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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)

TITLE: Pass the Gravy
By Marita Vandertogt
07/27/11


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Snot runs from one nostril. He grabs his brother by the hand and pulls him along the path. “C’mon,” he yells at the little boy, himself still a little boy. “C’mon,” he pushes now from behind, wiping the snot away with his other hand. The air is already getting hot, hotter it seems, with each step. Soon it will be too hot, and the thirst will stab at their tongues again, the hunger at their bellies.

The little boy stops at the side of the path, then sits down, skinny legs too weak to hold him up. “No,” he says to his brother, his brown eyes filmed with a coat of yellow. “No,” he says again, crossing his legs and his arms, sharp knee and elbow bones protruding, contrasting the round swollen mass of his belly. His brother takes him by the hand and pulls him up from the path.

“C’mon,” he says again, his voice too weak to show the frustration he feels. “C’mon, don’t stop now.” He mimics his mother’s words, spoken so many days of his life, until just a few months ago. Down the road is the water station, they can get fresh water there and fill their bowls with a day’s ration of food before making their way back to their hut. The sun is high in the sky now, burning at the already dark brown skin of their backs. The older brother pulls the little one along. They are almost there. They are almost safe for another day.


The kitchen is full of smells, onions, garlic, mashed potatoes, pot roast. “Dinner’s almost ready,” the voice calls out to the gathering of people around the dining room table. “Bring it on, I’m starving.” Other voices confirm the feeling.


A few months later, the older boy walks the path alone. He takes his time. His feet are covered with white grey dust, the snot still running from his nose. He speaks to himself now, still echoing the words that he hears in his mother’s voice buried deep inside his heart. “C’mon, we are so close my little ones, we can get there now.” But this time he stays on the road, leaning his bony back against a rock and smiles. Soon he no longer feels the thirst, the hunger, the heat.

“Bring some more mashed potatoes while you’re out there will ya. The bowl is empty.” Laughter comes from the table. “I’m absolutely stuffed. Can’t eat another bite.”

“Yah, well I can. Pass the gravy.”


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