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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Once in a Blue Moon (01/06/11)

By Marita Thelander


I eyed the perfection of womanhood that stood on the platform while I chewed on my coffee stir stick. My pen tapped incessantly on a blank page while everyone else obediently followed the instructions of the guest speaker. If ever there was a Proverbs 31 woman in the flesh it was Gail Mackey, the guru of the moment.

“Knock it off, Sarah.” A hand flew at me from my left and snatched my pen. “You’re supposed to be writing down your list.”

I tried to see the burry pen that wagged in my face.

“I’m sure there are several things you could write down to improve on this year.”

Spit hit my cheek when Petra leaned in, nose to ear, and hissed her words. It gave me goose bumps. I giggled, aggravating Petra further. She rolled her eyes and continued to focus on her perfectly penned list.

I stuck my tongue out and crossed my eyes. Double vision made me slap at the wrong hand that smacked my leg. “Ow.”



I wrote in bubble-block letters: MY 2011 TO DO’S. I glanced over at Petra’s paper which declared on the top line: With God’s help I promise to… She made three columns and titled them: Daily, Weekly, Monthly.

“This is lame.”


I began to scribble down the expected answers I’m sure over half the women were writing in the surge of motivational emotion:

Home cooked meals
Lose weight
Organize closets
Memorize Scriptures

Petra looked my way and I covered my paper. She smiled with pride like she had something to do with my epiphany to write down a bunch of hogwash.

When the conference ended Petra stood by my van and chatted like a virgin coffee drinker having her first espresso. The smile on my face was from my amusing comparison, not because I was hearing anything she said.

“So what do you think?”

“About what?”

“About coming over for tea to plan how to attack the New Year.”

Ugh, tea…the herbal non-caffeinated kind. I’d really like to see Petra after an espresso. “Okay, when?”

“Tomorrow afternoon, after I lay Elisha down for his nap.”

Petra hugged me and squealed like a piglet in my ear, she was so excited. I watched her slip into her shiny clean Camry before I climbed into my muddy mini-van.

“How was the conference?” Matthew pinned me against the counter after I finished loading the week’s worth of dirty dishes.

“Have you ever noticed we seem to have a habit of pretending the dishwasher is our cupboard? When the dishes are clean we use everything in it for the next few days and when it’s empty, we reload it. Do we ever use the things in the cupboard?”

Matthew laughed at me.

“Or how about our laundry? I wash it, dry it, fold it, and we dress from the piles on the dryer. Why don’t we put our clothes in the dresser?”

“Because it’s full of stuff we’ll someday wear when we lose weight.” Matthew kissed my neck. He pulled away when he sensed my lack of response. “Let me guess. January ladies event…self improvement tips?”

I groaned. “And tomorrow I’m meeting with Petra to discuss how we’re going to accomplish our inspired tasks. Baby, I suck at this stuff.”

“Do you ever say suck to Petra?” Matthew smiled mischievously.

“Are you kidding me? She’d probably wash my mouth out with soap.”

“I’ve never understood why you two are friends. She’s so prissy and you’re so…”

I raised an eyebrow when he couldn’t think of a word to describe me.


“Seriously?” I plopped onto the couch.

“Sweetie,” Matthew sat next to me and scooped me into his lap. “I love you the way you are. Petra’s so OCD it’s annoying. We both have organizational issues. That makes for a bad combination when it comes to housework, but away from home you’re an awesome leader. You’re exceptionally organized at work and with your volunteer stuff at church. Home is home. We’re comfortable. Don’t let Petra intimidate you with her organic-sterile-stay-at-home-mom life.”


In Petra’s immaculate kitchen, I sipped cream-n-sugar loaded herbal nastiness, listening. Agitated. Bored.

“Sounds good,” I lied when she finally stopped.

“Now share yours.”

I opened my notebook and grinned, “I call it…My Blue Moon List.

“Oh, please,” Petra’s eyes rolled. “I wonder why…duh.”

“’Cause it’s just that important to me.” I stood and dumped my tea down the drain. “And by the way, no lie…tea sucks.”


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This article has been read 575 times
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Beth LaBuff 01/13/11
How does that old saying go? "Variety is the spice of life that makes the world go round." :) I wanted to cheer after the husband's pep talk to his wife. I actually enjoyed and smiled at the couple's dishwasher and laundry routines. :) Great work!
Laury Hubrich 01/13/11
I love the differences found in this friendship. They both balance each other out, for sure. Everyone needs a friend like Petra to keep us on our toes and Petra needs someone to burst her perfectly formed bubble sometimes, too. I love this story. I can relate but won't say to which friend. lol
Sarah Heywood01/13/11
Oh, this made me laugh! Your conversations were believable and your MC was totally relatable.

Great job!
Carol Penhorwood 01/14/11
Can I ever relate? Having some health issues, I find myself now relating to the MC when once I would have been her OCD friend. Lives sometimes change, even if it's once in a blue moon.
Barbara Lynn Culler01/15/11
Love the analogies-especially virgin expresso drinker-quite the image!

Great story and love the ending.
Kate Oliver Webb 01/15/11
I really love this! Drew me right in and held me there. I SO relate to the dichotomy of the two friends' lives, and the resolution coming "once in a blue moon" is perfect. I often wish I had the courage of your MC, who has enough self-esteem (and acceptance from her husband) to say it like it is.
Kimberly Russell01/15/11
This was hysterical. I used to be a Petra and now....I'm soooo not. Love the "realness" of your writing. As always, great job.
Anita van der Elst01/15/11
My favorite phrase: "chatted like a virgin coffee drinker having her first espresso". LOL!

Great story. I know a couple of Petras. Sigh. They make me tired. So glad the MC spoke her mind!
Yvonne Blake 01/15/11
Smile...that's what friends are for.
Mariane Holbrook 01/15/11
What a great voice for your MC! I love this whole story and feel like you've got a winner on your hands! Good job!
Carol Slider 01/15/11
I love this story! Your MC is incredibly real, and it's SO easy to relate to how she feels. Excellent characterizations, wonderful sense of humor... very well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/16/11
I could so identify with one of your characters...and it wasn't Petra. I enjoyed peeking at the intimate scene of husband and wife, but I really loved how the mc go tough enough to say Tea sucks.
Loren T. Lowery01/17/11
Truth is so liberating. It should head each of our "To Do Lists". Even though I'm a tea drinker I can identify with Petra - you created a very endearing character her. And, I'm glad to add, you made her husband wise as well.
Steve Uppendahl01/18/11
Great, fun story. I enjoyed the dialogue. (I also like how the husband is actually the voice of reason. How often does that happen? Only in fiction, I guess :)
Gerald Shuler 01/19/11
What can I say? As always, your writing is a perfect slice of life that teaches on far more than just one level. You are an incredible writer.
Glynis Becker01/19/11
You have such a flair for dialogue. I loved these characters and could completely relate to this situation. Very very enjoyable!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/20/11
Congratulations for placing9th in Masters and 11th overall!