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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)

TITLE: Burnt Offerings
By Colin Swann


June tied back her long black hair, donned her every-day wear, rolled up her sleeping bag and off she went.

It was going to be a long night sleeping out on the sidewalk. She was determined to get the $500 stove for the knock down price of just $5. Her old stove was just about clapped out and no way could she afford to buy such a luxurious one at full price.

She was standing there waiting for tomorrow’s sale even before the today’s shopping was quite finished.

Later she spread her sleeping bag out in the shop doorway – she had managed to be first in the queue. She was sure to get one of the 3 stoves that were at knocked down prices so as to tempt buyers through the doors for the sales.

She said to the young couple who was next to her in the queue, “After one of the cookers like me?”

“Yes, just married and trying to get things together – jolly good bargain at just $5 – can’t afford to miss it,” responded the young woman.

“Do you know where to head for when the shop opens in the morning?” asked June. “If you’re not sure just follow me.”

Later that night June lay awake. She was determined not to go to sleep so that she could keep a check on what was happening. She dreaded the thought of being asleep when the doors opened in the morning and finding she had missed out.

June lived with her mum after her separation from Nat and struggled to make ends meet on her meager waitress’ wage. Now she found herself lying in a store doorway waiting to buy just the necessities of kitchen equipment.

The queue was kept entertained for a few hours by a drunk walking up and down thinking he was Frank Sinatra. He passed round a flea bitten old hat for his monetary reward. Some paid him just so that he would move off to buy more drink.

Things went quiet and it seemed some were even daring to sleep. June thought, ‘I wish Nat could see me now laid out here on the street - shame on him not to keep up some sort of support; after all he earns four times I do.’

Police sirens woke everyone at the break of dawn. Sleeping bags were rolled back and tied. All were ready for the action when the store opened.

June knew she was in line for a buy as the commissionaire would control a slow entry, so that those first in the queue had time to move to their desired purchases. This was fair as some could run faster than others.

She thought about all the cooking she and mum could do with a new stove. It had been ‘hope for the best’ with the old one. Burnt offerings were common place.

As the doors were being opened the doorman said, “Remember there is only one offer of a complete white goods package.”

June thought, ‘Wow!’ She asked, “Where do I find that mate?”

“It’s towards the back of the store, adjacent to crockery.”

June set off to the rear of the store for the buy of a lifetime. She headed toward the crockery section. She couldn’t see any special sale offer of the complete package, so she asked an assistant for directions. When she arrive there was already a crowd applauding the successful buyer of the bargain of the year.

June dashed back towards the front of the store where the 3 stoves had been placed; her heart sank, she was too late, they had all gone. She stood and wept.

She returned home empty handed.

The press was reporting on the Great Sale’s bargains and had picked up how a lady who was first in the queue had left empty handed.

The headline to the article was, ‘June’s cooking on Hold for another Year.’

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This article has been read 761 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw01/17/08
Clever. Witty. Realistic dialogue. LOVE your title and the way it fits in with the story. Excellent piece!
Jan Ackerson 01/18/08
Clever and engaging. Poor June!
Karen Wilber01/21/08
Oh June!!! I was really pulling for her. This one actually hurt. Nice job.