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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)

TITLE: A Table for Two
By Donna Haug


Christine threw her comb across the room. “I’m so sick of being poor! Sick! Sick! Sick!” Falling onto her bed, she sobbed into her pillow so the neighbors would not hear her through the paper-thin walls of her apartment. Today was her first wedding anniversary. She and Larry had started their life together anticipating a few challenges. Larry was going through seminary, and she had only been able to find a part-time job. However, she figured their love would carry them through. She could never have prepared herself for how tough it was to live on so little. Larry had just told her on the telephone that there was no way they could afford to go out to celebrate that evening. Tears of self-pity soaked her pillowcase.

Finally, with all emotions spent, Christine sat on the edge of her bed. She reached over to the up-ended milk crate that served as an end table looking for a tissue. Finding an empty box, she threw her hands into the air and stomped into the bathroom to find a toilet paper roll. As she blew her nose, a little sparrow singing lustily in the branch of the tree outside her window caught her attention. “Stupid bird!”

Suddenly, it was as if she could hear her mother singing in the next room. “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” Christine closed the toilet lid and sat down. The sparrow continued its song, but for some reason the song seemed to soothe her heart. “He watches me. He sees me. He cares for me.” Her head slumped down into her hands, and she began to pour her heart out to God. She released all the pent up frustration and anger into the waiting arms of her Lord. Sweet reassurance swept over her soul as she lingered in her sanctified prayer chamber.

As she rose to wash her face, Christine remembered something else her mom had told her. “Honey, you may go through some tough times. Don’t let that stop you. Even if all you have in your house to eat is hotdogs, you can put those hotdogs on your finest dishes. Light a couple of candles, and enjoy being together!”

Yes! That’s what she would do. She ran to her kitchen and opened the freezer door. What could she make? She found some ground beef. The cupboards yielded a can of tomato paste and a package of spaghetti noodles. “Well, at least it’s better than hotdogs!”

Pulling out the frying pan, Christine went about preparing her meat sauce. A pot of water was on to boil with a bit of salt. As she worked, she realized she was humming her mom’s song. She started singing the words as she cracked the package of spaghetti in half, opened it and poured it into the boiling water. “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.” Giving it a quick stir, she went to her linen closet and found the pretty tablecloth she had gotten as a wedding gift. She had never had a good enough occasion to use it until now. As she spread it on the table, she heard the spaghetti water boiling over onto the stove. Running into the kitchen she turned down the heat a bit, gave it another stir, checked on the meat sauce, and hurried back to the table. She set the table with her Corelle and simple cutlery. She only had plain white paper napkins, but she knew how to fold them in a fancy way. She found two only slightly used emergency candles and stood them on glass cup holders. She switched her little radio to their favorite jazz station.

After draining and rinsing the noodles and placing the meat sauce on the back burner to keep warm, Christine ran off to her bedroom. Where was that dress? Hanging in the back of her closet, she found the outfit she had worn as they left the wedding reception. She felt tingles down her back as she remembered how Larry had looked at her when he had seen her. She changed quickly, brushing her long hair and sweeping it up off her neck. As she made her hurried preparations, she sang quietly, “…I know He watches me!” A touch of make-up finished her preparations just in time. She heard Larry’s car drive into his parking spot just outside the apartment door. Nervous anticipation flushed her cheeks as Christine rushed towards the door.

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This article has been read 1113 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kathleen Morris01/11/07
Ahhh, this one made me cry. It brought back memories of my early married life. It shows how simple things can bring you joy. One doesn't need money in order to have romace, love, happiness. NOT AT ALL. Beautiful writing, beautiful memory!
Donna Powers 01/11/07
This was so very lovely. I loved the progression of her inner thoughts that "cooked" just like her dinner. Very good job integrating the two. Nicely done.
Rhonda Clark01/12/07
This was so sweet. I love how you showed her dependence on God. Life is what we make it. Great job.
Darlene Casino 01/14/07
This was a tender story, showing how our heavenly Father ministers to our everyday needs.
I enjoyed and appreciated the message.
Phyllis Inniss01/15/07
The lessons our parents teach us can make a deep impression on our lives. I like the way you came out of your despondency on hearing the sparrow sing and how it tied in with what your mother taught you and the change that came over you. You brought all this out very nicely in your writing.
Jan Ackerson 01/16/07
I love this story, and I really love the ending. Great job!
Joanne Sher 01/17/07
Delightful - I really enjoyed all the little details - made it feel very authentic.
dub W01/17/07
Absolutely brought back memories of Miss P's and my first apartment 2 rooms and a bath, temporary quarters, but it was ours for a short time and like so many, we made the best of it with what we had. Well done, thank you.
Sara Harricharan 01/17/07
A most enjoyable read, I loved the MC, though it seemed a little confusing in the beginning. The end was my favorite when she decided the make the best of things and set about with what she had, loved how you wove the song and sparrow into the story!
Sally Hanan01/17/07
Sweet story, and the upturned milk crate made me laugh :) To make this more alive, see if you can take the list of things she did with the dinner and turn them into what she can see through her eyes, or how she reacts to them, i.e. instead of talking about waiting for the water to boil, talk about her eyes waiting for the steam to curl above the pot's rim. Instead of saying that she put two glass holders on the table, say that the glass holders shone in soft reflection of the lighted emergency candles' that they cradled. It helps us to see rather than be told. :)