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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)

TITLE: Unfurled
By Laury Hubrich


Patty stood at the kitchen sink. She looked out the window as she’d done a dozen days before this and a dozen years before that. She saw a backyard full of children, ranging in sizes and ages. A couple worked on a snowman. A few more threw snowballs at one another. Children ran around and around, stopping once in a while to giggle and make faces. One little boy sat alone, curled up into a tight little ball. This is the one that she sought out. This is the one that captured her attention.

“Caleb, Honey, come here please,” Patty called out the door. She watched as he reluctantly unfurled himself and trudged through the yard. The others paid no attention as he walked right into the middle of their games. It was as though he were invisible. A nothing. A nobody.

The boy met the older woman at the door. “Caleb, you are going to help me cook.” Patty took off his stocking cap. She licked her finger and wiped a smudge off his pudgy cheek. “Take off your coat and wash your hands.”

Patty watched the boy do as she bid. She remembered when he was brought to their door, only a little bitty thing. It was three years to the day. Patty wondered if that fact lay dormant in his young mind or if he were aware of it. Ever since he was dropped off by the social worker, no one could get him to utter a sound.

Sealed court documents and a little boy that refused to talk kept everyone in the dark as to what was going on in his mind. Try as she might, Caleb held her off, although, out of all the workers, Patty was the one that he seemed to favor the most.

“Hands washed? Let me see?” Patty gave him a once over. She checked both the front and the back of his hands. She even checked his ears and tickled the back of his neck. He squirmed and smiled. Caleb craved that close personal contact that Patty lavished on him, yet he held it off at the same time.

“Every Christmas Eve we have something really special. You know what that is, right?” Caleb’s eyes twinkled but his mouth refused to make a noise.

Patty lifted up a big ball of dough and separated it into two pieces and laid it on the counter. “Homemade noodles. I’m famous for them, you know. And every year for the past three years you’ve sat in that very spot and watched me. Today, young man, I am going to let you make them with me. Think you are up to that task?”

Patty began to roll out her ball of dough adding a bit of flour once in a while. “It’s a secret. Only you and I know, right?”

Caleb nodded his head as he watched Patty’s hands move back and forth with the pin across the dough. He then picked up a smaller rolling pin and his own dough ball. He grabbed hold of the handles and put his whole body into the task.

When the dough was thin enough, Patty began to roll it up length-wise. Caleb did the same. When finished, they took a knife and cut the rolls into thin pieces. Patty smiled as she watched Caleb work. His tongue stuck out just a bit and to the side as he concentrated on this task.

The pair picked up a sliced piece of dough and held it high in the air. “Okay, 1… 2.” At three they both let go of one end of the roll and the noodle fell to the counter into one long thin strip. Caleb giggled. The sound surprised them both but Patty pretended that nothing was amiss.

Both absorbed in their own thoughts, the boy and woman finished the rest of the strips and then laid them out to dry. Patty would place them into bubbling broth much later. They surveyed their work and were pleased at what they had accomplished.

The silence was shattered by Caleb, “Mmmiss Patty?”

Patty took a wet rag and wiped Caleb’s hands clean of the sticky dough. “Yes, dear?”

Caleb’s deep blue eyes dripped salty tears. He opened his mouth. Nothing came out. His head fell to his chest.

Patty’s heart jumped and she felt such deep pangs. She gathered him into her arms and held him close.

Caleb tried again. “I… I love you,” he whispered.

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This article has been read 1289 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw10/23/08
This is sweet, tender, heartfelt. I could see your characters. I felt sad and happy at the same time. Excellent piece!
Beckie Stewart10/23/08
Awww! What a sweet and tender story. I loved it! So glad Caleb made I love you his first words!
Deborah Engle 10/23/08
Wonderful story.
Joanne Sher 10/26/08
Oh, lovely. Just a sweet story with realistic characters and emotions.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge10/27/08
Very well done, moving, heartfelt. Her unconditional love for the boy is inspiring.
Shelley Ledfors 10/27/08
What a sweet, touching story! I love it. Thanks!
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/27/08
Your story is beautiful with love.
Kristen Hester10/27/08
This is so sweet! I have tears in my eyes. Bless you.
Beth LaBuff 10/27/08
You've captured this little boy wonderfully in this heart-warming tale. It makes the "grandma" in me want to hug him too. Your ending and metaphor, "unfurled", are very good!
Celeste Ammirata10/29/08
You did a wonderful job capturing Caleb's fear at allowing himself to hope, to love. What a tender, heartwarming story. I'm glad she was able to break through. I'm thrilled his first words were of love. Great job!
Karlene Jacobsen10/29/08
Okay, let me get my kleenex...
breathe in, and out. Better. Now, this was great.
You portrayed beautifully how love and trust break through a broken heart.
Awesome job!!
Betty Castleberry10/29/08
This is so sweet. You made me care about Caleb. Well done.
Lyn Churchyard10/29/08
Aww Laury, that was beautiful. I wanted to wrap my arms around Caleb.
Joshua Janoski10/30/08
Aww Laury, why do you have to get me all teary-eyed before work this morning? :) Very sweet story. My heart really went out to little Caleb, and Miss Patty is a very sweet woman. Good characterizations in this one.
Beckie Stewart10/30/08
Hey wow, fantastic girl! So happy for you. I definitely thought you deserved this one!
Patty Wysong10/30/08
Oh, wow!! What a story, Laury! The characters simply sparkled. Wonderful job--I love it!! And congratulations! I'm so happy for you! Huggles!
Pam Carlson-Hetland10/30/08
Oh, Laury, what a beautiful, tender story that brought tears to my eyes. A wonderful story of how love breaks through the toughest of barriers. Great title and excellent writing.
Pam Carlson-Hetland10/30/08
...and many congrats on your "highly commended" rating in Masters and your EC placement! WooHoo!
Diana Dart 10/30/08
Incredible story... had me breathless at the end. Thanks and congrats.
Sara Harricharan 10/30/08
***Congrats!*** ^_^ Glad I had a moment to read this, so sad, but good at the same time, I'm glad that Caleb spoke in the end. So sweet! Way ta go, sista! ^_^
Beth LaBuff 10/30/08
Laury-- I'm pleased to see your lovely story with an HC and an EC! Congrats girl!
Peter Stone11/02/08
Touching and heart warming, with great attention to the little details too. Well done.