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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Critique/Review (for writers) (05/06/10)

TITLE: Revolting Toes
By Troy Manning
05/12/10


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After taking two bites against her will, JoJo shoved away the offending plate of pigs’ feet and ran to her room without waiting to be excused. After slamming the door, she flung herself on her unmade bed and screamed curse words into her pillow. As her father entered her room, she turned to look and forgot the pillow no longer covered her mouth. Her father calmly received the unsavory epithet she unintentionally hurled at him, then took her into the bathroom where he washed the potty and the residue of pig’s feet from her mouth.

After discussing the consequences to her actions, he took JoJo’s feet in his hands and told her a traumatic tale of pigs, which were really dismembered toes. That he told the story with a smile and a gleam in his eye made it even more troubling. The first “pig”, as she later recalled, went to the market while the second one stayed home—why it wanted to stick around was difficult for her to fathom, but she chose to humor her father by hearing him out. Anyway, there were now three little pigs.

JoJo’s budding critical-thinking skills continued to cast a veil of skepticism over his story when he said the third pig ate roast beef. She had learned from her third-grade teacher that pigs were herbivores. Her father’s reply that she could think of the pig as a toe if she wanted was of no help at all.

The fourth pig barely merited a supporting role. All that was known about it was that it “had none”--roast beef presumably. To JoJo’s mind, that piece of information hardly furthered the development of either character or plot. It really only served to raise more questions. Did that mean the other pigs ate roast beef? If so, then why bother saying the third pig did? If not, then why specify that the fourth didn’t?

If that weren’t ambiguous enough, the original whereabouts of the fifth pig, the one that cried all the way home, stretched the coherence of her father’s tale past the breaking point. Did the fifth pig go to the market too? If so, then why make a point about that for the first pig? If the fifth pig was presently on JoJo’s foot, as the most direct following of the story suggested, then where was the home to which it ran crying?

JoJo’s irritation turned to concern for her father’s judgment. She respectfully requested that he not hold her toes, which was disgusting, and that he not tell her stories which lacked both logic and redemptive value.

With her ear against the wall, JoJo sat appalled as her father told her little brother a story about a boy who broke his head after going up a hill for water. It was less clear what ultimately happened to the girl who fell down after him, but it couldn’t have been good. If the story explained that their ascent of the hill was in violation of their parents’ orders, she could at least see some justification for telling it. If they were fetching water in a pail, however, their misfortune was likely the result of complying with a designated chore. Still, it wasn’t until he started singing the one about a baby in a cradle that fell from a treetop that she considered calling CPS.

JoJo knew that if she were going to be taking the critical and moral high-ground with respect to her father’s inane tales, she would have to lose the potty-mouth and slam doors more softly.

But would it also mean she would have to eat pig’s feet?


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This article has been read 292 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mildred Sheldon05/13/10
Thank you for this story. I'm with JoJo I do not like pigs feet or toes. I liked how father washed the potty and toes from her mouth.
Joanna Stricker05/13/10
I giggled my way through this, I love how literal the little girl is. Can't fault her logic...or can we? lol (couldn't resist).
Colin Swann05/18/10
I enjoyed JOJO's reviewing of the Nursery Rhymes - but I love pigs' trotters - make tasty sandwiches mmmm scrumptious!