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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Sharp (03/07/13)

TITLE: Nana's Knife
By Christina Banks


Esther heard Isabella as soon as she opened the back door. Esther looked at the clock above the stove and frowned. The teen should have arrived forty-five minutes before. Isabella’s backpack landed with a thud and the closet door groaned open. Esther shook her head. She would need to get someone to oil the hinges. Maybe John could when he came to pick up Isabella.

“Hey Nana,” Isabella skipped into the room and planted a kiss on Esther’s cheek. “What are you making?”

“Apple pies.”

“My favorite,” Isabella beamed.

“Grab a paring knife from the drawer and you can help.” Esther picked up her own knife and methodically worked the skin off a Northern Spy.

Isabella went to the knife drawer and began looking through the contents. Esther watched her pull out a chartreuse handled monstrosity.

“The short one with the wooden handle would work better for you.”

Isabella shook her head. “I like this one better. I mean just look at the cool color and the fancy blade. That other one is so boring.”

But it won’t hold an edge. Esther didn’t say it, she could see the girl had her mind made up. “I thought you’d be here a while ago. Was the bus running late?”

“I don’t know.” Isabella said, concentrating on slicing and coring a skinned apple. “I rode over with Kathy.”

“Your mom said you’d be taking the bus.”

“Oh, Nana.” Isabella shook her head. “I haven’t been on the bus in months. Kathy is always willing to take me home. It’s really not cool to ride the bus, you know.”

“I see Natalie get on the bus every morning.”

“Exactly.” The girl frowned at the knife trying to force it through the apple’s flesh.

“I thought you two were fast friends.” Esther picked up another apple. Her knife slid easily beneath the skin.

“That was ages ago.” Isabella worked on another section of apple, sawing back and forth to make the blade slice through.

“You’d have better luck with the other knife.” Esther tried again. The pies wouldn’t be very pretty at this rate.

“This one’s fine.” Isabella insisted renewing her effort.

“What happened between you and Natalie?”

“Nothing really. It’s just she’s so dull. All she wants to do is follow the rules and she makes me feel guilty when I want to have some fun.”

“So you found some new exciting friends.”


“Does your mom know that Katie is driving you home?”


“Okay. Does your mom know that Kathy is driving you home?”

“You’re starting to sound like Natalie, Nana. Really, it’s alright. What mom doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”

Esther stopped her cutting and looked at her granddaughter.

“We go right home, just like on the bus.” Esther could hear the defensiveness in her granddaughter’s voice. “Nothing bad is going to happen.”

“You should have permission from your mom and dad. They’d want to know.”

“Nana, stop worrying.” Isabella rolled her eyes and continued sawing through the apple. “Really.”

Silence fell over the kitchen. Esther prayed for guidance. She was feeling too old to deal with a teenager’s volatile emotions. She finished skinning the last of the apples and moved over to help Isabella with the slicing and coring. Esther’s knife sliced through the flesh with almost no effort. She finished three apples while Isabella was still struggling through one. Finally the girl threw down her knife in disgust.

“Why won’t it cut for me?” Isabella huffed.

“Because you’re not using the right tools.”

“But it’s a knife. It should cut through a stupid apple.”

“You would think so, but there are other knives in the drawer that are much better, though maybe not as flashy.”

Isabella looked at the knife on the cutting board. “But it is so pretty.”

“And it hasn’t held an edge since the day that I got it. The one with the wooden handle might be boring to look at, but it is dependable and it will get you through any difficulty that you face. The flashy one’s just going to let you down over and over again.”

“You’re not talking about knives, are you Nana?”

Esther rubbed her granddaughter’s shoulder and smiled. Isabella leaned into her Nana’s embrace. She stepped away and pulled the boring wooden handled knife out of the drawer. The blade slid through the flesh with ease.

Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

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Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/14/13
I love the wisdom of Nana. I felt transported back to Grandma's kitchen. She had a boring paring knife that she could peel an apple with in one strand. She had used and sharpened the knife so much that the middle of the blade was almost worn away. When she died I took that knife. Now when I use it, I'll think of her and this story. Brilliant message!
C D Swanson 03/14/13
What a lovely entry, it made me smile and embrace happy memories of years past. Thanks for taking me there and for this piece.

God bless~
Ellen Carr 03/15/13
I enjoyed your story and the way you wove the 'sharp' theme in and drew a good message out. Well done.
Bonnie Bowden 03/15/13
Perfect analogy. Hopefully, the granddaughter will follow up on the sound advice.
Cheryl Harrison03/18/13
I enjoyed the dialogue between your characters. Great lesson within and now I am hungry for apple pie.
Joseph Veseli03/18/13
Love the dialogue and message! The only thing that I didn't care for was the hurtful words of the granddaughter.

I'm a school bus driver... :(

Really great work! Thanks for sharing it with us.
Judith Gayle Smith03/18/13
Wonderful analogy! I truly felt this as it makes perfect sense (and pies)?
lynn gipson 03/18/13
Wonderful story with a great, strong message. Loved it.
Alicia Renkema03/19/13
I am not sure you needed the line about John and oiling the hinges since it didn't come into the story (unless I am missing something) but other than that this wonderful story was a treasure on every level. The conversation between Nana and Isabella was so believable and honest. The talking about relationships along side which was the best tool to use for slicing and coring the apple was a little bit of genius. Your use of topic and point of the story from the Bible is one that will be easy to remember for any reader. This writing deserves a very high score. Loved it! Thanks so much for bringing us into Nana's kitchen to share in her meaningful wisdom.
Myrna Noyes03/19/13
This is a sharp, double-edged story--with the casual chatter about knives as a "cover" for the real message! :) I thought you did an excellent and very believable job with the dialogue between Nana and Isabella. Nana seems like a very wise woman, and I'm glad her granddaughter seemed to finally understand in the end what she was trying to share with her. Great piece of writing!
Myrna Noyes03/21/13
CONGRATULATIONS on your 3rd place E.C.!! :D I'm not surprised at all that your story ranked so high, as it was one of my favorites this week! WAY TO WRITE!!
Margaret Kearley 03/21/13
This is brilliant - what a parable lesson. Glad the perceptive if wayward teenager was able to see the lesson. The dialogue of this story was really great - a wonderful story. Many congratulations.
Lillian Rhoades 03/21/13
"It's not what you say, but how you say it." So many times I remember my mother saying those words. With great skill, your story illustrates that principle.

Congratulations for a well-constructed entry
Alicia Renkema03/21/13
I was pretty sure about this clever piece of yours. I am so very glad you placed 3rd on your level and your wonderful EC win. Congratulations girl and many happy remembrances of your day...
Bea Edwards 03/21/13
I shudder with the thought of future meaningful conversations with my almost 5 year old granddaughter and can only hope I will be as wise a your MC!
Fantastic dialogue and profound message woven throughout.
Well done and congratulations.
Ellen Carr 03/22/13
Congratulations Christina. Your 3rd place and EC are well deserved.
Linda Goergen03/22/13
Congratulations on your well deserved win! Great story, masterfully done visual for your message...would be a great story for a teen magazine.
Bonnie Bowden 03/24/13
Congratulations on your 3rd place EC award. I was sure it was a winner the first time I read it.