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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)

TITLE: Steadier Footing
By Jamie Snider


“Steadier Footing”

Sally Willerman was walking home from the paint store. Headphones in, she had escaped from the world around her and was taking a moment to block the city out of her personal space. Beirut had become a nuisance to her these days.

She had been imprisoned in her apartment for the past three days as Hezbollah took over her street and violence ensued. The nights were filled with explosions and shelling and the days were filled with fear and anxiety; the uncertainty of the days to come mixed with claustrophobic dreams of her apartment walls falling in on her. The city she loved was always a chaotic whirlwind of insanity but this insanity had morphed into street violence and the street violence was steeping her neighbors in paralyzing fear, rooting up suppressed hatred from the Civil War of their childhood. One came to Sally’s door, “These are your friends? These are the people you help? Can you not see they are trying to kill you and they will kill us too?” Sally smiled, and replied, “I am so sorry. I know you are afraid.” What could she say? How could she explain to them her purpose for helping their enemies? This is not a country that forgives. Forgiveness is weakness. Forgiveness is irreverence to the past and to those who suffered injustice. Forgiveness is like erecting a doorway for those desiring to exterminate you and inviting them in for tea.

Sally waited patiently in her apartment. She prayed, begged, cried, paced. Every explosion sent a surge of electricity through her body and caused a violent shaking. She couldn’t take it anymore. The shelling had to stop. She looked out of her second story window at the checkpoint below and thought to herself, They are only kids. I am being held hostage in my own home by a 14 year old with an AK-47. In a moment of adrenaline-overloaded boldness, she decided to go reason with them. She walked down to her gate, her body slightly convulsing in response to shots firing, and motioned at the kid with a mask over his face and a machine gun that was three-fourths his height. Sally, confused as to what she should say, spat out in her broken Arabic, “Hi. I am an American. I love Jesus. Jesus loves you too. Can I please leave?” He smiled through the makeshift hole in his mask and said, “Of course! You are welcome!”

She loaded up her car and headed for her friends place in the mountains.

She had returned to Beirut after a week of being a refugee. However, her neighborhood was a constant reminder of the nightmare they had all lived through; propaganda plastered all over the buildings and skeletons of exploded cars taking up the parking spaces. She needed something cheerful and new, something bright and lively. A new coat of paint would suffice.

With her arms full of paint supplies and her ears full of her favorite Death Cab album, she headed down the hill toward her home. She knew the route well. She could anticipate every stone on the sidewalk, every shop along the way, the sounds of the cars buzzing all around her. She started to feel comfortable again in her town. The things that were once so foreign to her had become as familiar as her hometown in Texas. She found herself sinking back into that sense of normalcy and she could see that through the bullet shattered windows, no so much was different. Her feeling of safety and comfort had been temporarily assaulted, but she was going to be okay.

With a huge grin on her face, she began to turn the corner onto her street, when, SMACK, she smashed into the sidewalk face first. Her quarts of fresh chameleon and mosaic green paint went flying through the air, spewing their contents against the cars inconveniently parked along the way. Shocked and dazed she pulled her face up from the sidewalk and began to feel her bloody hand and knees writhe in pain. She glanced down at her right ankle, pulsing and swelling, and saw and the guilty crater in the sidewalk glaring back at her. She looked around to see if there were any witnesses to her blunder. One teenage boy stood across the street holding his stomach and overcome with hysterics. He caught his breath for a second, held his hand up in the air and yelled, “OH SNAP!!!”

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This article has been read 516 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Irvine Saint-Vilus09/12/08
This story is so well told and indicative of the world we live in today. Terrrorism and war have become too normal. And the people who suffer from such violence are too often forgotten. This lively tale brings home their suffering, even after the dust settles and we enter a false sense of hope and security. Great work.
Sunny Loomis 09/13/08
Good descriptions of a hard city to live in. Well written. Thank you.