Fiction Friday: "Bon Courage"

This story is based on a true experience of mine during my junior year of high school. Thank you, Mary, for being a faithful friend.

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A January wind swirled about my bare knees, while I waited. The steely-gray clouds shielded the morning sun as the smoke from my neighbor’s chimney drifted lazily along the ground.

“When the smoke is low, it soon will snow,” I could almost hear Granny saying.

It sure felt like snow. I shifted my stack of books to my other arm and stomped my numb feet, as I watched the yellow bus approaching. As it squawked to a halt, its diesel fumes mingled with the wood smoke, creating a choking cloud. A blast of loud rock music belched from the opening doors.

I inched along the crowded aisle. Most avoided my pleading eyes, not wanting to squeeze three together for the half hour ride. I smiled a “thanks” as Tammy scooted over, giving me some of the green vinyl seat.

“How can you wear a dress in this weather?” she asked.

“My mom doesn’t let me wear pants except on gym days.”

“It must be a bummer being a preacher’s kid,” she said.

Devin slouched in the seat across from me, his bleached, spiked hair bobbed in time to the drumming of his pencils on his frayed jeans. He turned and caught me staring at him. I looked away, but not before he winked and gave a flirtatious pucker. My face burned, and he laughed.

I wriggled a little to hold my position, clutching the corner of seat before me. At least I didn’t have my flute with me.

Had it only been one week? I loved band practice in my old school, and up until now, it wasn’t so bad here. I enjoyed marching the intricate formations during football season, and the Christmas concert was wonderful, especially when Mrs. Hubbard, the choir director, sang “O Holy Night”.

But last Monday, Mr. Duffy passed out new music for the spring concert, combining the choir and band for a show of movie themes. I flipped through the stack… “Brigadoon”… “South Pacific”… “Jesus Christ, Superstar”… What’s this? I waited until after practice.

“Mr. Duffy, I can’t be in this concert. This song goes against my beliefs as a Christian.”

“But, its just music. You don’t have sing the words, just play the notes.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Duffy, but I can’t.”

He didn’t understand, and by the end of the week, others followed my lead and dropped band and choir. I didn’t go back, but I knew it wasn’t over.

As the bus swung into the school driveway, I lost my grip and my lunch fell to the floor, beneath Devin’s muddy sneaker. In the jumble of everyone scrambling for the door, I snatched the paper bag. I hoped there was something left of my applebutter sandwich.

As I fiddled with my locker combination, the warm air caused my cheeks to tingle and my toes to burn as they thawed. I wove through the swirling hallways to my first period… French class! I loved the flow of this musical language.

My friend, Mary, smiled at me as the bell rang. Today we were beginning “La Belle et La BĂȘte” by Beaumont.

“Un riche marchand avait trois filles…” read Mrs. Roy.

The PA speaker interrupted, “Beverly Phillips, please report to the principal’s office.”

Time stopped, as everyone looked at me. Mary spun in her seat, her eyes bulging behind her wire-rimmed glasses. We locked in a knowing gaze, as the silence around us broke into laughs and jeers.

“Oooooh, Beverly, you’re in trouble now!”

The shock and fear in Mary’s face turned to determination as she raised her hand.
“Mrs. Roy, may I go with Bev to the office?”

“No, I don’t think it’s necessary. I’m sure she knows the way herself.”

My vision blurred and my cheeks burned as I stoically made my way to the door. Mary pressed a paper in my hand as I walked by her desk. Outside the room, I leaned against the concrete block wall and looked at her note.


The empty hallway seemed to stretch for a mile. It took all my strength to take a step. Each click of my feet on the polished tiles calmed my beating heart.

“Bon courage…Good courage…Bon courage… Good courage…”

As I neared the office, I felt my chin lift and my back straighten, ready to stand for my Lord.

“Bon courage…Good courage… ‘Be strong and of a good courage…be not afraid…for the Lord thy God is with thee…”


LauraLee Shaw said...

Oh, I love the way you built this. I got goose bumps at this point in the story:
"My vision blurred and my cheeks burned as I stoically made my way to the door. Mary pressed a paper in my hand as I walked by her desk. Outside the room, I leaned against the concrete block wall and looked at her note.



Hoomi said...

I remember having to listen to and analyze "Superstar" in Junior High. I hated the way the show portrayed Jesus more as someone drafted into the job, and the disciples as a bunch of self-serving buffoons.

Your story makes me wonder if those of us in the class who were believers could have made an impact by refusing to participate.

Nicely done.

Dee Yoder said...

Wonderful, Vonnie! I love the title and the way you wove this into your story.

Blessed One said...

This was a wonderful story. Great strength in convictions for such a young girl. Thanks for sharing!

Joanne Sher said...

Amazing descriptions, and what a story you lived out. VERY well done.

Patty Wysong said...

So many tiny details woven in here --made for a rich dessert!


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