Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: COFFEE BREAK / TEA BREAK (03/01/18)
TITLE: Felicity and the Inspector
By Leola Ogle
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Contentment had been elusive since her husband, Paul, a policeman, was killed in a drug bust. She was left with a college freshman daughter, a son in high school, and four-year-old twin boys. Finding a job overwhelmed her. Then her friend, Helen, the daycare director, gave her the job where she could take the twins.
The petulant whine of Madilyn’s voice intruded on her thoughts.
“What, Madilyn?” Felicity smiled at Madilyn.
“Brandon and Steven are digging a hole behind the playhouse.” Madilyn crossed her arms, her ponytail swishing in the breeze.
Brandon and Steven were adorable, mischievous five-year-olds. Felicity made her way to the playhouse where several girls were having a pretend tea party. She glanced in the gap between the playhouse and the fence surrounding the playground. Brandon and Steven were digging a hole with small sticks. They didn’t notice Felicity until she asked, “What’re you boys doing?”
“Digging for buried treasure.” Brandon’s eyes sparkled. Steven grinned and nodded.
The innocence on their faces caused her thoughts to go to Paul. He would miss so much of David and Danny’s lives. The twins already talked less of their daddy.
Felicity turned when Ruth tapped her shoulder and said, “Break time.”
“Your reward for reading Treasure Island to the kindergarten kids.” Felicity pointed to Brandon and Steven. As she walked away, Ruth told the boys that pirates lived on the ocean, not the desert.
Felicity smiled and stepped into the kitchen, bypassing the coffeemaker. She grabbed a Diet Coke and popped the tab. She'd had an aversion to coffee since she was pregnant with Samantha. The smell of coffee brewing in the morning sent her retching to the bathroom. The experience left her with a dislike of coffee.
The coffeemaker mocked her as she finished her Diet Coke. She’d gladly drink coffee if it brought Paul back. Paul loved coffee. A year after his death and she couldn’t move on. Paul’s death, although he never drew his gun, was debated in the media, causing her pain to drag on.
She forced her thoughts from the ache in her heart. Coffee would always remind her of Paul. Hopefully, someday it would hurt less.
An hour until lunch, then she and Ruth would put the class of four and five-year-olds down for quiet time, giving her time to unwind.
After lunch, Helen approached Felicity. “I need your help. Amy got called to pick up a sick daughter from school. I need you to clean the kitchen, load the dishwasher, and whatever else of her job that needs doing. And, then help Ruth.”
Felicity nodded in assent.
The kitchen was devoid of laughter and fifty children eating lunch. Being alone left her open to her thoughts. She choked back the urge to scream and flail fists at God. She kept busy wiping tables and sweeping the floor. She was loading the dishwasher when her son, Danny, walked in.
“Miss Ruth said bring your coffee and come to the class.”
What? Everyone knew she didn’t drink coffee. Her gaze shifted to the cup on the counter. She examined it and saw it was half full. That must be it. Ruth had left her coffee and sent Danny to fetch it.
“Here.” She handed the cup to Danny and motioned him away. He stared at the cup, then at her, and trotted out the door.
Danny returned in a few minutes, carrying the cup. “Miss Ruth said get over your coffee break because the inspector’s here.”
Felicity’s eyes widened. The dreaded surprise inspection. They’d had a staff meeting two weeks ago where Helen went over all the rules. Classes needed two attendants at all times, especially Ruth’s class. Ruth probably told the inspector she was alone because Felicity was getting a cup of coffee.
Taking the cup from Danny, Felicity grabbed his hand and rushed to Ruth’s class. She beamed at the inspector who was talking quietly with Ruth in the corner. Felicity took a gulp of cold coffee and almost gagged. She forced a smile. “You know how we coffee drinkers gotta have our coffee,” Felicity whispered to the inspector and took another swallow.
“Coffee sounds good. Would you mind fixing me a cup? Black.”
“Sure.” What now? Felicity had never operated the coffeemaker. It couldn't be that difficult, could it?
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