached into his
notebook and pulled out a paper with a cross on it.
"This is better than anything you've ever had."
Cynicism welled up within her as she read the first few lines.
"You're a preacher! I should've known!" She stomped off, throwing the tract
on the ground.
"Hey, wait! Give me a chance!" He followed her back onto the sidewalk. "I
might be able to help you, you know."
"Yeah, right! Just like all the others...'God hates your life! Repent or
go to Hell!' No thanks!"
He continued to follow her. "I'm not a preacher... just a guy who loves God. I
know it's just self-defense, but don't shut me out just because you've met some harsh
people. Not everyone is like that."
Sara stopped abruptly and turned to face him. "Okay, prove it. Show me
that you're not like that."
"I will," he said confidently. "But you have to promise to listen to me,
alright? Just listen. I'll be back tomorrow at 5:00. By the way, what's your name?"
She hesitated. "Sara."
He smiled. "Hello, Sara. I'm Evan. Nice to meet you. I'll see you tomorrow."
With that, he turned and left as suddenly as he came.
At 4:49 the next say, Sara paced the street, eagerly waiting to prove him wrong.
To her surprise, he showed up...early. They talked, or, rather, he talked as she listened
warily. He came faithfully every day at 5:00. Sometimes he brought sandwiches or
coffee, which she gratefully accepted. Until one day when he didn't see her. He searched
the street and finally found her curled up in the alley. The drugs and the money had run
out. She shook uncontrollably as he knelt to hold her hand.
"Sara, let me help you... please. You don't have to live like this."
"I don't know how else to live!" she wept.
"I can show you, but you have to let me. Let me in. I won't let you down. I
promise I'll always be here for you."
She could feel the cynicism rising again. Self-defense or not, how could she
"That'll be a first!" she retorted.
And, indeed, it was.
Evan kept his promise that day. He held her hand through nine hours of
withdrawal symptoms until she collapsed into bed, asleep from utter exhaustion. He
kept it the next day, too, when he showed up at dawn with a Bible of her own and fresh
flowers. He kept it through eight months of rehab and two years of probation. He was
still keeping it when, through both of their tears, he led her to Christ on the same street
corner where they met. And he is still keeping it today, after twelve years of marriage
and three children. Sara still refers to him as the first man who ever kept his promise to
her...and the last one she ever needed to.
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