"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

7/18/08

Friday Fiction - "A Paper Clip Opened The Door"

Hi there, and welcome to my contribution to Friday Fiction at Patterings. I wrote this story nearly a year and a half ago for the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. I still think it has one of the best titles I've ever come up with. I've done a bit of tweaking here and there from that original entry, but it's still the same basic story. Hope you enjoy it! Would love any feedback. And be sure to check out more great fiction at Patterings - and add your own if you're a writer!

A Paper Clip Opened The Door

Leah carefully scraped the dirt out from under her left thumbnail with a paper clip. Satisfied with her accomplishment, she watched an ant crawl across her desk. Every inch or so, she diverted its path with the clip.

She had stopped listening ten minutes ago to the soliloquy Dr. Langdon V. Stormfeather was giving at the front of the lecture hall. A ticking metronome would have been more interesting to her.

Beats me why I need to take this silly history class. I’m a sculptor: an artist. Why am I even in college?

Picking up the paper clip again, she wiped off the dirt, then worked to straighten its curves. She smiled with satisfaction at the straight metal line she had created. Her fingers then began intricately working the metal, bending it this way and that, until the clip was transformed into the likeness of a flower. Satisfied, Leah opened her purse and slid her newest work of art into an inside pocket.

Lord, I know how You have gifted me. I love to create works of art. I would be content to paint or sculpt just for You every moment. But why do You want me to go to college first--to take these classes I will likely never use and that bore me to tears? I don’t understand. Please clarify in some special way that You want me here, Lord. I’m about ready to quit!

Glancing at her watch, Leah let out a sigh of relief. Just a few minutes of class remained. She returned her attention to Dr. Stormfeather, knowing he would announce their homework assignment shortly.

As usual, the professor closed his lecture with an assignment to read a couple chapters in their required text and write out the main points in outline form. Leah jotted down the assignment in her notebook, then picked up her books and filed out into the hallway with the rest of the students.

In response to her rumbling stomach, Leah strolled toward the university’s student center. She had a good hour until her fundamentals of drawing class, giving her plenty of time to grab a bite for lunch.

Leah wiggled her way through the packed dining area to the cafeteria, where she purchased a tuna sandwich, a bag of chips, and a drink. Scanning the room, she found a small, unoccupied table where she slid into a seat and took out her sketch pad and pencil.

Leah scanned the tables around her. She noticed a young woman cradling a small baby in her arms. Smiling, the young artist began sketching the pair as she munched on her sandwich.

“Is this spot taken?”

Leah glanced to her right to see a redhead, about her age, addressing her. The student looked vaguely familiar, but Leah couldn’t recall where she’d seen her before.

“Nope. Have a seat.”

The woman sat down and glanced at Leah’s sketch pad.

“That’s a beautiful drawing you’re making. I love the soft lines.”

“Thanks.” Leah looked up and smiled. Her eyes then refocused on the picture she was creating.

“I love that little doodad you made in Stormfeather’s class too.”

Leah looked up, surprised.

“I’m Stacey, by the way. I was sitting next to you in class today. Your little project was far more interesting than he was.”

Chuckling, Leah opened her purse and fished out the paper clip creation, placing it in front of Stacey.

“For me?” Stacey picked up the flower and examined it. “You know, you are quite good. I wish I could make stuff like that!”

Leah blushed. “Thanks. It’s really a God-given talent.”

“Well, however you got it, you’ve definitely got it. I’m not much of a God-person myself. If he did give you that talent, He must be pretty awesome.”

Leah took a deep breath and prayed silently.

Lord, give me the words to say; and thank You for showing me why You want me here.

“That’s definitely not the only gift God has given me, Stacey. Would you mind if I told you about the best one?”

8 comments:

  1. I've never read this one, Joanne, and I love it. I've known quite a few artist types, and you nailed the character. Or should I say paper-clipped it. Sorry, couldn't resist. Anyway, the ending was priceless, and it reminds all of us to use our gifts and talents for HIs glory...and using every opportunity wisely in order to do so.

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  2. I can SO relate to Leah right now. I feel like her, trapped in an artist's soul and going through a boring history class. LOL! Great characters and story line, I love the detail of the paper clip flower....

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  3. I love the title and how the paperclip worked into the story Very cool! Its neat how God uses little things to "open doors."

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  4. Joanne, what a chaming story! I really enjoyed this one. It's a great reminder to watch for the opportunities God presents to us. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I remember this one!! I love how the title ties in so well! Great job!!

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  6. I didn't get to read this one, Joanne, since it was in the Challenge before I came to FW. It's so cool! Very natural in conversation and tone. Boy! I felt like I was back in college. I was touched by the message at the end: we never know the appointments God has lined up for us or who our lives might touch on any given day. Wonderful!

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  7. I think your title is perfect for this too. What a great play on words! I enjoyed the professor's name "Stormfeather" :). Excellent story, excellent message with this!

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  8. Ahh...the memories of college. How I miss school, even though at the time, I was complaining just like Leah. I'm glad that her boring situation opened up an opportunity for her to be a witness. Nice story!

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