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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Elephant in the Room (12/05/13)

TITLE: The Dreaded Question
By Ruth Ann Moore


Jack stood as though paralyzed before the shared vanity mirror, hands poised to slip the knot of his tie firmly into place; though suddenly it already seemed too tight. The cacophony of silence hung between he and his wife. Time ceased to exist and his breath with it. He had tried everything to avoid this question, and now here it lay in the arena of their marriage; a veritable time bomb.

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

“Okay,” Jack thought, “silence.”

That he could do.

Jack’s wife continued to turn side to side, smoothing her hands along her ample form, examining her appearance from every angle. She glanced at him oddly, and he realized he was still holding his breath and standing motionless. He feigned checking his chin and neck for any nicks and scrapes, hoping beyond hope she would not ask again.

“Jack.” Her tone was mildly reproachful.

Nope. No such luck.

“Yes Dear?” He squeaked.

“Do I?”

Jack longed to feign ignorance, or redirect her question, but “Thou shalt not bear false witness” chorused through his head. He groaned inwardly, closing his eyes briefly before focusing his full attention on his wife.

“Well Jull, do you like the dress?”

“Of course, I love it, but that is not what I asked.”

Jack swallowed hard. “I know,” he whispered, his eyes dropping to the floor, there was no avoiding it, no matter how desperately he wanted to. How could he forge ahead and not hurt his wife? “O Lord, please help me,” Jack prayed silently.

Tears began to well in Jull’s eyes. “So you do. You do think I’m...”

“Jull, honey, stop right there.” Jack closed the distance between them in two steps and gently cradled his wife’s hands in his own. He remembered the scriptures about love and how it is kind and patient, and how a husband is to love his wife as his own body. He placed a tender kiss on the back of her hand. “Jull, I love every inch of you.”

“It’s a lot of inches.” Jull’s quiet voice broke his heart.

“Jull Sprat,” he gently reprimanded. “I love each and every voluptuous curve you have to offer.”

“But I am not thin like the other women.”

“It’s not the other women I am in love with.” Jack pulled her into a warm embrace and held her tenderly.

“I’m not skinny like you,” Jull spoke into his shoulder. The defensive tone in her voice and the rigidity of her form told Jack that he was just not getting through. This issue, this elephant in the room, needed to be dealt with and accepted.

“Jull, you know that the Doctor put us on these diets. You can’t go comparing my low fat diet to yours and expect the same results.”

The bend in Jull’s head and the slump of her posture conceded her acquiescence.

Jack tipped his wife’s head up so that he could look deeply into her eyes. “Ultimately Jull, it doesn’t matter how you look in that dress, as when I see you, you take my breath away.” He sealed his words with a tender, yet passionate kiss.

When Jack Sprat and his lovely wife finally got on their way for supper they proceeded to have a wonderful time, and of course left the platter clean.

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This article has been read 428 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/12/13
I love this delightful take on this nursery rhyme. You brought the characters to life and warmed the cockles of my heart.
Rachel Malcolm 12/12/13
Loved it! It was deep and the characters real, and it was fun to realize that it was based on a childhood rhyme.
Danielle King 12/13/13
Ah, very clever. It didn't click with me until the end, but then it's a long time since I recited, Jack Sprat could eat no fat. This is great for the topic. Loved it.
Noel Mitaxa 12/13/13
Maybe I'm a fat-head, but the end was a great rug-puller - I was 'lean'ing in a completely different direction. Thanks for the fun.
Linda Goergen12/13/13
The ending caught me by complete surprise, and then had me grinning in delight, as I realized how artfully you had just brought the old nursery rhyme to life before my eyes! So clever and so well done!
Sheldon Bass 12/16/13
Bravo! A masterful retelling. I better be on the lookout for your future entries. (smile)
Anne Warden12/16/13
Love this story!

One tiny bit of red ink: "The cacophony of silence hung between he and his wife." should be written ". . . him and his wife." Remember the rule: Temporarily remove the phrase "and his wife"; now how would you word it? HE is used as a subject, HIM is used as an object. After any preposition, it's always HIM.

However, that said, the entire story was a joy. Very clever! Many spouses could learn from Jack how to approach that dreaded question.

Thank you for a story that made me smile.
Judith Gayle Smith12/16/13
Charming! What a delightful take on my hubby and me - example, he eats the cake and I steal the frosting . . .
Deborah Perkins12/17/13
So I was not familiar with the nursery rhyme, which was obviously the key point here, but I DID enjoy reading the story! It was touching and addressed several key issues (honesty, fear of rejection, etc) in a humorous way. The dialogue was well-written. Loved it!
Anne Warden12/19/13
Congratulations, Ruth Ann. I was so pleased to see you placed high in both your level and the Editors' Choice. Your story deserves the judges' rating.
Judith Gayle Smith12/19/13
Joy! Congratulations on your well-deserved win!

Love & Hugs in, through and because of Jesus, the Christ,

Judi Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV
Happy Holydays, beware the holly daze . . .
Nancy Bucca12/19/13
Aw, this is adorable. Jack Sprat and his wife. Who'd have thought? Hearty congrats on your EC.
Bea Edwards 01/04/14
Adorably brilliant use of the topic.
I smiled all the way through once I realized where you were headed. Clever clever girl!