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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hot and Cold (04/09/09)

TITLE: Midnight Meal
By Kristen Hester


He pushed the oak door open gingerly, but unoiled hinges betrayed him, announcing his entrance. The noise echoed intrusively against the silence that engulfed the still home, but only darkness greeted him. He clicked the door closed, then tossed his keys into the pewter bowl on the hallway table. He made his way down the black hallway, memory his only guide to the kitchen. When he flipped on the light switch, the shock of the fluorescent lights burned his eyes for a moment, but what he saw sitting on the table stung his heart.

Under the saran wrap that covered his cold, waiting dinner lay a pork chop, mashed potatoes, green beans, and roll. He walked to the microwave with the plate and pressed the worn reheat dinner plate button. He returned to the table with his hot meal and cut a small piece of the meat. He chewed slowly, but the taste of guilt masked the meat’s flavor. He set his fork down and stared at his food.

“Something wrong with your dinner?”

He jumped at the sound of her voice. “I didn’t hear you come in.” She stood in the doorway wearing a long, silk robe, her dark hair loose around her shoulders. Even at 50, her beauty took his breath away.

“I didn’t mean to startle you.” She sat down at the table beside him, but didn’t say anything. That was her way. Quiet. Gentle. Lovely.

He picked up his fork and took another bite. He glanced over to offer her a thank you smile, but she was studying her nails. “Mmm, good,” he said through a closed mouth.

She smiled sweetly, but he noted that it didn’t reach her eyes. It had been a long time since her eyes had smiled, a fact that pained him. He knew he was the cause of her sadness and the regret was overwhelming.

“I’m glad you like it,” she said, then started to get up.

Before he changed his mind, he reached for her hand. “Wait.”

His touch seemed to surprise her. She quickly obliged and then looked at him with hopeful blue eyes.

“Why do you do it?”

She turned her head in question. “Do what?”

“Why do you cook dinner for me every night?”

“I don’t understand the question.” She said softly.

“Every night I come home late. Every night my dinner’s waiting.”

She was silent for a moment, but he waited and was rewarded.

“The first night we came home from our honeymoon, do you remember what happened?”

He shook his head, eager for her to continue.

“You came home and I had been so busy setting up our apartment, I hadn’t even thought about dinner. You didn’t want to say anything, but I could tell something was bothering you. It took me all night, but you finally admitted that all day you’d been looking forward to coming home to your new wife and sitting down to a hot meal.”

“But...” he looked down at the plate. “I’ve put work first. I stopped coming home in time for that hot dinner years ago.”

“It hurt when I realized your job was more important than our marriage. It happened so gradually. One day I realized we were strangers and I couldn’t really say when it began. I couldn’t compete with the power, money and adrenaline your career offered. I remembered what you’d said so long ago. I decided that I’d have a hot meal ready for you each night at dinner time. I hoped eventually you’d get tired of the cold, lonely meals and you’d come home and eat with me.”

He shook his head, amazed at her words. “I don’t deserve you.”

She playfully punched his arm. “You’re right. You don’t deserve me.” Her voice changed and she became serious. “But I don’t deserve to be stood up every night, either.”

He wiped his wet eyes. “I want to do better. I want a fresh start.”

She reached for his hand. This time when he looked at her, the smile reached her eyes. “I’d like that.”

“I don’t even know where to begin.”

“You can start by eating a hot dinner with me. It will be ready at 6.”

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This article has been read 901 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/16/09
Wonderful lesson.
Catrina Bradley 04/18/09
A good example of a Godly wife. Gentle, quiet, but not afraid to speak her mind when the right time comes. Nice writing.
Sonya Leigh04/18/09
Your descriptions were vivid from the drag of his tired routine to their honest conversation at the table. Good job.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/18/09
I loved your descriptions in this story of a marriage that was almost ending and got a new beginning.
Chely Roach04/19/09
I really liked the authentic, uncomfortable atmosphere this had, and the dialogue felt real, too. The last line was perfect!
Jan Ackerson 04/19/09
So tender and sweet! I love that he still found her beautiful, and that you didn't write him as entirely despicable.

I think I'd have ended it two sentences earlier.

Her explanation was heartbreakingly gracious...I loved it.
Carol Slider 04/19/09
This is so beautiful and so true-to-life. I'm so glad the couple finally had the heart-to-heart discussion they'd probably needed to have for years! Well done.
Karen Wilber04/19/09
Excellent message. The dialog and pacing really moved this story along and I loved that line: "I hoped eventually you’d get tired of the cold, lonely meals and you’d come home and eat with me."--ouch
Kimberly Russell04/19/09
This was a really good piece. I found myself stretching toward the end, anxious to see what exactly was going to unfold in this dramatic scene- great writing.
Betty Castleberry04/19/09
There's something about this line: “Something wrong with your dinner?”, that I find very real.

I like the interaction between the husband and wife, and I like the ending. Well done.
Gerald Shuler 04/19/09
Reading this as a husband really brings home the fact that there are a lot of us husbands who need to recognize the gentle Godliness in our wives. If possible, I apologise for us all.
Dena Wilson04/20/09
The story is very real sounding. Many marriage fall away and all it takes to mend them is making time for each other
Shelley Ledfors 04/20/09
What a great message here. Very well done!
Pamela Kliewer04/20/09
I really like this. You brought the characters to life. Gentleness is something God has really been speaking to me about in my marriage. Thank you for this lesson.
Connie Dixon04/20/09
This was a great read. I especially liked your descriptions in the 2nd paragraph:
He walked to the microwave with the plate and pressed the worn reheat dinner plate button.

He chewed slowly, but the taste of guilt masked the meat’s flavor.

This story really made me think about marriage and how unfair it can sometimes be. Good writing!
Sharlyn Guthrie04/20/09
I enjoyed your story, and the marriage lessons contained in it. I'm glad for the ray of hope with which you ended the story. It could greatly encourage any couple experiencing a similar thing.
Sheri Gordon04/21/09
Wow, this woman is a true example of Christ's grace. The dialogue is very realistic.

I would make one word change on the following sentence: “But I don’t deserve to be stood up every night, either.” I would change 'But' to 'And'--I think it more accurately reflects what she is trying to convey.

Really good descriptions in this single scene. Very good writing.
Carole Robishaw 04/21/09
I don't see a thing to red ink, this is really good. Its a constant struggle for me to learn to "tell, not show" the stories the way you do.
Bryan Ridenour04/21/09
Beautiful story and a reminder to us all about where our priorities should be.
Beckie Stewart04/21/09
Wow, this was so good. Great lesson for us all to know and well written.
Sheri Gordon04/23/09
Congratulations on your EC, Kristen. So glad to have you back. :)
Loren T. Lowery04/23/09
Beautifully told through the eyes and heart of a loving woman. For me, it was not dinner waiting, but rather my wife standing at the door, welcoming me home with her wonderful smile. Congratulations and well deserved - Loren
Myrna Noyes04/23/09
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR EC!! This was a very moving, well-written piece! :)
Sonya Leigh04/23/09
I was gripped by your vivid writing. You did a great job here! Congratulations on your well-deserved placement, Kristen!
Kimberly Michalski 04/23/09
Congratulations! Nice and not too didactic. This would be great for a Sunday School paper.
Judy Meyers04/25/09
We should all learn how to be more gracious. This is where a person reaps and faints not.
Joshua Janoski04/30/09
At first I feared the worst. I thought he had been cheating on her every night. I'm so glad that this had a happy ending. This guy really didn't deserve a wife this good. I think all men can take something valuable from this piece.