Two years ago, my daughter and I went to the Green Lake Christian Writers Conference in Green Lake, Wisconsin. I took an ongoing session with Cynthia Ruchti on “Fun With Fiction.” There were about eight of us in this class. I won’t go into all the details of the class, but it was fun with exercises to do. We we were given an assignment to write a short story of no more than 500 words, with a time limit of three minutes. The title we all voted on was: FOUR DOWN, THREE TO GO. Our stories could be anything we wanted to write, but they all had to have the same title, a complete story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
As we worked our way through this prompt, we read them aloud, critiqued each other, and finally it was the last full day of the conference,and we were to read our assignments aloud at the Writer’s Showcase on Thursday evening, along with similar assignments from the other classes.
So, all that being said, I thought it would be fun to share mine here. Ready or not, here we go
FOUR DOWN, THREE TO GO
by Peggy Blann Phifer
© August 22, 2013
How did I let this happen? I’d volunteered for this project a week ago. Plenty of time to get it done. But here it was, crunch time, and I wasn’t even close to ready.
I’d had everything all planned out. I should have been done by now.
I checked my list. Only four of the seven items had been crossed off.
Who are you kidding, Marcy Kinkaid? You know exactly how this happened. Your penchant for procrastination has pitched you into this pickle.
Panic hit the back of my jaws as if I’d just bitten into an unripe plum.
“Mom, where are my white shorts?”
I swallowed a groan. Another interruption.
“Try checking the stack of clean clothes on the stairs you’re supposed to have already put away.”
My sarcasm was wasted on my twelve-year-old daughter with her head in the clouds, or nose buried in the pages of a book. It thrilled me she loved to read, but…while walking? I often pictured her at the top of the stairs with a book in front of her face . . .
I shook off the image. Back to the panic at hand. I looked again…no change. Still only four.
Better get with it, Marcy. You’re wasting time.
The phone rang.
Oh, please, God. Not now!
I tried to ignore it, but couldn’t. What if it was important? I checked the clock. What if Jeff had been in an accident on the way home from work? What if—?
I snatched the phone. “What?!”
“Marcy, dear, how—?”
“Mother?” I cringed, realizing I’d all but barked at her, but her timing, as usual, was lousy.
“Mom, I can’t talk now. I’m up to my earlobes in this project and I’m late. Can I call you back?”
“I’m sorry, Marcy, but you know—”
I ground my teeth. “Don’t go there, Mother. Not today. Please.”
She emitted her typical resigned sigh, but dropped the subject. “Can I help? How far behind are you? Why isn’t Shellie helping you?”
I ignored the remark about my daughter and instantly regretted letting my mother know my predicament. But still . . .
“I’ve got four done, Mom. Three more to go, and,” I gulped, “I’d love your help.”
“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.” The audible pleasure in her voice made me…smile. I’d done the right thing and I did need the help.
I stared at the bowls of taco fixings I’d promised to provide for the church picnic this afternoon…just a few hours away.
Seven giant bowls.
Four down, three to go.
I grabbed the knife and…picked up another onion.
And there you have it. A fun exercise in fast, tight writing. Are you itching to critique it? Have at it