This week’s prompt:
“The smile the pastor’s wife gave her as she opened the door was in stark contrast to the purpose of Julia’s visit to the parsonage.”
The smile the pastor’s wife gave her as she opened the door was in stark contrast to the purpose of Julia’s visit to the parsonage.
“What a wonderful surprise!” Sarah’s face lit up with a bright smile. “I just put a pot of coffee on – come in, come in.”
Julia nodded politely, but excuses slid through her lips even as she stepped through the door. The last thing she wanted was a prolonged entanglement. Better to get it over with, she thought, like a bandage ripped from tender flesh in one deft movement. A moment of pain, to be sure, but it would fade quickly – she hoped.
“I really can’t stay long,” she began, but Sarah would hear none of it.
“Nonsense,” she interrupted with trademark decisiveness. “It’ll only take a moment.” She dimpled with happiness. “A friendly chat over a cup coffee – you can’t say no to that!”
Julia settled into a kitchen chair while Sarah swooped about her with brisk efficiency, sloshing coffee into mugs, and setting out cream, sugar, and spoons. Julia stirred a splash of half and half into the strong brew while her mind wandered back to the time, five years ago, when Sarah and her husband, Pastor Barnes, first arrived in the tiny town of Buford, Minnesota.
They were a young couple, energetic and full of big dreams for the quiet parish of St. John’s. Pastor Barnes asserted himself early on as a revitalizing force in both the church and community, and Sarah, with her servant heart, leaped headlong into the life of the little country church. From bible studies and food drives, to prayer circles and quilting bees, she was a welcome addition to every aspect of fellowship at St. John’s.
Well…almost every aspect. Julia sighed, wondering how to handle the situation. After all, five years had passed and no one had ever dared to speak of it to Sarah before. But the women’s group was in unanimous agreement – things simply couldn’t continue any longer. Something had to be done.
Fortuitously, at that very moment, Sarah introduced the topic herself.
“You’ve allowed me a reprieve from my morning’s duties,” she said with a smile, nodding to the batter resting in a ceramic bowl on the kitchen counter. A nearby tray held a small stack of pastries, messily topped with a drizzle of sugar glaze. “It takes most of the morning to make enough for the annual bake sale.”
“The bake sale is actually what brings me here today, Sarah,” Julia began. She glanced at the tray of baked goods. “I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you before you began baking, but it seems we won’t be needing your contribution to the sale after all.”
“Why not?” Sarah asked, concerned. “Has the sale been cancelled? Rescheduled? Don’t tell me there was a problem with the sale permit,” she fretted, well aware that it had been her obligation to secure that particular piece of paperwork. “I sent the application in months ahead of time, I clearly remember mailing it.” She jumped up, intended to retrieve her copy of the permit from her files in the den. Julia stayed her with a gentle hand.
“Sit down, Sarah. It’s not the paperwork. It’s none of those things, it’s…” she paused as she struggled for words, leaving an opening for Sarah to continue her fretting.
“I can’t see what else might have happened. What could possibly be the problem?”
Julia took a deep breath and did what had to be done.
“The problem isn’t the sale. It’s — it’s — it’s you.” Julia coughed discretely into her paper napkin.
Sarah’s eyebrows drew together in confusion. “I don’t understand.”
Oh give me strength! Julia prayed silently.
“Sarah, there is just no easy way to say this…I love you, Sarah – we all do – but the truth is….
You’re a terrible cook.”
Thank you for reading. Here’s are some ways you can help keep this feature going:
- Submit a first line suggestion for next week in the comments section. No obscenities, please. Prompts will be chosen at random, lottery style.
- Come back to Bright Tuesday next Friday to find out which suggested first line was chosen, and to read the next Flash Fiction Friday story (750 words or less).
- I appreciate constructive criticism, so please offer your thoughts and opinions in the comments.
Fiction Writers: You are invited to write your own story using today’s prompt to post on your own blog. Please include a link back to this post, and leave a link to your story in the comments section. Doing so allows participating authors to read and comment on each other’s work, and also helps readers find new authors to enjoy.