Home Read What's New Join
My Account Login

Read Our Devotional             2016 Opportunities to be Published             Detailed Navigation

The HOME for Christian writers! The Home for Christian Writers!
The Official Writing Challenge



how it works
submission rules
guidelines for
choosing a level


submit your entry
read current entries
read past entries
challenge winners

Our Daily Devotional HERE
Place it on your site or
receive it daily by email.



how it works   Submit

Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Week(s) (02/10/11)

TITLE: Pickling
By Rachel Phelps


Gunderson’s Pickle Recipe
• 4 lbs of cucumbers
• 3 heads fresh dill
• 1/2 cup salt
• 1/4 cup vinegar
• 8 cups water
• 2 cups sugar

Etta gathered the ingredients and lined them up on the counter. Her mother made these every year, and Dale had been hinting for weeks that their first year of marriage should be commemorated with a batch. Now she just had to follow the steps.

Mother had told her since she was a child that pickle-making was an art. Preparing the brine wasn’t so difficult. It was waiting for the pickles to take the brine that took some doing. The house reeked of vinegar for three weeks, and many a good pickle had been ruined by impatience.

Impatience. Her downfall. The few times she’d helped her mother, Etta had been the cause of ruining many a good pickle.

Still, Dale loved those pickles. She would make an effort, for his sake.

Week 1, 1957

The door slammed. Etta jumped out of the easy chair and hurried into the kitchen. The vinegar all but singed her nostrils as she opened the mudroom door to greet her husband.

“Have good day, dear?” she asked, leaning over for a quick kiss.

He ignored it.

He was caked in dirt. For a farmer, that sign was ambiguous. Etta searched his face. Not such a good day. Then again, good days had been rare since…

Dale grunted. “What’s for dinner?”

“Chicken salad. I had to use the last of Mother’s pickles, so there aren’t as many - ”

“What about ours?” Dale snapped. “Aren’t those confounded things done yet? They’ve been stinking the place up for five days, now.”

“It takes 21 days,” Etta snapped back. “I told you that when I started. You’re the one who said we had to have them.”

“Well, if I’da known it would take this long…”

“You’da changed your mind,” Etta finished. “Well, it’s too late now.”

She pressed the inside of her wrist against her stomach, longing for the sense of life within. Nothing. Even the flutter that had precipitated their wedding had gone. Dead.

Impatience ruins everything.

Week 2, 1988

“Mother, you can’t be serious.”

Donna sat at the kitchen table, nose wrinkled against the smell even as a tear traced down her cheek. Etta took the lid off the pot and started skimming off the scum that floated to the top.

“I am.”

Donna slammed her fist against the table, more tears spilling over. “You mean I’m just supposed to forget it happened?”

“No.” Etta kept her eyes on the pot, carefully wielding her spoon. “Never forget. Just give it time to heal.”

“Easy for you to say. Dad never cheated on you.”

“That doesn’t mean we never had to forgive each other for anything.”

“Will you stop fiddling with those pickles and look at me?” Donna shrieked.

Etta put down the spoon and opened the pantry, ignoring her daughter’s angry huff. She returned with a jar of last year’s pickles and set them in front of Donna.

“Take those and go home.” Donna looked up, aghast. “You’re not staying here. You’re going to go home to your husband and pray about this and stay with it until you’ve forgiven Bob.”

“That’s not going to just happen, Mom – “

“I know. Particularly not when you run away from it.”

“I don’t have as much patience as you do – “

“Impatience spoils many a good thing, dear.” Etta pushed the jar toward her. “Now get home.”

Week 3, 2010

The door slammed. Etta leaned away from the pot just as Sarah came bursting through the door.

“Grandma!” she squealed, enveloping Etta in a bone-crushing hug.

“How’s my college girl?”

“Ready to be done.” Sarah deposited her bag in the corner. “Are they ready?”

Etta fished one out. “Taste it and see.”

Sarah all but melted against the counter as she chewed. “Perfect. I don’t know how you get them to taste like this.”

“Following the recipe seems to do the trick.”

They laughed together, but Sarah’s smile suddenly faded. She leaned back, examining her pickle.

“Todd proposed.”

Etta didn’t respond immediately. There was no ring on her finger.


“I don’t know. I love him,” Sarah took another bite. “I’m just not sure I’m ready.”

“You’re young. Do you have to rush?”

“He says it’s time.”

“Doesn’t mean it is.”

Sarah rested her head on Etta’s shoulder. “I’ll think on it.”

“Pray on it.”

Sarah nodded. “Can I have another pickle?”

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.

This article has been read 748 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst02/17/11
Pickles, yum! And they make for a good story too. Nicely done.
Helen Curtis02/21/11
A lovely, uplifting read with an unusual link to the different generations.
Margaret Kearley 02/21/11
Who'd have thought you could write such a great story about Pickles?!! This is so good - I love the links spanning the generations. You make your characters live. Great writing.
Catrina Bradley 02/21/11
Excellent! I had a similar idea, but had no idea how to pull it off. You did though - this is perfect. I love it!
Kellie Henningsen02/21/11
This reminds me of a two book story from Francine Rivers. She takes 1200 pages to cover 5 generations. You did an amazing job to cover 3 in so few words and link them all together. An enjoyable story for sure!
Henry Clemmons02/22/11
Such a great entry. Brought tears to my eyes. There is such a maturity growing in your writing; a patience to slowly let your story unfold. I love pickles and this story. This would be one of my top pickles, I mean picks, this week. sincrely, a masterful job.

Red ink. I'm normally not a fan of subheads in short stories (poems too), but with only 750 words you don't have the words to waste setting the scene for a time change. I couldn't find any extra words you could have cut. You didn't waste one. I just maybe wouldn't make them bold-faced. Petty, I know, but it seemed to interrupt the flow, for me, of a great story. You see subheads in news articles mostly and they changed my mood for a slight second. This is still one of the two best I've read this week. Just something to think about. Excellent job.
Lollie Hofer02/22/11
This was incredibly well written. I liked how the story evolved carrying the pickles throughout. Great writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/22/11
Wonderful way to write a story about pickles and impatience and a marriage! I loved it!
Henry Clemmons02/24/11
Very well done! I had expected to see it rank much higher, but I am glad it was recognized. You are displaying some amazing skills, and always and enjoyment to read. Was glad to see your EC.
Bonnie Bowden 02/24/11
I loved this juicy story. The manner in which the pickles brought the different generations together was clever.

Congratulations on your placing.
Loren T. Lowery02/25/11
Patience indeed : ) 53 years to perfect the recipe. There's something to be said about perseverance as well. Great story and message. Congratulations, Rachel