Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Sweet to the Taste( 08/23/12)
Not a Peep
By Verlie Ruhl
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He heard the faint rattle of pans in the kitchen. All clear. His mouth watered as he stealthily pulled a plastic shopping bag from under the magazine rack by his easy chair. Freya dropped her toy and bounded over to peer at the sack. Sam extracted a package of Peeps, little yellow chicks made of marshmallow. He popped one into his mouth and sighed with pleasure as the sweetness dissolved on his tongue. Freya yipped impatiently.
“Hush!” Sam croaked. “You’re gonna give us away!” He carefully pinched off a bit of another Peep, and laid it on the floor. Freya dispatched it delicately, then licked her tiny black muzzle and watched Sam with bright eyes.
“Good, huh?” Sam was serving himself and Freya a second round of Peeps when his wife’s shrill voice made them both jump.
“Sam! You know what the doctor said! Too much sugar is just like poison for you.” LeeAnn stood in the doorway of the den, staring at Sam like he was demented.
“I only had a couple. I just needed a little something sweet.” Perfectly understandable, thought Sam as he shoved the Peeps under a newspaper.
“That’s why there’s a bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen, and carrots, and sugar-free Jello. . . .” LeeAnn fired back, counting off the healthy options on her fingers.
“That stuff’s not the same,” Sam grunted. Time to take the offensive. “Look, I know you mean well, but I’m sick and tired of you being the food police. I’m a grown man, and I choose what I eat. A little sugar now and then is not going to hurt anything.” He folded his arms to signal that this case was over.
LeeAnn crossed the room and sank onto the hassock in front of Sam’s chair. Her eyes searched his. “I know this diabetes diagnosis is hard for you. But we’re not talking about ‘a little sugar.’ You’re addicted to it. You’ve got candy stashed all over the house. You are the only person I know who can’t drink a glass of water without adding spoonfuls of sugar to it first.” LeeAnn pushed both hands through her sleek bob of silver hair in frustration. “Do you understand how serious diabetes is? We’ve made so many plans for our retirement years. If you don’t get control of your sweet tooth, you aren’t going to live long enough to see your first social security check.” Sam caught the sheen of tears in her blue eyes before she swung away from him and rushed out of the room.
Anger coursed through him. He pounded his fist into the hassock his wife had just vacated. “It’s my choice!” he roared. Freya tucked her whip of a tail between her legs and darted after LeeAnn.
Sam raised his eyes. “Lord, it’s just a little candy! Why does she have to make such a big deal out of it? It’s ridiculous! What would you do?”
An uncomfortable echo followed his words. What did Jesus do? He did a lot—but he sure never threw a fit to get his own way. Shame coursed through Sam. He dropped his head into his big hands.
“Lord . . . Lord, please forgive me! I’m stupid and selfish. You gave up everything to rescue us, to give us everything that’s good . . . and I’m not willing to give up a bag of candy to save myself, or to take care of the sweetest wife any guy could have.” Sam ripped the cellophane wrapper from the Peeps and dumped them in the trash can. “You know you are going to have to help me. A lot. It ain’t gonna be easy. But with your help, I can do this.”
He heaved himself out of his chair and stomped toward the kitchen. “LeeAnn! Where are those carrots?”
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