Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)
TITLE: The Suit Jacket of Grace
By Jan Ackerson
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We go slightly insane on our lunch dates: turtle cheesecake drizzled in fudge, dark-chocolate covered cashews, triple-mocha cappuccinos. We’re veritable chocolate <i>fiends</i>, making “mmmmmm” and “ahhhhhh” sounds that sometimes draw the attention of other diners. CoCo’s prissy mother—my sister Tessa—would shush us, blushing, if she were here. But CoCo and I are uninhibited in our adoration of milk, semisweet, dark.
Last Saturday, CoCo plopped down without her usual “Hey, Aunt Jo.” When she listlessly selected only one chocolate chip cookie, I hooked her chin with a finger and said, ‘Okay, something’s <i>very</i> wrong. One cookie? C’mon, kiddo…spill.”
CoCo picked her cookie apart until her plate was covered with pea-sized crumbles. “Aunt Jo,” she said, “I made a huge mistake. With Trevor.” She smooshed a chip with her thumb.
I knew why CoCo confessed to <i>me</i>. I’ve mentioned Tessa—she’s a good mom, but a bit severe. I’m cool Aunt Jo; I share Tessa’s faith, but I came to God late, after a rough-and-tumble life that gives me a certain air of glamour in CoCo’s eyes. I’m older than Tessa, but I’m <i>way</i> cooler.
I thought for a while about what to say. Finally, I sat back and sipped my latte. “CoCo, did I ever tell you about the ‘70s?”
She looked up, surprised. “Huh?”
“Back in 1972, I was student teaching—eighth grade English. I was very fashionable back then, and I bought these great slacks, a new style called hip-huggers.”
“We have those now, Aunt Jo. But…”
“I’ll get to the point, Cokes. Bear with me. So I had these orange hip-hugger bell-bottoms…”
“…and a big problem. My shirts wouldn’t stay tucked in. I found a cool shirt that solved my problem, though--a fantastic orange-and-purple striped turtleneck that snapped at the…well, like a baby’s onesie. Got the picture?”
“Yeah…but I still don’t…”
“Hang in there, kid. So I decided to wear this lovely outfit to work. But when I was getting dressed, the first of the three snaps wouldn’t snap. Well, I still had two. So I snapped those, pulled up the hip-huggers, and left for school.
I was at my desk while the students were watching a movie about nouns, when I felt a strange sensation in my…in the area of the snaps. Number Two had come undone. I was down to one working snap.”
CoCo was stealing spoonfuls of my tiramisu now, and I’m sure I heard her snort. I continued my story.
“About the time the movie ended, my supervising professor walked in to evaluate me. He took a seat and nodded for me to continue the lesson. I dreaded standing up…what if the snap came undone? But I couldn’t teach from my desk, so I stood up and started talking about the wonders of nouns. Miraculously, the snap held. I was walking around the room, having students call out nouns, making a game of it…I knew I’d get a great evaluation. Toward the end of class, I went to the blackboard to write the homework assignment. I reached toward the top of the board—and the snap gave way.”
“Oh no! Aunt Jo, what did you do?”
“It’s not what <i>I</i> did, it’s what that <i>shirt</i> did. It flew out of my slacks and rolled up like a scroll. Oh, did I mention…my panties were <i>not</i> hip-huggers? A full three inches of white cotton was exposed. Kids were laughing, I was standing there with my shirt flapping, wishing for Death’s Carriage to stop by—that’s Dickenson, CoCo--and then my professor ran up and draped me with his jacket and said he’d stay with the class if I needed to leave to make…adjustments.”
CoCo grinned, then thought for a moment. Finally—“Aunt Jo, why did you tell me that story?”
I took a deep breath and picked my way carefully through my next words. “It was a mistake to wear that shirt—I knew something bad could happen, and it did. But it was covered quickly—by grace—and I never, <i>ever</i> wore it again.”
Did I mention how smart my niece is? She got it—right away. “Aunt Jo, you <i>rock</i>. Hey—can I have a chocolate croissant?”
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