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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on August 30, 2009
"Sorry I haven't posted anything in so long...I've been away at summer camps all summer long, and have also been in the process of moving. Now that the school year is starting back up, hopefully I'll get time to do some more writing!"

The Stranger

On this day, five years ago, you walked down the main street in your new town, and there you met a stranger. He seemed to be a friendly man, a man who was upright and honest. He looked you in the eye as he spoke, and asked you questions filled with interest and curiosity. With earnestness he cautioned you about the dangers of your neighborhood, and asked about the security of your home. With a casual wave of his hand he pointed out the church he attended on the street corner, and invited you to attend.

You chatted there on the street for awhile; you chatted on many subjects, and found yourself hoping that this man would not remain a stranger forever. Then he apologized and rushed away, explaining that he had seen an elderly neighbor who needed help with her groceries. As you walked away you smiled, and turned back to wave one last friendly goodbye. Later, you asked your neighbors about the stranger, and they told you what you had already seen - a good man, a man given to generosity and compassion - a man who could be a good friend.

On this day, four years ago, you walked down the main street in your home town and passed the stranger again. By now he was not a stranger, but a friend, and you spoke with him casually and comfortably during the few brief minutes you had to spare.

As you walked away, another dear and concerned friend approached and frankly told you, "Don't believe that man; he is a thief and a robber."

Now everything has changed; things that had once seemed so innocent are understood in a new light. When he asked you, on your first day, about the security of your home, you supposed him to be merely concerned. Now you see the truth; he was only asking to learn whether he could break into your home.

Now, when you see him stopping to help an elderly lady with her groceries, you realize that he is merely trying to get in the door, and is not so selfless and generous as you once supposed.

Now, when you see him in church, singing the songs with enthusiasm and teaching a class with passion, you understand that this is merely a front, an opportunity to find trusting and helpless victims.

And when he speaks to you, though you once thought he was genuinely concerned for you, now you understand that his motives are not so altruistic and kind.

All that you once thought to be true has been turned on its head.

Now, on this day, when you walk down the street, you pass by the man again. Out of habit you force a smile, but you do not linger to chat with him; you nod uncomfortably and hurry on your way. And I wonder; if you never discover the truth, if no one ever tells you that your friend lied to you, will he not remain forever, as he has been for the last four years, a stranger?

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