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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: Backfired
By Pam Carlson-Hetland
02/19/08


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Ida-May's chair rocked in time with her flashing knitting needles. It was a warm summer day so she had taken her handiwork and a pitcher of iced tea to a shady corner of the front porch. The elderly woman was well known in the neighborhood for her hospitality and wisdom. She willingly shared both with whoever stopped by.

Right on schedule, the next door neighbor's car pulled into the driveway. Katie quickly stepped out, slammed the door with unnecessary force and strode toward her house. A scowl crossed her pretty face as she heard her name called. But seeing that it was Ida-May who beckoned, Katie smiled.

"I have some iced tea if you'd like to sit a spell, Katie." Ida-May called. Katie pivoted and joined the elderly woman on her porch.

"Thanks, Ida-May. A cold drink will taste good." Katie's shoulders visibly relaxed as she sipped her tea. "What are you making?"

"Mittens--getting a head start on Christmas gifts for the grandchildren."

“You’re always busy. Every time I see you, you’re making something or listening to someone’s problems. Why is that?”

Ida-May chuckled. “When I was a youngster, I had a tendency to get into mischief. My mama used to say I was ‘hell-bent on self-destruction’. So every time she’d see me aiming for a heap of trouble, she’d put something in my hands to do. It became a habit. And the good Lord gave us two ears and only one mouth. Guess that means we’re supposed to listen more than talk.”

Ida-May's fingers never slowed as she glanced over the top of her half-spectacles at the young woman in the chair opposite her own. "Seems like there's something on your mind, Katie."

Katie sighed deeply. "Work. I've been an assistant department manager at the Fashion Boutique for over a year. Then they hired this new girl--Yvonne. Right away, she started playing up to the manager. She'd bring her coffee and they always seemed to have some sort of private joke. It was so obvious what she was up to. A month ago, the manager just quit--took a different job. I applied for the position. They hired Yvonne instead. So, now, I have to work for her. She doesn't even know what she's doing."

Katie paused to take another sip of tea. Her foot bounced up and down from internal agitation.

"Today..." Katie continued "she made me rearrange all the displays--said she was trying to update the department. I know the clientele there...she doesn't. What does she think she's doing?"

Ida-May stopped to examine her handiwork. "Sounds like she's trying to do a good job."

"Yeah, right!" Katie rolled her eyes with exaggeration. "And then she scheduled me for every weekend for the month even though I specifically asked for this coming weekend off."

"Did you talk to her about it?" Ida-May asked.

"No. She wouldn't listen to me anyway." Katie's anger was growing as she thought about the conflict between herself and the other woman. Her eyes squinted as she conjured up a plan of retaliation. "I know what I'll do. If I have to work this weekend, I'll just change those displays back to the way they were before–the way I want them."

Ida-May’s knitting needles stopped. She thoughtfully regarded the angry young woman. "What will that accomplish, dear?" she asked.

Katie defiantly tossed her long hair back. "If she wants it changed, she'll have to do it on her shift."

“Sounds like asking for trouble to me.” Ida-May cautioned.

“Someone needs to show her that she doesn’t know everything.”

Sensing that further reasoning would be unsuccessful, Ida-May resumed her knitting. "Well, Katie, I hope that works out for you."

Over a week had passed since Katie had visited with Ida-May. It was Saturday, but the car had not moved from the driveway in a couple of days. Ida-May was weeding the flowers when she heard Kate's front door open. She waved at her young neighbor.

"On the way to work?” Ida-May asked.

Katie shook her head, "Downtown." she answered.

"Did you get the weekend off after all?"

"No." Katie toyed with the car keys and looked down at the ground. "I got fired."


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This article has been read 792 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kristen Hester02/21/08
You set the scene here beautifully. I can picture Ida-May on her rocker and the neighbr Katie. Well written and great choics of words throughout. It's to bad Katie didn't listen to Ida-May! Great characters, great dialogue, great entry! Two thumbs up!
Patty Wysong02/22/08
Ah, very good. Many times when we cut off our noses we end up paying the consequences. I love Ida Mae and her wisdom!
Seema Bagai 02/23/08
Great story with a perfect title.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/23/08
You really covered the topic well in this excellent story. I loved your mc and her explanation of why she worked with her hands and listened.
Lynda Schultz 02/23/08
Nice connection between your title and the last line. The reader has an idea where all this might be going, but the way you tied things up at the end still provided an element of surprise. Nice work.
Lyn Churchyard02/23/08
This was great! I loved Ida-May, I wish there were a lot more like her in the world. So many people today just have no one to talk to. Not that it helped in this case, but she was there, and I think she'll still be there for Katie.
I could hear the voices and understand Katie's frustration. Right on topic, well done.
Sally Hanan02/24/08
I hope I'm like that when I get that old--a place of wisdom and safety. Beautifully written.
Jan Ackerson 02/25/08
What a wonderful character Ida-May is!
Beth LaBuff 02/26/08
Ouch! I knew something was going to happen to the MC--great work with the suspense. I love this bit of wisdom from your entry, "I had a tendency to get into mischief. My mama used to say I was ‘hell-bent on self-destruction’. So every time she’d see me aiming for a heap of trouble, she’d put something in my hands to do. It became a habit." Your title definitely fits! Good work on this!
Debbie Wistrom02/27/08
Ida May is wonderful, I could use a neighbor like that.
LauraLee Shaw02/27/08
This is a perfect story for the topic, and what makes it even better is that so many of us can place ourselves in your MCs position. Pride comes before the fall, and I've fallen many times. Adding a great character like Ida-May in just took the story to an even greater level. Well done.
Shirley McClay 02/27/08
I was so hoping she would listen to the wisdom of Ida! I am very impressed with how much detail you were able to get into this story. So often you can tell a story is chopped to fit into the word limit, but I never felt hat with this one.
Sara Harricharan 02/27/08
Ouch! I feel bad for Katie! She should've listened to Ida, the title hinted that something would go amiss here and you followed through wonderfully. Nice job. ^_^
Laury Hubrich 02/27/08
Great story! I like the lesson to be learned here. Great writing!
Laury
Catrina Bradley 02/27/08
What a great story! Lots of little details, a lovable MC, And you definitely illustrated the topic. Great writing. :)