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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Measure (01/10/13)

TITLE: The Open Secret.
By Danielle King


Toot-Toot! I froze. I peeped around the curtain before full scale panic mode engulfed me. Pulling the plug on Oprah, I kicked the cat off the sink and stuffed crisp packets down my top.

“Oh… hi mum,” I trilled as I opened wide the door. “Hi dad.” I planted a kiss on both cheeks. “I wasn’t expecting you ‘til twelve.”

Dad glanced at his watch. “We’re five minutes late.” He said dryly. Gasp… shame on me. Had I really watched daytime TV for one whole hour?

I’d learned how to handle in-laws from a friend at work. “Keep calm and carry on.” She’d say. “Don’t let ‘em ruffle your feathers.” Sound advice, but she hadn’t married her man yet. There was no claim on ownership rights.

It was mum who got up my snout most though. He was just as downtrodden as I was--poor thing. But he never uttered a bad word. And let’s be fair, she meant well… I think.

She dumped my ironing pile on the table and sat down… briefly. She had an aversion to bum on chair. She claimed it made her legs go dead, but I knew different. In five minutes she’d have a bum rush to the bathroom, just to see how clean (or otherwise) my loo and shower tray was.

“I’ll be off to the get the car serviced then.” Dad turned and winked as he went through the door. He was no mug.

“Your appointment’s at three.” She said. “Why don’t you go earlier and do some shopping.” My neck was turning crimson. She wants me out of the way, I thought. Keep calm and carry on: “Thank you.” I smiled sweetly. I rang my friend from the car.

“And she’s even organising my shopping trips now.” Bev’s such a good listener. “She’s fascinated with my dust. Theirs gets zapped before touchdown. And coffee cup rings… don’t even go there.”

“You’re not being a tad oversensitive?” She asked.

“NO!” I yelled. I headed for the supermarket.

I was slightly late for my doctor’s appointment. Punctuality and me don’t gel. I knew super-mum in-law wouldn’t be late to meet my little Laura from school. Dad was in the garden pushing his granddaughter on the swing when I pulled up outside. I took a deep breath and opened the door… freaked, and slammed it shut.

“Bev.” I hollered into my phone. “There’s washing on my line!”

“Cool.” She said.

“She’s stripped our bed. Our bedroom… his mother in our bedroom… ew!” Bev stifled a belly laugh. I was mortified. I stomped up the path, flung open the door and hollered up the stairs: “What’s the matter with you? My sheets were changed last week. Were yours?”

“Alternate days dear. I like to keep things sweet.” I took the steps in three strides. A full scale rant was hissing upwards from my toes, looking for the way out: “You,” I pointed my finger, “listen to me. This is our house, mine and MY Jack’s. If I don’t measure up to your ridiculous, obsessive standards, tough! Get a life. I’m not devoting mine to wielding a feather duster and picking crumpet crumbs off the carpet. Got it?” With that I promptly burst into tears.

“How did the appointment go?” She asked. Oh, THAT WOMAN! Wasn’t I the one who should have the unruffled feathers? “I’m helping so you don’t overdo things.” She said. I glanced briefly at the coy face, before haring back down the stairs.

“Bev, you won’t believe this… she’s tapped into my head now. She knows.”

“Reckon it’s time to tell Jack then.” She laughed.

“But how could she know? It’s not confirmed yet.”

“Try asking.” She said. And so, cap in hand and shame faced, I climbed the stairs and found her… in the spare room. She had a big soppy look on her face.

“I was just visualising the cradle under the window again.” She sighed. Me too.

“How did you know mum?” I asked.

“Well,” she said. “Overnight, the sweetest daughter in-law I could hope for grew a dragon’s head. Hormones, I presumed. Today she told me she had an appointment with the dentist; such a whopper.” I stared at my toes.

“You knew I was lying. But…”

“You left the dipstick on the bathroom floor!” The blood rushed to my cheeks. “A place for everything… and everything in its place, dear.” She said with a satisfied smile.

There was an awkward silence before we both fell about laughing.

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This article has been read 422 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 01/19/13
Hehe this is cute.

At first I assumed the MC was younger, because of the "mum" line and the "hour" line. I thought her parents were going to be gone for an hour and she was supposed to do something before her parents returned. But that really didn't detract from the story at all, once I realized what was going on.

Nice job!
lynn gipson 01/19/13
Oh I really enjoyed this one! A delightful read and I get the mother in law thing entirely, mine was like that, God rest her soul. Didn't appreciate her then as much as I do now, too late.

Lillian Rhoades 01/19/13
Great beginning, and a fitting end with a great storyline in between, but there's a measure of secrecy here as to where the topic is hiding.:-)

I'm looking...
Ellen Carr 01/19/13
I enjoyed your mother-in-law tale. The MC's indignation rang true. I'm not sure that the m-i-l sounded like the type who'd fall around laughing, as at the end, but it was a warm ending. Well done.
Joe Moreland01/20/13
This was such a delightful read, even if I was lost at times. I still have no idea what you mean when you refer to the father as "what a mug". But that aside, there was a pace to this story that was as jovial as your mc was mad. I loved how you used the character of Bev as the thermostat and let us in on the fact that there was a lot of over-reaction going on and that the MC was not "herfelf" at the moment. Great use of humor and comical circumstances.
Myrna Noyes01/21/13
Cute, sweet, fun! :) I really enjoyed this well-written tale!
C D Swanson 01/22/13
Awww...an adorable read. I really liked it. God bless~
Bea Edwards 01/23/13
Wow-- your story was topically brilliant. I'm sure many of us can identify with the MC's rant...priceless bit of writing. I really enjoyed myself! Well done.
Bonnie Bowden 01/23/13
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. At times, I was a bit confused by the English humor: It was mum who got up my snout most though. He was ... and She had aversion to bum on chair.

I think that the theme was subtly woven in. A new mom and mother-in-law measuring each other up.
Beth LaBuff 01/24/13
I love the story progression. You've filled this with a lot of emotion and smiles, and your ending is superb! Great work!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/24/13
Oh this is grand. You had me giggling and smiling at every word. I would love to have someone hang out my sheets and make up my bad every other day. Congratulations on ranking 22 overall!
Noel Mitaxa 01/31/13
Great dialogue and totally believable characters. Good buildup (with not even the smallest pregnant pause???) in the tension and a strong twist at the close. Totally enjoyable read.