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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Gossip/Rumors (either or both) (10/28/10)

TITLE: The Last Square Left in the Casserole Pan


Females with quiet natures don't get much attention.
I'm a quiet-natured female.
I don't get much attention.

Logic comes in handy when making assessments about life, love, and God, and this assessment doesn't upset me. There's freedom in not showing up on anyone's radar screen—the unobserved observer.

But when Noah, aka Guitar Boy, asked if I'd accompany him during the end-of-month worship service, I caught Amanda scrutinizing me. She turned away—presumably to look at who was coming through the door, but then paused at Gina's ear. There Amanda's lips moved like one of those paper fortune-tellers we used to make as kids—open-long, open-wide, open-long open-wide. I'd landed on Amanda's radar.

She thinks I've become involved with Noah.

We spend time with those we like.
I've been spending time with Noah.
I like Noah.

But I don't. In this case, logic is working against me.

Noah can't be older than twenty-four or five—I'm twenty-eight. With heels, I’m taller than he is. His hair is almost as long as mine. Or maybe it's longer—he keeps it pulled back, a cable of entwined rope. A mat of sideburns starts at his temples.

I wouldn't be surprised if I found a tattoo. It would be something artsy on the side of his arm so that when he wore a t-shirt, the bottom third of the design would extend past his sleeve. There'd be plenty of green ink—like turbulent ocean swirls that matched his—never mind. The point is that Noah is not a good match for me.

"Hi Joss." The greeting startles me—there's no preamble, no swoosh of the sanctuary door over the carpet to announce his arrival.

"Hey there, Noah," I say. "We'd better get started. Amanda said they'd be here at six-fifteen to rehearse the rest of the program."

"No problem." He waves his free hand, his guitar case swaying from the other. Guitar-boy can saunter. He's wearing the exact same outfit he's worn to every practice—tight jeans, concert t-shirt, with a light blue Chambray shirt over—no buttons buttoned.

I don't care if he wears the same thing every week, but his outer shirt has spatter marks on it—like oil stains. It makes me wonder if his clothes ever get washed. They must, though. I haven't noticed him smelling foul—in fact, he wears some kind of sandalwood something that's reminiscent of the o—never mind.

"Give me a sec to plug in and tune up," says Noah, lifting the electric guitar from its case. It's a beautiful instrument; the burled wood of the body is eye-catching even under layer after layer of acrylic sealer. I wish Amanda hadn't caught me running my hand over its glossiness last week while Guitar Boy was refilling his water bottle. As if she needs fuel.

Noah's fingers begin traveling the metal strings along the neck. He makes adjustments on the receiver. Twenty-year-old Amanda in her rocker boots would make a great match for him. Even Gina, by virtue of age, would suffice. I'm more like the last square of casserole left in the pan at a pot-luck supper—the one that's ragged at the edges and gets replaced with a fresh tray.

"I'm ready," he says.

"Me too." The lyrics to "From the Inside Out" are propped on the music stand; the microphone is set. But then Amanda and Gina push through the double doors—a half-hour early. Noah taps his foot, finds the notes, the chords, and I know there's no way I'm coming in on cue.

This music, this praising of the Father undoes me—leaves me exposed, wanting layers of acrylic sealer protecting me. I don't need Amanda misinterpreting my vulnerability.

"What's wrong?" asks Noah after two unanswered intros.

"I'm not cut out for this."

"But you bring something uniquely beautiful to this song."

Pa-poom, pa-poom, pa-poom—drums my chest. Amanda and Gina are watching from the third row.

"That's great—truly, but wouldn't you prefer the first square of casserole to the last?"

Noah gives me the confused look my question deserves. "Actually, Joss," he says shaking his head, "I love the last one—I get to scoop up the cheese left behind by all those amateur casserole eaters."

Amanda whispers from the side of her mouth. It's like a reflex. Maybe she can't help it.

What does it really matter anyway?

Guitar Boy loves the last square.
I'm the last square.
The resulting logic is enough to do me in.

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This article has been read 839 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst11/04/10
Brilliant! Love the wry, self-deprecating humor of the MC and the way the phrasing style is repeated as she works things out logically.
Beth LaBuff 11/05/10
I love how you skillfully, and repeatedly use aposiopesis with her thoughts, "...he wears some kind of sandalwood something that's reminiscent of the o—never mind." One of my favorite metaphors here is Amanda's lips and the "paper fortune teller" "open-long, open-wide." :) Your extended metaphor and title are superb, "the last square left in the casserole pan"… and I love that HE GETS IT… cause I don't think Amanda or Gina would.. :) You have great contrast between your Joss with her vulnerability and Amanda. And the name Noah with the supposed "ocean" tattoo made me smile. :)
Marita Thelander 11/07/10
What Beth said.
Marita Thelander 11/07/10
LOL.... :)
Seriously though, my favorite parts were the open wide, open long part. I actually stopped reading to take a moment to visualize this gossipy technique.

