Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Banquet - deadline 8-16-12 10 am NY time (08/09/12)
TITLE: Royal Fare
By Genia Gilbert
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The annual charity dinner for Stonebridge Hospital was set for 7:00 this evening. Ticket prices for the statewide affair had been raised to two hundred dollars this year. This included entertainment following a lavish meal. Elaine had worked long and hard on the food committee. Those attending would expect excellent food and service. There would be doctors, lawyers, even a couple of senators.
“Are the steaks delivered yet?” Mrs. Cane asked anxiously, calling for the third time.
“Not yet, but we are leaving now to meet the caterers. I’m sure they will be on time.” Elaine replied, weary of dealing with so many socialites. It was really out of her league in many ways, but her friend Darcy was chairperson, and had talked her into serving. She had stressed the importance of the cause, putting a guilt trip on Elaine.
“I’m sure it is a good cause, honey, but…” her husband Wayne hadn’t finished his comment, but she knew he was dubious about her commitment. Too late, she realized he was right. With two teenage kids, a part-time job and her church responsibilities, it had become an overload. Anyway, after eight weeks of work, it would be over soon.
Elaine had to admit that she had been flattered to be included in the society-whirl, which was unlike her own routine. At first, she had enjoyed conversations about the latest fashions and popular movies. In time, however, the emptiness and lack of substance began to bother her. She despised some of their superior attitudes and pettiness. In addition, Elaine felt she had neglected her preparation for the Sunday Bible class she taught to younger women. Somehow, all of it nagged at her, and she knew she’d stepped out of her place. She would be relieved to be done with it all when she and Darcy checked over the banquet menu and instructed the caterers.
Darcy read the menu aloud, as if they didn’t know it by heart, “New York strip with twice-baked potatoes, fresh asparagus with cheese sauce, individual loaves of sourdough bread, after an unbelievable combination salad. The dessert is a choice of strawberry shortcake with whipped cream or chocolate mousse. What a spread! That should satisfy a king,” she finished.
When Wayne arrived home from work, Elaine had begun to lay out her new lacy red dress, along with jewelry. Wayne was still reluctant to be a part of the event, especially when it meant getting so dressed up.
“I would rather stay home with my feet up in my recliner,” he complained, just as the phone rang. After a few words, with raised eyebrows, he handed the phone to Elaine.
Elaine recognized the voice of her friend Lois. She was an older widow and close friend from the church. Her meager income and failing health never dampened her enthusiasm for helping someone else. She had been a mentor to Elaine in numerous problems and decisions.
“So sorry to call on such short notice, Laney” Lois began, using Elaine’s nickname. “ But that young woman we’ve been praying for and trying to draw into your Bible class has just called me. She wants to come over to talk. She has a terrible overwhelming crisis. She seems desperate and open to some wise counsel. I invited her to come for dinner, and she has to bring her children along. I really need you to come too, since she is near your age. I know you can relate to her. I thought that maybe Wayne would come to help entertain the kids while we talk. The dinner will be simple, but I have enough,” Lois finally finished, out of breath.
Elaine took a long look at the gorgeous dress on her bed, started to voice her refusal, then stopped. Strangely, she knew what she must do.
In less than ten minutes, Wayne happily found a friend who could use the charity tickets.
At 7:00 they were all sitting at Lois’s little dining table. Before them were baked chicken, mashed potatoes, slices of day-old bread, with banana pudding for dessert. A lovely young woman needing a touch from God sat with them, along with two smiling children. After the blessing, they enjoyed a feast fit for a king.
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