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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Staff (01/31/13)

TITLE: Forget Our Anniversary? No Way!
By Noel Mitaxa


Once I discovered why other men around town were avoiding me or abusing me, I had to smile. They never knew how close I came to giving them a genuine reason to be upset, but ironically, they were responsible themselves—together with their wives, my wife, an ex-carpenter and some catering staff.

It was all about forgotten wedding anniversaries. For anybody who missed one would be on the receiving end of his wife’s nagging about how I never forgot!

How would those wives know?

Apparently my wife Esther had shown them my unprompted gifts; which really got under their skin, for they all know how bad my memory really is!

Forget our anniversary? No way!

Arranged marriages get everyone involved, but as the groom I still had to organise the reception, the emcee, the catering, the musicians and the seating arrangements. Any oversight can set the wrong tongues wagging forever afterwards, so I meticulously covered every detail; like seating guests so old resentments could not revive and ruin the party. Yet with hospitality so important to our culture, uninvited guests could never guarantee complete discretion.

Three days into the reception, our emcee Stephen was an obviously-inspired choice with his well-timed jokes and stories. He also ensured that family interviews and speeches avoided embarrassment country, and he kept the musicians in tune with the proceedings.

Our waiters were real professionals—friendly without becoming familiar; and attentive without being intrusive.

Appetising aromas, plenty to drink, and happy conversations—interwoven with love and harmony—were all wrapping Esther and me in blissful indestructibility.

Enter Isaac, our head waiter. “Our freeloaders must be thirsty,” he whispered, “There’s no wine left!”

“No wine left?” I echoed, my heart sinking. “How could I insult our guests like this? Can I look Esther’s dad in the eye again? He’ll think I’ve duped him over that dowry! I’ll be a laughing-stock forever! If only an earthquake could open up right now and swallow me whole—please?”

My mother hurried towards the widows’ table we had set back where they could share their memories and comfort each other privately if grief surfaced, but still within guest-mingling reach.

A table much closer to us was surrounded by fun that nothing would dare try to upset: with a few fishermen, local handymen, an older guy whose twin brother was at another table, some young thrill-seeker types. With them, a Roman tax agent reclined beside a swarthy-looking character. A Sicarii member? A Dagger Man who's sworn to kill Roman sympathisers? A recipe for bloodshed—never a good wedding look—but they all insisted on being with their leader, an ex-carpenter named Yeshua.

Looking up, I could see Mum with Isaac and her old widow friend Mary at this table, and I clearly heard Mary’s voice above their reduced noise-level.

“Why bother me now?” Yeshua asked her.

I silently concurred; He might be a good carpenter, Mary. He can clearly keep those guys together; but what I need is a miracle, and he’s no miracle worker!

Mary moved away, telling Isaac, “Do whatever he tells you.” I winced at her noble maternal pride.

As Isaac glanced back, Yeshua rose towards him and they signalled the waiting staff to join them in the foyer. Isaac and Yeshua spoke together while the waiters refilled the big stone jars that had been placed there for washing rituals. Then I saw Yeshua gesture for Stephen to receive a taste test!

My heart was in my mouth as I watched Isaac take his jug and calmly fill Stephen’s goblet. So calmly I could almost imagine him belittling Noah’s flood as the result of occasional showers!

I gasped as Stephen took a sip, his eyes widening as he called, “Hey Daniel, what’s your game?”

My heart sank further. Water—what an insult!

But Stephen continued…

“This is amazing! Everyone else serves up cheap stuff once nobody can tell the difference, but you’ve saved the best ’til last!”

I motioned Isaac over. He filled my cup, which I tilted it to my lips.

Suddenly my throat felt anointed with amazing warmth...

And we had nearly two hundred gallons of it!

The waiters modelled Isaac’s calmness, serving this new wine without breathing a word to anyone about its instant vintage.

Forget our anniversary? No way!

I’ll never forget anniversary gifts for Esther.

I’ll never forget Jeshua’s first miracle—right when I needed it.

And I’ll never forget my annual appreciation to our waiting staff…

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This article has been read 558 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Danielle King 02/07/13
A clever and interesting re-telling of the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine. You brought the whole scene to life with detail and imagery. The title and the first few paragraphs threw me, perhaps intentionally, which made for a better read. And the red stuff - 200 gallons? Some party!
Loren T. Lowery02/07/13
You've made this re-telling of Jesus' first miracle come alive - the characters had true depth and did not appear as cardboard cutouts. I enjoyed the MC's voice, too. The ethnicity seemed authentic. How nice it would be to have a wait staff that actually mirrored your story!
Beth LaBuff 02/08/13
You did a great job of placing the reader in this historical setting with the drama and urgency of the situation. I love all the details you used surrounding the wedding background, from "widow's table," to the importance of the seating arrangement. You have some great phrases, "instant vintage" and ironic foreshadowing with "blissful indestructibility." :) Then the "annual appreciation to our waiting staff" made me smile.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/08/13
How cleverly you wrapped an old story inside a new story! The narrator's voice is especially well done.
Linda Goergen02/08/13
It is a wise man who does not forget his wedding anniversary... by your account; Jesus blessed him in a way probably not foreseen that day! :) But thinking about that made me think how often Jesus blesses us in unforeseen ways. How one act of His toward us, can change our perspectives forever. This story was witty and entertaining, beginning to end…with some good messages in there to boot! Really enjoyed!
Judith Gayle Smith02/10/13
What a joy to read this re-telling! I care not for many paraphrases, but you did a wonderful job!
Margaret Kearley 02/11/13
This is wonderful. Being the slow person I am, I was a few paragraphs in before I recognised where this was going!! Then, what a thrill! You brought the story alive with the characters you described, the dialogue, the MCs retelling of surely the best day in his life. Excellent great writing. Thankyou
lynn gipson 02/11/13
This is exceptional. I too, was a little slow on the uptake, but when I realized the story I was thrilled! What a wonderful take on the amazing miracle of turning water into wine. The whole piece left me with a big smile! This is definitely a winner. Beautifully done.
Bea Edwards 02/11/13
Cleverly woven spin on this well known miracle. You enhanced the story with numerous brilliant colors and your play on the topic was priceless!
Alicia Renkema02/11/13
What a clever entry! There are so many interesting facets here... I was really slow with this but the more I re-read it the more I understood it and the better it got. Your vocabulary was superb. I felt like I was in the middle of the wedding party, witnessing the whole scene and what an amazing staff of caterer's. It was definitely a wedding for the ages, the only better one will be at the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb," I can hardly wait for that one, for that is one I will be at!
Dannie Hawley 02/12/13
Having read the other comments, I can only agree. The only words I could add would be "Delightful, simply delightful! Superbly crafted!"
C D Swanson 02/13/13
Wow - excellent job!

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/14/13
Congratulations on ranking 26 overall!