Extreme Writing Challenge #42: “Center Stage”

Shame on me for not posting anything for the past twelve days.  I knew this whole having-a-puppy business was going to be a lot of work, but I didn’t realize the extent to which she makes certain things impossible.  Eating, for instance.  God forbid I want to sit on my couch and eat a granola bar without two claw-loaded paws digging at my knees in an attempt to climb up my body and steal said granola bar.  In fact, I’ve started a list of everything that is impossible now that I have a puppy:

1. Eating
2. Peeing
3. Reading
4. Cooking
5. Sleeping
6. Vacuuming
7. Screw it.  Everything is impossible.  Every-freaking-thing.

It’s a good thing I love her so darn much.  Somehow it’s okay that it takes me ten days to read a book instead of five, and that sleeping past 6:30 on the weekend is a thing of the past.  (No, you haven’t misread, I did say “puppy” and not “baby.”  Same difference.)  And somehow, I ended up here 12 days later realizing that my blog is in serious need of a new story.

Whatever sleep I've lost, she's found it.

Whatever sleep I’ve lost, she’s found it.

Enjoy!  See the end of the post for the challenge!


I didn’t want to be a judge in the talent show. Practically the whole school was going, and I’d spent years dreaming of my moment on the stage. I mean, if I’m honest, I’d done nothing to prep for the show. My most impressive skill was to chug a can of soda and belch so loudly it sounded like a lion’s roar. But I longed for the bright lights warming my skin, the hush of the crowd as they awaited my brilliant performance, and the eruption of cheers that followed me backstage at the end. After an awful tryout involving a mash-up of break dancing, miming, and gymnastics, I was offered a consolation slot at the judges’ table as the “student judge.”

From the very first act, I struggled to suppress my jealousy. Anna Davis juggled rubber band balls while playing the harmonica. It was impressive, teetering on the edge of brilliant. I wanted to kick her, and it only got worse as the night went on. Scotty Burns made a mooing cow, a meowing cat, a screeching pterodactyl, and a hooting owl with his trumpet. Daniel Worth showed us he could pop balloons with his tongue.

Meanwhile, Mom sat in the sea of spectators and admired other parents’ kids the way I wanted her and everyone else to idolize me. I’d be damned if I’d vote for any of them. I imagined Mom lecturing me, telling me, “Sam, don’t be a boob about it. Now vote for one of your classmates or else I’ll ground you until graduation.”

I should have listened to Mom’s imaginary advice, but instead I did a very bad thing. I wrote down my vote—for Anna, because she’s boiling hot—and then I waited for the lull of the crowd as Principal Lombard shuffled to the stage to announce the winner. Just as he opened his mouth, I shouted, “Daniel’s tasted his own poop!”

Gasps echoed throughout the auditorium and 700 harsh gazes flew at me like daggers. “And Scotty’s dad walked in on him while he was making out with a poster on his wall!” I continued. “And Anna, she once clogged up a toilet in the girls’ bathroom so bad, the plumber had to come out…or so I heard.”

One by one, I beat the contestants’ dignity to an embarrassed pulp with every rumor I could conjure up. When it was over, the audience hummed with stunned reactions ranging from “Wow…” to “Shut the fuck up, you piece of shit!”

Since no one moved, I bolted for the rear exit of the auditorium and ran to the bus stop. A lump of dread settled in my stomach as I realized Mom had seen the whole thing. She would certainly take away my video games, my laptop, and my cell phone, but she would never take away the success I felt at having all eyes on me at the talent show.


Today’s challenge was:  Each sentence contains a unique word that starts and ends with the same letter.

Have a great week!


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