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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: In The Kitchen - deadline 7-19-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/12/12)

TITLE: A Grown-Up Breakfast!
By Gail Burks
07/16/12


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“Ma, wake up. I'm hungry,” exclaimed John, gently shaking his mother's shoulder as she lay sprawled diagonally across her queen sized bed.

“I'm still sleep. Give me a few minutes,” she mumbled into the pillow, while barely opening an eye to glimpse her son's exasperated look. Still reeling from the previous night's embellishments, she remained sluggish and nearly unresponsive.

“But, Cindy is hungry – C'mon Mom, get up!” as he continued to rock her back and forth.

“Fix some cereal for your sister. I'll get up in a minute.” John could barely make out the words. But, he figured it out.

“OK,” he sighed. Thinking inwardly, “I wish mom would not drink so much at night. Every Monday morning, we go through this. She can never get up.”

As John led his three year old sister to the kitchen table, he felt older than seven years old. Tired of cereal and toast, he thought about eggs and bacon for himself. Remembering the brief cooking lesson, while visiting his grandmother, he felt confident of his ability in the kitchen.

Pouring Cindy's oat cereal into the bowl and covering it with milk, John smiled at his sister. She was a good girl, and he enjoyed being the big brother. He proceeded to set her Dora juice cup next to her bowl, along with a napkin and spoon.

“I think I'll fix eggs and bacon for me and mom. I know how to do it,” as he removed four eggs from the carton, placing them in the bowl. He then gathered the milk, spices and cheese.

“This will be fun,” assuring himself, hoping his mother would not be mad. Although, a little nervous, mom would certainly be proud that he fixed a grown-up breakfast.

“I'll get the skillet and put some oil in it, then I'll crack the eggs,” talking to himself while he eyed his sister enjoying her breakfast of toasted oats. Carefully, cracking the eggs on the side of the glass bowl, he gingerly removed the few pieces of shell that found their way into the mixture. “No big deal, if one is left” he surmised. “They'll be some good eggs.”

As the skillet heated up, John watched his sister sip her orange juice. His back was to the stove. Then, he heard sizzling.

Cindy noticed it first. “Look,” she said pointing to orange and yellow colored flames leaping out of the skillet. Trying to stay calm, he told his sister to go to the bedroom to wake mom. “Hurry.”

As she ran, John picked up a glass, filled it with water and threw it into the skillet. WHOOSH! The flames hopped wildly above the pan. “OH, NO! MOM,” John screamed, running to her bedroom.

In hearing the commotion, Mrs. Wilson stumbled out the bed, sprinting into the kitchen to see the flames licking the cabinetry. “ Quick, hand me the phone and HURRY next door to Mrs. Patterson's. Take your sister's hand. GO. I'll call the fire department.”

After dialing 911, she ran back to the bedroom to retrieve her purse and bible. “Oh, God. Please help us.” she prayed out loud.

It was nothing she could do to contain the fire, as it further engulfed the surrounding cabinets. Grabbing the photo album and car keys, she ran out the front door.

“Mommy,” Cindy cried, as she ran and hugged her mother's legs tightly. John, Mrs. Patterson and several neighbors gathered around. “I'm scared.”

John, with his head down whispered, “I'm sorry, Mom.”

“It's okay, I'm sorry, too,” clutching them both and crying as they kneeled on the neighbor's lawn.

The fire department arrived and containment was fairly quick . Thankfully, the flames were confined to the back of the house. Most of the smoke and water damage was in the kitchen and the back bedroom. Broken glass and damaged wood was scattered throughout.

Waiting for the Red Cross to arrive and their Pastor to call back, Mrs. Wilson determined in her heart, that it was time to get some help --- for her drinking.

“Dear Lord”, she prayed, “I repent for what I've done. Forgive me. Thank you, Lord, for sparing our lives and giving us wisdom and strength to move forward. I love my children. May this be a new beginning for the three of us.”


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Jody Day 07/20/12
A gut wrenching story. I hope it's not a true one in your experience. I know many children start their morning that way, though, and you did a good job of describing the child's frustration. The action scene was well described as well.

Be careful about using all caps. One of the great things about the Challenge is learning to cut unnecessary words since we have 750 words to make an impact. "Thinking, inwardly" - 'inwardly' is a give when someone is thinking.

Nicely done:)
CD Swanson 07/20/12
Wow - this was an amazing story of repentence and God's hands moving in mysterious ways. He did "a shaking" within that home and got the reaction He needed. Well-written, and a powerful climax. Great job.

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/21/12
This is an awesome story and lesson. You did a spectacular job of building on the conflicts in the story. I found myself think No don't pour water on it! That's a good sign of good writing when you can pull me into the story like that.

You need a tad of polishing the narritive part of the story. I can see you are working on doing more showing than telling. Just be careful that the sentences are complete ones. For example this -- as he continued to rock her back and forth. can be turned into a complete one just by getting rid of the as and capitalizing He. Another example that could use some smoothing is he thought inwardly you don't need to add the inwardly as most thoughts are to one's self. If he spoke his thoughts out loud then it would make sense to say He thought aloud. But better still, instead of using the taglines like he thought or exclaimed John use those spots to show what the MC is feeling or doing. You have a good start in the beginning, you just need to change the exclaimed John, to John gently shook her back and forth.

You really have an intense and powerful story here. The lesson in it is superb. Telling it from the POV of the child is also a great way to reach the hearts of adults you may see themselves in this story. You were on topic though making breakfast may not be original, having the fire and the mom struggling against alcohol makes it unique and fresh. It's a sign of talent when you can turn something ordinary into a suspense-filled story. This is a great read.