And i like that Guitar Boy gets it. Hope Joss helps him with his wardrobe a little bit, though.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/07/10
I love the title! The metaphor is brilliant. You really drew me into your story.
Connie Dixon11/08/10
Love the title - love that Guitar Boy "get's it", which is pretty unlikely in the real world. You make me laugh. Awesome.
Henry Clemmons11/08/10
I love the poetic/artistic voice of this piece. It's written with such skill and passion and truth. Great anology presented with the casserole. In these fast paced times I don't thnk cassaroles are cooked as much (at least not from frozen, where the melding of flavors can make richer the taste). The cassarole was perfect because it represented the melding of the true flvors and emtions of life in this story. Excellent!
Cheryl Harrison11/08/10
This is brilliant. I loved every word!
Ruth Ann Moore11/08/10
I know a "Joss" who is very much like your character. I could not stop making the comparison. Wonderfully written with lots of "food for thought" ;)
Caitlyn Meissner11/08/10
I thought this was brilliant, even though I'm a little unsure how it fits the topic. I love the casserole analogy, too, having been to so many church potlucks. Great job!
Jody Day 11/08/10
Fabulous analogy - so well done. I really enjoyed this.
Joan Campbell11/08/10
I just love how very descriptively you write, Lisa - his clothes, his scent, the wood of his guitar. It makes it all seem so very real! I also love Joss's internal thought process. Fantastic!
Sarah Elisabeth 11/08/10
What a Master you are. 'Nuff said.
Beth LaBuff 11/08/10
I want to disagree with the author, ... actually, I guess I can't, but how funny that so many of us "thought" he GOT IT! ;) LOL!
Steve Fitschen 11/08/10
UN-BE-LIEVE-A-BLE!!! The syllogisms were great, especially the last one—where the logical girl’s desire for love overcomes her logic. Not only can she not spit out the conclusion (in the logical sense), her conclusion (in the emotional sense) is based on the logical fallacy of equivocation (since Guitar Boy didn’t get it)! And that is the brilliance of the analogy. Surely this girl would never make such a mistake, but for cupid’s arrow. Love gets us all! Hilarious!
Gregory Kane11/08/10
Sensational. Nothing else to add
Lillian Rhoades 11/08/10
Boy O'Boy! I'm not suppose to covet, but this piece shows how far I am from Master's Level. A true out of the box approach! Great writing from beginning to a creative end.
Carol Penhorwood 11/08/10
Yes, I have to agree with Lillian. (I have such a LONGGGGG way to go.) This was absolutely masterful. I too have felt like "the last square left in the casserole pan". A winner for sure!
Charla Diehl 11/08/10
I think I'd put ditto marks after each of the wonderful comments for this piece. The title drew me in and the writing kept me reading. Need I say more! I'll look for this in the EC list.
Patricia Turner11/08/10
I love how this saunters along just like GB - I think Joss is more of a match than she thinks. I'm glad he got the casserole deal too - a most supreme touch.
Mona Purvis11/08/10
Unique writing, fresh and just plain fun to read. You made it so easy to be a 'fly on the wall' and experience it along with them. You're in the zone.

Edmond Ng 11/08/10
I like the way you approach this, especially with the three-liner assumed 'logic' coming in at the beginning and half way through about what the majority may possibly think. A great story and an interesting read.
Rachel Phelps11/09/10
Fabulous, my friend. Your characters are so alive - I envy your skill if I wasn't too busy enjoying every word. I wasn't sure if Noah was supposed to get it or not - glad to get the clarification. :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/11/10
Congratulations on your EC!
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/11/10
Congratulations, wonderful writing friend...(the wonderful was for both!) However you meant it, this is superb writing. I love your stories.
Henry Clemmons11/11/10
Congratulations. Another stellar entry from a one-in-a-million mind.
Barbara Lynn Culler11/11/10
This was greatand well deserved of your win!
Loved the analogy of the fortune teller thingies. I knew exactlyly what you meant but did not know what you called those things!

I liked the way the MC would try to deny she likes guitar-boy but slip up with wistful thoughts!

Awesome job, Lisa!
Melissa Lindsey11/11/10
I love this article. Such a unique analogy. You are an inspiration to beginners like me :)
Laury Hubrich 11/11/10
Congratulations on your EC, Lisa!!!
Troy Manning11/11/10
Great job, Lisa! Nice compelling flow. Happy to see it received the recognition that it did. :)
Lollie Hofer11/11/10
I love Logics. Incredible story, great flow, likeable characters. Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition. (I have a friend who teaches a Logic class...gotta show her this story.)
Joy Bach 11/11/10
Lisa, I just don't know how you do it. This is wonderful. Congratulations on the EC. You are so very special.
Noel Mitaxa 11/11/10
Congrats on your placing. Well-deserved! I love the way you've drawn your MC, in all her vulnerability. Almost as a twenty-eight year old teenager with a dash of spring fever thrown in. (Well its is spring down here...)
Your word pictures and characters launch off the screen and walk around the room. Very skilfully done.
Melanie Kerr 11/12/10
Very well written. The gossip/rumour was really subtle - not out there at the front. I loved the three lined logic sequences, which struck me as not always that logical at all. I liked all the clues that made you think that she really did like Noah very much. I was a last square too - and found someone who loves last squares!
Dusti (Bramlage) Zarse11/12/10
This is such a cute story! I wish there were an entire book and not just 750 words. I would buy it in a heartbeat. I can definitely picture Joss in my head, and could relate to her on so many levels, maybe because we are similar. I, too, am older than my husband. I was a logical girl who avoided attention at all costs and was certainly not looking for love; I was sure I was too "square" for my popular husband, who'd (of course) want someone peppy and bubbly and cute. Instead he chose the bookworm, for which I am eternally grateful. God works in mysterious ways. I love, love, loved this story.