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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)

TITLE: Pompous at the Park
By Kristen Hester


David’s girlfriend, Candy, came out of the house modeling her third outfit. Clearly frustrated, she turned around for him. “Is this okay?”

David admired Candy’s firm body and tan skin. She wore a pair of khaki shorts that were short enough to show off her nice legs, but long enough to meet with his grandmother’s approval. “Perfect.”

“Daddy!” The two were interrupted by calls from David’s daughters, DeLanie and McKenzie, who were being led outside by their nanny. The girls looked storybook perfect in their matching outfits. The youngest pulled free and ran to David.

David jumped back. “Don’t wrinkle Daddy’s pants. Just hop in the car like a good girl.” The nanny’s eye roll did not escape David’s notice, but he chose to ignore it. Good nannies were hard to find, so he’d tolerate a little disrespect.

Candy whispered in David’s ear. “Tell me again why we have to take them?”

“Because,” David began through gritted teeth. “It’s a family reunion and my family will expect to see my kids.”

As they drove to the small town where David grew up, he tried to prepare Candy. “These are not city people like us. They lack some of our refinement. They’re nice enough, but they’re country.”

Candy nodded her head but said nothing as she gazed at herself in the visor mirror and reapplied her lipstick.

“Will we get to see our cousins?” McKenzie asked.

“Yes,” David replied. “And your aunts and uncles and grandparents. Everyone will be at the park.” Before his daughters could ask another question, David turned up the stereo volume.

When they arrived at the reunion David was quickly greeted by his cousin, Kevin. The two played on the same football team in high school. Kevin approached David with a grubby little boy bouncing happily on his shoulders.

“Hey cuz,” Kevin called out in a friendly manner. “Glad to see you.” He let go of one of the toddler’s legs just long enough to shake David’s hand and meet Candy. “Nice car,” Kevin said admiringly.

Before David could comment on his BMW, a frisbee came flying through the air and hit Kevin in the stomach. They turned and saw a giggling girl, about the size of McKenzie, with what appeared to be watermelon stains smeared across her shirt. Kevin gave an expression of mock anger. “Who did that? I’m going to get her,” he said as he chased the little girl who squealed in delight.

Candy, David and his girls headed over to the main group gathered around picnic tables. When David’s mom saw them she jumped up excitedly. McKenzie and DeLanie broke loose and ran into the open arms of their grandmother. She covered their faces with kisses, then stood and hugged David and shook hands with Candy. “Nice to meet you,” she said. David knew his mother didn’t approve of his divorce or current living arrangements, but thankfully she was gracious to Candy.

David’s daughters were soon bombarded with a borage of cousins, eager to play. “Come on. We’re catching tad poles at the pond,” a barefoot boy in overalls said as he led the girls away.

“Don’t get dir-“ David began, but was stopped by the glare of his mother.

“Leave them alone, David. They don’t have to impress us.”

David made the rounds, greeting each of his family members and introducing Candy, who seemed quite bored with the entire process. At least two cousins asked about his ex-wife, who everyone had adored.

“She’s fine,” he answered. “Still teaching at the girls’ school.”

As he watched Candy stand aloofly away from his family and pick at her fried chicken and baked beans, he couldn’t help but notice the contrast. His x-wife always fit in with his family, but then she was a country girl like them.

When people asked about David’s life, he described his work as a lawyer at a prestigious firm in the city. Unfortunately, his unsophisticated relatives didn’t know enough to be impressed. Instead they told him things he cared nothing about: His nephew’s pig had been reserve champion at the county fair. Kevin and Brooke were going on a cruise for their 10th anniversary. Steve and Tammy had moved into the house they built themselves. “Blah, blah, blah,” was all David heard.

As he drove home that evening, David felt sorry for his family and their simple ways. He had no idea they didn’t envy his life, but instead were gathered around the picnic tables praying for him.

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This article has been read 732 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 06/13/08
A strong message here told in a very compelling way - nicely woven into this story.
Karen Wilber06/14/08
Oooh your last paragraph. Whoa! Terrific. A few spelling errors that spellcheck didn't catch. But, oh, this one is so worth the read. Great message.
LaNaye Perkins06/16/08
This has such a great message. I especially loved the last line. Great writing my friend.
Lyn Churchyard06/16/08
Oh I felt so sorry for David and his little girls. Imagine not being able to have mud fights, or food fights or go stomping in puddles. What a huge contrast. I know which family you made me want to be part of. Great job... loved the final sentence, what a message!
Jan Ackerson 06/16/08
Wonderful job of characterization! I felt as if I knew many of these characters very well--you've done remarkably with that, given the word limits. I was right there at the park with them.

The ending felt a tad rushed and summarized to me, but I loved the touch of irony at the very end.
Colin Swann06/21/08
Thanks you masters for your expertise and encouragement that we writers experience from you, right from starting out as beginners.