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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)

TITLE: A Cup of Cinnamon Tea
By Sandra Petersen


Maggie stooped with a grimace to pick up the morning paper from under the withered rosebush beside the front steps of her house.

Stupid boy! Why can’t he ever get it on the porch? Is it so much to ask? She made a mental note to call the newspaper office to complain.

White hair straggled over the pastel floral print of her housedress as she straightened with her prize in hand. She clomped up the porch steps, trying to ignore the flaking paint, jutting nails, and loose boards and jerked the screen door open, letting it slam behind her. The sound seemed to resonate with her mood.

From the tiny gas stove, the teakettle whistled, demanding attention. Maggie tossed the paper atop the pile of unpaid bills on her kitchen table and yanked the burner dial to ‘Off’. Her tea cup sat unwashed beside three dirty plates and forks from the past two days. She carried the cup to a small uncluttered section of table and removed the lid from the plastic margarine bowl in which she stored her tea bags.

Time to get more tea. You’d think living alone, I wouldn’t run out of things so fast.

She plopped a bag into her cup and carried it to the stove. The water hissed and spat as she poured it from the kettle over the tea bag.

Maggie grunted with satisfaction and rummaged in a drawer for zwieback toast to have with her tea. The box was nearly empty. She added zwieback to the grocery list in her head. The wooden chair creaked under her as she sat down with her breakfast.

Dipping the toast into her tea, Maggie stared from her kitchen window at the unmown lawn. Memories flooded her mind and she shook her head to resist them.

No use remembering what was. I can’t change anything anyway.

From its place on the wall, the telephone jangled. An exasperated sigh escaped Maggie’s lips as she rose to answer.

“Yes?” she snapped into the receiver.

She listened for a few seconds to the voice on the other end.

“I can’t,” she said, then hung up.

Within seconds, the phone rang again. She squeezed her eyes shut and gripped the phone with white knuckles, willing it to stop ringing. It did not.


After a moment of listening, Maggie slammed the receiver down.

“Leave me alone!” she muttered. She balled her hands into fists and waited, head down, eyes shut, for the phone to ring again.

A minute or more passed before Maggie returned to her toast and tea. She glared at the phone as if commanding it to be quiet.

Raising her cup to her lips, she tried to savor the spicy cinnamon scent. The cinnamon bit her tongue with its slight bitterness. Daniel never enjoyed tea, so for years Maggie never had it in the house. Now it was one of the little things with which she could indulge herself.

Daniel’s hatred of tea was only one thing about him I never understood.

She allowed herself to think about her dead husband and found to her surprise that she could not remember what he looked like. This discovery reminded her of her first night alone in the house after his death. Relatives, children, grandchildren, and friends had ‘moved on’ with life within hours after the funeral. She had not.

In that empty, quiet house she raged against the God Daniel had spoken to daily. She found Daniel’s Bible and tore the pages out one after another. She raised her fist toward Heaven and shouted at God for taking her husband from her. The gentle rays of morning found her slumped in the kitchen chair with crumpled pages in her hand.

She had not yielded to God in this past year. She did not intend to ever soften her stand. But the phone calls and visits from Daniel’s old friends continued to taunt her.

If I get one more call from someone inviting me to a Bible study or to church ‘for my own good’, I’ll go crazy.

She opened the kitchen drawer to put away the last of the toast. A half sheet of goldenrod notepaper she had not noticed before lay in the bottom of the drawer. She examined it and gasped.

There, in her husband’s neat handwritten style were nine words: “Call on the Lord while He may be found.”

She heard a small inner voice say, “Your choice, Maggie. I’m here now.”

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This article has been read 1349 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/09/07
The imagery of your story brings your MC and her surroundings to life. It was constructed excellently with a clear message.
Kristen Hester08/10/07
Excellent writing. I love the title, the message, everything. Great job.
Betty Castleberry08/11/07
"The water hissed and spat as she poured it from the kettle over the tea bag."
Great descriptive line.

This is a well written slice of life story. Kudos.
Darlene Casino 08/13/07
Thought I"d check out the 'works of Master's'! What a privilidge! From your title to your sweet conclusion, this has been a great read. You showed us very clearly an angry heart, but you gave us a reason and you offered the perfect cure. Thank you
Jan Ackerson 08/14/07
This is good! Especially in the first half or so, your choice of verbs could be a lesson on setting the mood of a story. Even the inanimate objects reflect your protagonist's anger! What wordsmithing! And the bitterness of the cinnamon reflicting the woman's bitterness...well, there's just so much of that sort of thing here.

Love the gasp of hope at the end...
Julie Ruspoli08/14/07
What a wonderful surprise in the drawer, and a great message. I really liked this story, good descriptive writing.
Joy Faire Stewart08/14/07
This is one of favorite this week. Your descriptions are exceptional. I can see why your writing is in Masters!
Pam Carlson-Hetland08/14/07
It's a perfect depiction of anger at God. The whole "feel" of the story is as if the reader is there witnessing it first-hand. Wonderful description, draws the reader in. The flicker of hope at the end, wraps up the story so well. Excellent writing.
Joanne Sher 08/14/07
You did an amazing job of "showing" the anger throughout this piece. This was so effective in its presentation. Wonderful.
Dee Yoder 08/16/07
Congratulations on your EC! I'm glad I got the chance to read this because it's wonderful!
TJ Nickel08/16/07
Congrats! I loved this read and character...the end felt strange in my read, but maybe it was because I was so engaged early on. Great writing.
Edy T Johnson 08/17/07
Sandy, this is so very rich. It reminds me of the sense of futility in Ecclesiastes, like "what's it all about, anyway!" You've done a super job illustrating anger as the frosting on a cake of grief, abandonment, despair, and then the ending with a ray of hope breaking through the clouds on a piece of goldenrod paper! Love it! I'm so happy this is one for the book!