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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: Egg Face
By Rachael Severa
07/18/12


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I’m not an early morning riser, but I’ll give it my best shot, as I meander down the stairs; thinking about things I’d rather be doing today. However, my Mother insists I run errands with her, which translates to, whatever she does, I have to do.

Reviewing her daily checklist, Mother announces, “Ashley. We have much to do today. I hope you didn’t make plans.”
“Not anymore.” I know the sound of defeat.

Glancing out the window and back again, I started observing her meticulous nature with sorting through the food packed boxes that cover the dining table. We haul the boxes into the van and take leave. We approach the Grange Hall where my Mother heads up the community dinners, a monthly fundraiser, and where four other volunteers are waiting.

“Not Again.”
“Yes, Ashley. All this stuff is for baking cookies.”

After organizing our ingredients, I wandered through to the main hall. There are folding tables standing upright side by side, each holding several pastry containers spanning the entire table; my thoughts reverted to [i]Wow, we have to fill all of these?[/i]

Mother tosses me an apron, and she begins measuring the dry ingredients. I have the task of blending all the wet ingredients: eggs, vanilla, butter … until thoroughly mixed. I secure the bowl in its socket, resting my hand on its edge, and I turn the switch to high speed. The beater grabs the loose string from my bracelet and pulls it into the mix. I start pulling back, as it wraps itself around. I try to break loose, but the force keeps dragging me in. Finally, the tension breaks the string from my wrist, and I flip it to off. Almost shy of a hand, I stare at the mess I’ve made, and thankful it wasn’t my neck. In the disarray, Mother seizes the opportunity to explain.

“Thank goodness. Start on low.”

At the moment, I fail to understand how this is fun. Starting over, I make as many batches of dough as my supply allows. After cooling, we fill each container leaving the chocolate crinkles for the dinner fundraiser, and the chocolate chips are loaded into the van. Although, my mishap almost had the better of me, I know it won’t be for nothing.

“Time for lunch soon, we can eat at the Jesus Center.”
“Homeless people eat there.”

Her insistent glare at me begged the question, [i]how self-centered are we?[/i] As if pleading for any acceptable excuse. I turned the radio on, but I could still hear my stupidity. Once we arrive, I unload the boxes, and try to make myself useful. I focus on the tablecloths, displaying the cookie tray, and the drinks. I heard Mother’s voice, “Oh, Pastor Dave, nice to see you.”

“She is your daughter?”
“Yes. Ashley,” she said.
“How nice, that our youth would want to spend time here.” Pastor Dave said.

I forced a smile, shook his hand and scattered for a place to hide. My Mother accommodates me in providing an excuse, “I’ve been working Ashley hard today.”

I retreat back to making meals, measuring out cups of potato salad and washing the fruit. With everyone gathered around the island sink, Pastor Dave takes the lead in saying a prayer; however, mine resembled something similar to a confession. The doors open, and everyone in line walks through. I’ve never seen any of these people around town, and some look well kept.

“Is this your first time?” The volunteer said.
“Yes.”
She continued on, “You’d be surprised. Being homeless can happen to anyone.”
I remember the gloves and turn to put them on. I turn back around to start serving.

“Tracy,” I shouted to her embarrassment, or maybe mine.

I try to speak with her, but she buries her eyes downward. Her father gestures with a nod, accepts the food, and they both walk to the tables. I remember my Mother’s glare in the car, and my shame went to an all new low. I excuse myself to find her. I notice her cleaning the beverage table.

“Thanks, Mom.” I squeeze her with much love and gratitude. She fixes my hair with gentle strokes, and gives me a warm smile. To convey her understanding, she offers encouragement.

“Helping people who need our support is rewarding,” she speaks firmly.
“I know. So is working in the kitchen.”


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This article has been read 252 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/20/12
This is an intense story and one important for adults and teens alike. I laughed at the bracelet being caught in the mixer. It was a delightful picture.

You touched on the MC seeing a friend and realizing that she was homeless. I'd loved to hear more about that.I know the word count limited you but this feels like such an important part. Perhaps if you had cut some of the details about Mom being so organized you would have been able to do more with this conflict.

I think you did a spectacular job of having several different messages without coming of as preachy. That's a sign of natural ability. Those scattered moments with a teen can build the bond between parent and child. Another great message is it's important to show by example. Lastly the but for the grace of God, go I is one of my favorite messages in this story. Good job.
CD Swanson 07/20/12
Wonderful account of love and meaning throughout this whole piece. It held moments of levity, just enought not to detract from the powerful message it elicited. Great job. Thank you.

God bless~
Laura Manley07/20/12
This story was very well received by this reader. I could picture my granddaughter in the role as Ashley, although she is coming around. You have many messages in this well-written story which you could elaborate on if you wanted to continue this story. A different and what I would call out-of-the-box while still "in the kitchen." Nicely done!
Loren T. Lowery07/24/12
I think you show a natural knack for story telling. Your writing is very engaging and I enjoyed it all the way to the end; and the message was a good one as well.
Laury Hubrich 07/24/12
Good story.

Let me share a secret with you. You can see what your story will look like in the preview box. In order to not hit publish on accident, I don't put the title or the level in until I'm completely ready to enter it. This way, you can make sure all your codes worked and if they didn't, you can go back and fix them. That little trick has helped me tons. So frustrating when I would hit publish on accident instead of preview! Now if I do that, it won't publish because I don't have the needed information! :)
Beth LaBuff 07/24/12
I think you have teenagers. You know them inside and out. :) I enjoyed the surprise you left for the reader when her friend "Tracy" showed up for the meal. I loved the unexpectedness of that. Your title made me smile, it fits your story perfectly.
Helen Curtis07/25/12
This is a lovely take on the topic of "In the Kitchen." I especially like that Ashley's prayer 'resembled a confession' - many times have I done much the same. Volunteering for the needy is a rewarding and humbling experience, which your MC certainly began to realise.

I, too, would like to have read a little less detail and a little more of the deeper themes, especially her friend Tracy. This friendship could have been developed into the main storyline; how they knew one another, what was Tracy like at school - obnoxious or arrogant, or really shy and withdrawn? How did Ashley's kitchen experience change her opinion of Tracy; and Tracy's opinion of Ashley?

You certainly touched on a wonderful story with this, well done.
lynn gipson 07/26/12
A very good story about something very close to my heart...anyone can become homeless for any reason...and seeing her friend there brought the reality to Ashley..you are a good story teller....thank you