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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)

TITLE: The Grand Charade
By Rachel Phelps


"Ready for tonight?"

She tried not to shrink from his touch. He always got so mad when she pulled away, and she just wanted an evening of peace. She kept scrubbing at the glass bowl in the sink, focusing on removing every bit of chocolate batter from its surface. He was practically pinning her against the counter, his breath hot on her neck.

"Please, David," she murmured, bracing herself. "Not right now."

She could feel his disapproval in the stiff lines of his body, but he didn't move.


Her heart cringed. He was angry.

"It's just that I'm trying to clean up, dear," she tried. "Later, please."

"Brownies done yet?" His voice no longer held the growl of desire.

"Just five more minutes."

His hand stilled on her hip. "They should've been done and out by now."

The bowl thudded on the bottom of the sink. She turned to face him, hoping he'd calm down . "I was busy cleaning up the living room -"

David swore, cursing the brownies, the house, and her in turn. "Pastor will be here any minute. How much sense does it take to have things ready when a guest arrives? Is there anything in that head of yours?"

Work must have been hard today. She put a hand on his arm, fighting the heat rolling across her face. It bothered him when she cried. "I'm sorry, David."

"Don't turn on the waterworks now," he snapped. "I won't make excuses for you when he gets here if you're not presentable."

"I know -"

Her reply was cut off by the doorbell. David released one more expletive before turning away. "You get those brownies on a plate and get out here in two minutes or you'll regret it when Pastor's gone."

"Yes, David."


"It's such a treat to spend time with friends," Pastor Lovejoy said as he leaned forward to take another brownie.

David patted her knee. "Our pleasure. We don't have you over as much as we should."

She smiled, resisting the urge to check her watch. Pastor and David often forgot the clock when they got to talking. Surely a few minutes more couldn't hurt. David was usually in a good mood after Pastor left.

"We've missed seeing you around the church on the Ladies' Crafting Nights," Pastor said.

She blinked, her eyes cutting to David. "W-well, I -"

David's hand on her thigh cut off her words. "We've been a bit tight on finances lately, so we're cutting back on the extras. You understand."

"Oh, naturally!" Pastor chewed another bite, nodding with complacent goodwill. "If I noticed you missing Sundays, I'd have to change my tune."

"Wouldn't dream of it," David assured him. "We have our priorities."

She nodded too, but her chest tightened. Sometimes she wondered if she'd ever convince him to talk to someone about those priorities. He said he had it under control,that the pastor had more important things to worry about than his net-surfing habits. It was no different than the minutes she wasted shoe shopping or watching TV, he said. She'd tried to accept it, but as the minutes accumulated daily, so did her worry.

"I think we've bored her."

It was Pastor's voice. She half-jumped, eyes going immediately to David. He was chuckling along with their guest, but his eyes were hard. She'd done something wrong again.

She attempted a smile, "No, just got lost in thought. What did I miss?"

"Pastor was just asking how we were doing with the new Speedy Devotionals he's been sending out," David said. "They're great - we can get through one together in 10 minutes, which is perfect for my morning schedule."

"I designed them for working couples - so they can have a few minutes together and with God first thing in the morning."

"We're certainly appreciative, aren't we?"

His glance ordered her to chime in. "Oh, yes!" If only she didn't know he spent twice as long on his computer in the mornings.

She looked up at David, only to meet cold eyes. He would have much to say when Pastor left. Pastor didn't notice, still wrapped in thoughts on his devotionals. He nodded his acknowledgement, snagging one more brownie. She wondered how long she would have before his presence was no longer available as a buffer.

Pastor stood as if in answer to her thought. "I'd best be off. It's such a privilege to spend time with a strong, committed couple like yourselves. See you Sunday!"

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This article has been read 913 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/12/11
You did a great job here of "showing" the agony of the abused wife. I so wanted the minister to see through her husband's hypocrisy.
Kimberly Russell03/13/11
This was well done and very real. Great use of dialogue really helped with show vs tell.
Loren T. Lowery03/15/11
You painted a vivid and disturbing picture. The conflict was palpable and in a word, intense. I was in deepest empathy with the wife - so wishing the "buffering" of time was not needed at all.
Eliza Evans 03/16/11
Really good, Rachel. Seems like it must have been a bit painful to write b/c it felt very real.

Excellent choice of words to convey mood and atmosphere.

Great job!
Ann Grover03/16/11
Painful. (I hope this isn't based on experience, as it resonates with strong emotions. I can attest to its reality.)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/16/11
oh this is such a good story. It is full of all kinds of conflict and I just want to scream at the Pastor and ask him to wake up and save the wife. Nicely done. One of my favorites so far
Edmond Ng 03/17/11
How much we would do to hide the truth in front of our pastor, yet our Lord know what is in our hearts and we can hide nothing from Him (Psalm 44:21). Well written with much truth revealed.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/17/11
Congratulations on placing 28th overall!