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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Taste (07/15/10)

TITLE: Give It Away!
By Timothy Klingerman


A million things were running through Jan’s mind as she led her older sister, Karen, from the front porch to the screened porch at the rear of her home. Their younger sister April had already arrived and was seated at the wrought iron table Jan had inherited from their mother’s estate almost six years ago. Karen’s expression revealed her displeasure when she saw the table she had wanted for herself. This was the first time all three sisters had been together since the funeral, but there was a reason Jan had arranged the reunion: she wanted to share a new discovery with her sisters. She hoped it would be a balm for old wounds and make meetings like this more frequent.

They made small talk until Jan excused herself to the kitchen, where her surprise was waiting. She returned momentarily and set a tray holding a pitcher and three tall, decorative glasses on the table. Drops of condensation ran down the outside of the each glass while ice cubes clinked against the inside, but it was the liquid buoying those cubes that Jan was so pleased to present to her sisters. She sincerely hoped it would have her intended effect.

“Try this and tell me what you think,” Jan said while maintaining a flat expression on her face to hide her plan. At this point, neither of her sisters knew what she was up to.

The women raised their drinks in unison, and the reaction of the visiting sisters was nearly simultaneous.

“This is absolutely wonderful,” April declared.

“I have never tasted anything like this before,” Karen said, adding, “It’s delicious!”

Jan broke into a grin. “I hoped you would like it. Ever since I first developed it, I have been scheming a way to get you both here and share it with you.”

“Developed it?” asked April. “You mean you came up with this yourself?”

“I did. And you won’t believe what’s in it. Here, look at the recipe. I copied it out for you both.” Jan handed them each a recipe card which they quickly scanned.

“You have got to be kidding me!” Karen said. “How did you ever think of mixing those three together?”

“That is bizarre!” April said. “If you hadn’t told me, I never would have guessed. I have those three things in my kitchen right now, but I hardly ever use one of them.”

“Look closer. There are actually four ingredients.” Jan motioned toward the cards, and both sisters noticed what they had ignored upon first reading. The final ingredient read: “Give It Away!”

“Don’t be silly, Jan. That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not an ingredient,” Karen scolded.

“Well, it’s important to me, and I have made it part of the recipe. It may seem silly, but it’s also what makes it so good. I have experimented with it myself and found that it is a required ingredient.”

“I don’t care what I have to do to make something that tastes this good,” April extolled. “Thank you for giving me your recipe!”

“You are both welcome,” Jan answered. “Now, let’s talk about something else. I have a whole pitcher here for us to enjoy while we chat.”

Time flew by as the sisters shared the pitcher and their conversation. It was as though they had returned to their teens, back before Bobby Hart broke up with Karen to date Jan and April developed the acne that devastated her social life. As the tension dissolved in Jan’s elixir, many hurts were healed and the sisters made up for lost years. When they finally parted, tears were shed, hugs and kisses exchanged, and promises of future meetings made. The flat expression was gone from Jan’s face, replaced with the smile she could now afford to share in the new transparency she enjoyed with her sisters.

Karen and April returned to their homes, organized luncheons and teas, and began sharing Jan’s discovery with their friends. April provided a recipe card for each person attending her gatherings—with the fourth ingredient printed in bold. Her social calendar was soon full, and more than a few admired her glowing complexion. Karen chose to ignore the fourth ingredient completely. She told her friends the recipe was a family secret and only available at her private parties. However, it was often remarked that the drink lost its appeal if it came with Karen attached. Eventually, she found she could not even give it away.

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This article has been read 526 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Edy T Johnson 07/22/10
I have to say that I really liked the story, but the ending (while I'm sure this is the point of your message) left me dismayed and disappointed. Word count is a problem, I know, but I hope you'll consider a redo with an alternate, more satisfying, conclusion. You gave us clues that Karen had suffered losses her sisters didn't. I'd like to see how you flesh out this very real-life character and bring her through to wholeness.
Linda Germain 07/23/10
Good message. When we cast our bread upon the waters, it DOES come back to us. We simply cannot out-give God! (A lot being said between the lines...my favorite place to read). :0)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/24/10
Oh this is such a wonderful parable. I loved it. The first couple of paragraphs were a tad long, but then when I got to the middle of the story. I found myself holding my breath, the pace was perfect and I enjoyed it to the end.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/24/10
I like the ending, I know it's a matter of preference, but I remember someone telling me my ending should be all happy and flowers, but that wasn't the message I needed to tell. If you like your ending, you should stick with it. After all, unfortunately life is not full of happy ends. I generally applaud a writer who chooses an ending that may not satisfy everyone. It takes a lot of courage to do what you think works. The count does limit us and I could see you going quite far with these well-developed characters.
AnneRene' Capp07/26/10
Cleverly written message using that drink (which by the, if real...want the recipe. :)
So liked the 4th ingredient!

This definitely has the makings for a book about how the sisters became estranged and where their individual lives took them before being reunited "years" later through this drink.
Caitlyn Meissner07/27/10
What a fun story. I'd never thought before of drinks being nicer when they are shared, but I suppose it's probably true.

I didn't mind your ending it on a sad note. What confused me was that I didn't understand Karen's motivation for not sharing the drink. I can see she's meant to be the "mean" sister, but I don't know enough about her to understand why. Perhaps, if you'd had more room, you could have opened her up a little more so we could understand her better.

I don't know if that helps any, but I tried. Thanks for writing an interesting story. I enjoyed reading it. :)
Lollie Hofer07/27/10
I like Shann's description of "parable" for this story because it does teach a valuable lesson. I too like that 4th all-important ingredient. It would be helpful if you would break up the first two paragraphs some, it would make the flow of the story easier to read. Over-all it was a great story.
Beth LaBuff 07/28/10
I was totally engaged in your story! You have a supurb underlying message. I wouldn't mind having a peek and a taste of that recipe. :) Great work!