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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Europe (excluding the United Kingdom) (02/19/09)

TITLE: A Taste of Europe
By Tina Payne-Brissette
02/25/09


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I toss my keys into the bowl on the entry table, and slap the manila envelope marked “J. P. Lyons, Attorney for Divorce” beside it. Rushing into the kitchen to search for something to eat, I notice the wall clock displays two fifteen. On Saturdays, I always eat a late morning brunch instead of lunch, but I’m ravenous now. Peeking into the refrigerator, I find the vegetable drawer slightly open. That’s strange, I think. I haven’t eaten fresh veggies in a week. And what’s that smell? Kind of a spicy scent. I really need to clean the fridge...

I decide to have a cup of tea first. Turning the faucet on, I can see out the window above the sink. The autumn sky is as grey as an old pearl, with the promise of rainfall, like tears, to come from the clouds. My hands clasp under the spout of cool water as if in prayer. When I pick up the kettle, it‘s very warm.

Puzzled, I pour a little water in anyway, and set it on the concentric circle of the burner. Something sweet too, would be perfect; no need to diet now. No one to look good for. I haven’t baked anything for nearly a year. Peanut butter and crackers will suffice.

Suddenly, I want to feel special. Heading to the dining room hutch, I slide open a drawer, and find several items missing. Then behind me –

“Marcia?”

“David! I left word for you to mail me your keys!”

“You did; I’m sorry. I had to come. I have something to show you.” His dark eyes are pleading.

“Get out now, you don’t live here anymore!” I snarl.

“You’re right. But …”

“Forget it! I want you gone!” The last word is a choked sob.

“But Mar, look…” David gestures toward the sunroom. I follow his gaze. The small round cafe table is draped with colorful tablecloths and two place settings. A round wide saucepan holds paella, and an oval platter is lined with several ricotta filled manicottis. My large wooden bowl contains a Greek salad. There’s flan, also.

Now the kettle screams for attention in the kitchen, the sound muffling my gasp. “Come see,” David urges. But, speechless, I stand unmoving. He has lit my grandmother’s candelabra and all the lamps on the side tables. Steam curls from the sterling teapot. “Have a seat,” David says. “It’s dinnertime. I’ll take care of that kettle.”

I droop down into the rattan chair. He’s cooked this entire meal, I note. This isn’t like David. If I didn’t cook, he wouldn’t eat, never mind fix me something. Was he in trouble again? I had made it clear I couldn’t, wouldn’t, put up with his behavior.

“Mar, let me explain,” David speaks quickly as he returns. “I owe you Europe. Remember what we planned? A ministry trip to Greece, Spain, Italy…”

“I remember!” I snap. “All the places we never went, with all the money you couldn’t keep, with all the time you never gave me!” My words are wounding knives. He sinks back, stricken. “I’m sorry I hurt you. And that you were embarrassed by the articles in the newspaper. My new pastor says through counseling, my ministry will be restored.”

I turn away. David continues to speak. “Miraculously, Mr. Owen called me the day the trial ended and gave me my job back. He said I’d always been a model employee and they don’t care about publicity.”

“See how good God is?” he nodded, noting my raised eyebrows. “I’m off probation next month, and if you want, we can go to Europe next June, a year late. Please think about it.” He places a small book on the table: Forgiveness and Betrayal, A Christian Perspective.

I look at it, stunned.

“This has helped me to confess my faults. It says honesty rebuilds relationships,” David adds.

I stare at the book for a very long time, then squint at David, still my husband, and think about the unsigned papers in the hall. Who is the hypocrite, now I wonder?

“David, I’ll eat with you, but it’s too early for dinner,” I finally say.

“Not in the Mediterranean,” he grins. “It’s six hours ahead.”

My smile slowly widening, I take the café con leche he offers with one hand and cover David’s left hand on top of the book, with the other. Precious comfort from the Lord had flowed onto those pages through my fingertips - into my first published book.


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Beth LaBuff 03/01/09
You had some surprises in this creatuve story. Your ending was great. I like this!