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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)

TITLE: Sweet Things
By Lillian Rhoades


Sweet Things

They say you can’t have your cake and eat it to. Well, I just put a heavy hurtin’ on that oxymoron right down to the last crumb. Whoever heard of having somethin’ you can’t have? That makes little sense to me. I’ll never believe it, and here’s one reason why.

It started on a day too painful to forget. Our little town had just buried the last victim of a devastatin’ tornado. It came through our town like a thief in the night, only it was ten o’clock in the morning, and sunny no less. Too quickly the sky turned a vicious gray, but few saw what was to come, only what happened after. The only elementary school and the town’s only bakery took the biggest hit. Brick and mortar fell like a house of cards upon the innocent, the unsuspectin’, twenty-six young’uns to be exact.

Now, I wasn’t at the scene, but I still felt the pain. It was all over the news; parents torn to pieces, grown men cryin’ like babies, rescuers dazed and workin’on nuttin’ but sheer grit. No, I wasn’t there, but I really was there, if you know what I mean. So, smack dab in the middle of an outbreak of sympathy from strangers miles away, I decided to make my contribution personal. After all, this was my town. No stranger gonna outdo me.

That’s when I got the idea. Those little buds never had a chance to blossom, but they would not be forgotten, not if I could help it. I had a plan; you could say a really sweet idea. The Bakery, now a pile of rubble had been more than just a place to pick up desert for dinner. You name it, birthday parties, fundraisers, ice cream parlor hangout; not to mention having the best chocolate chip cheesecake in the whole planet.

Yep, I had a plan. I called it After the Achin’ Let’s Start Bakin’ Fundraiser. Our new bakery would be built in memory of those flowers that never bloomed. Let me tell ya, this would be no ordinary fundraiser. I’d never lost a child, but I know somewhat of what it takes to dull the ache - a worthy cause, for one.

Every hurtin’ parent came to my first meeting. After that we were off and running like a fox chasin’ hens. Sympathy took second seat to the burst of support from, you guessed it, everywhere; that’s right, from miles around. It spread like a disease. And rightly so, sympathy has a short shelf life and everyone wanted to preserve the memories of twenty-five kids who would never grow up.

I couldn’t believe it. We’d hardly had time to figure out how to rebuild before we reached our goal. Good thing too, because this bakery would be more than just brick and mortar with cake, cookies, and ice cream. Oh, no, so we needed every penny to make our plan work.

First off, the name of every victim would be inscribed on the front windows of the bakery for all to see. Then someone got the bright idea to rename the bakery Sweet Things.

I liked that, because the kids were and forever would be.

No sense wishin’ we could play God. We couldn’t bring them back, but by pourin' our lives into somethin' that still had a little life left, we did the only thing man could do.

Sweet Things gradually arose from the rubble. What a celebration we had on opening day. Each child’s name appeared etched in gold on two large front windows.

Bittersweet memories for sure, but all we had left, nothing more.

Not a dry eye around. Anybody who was somebody, or should I say elected officials who wanted to stay in office, showed up. Don’t get me wrong. The real deal were the parents whose children would forever be remembered. Their hurt was our pain, and they mattered most.

This was their day. After the ceremonies, the door to the bakery swung open. To my surprise and to everyone’s delight, twenty-six cupcakes sat in a tray on a real fancy like decorated table. As the parents came in, each one was given a cupcake with the name of their child engraved in green on the white icing. Man, was that a tear jerker!

I waited until it was just about closin' time before I ordered a slice of chocolate cheese cake. Finished it, then looked up and blew a kiss to my sweet things.

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This article has been read 701 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Carol Penhorwood 04/14/11
I can't imagine any worse pain than losing a child. What an outbreak of support this must have been!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/16/11
This is a nice story. I liked how you paid tribute to the lost children. At first it seemed more sensible to rebuild the school than a bakery, but then as I read on it made more sense. I enjoyed the voice of the MC
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/16/11
I wanted to reread in case I missed something as it is in the middle of the night andI should he sleeping but in in the beginning you mentioned 26 kids died, then in the middle 25, and at the end there were 26 cupcakes. I know how easy it is to do that I've changed my MC's name before a few times actually.!:)
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/16/11
What a great idea for a tribute. I enjoyed your story.
Shirley McClay 04/16/11
Awww... so sad! And a great idea to help those grieving. The first line you have "to" when it should be "too." LOVE the voice in this story. It made it much lighter to read even with the heaviness of the subject.
Loren T. Lowery04/18/11
I liked the idea behind the story. It seems, and you've given proof here, that when you have an idea that strikes a universal chord, it cannot help but be a success. Sweet things can indeed bring healing.
Kellie Henningsen04/20/11
I like the name of the bakery -- Sweet Things. Perfect. And the outpouring of support and love from the community was touching. Not sure about the cupcakes for the grieving parents. As a bereaved mom myself, the idea of eating a tribute to my child doesn't feel quite right. Every year we get a candle with her name on it. But in line with a bakery, a cupcake does seem more fitting.
RuthAnn Cornelson04/20/11
Good writing. At first I was worried that you wouldn't be able to keep up the accent and the feel it gives, but you did! Good story written very well.
Gwen Plauche04/20/11
Well written story. I could "feel" the small town setting. Thank you for sharing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/26/11
Congratulations on ranking 28th overall.
Debra Hindman04/27/11
I liked reading your story, Lillian...and thought the bakery premise was great! Your writing took me back to about 3 years ago when Greensburg,KS, not far from my hometown...was literally blown away by an EF5 tornado, and lives were lost. Thanks for sharing.