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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Year(s) (01/20/11)

TITLE: Fragile as Glass
By Amy Michelle Wiley


I am an anxious child. My teachers donít understand this, but Iím always moved before they can delve into my problems. So I skim across the surface of life, existing, but never really living.

ďItíll be all right, Ginny,Ē my father tells me, as we pack once again. He pulls me into a quick hug, but I see the fear in his eyes.

I shut my bedroom door so no one can see me crouching on the floor, below the windowís sightline. My curtains are never open, but I am aware of the glass behind them. Fragile glass.

Packing is a mindless thing. I crawl along the floor and reach my hand up into drawers, knowing exactly where everything is. There isnít much of it.

A bang on the door makes me almost wet my pants.

ďGinny!Ē Itís just my little brother, Mich. ďMom says you should help me.Ē

I hear him run back toward his own room. Carefree. Careless. His windows will be wide open. Not just the drapes, but the windows themselves open to let the whole world in.

Weíre in the car soon. All four of us packed in just an hour.

ďWhere are we going?Ē Mich shouts. He always shouts. Not caring that anyone could hear.

Mom quietly reads us the info the agent gave us on our new life. For Mich itís all a game. A grand adventure that lets him travel the world, trying on all kinds of identities.

For me itís a nightmare. I donít care so much about the changing details. About the moves and lack of friends. Itís been that way for years. What I care about is the fear. It eats away at my core until I canít do anything, canít even breathe.

I stare out the window. Always watching. I donít know what for. Everything is suspect. Everyone. At least right now weíre all together. I donít have to wonder if Dad will come home from work. If Mom will come back from the grocery store.

ďThis is the year it all ends.Ē Mom looks through her visorís mirror at me. ďNew Yearís Eve is tomorrow. Then just a few weeks until the final trial.Ē

ďItíll all be over.Ē Dad smiles. Itís a tired smile.

I donít believe them. Donít believe this will ever be over. What if they donít find the guy guilty and he walks free? What if he gets someone else to do us in, even while heís in jail?

Closing my eyes, I slump down in the car. I try praying, like Mom always suggests, but I donít know. Donít know if God really will keep us safe. He didnít stop the bad guy from killing someone in the first place. Would He stop him from killing the witness?

So I ignore the questions, ignore the new year looming, and try to focus on breathing. In, out. In, out.

Dad stops for gas and stands in the open, holding the pump. Heís not careful. I climb from the car, my heart beating so hard I cross my arms over my chest so no one notices. But no one else is watching out, so I must. Someone has to.

And because Iím standing there, hidden behind the tank, I see it. A dark sedan with tinted windows is slowing on the road. The passenger window facing Dad is down a crack. Just a crack. Enough for a round bit of black metal to slip out.

I dive then, before it even registers in my brain as a gun. I diveónot away from the danger, but toward it. Toward my dad. Toward the gun. And I scream. ďGod!Ē The word rips out of me, toward heaven.

I slam into Dad just as the bang echoes. He falls sideways and something grabs my arm, yanking it sharply back. As the car speeds away, I see with wonder that red seeps down my arm. My arm.

Itís Mich who wails in the background. Itís me who faced the danger. Time seems suspended. Dadís strong hands tremble slightly as he presses against my wound. Hot fingers of pain begin to dig into my arm then, prodding, burning.

And then I realize. The worst has happened. Yet here we are, still okay. Slowly I wonder if perhaps Iím braver than I thought. If perhaps God is bigger than I thought.

And perhapsójust maybeóthis year will be okay after all.

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This article has been read 804 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst01/27/11
Such a load for a child to carry. You've expressed it well.
Lynda Schultz 01/27/11
Your MC is so believableódon't we all anticipate the worst of ourselves and of God and then when the crunch comes find that we can find his strength in our weakness and discover just how faithful he really is. Good job.
Brenda Rice 01/28/11
Very engaging from the get go. You weave a good mystery in a few words. Thanks for sharing.
Lisa Johnson01/29/11
Very intense. This drew me right into your MC's mind. Well written. Good job.
Shelley Ledfors 01/31/11
Excellent! You pour such a full, engaging story into limited words. Well done!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/31/11
I leave every single word. It reminded mea but of one of my favorite YA books, Don't Look Behind You by Lois Duncan. The suspense was grand and the first paragraph necessary it led the reader in the wrong direction which makes the suspense even more thrilling This is one of the best pieces I've ever read! Loved it!!!
AnneRene' Capp01/31/11
Now THIS is riveting! Paleeeese tell me theres going to be more!
Barbara Lynn Culler01/31/11
WOW! What happen? What happens next. This is a great opening chapter for a novel.
Laury Hubrich 02/01/11
Okay dear! You need a warning label on this entry!!! :) Nice job and yes, we all want to know the rest of the story.
Cheryl Harrison02/01/11
Great job. Your words drew me in. You did a great job with your MC - I felt the fear and I felt the relief. Kudos!
David Ian02/01/11
Nice build of suspense while giving exposition and keeping the narrative interesting. And foreshadowing with a payoff. Unexpected but ultimately inevitable. Nice.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/03/11
Congratulations for placing 14th in Masters and 15th overall!