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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: Sissy's Essay Topic
By Sara Harricharan


I didn’t want her to notice I’d smuggled food to the pantry. I left the usual assortments of plastic dishes in their grocery bags on the table. Real dishes didn’t last long here.

If she didn’t see something, I’d never hear the end of it. I put the receipt in the cookie jar, under the stack of snickerdoodles to give Uncle Jared when he brought our monthly allowance.

Backtracking to the front door, I opened it softly and jerked it shut. The bang echoed throughout the empty house and I heard the sound of pattering feet as they raced to meet me.

Five-year-old Sally flung herself at my legs, crying. I couldn’t make out a word she said as ten-year-old Adrian, silently surveyed me from the hallway, scowling. Lulu stretched her arms upwards with the innocence of a three-year-old.

“Lulu!” I scooped her up, planting a kiss on her chubby cheek before sestting her down. “Were you good today?” Lulu’s tangled curls bobbed in reply as I bent to hug Sally. “Shhh! You okay?”

I pulled a handful of peppermints from my pocket, dividing it equally, holding out the remainder to Adrian. He wearily accepted the treat.

“She’s upstairs.” He grunted in answer to my unspoken question. “Out cold.”

I pressed my lips together, fumbling for a smile. “I bought bread and stuff. Go make some sandwiches, quick.”

Adrian shuffled off, the girls trailing behind.

I took the stairs two at a time, cat-quiet. A peek through Mom’s bedroom door was sufficient. She was out cold, the six-pack on the bed saying more than the messy bedroom. She’d started drinking when Dad died.

I pulled the door shut, heading for the sanctuary of my own room. Rifling through my backpack, I pulled my English homework. “Write a one-page essay on the topic, what makes a mother special.”

Wrestling my folder from between the textbooks, I rummaged for a pencil. Settling atop of the mountain of laundry beside my bedroom window, I rested my head on the cool glass.


There are many things that make mothers special. The three main things are hugs, kisses and dinner.

First, hugs, because when things go wrong, a hug can make it better. Sometimes hugs say more than words. It can stop your heart from hurting.

Screams erupted from downstairs. I paused in mid-scribble. “Lulu!” I staggered to my feet, seconds too late.

Mom’s voice boomed through the humid air. “What is that racket?”

The noise quieted almost instantly as I scrambled for the bedroom door. Mom was already down the stairs and halfway into the kitchen before I caught up.

Adrian brushed past, hustling the girls ahead of him before Mom could stop them. She didn’t seem to notice, instead, her attention was drawn to the table.

Mom rifled through the grocery bags before her ugly temper surfaced. “Where’s tha rest of ‘em?” She whirled to glare at me.

“There wasn’t a lot of…them.” I inched away from the doorway.

“Where’s tha beer?” She demanded. “I gave ya plenty cash.”

“I-I was short.” I stammered, willing my tired feet to move. “There wasn’t enough money.”

I saw the slap coming before I felt it. The fiery explosion on my face was enough to make my feet move. I was upstairs and locked in my room before the tears came.

Trembling, I settled onto the pile of laundry, picking up the pencil.

Next, kisses. Mothers kiss away your tears and make the hurts better. When your world is falling apart. A kiss makes you feel loved.

I heard her yell and scream before something crashed below.

Minutes later, Adrian tapped on my room door, the girls in tow. I let them in, locking the door behind us.

Lulu crawled into my lap the moment I sat down. Sally touched my cheek. “Are you okay, Sissy?”

Adrian peered over my shoulder. “Homework.” I explained, dodging Sally’s sticky fingers and scooting Lulu off my lap.

“Hungry!” Lulu whined, pulling my folder away.

I looked at Adrian. “Not enough time.” He explained, jamming his fists in his pockets. “Lulu hates grape jelly.”

“It was the only one on sale.” I looked at the paper. “Give me a minute-”

Finally, a mother can cook all sorts of things, even desserts like cakes and pudding. She always makes dinner.

In conclusion, there are many things that make mothers special. It is too bad that ones like these do not exist.

Copyright 2008

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This article has been read 1037 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Chely Roach05/02/08
A very sad--and unfortunately sometimes true--glimpse inside the lives of children of alcoholics. Well written and thought provoking.
LauraLee Shaw05/02/08
This was a sad tale but one that is too common in many homes. I felt for these precious children and their mother too. This will get inside the head of many and probe at their heart too. Well done.
Laury Hubrich 05/03/08
Oh my! Oh! Yes, certainly thought-provoking this is. Wow! How sad and yet so many kids live like this. Great job. I love how you wove in her writing assignment. Great, great writing!
Joanne Sher 05/03/08
Excellent contrast between the essay and reality. Very, VERY well-done! I wasn't expecting that last line, despite what was going on. Great job.
Beth LaBuff 05/03/08
This is heart-breaking. The contrast between reality and her essay is very good. I'm glad for the little ones that they had a big sister (perhaps the only loving from a "mother-type" they'll ever know. Your title is excellent for this. Your writing is very good.
Beckie Stewart05/06/08
This was very sad and like the others said. I did catch one spelling error, otherwise, excellent piece.
Joy Faire Stewart05/06/08
The format of this piece is very creative. I like the contrast, so sad, especially the last line. It's tragic what some children must endure. Your writing on this subject is masterful.
Willena Flewelling 05/06/08
This tugs at my heartstrings. I feel for the mother as well as the children. Sissy can't be very old to be shouldering such a burden, but the younger ones are blessed to have her.
Myrna Noyes05/07/08
Oh, so sad, but very well-written! I could "see" the whole incident taking place in my mind, and my heart went out to the children. At first I thought the MC was in some kind of denial while writing her essay, but the last line showed me otherwise.
Dee Yoder 05/07/08
The contrast between the two mothers is so effective! It really pulls the reader along and keeps the tension between the real life experience and the written dream taut and sad. Well written and creative.
Peter Stone05/07/08
Such a sad story, I felt so sorry for the poor kids. And the background of the MC writing an essay about what mothers should be like, made such a stark contrast to what these kids' mother was really like.
Debbie Wistrom05/07/08
This was crative and touching and since you requested red ink, I will say that I was confused by the first paragraph and again with the 1st sentence of the next. The rest read smoothly till back to mom and the grocery bags, not sure what she is looking for before the beer.
Love the voice of your MD, thought she was the mother in thi beginning.
Loren T. Lowery05/07/08
A sad story well told. You didn't pull any punches with this one. I really liked Sissy's heart, it shown thru as a great contrast to the mother. I know in these circmustances there is not always an easy way out, something hopeful. I was looking for that, but you gave the reader a hard dose of reality.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/07/08
You did an excellent job of portraying the difficult lives that many children have with mothers whose maternal instincts are obliterated with alcohol.
Betty Castleberry05/07/08
I like the way your MC comforted the younger children. This is thought-provoking and very well done. Both thumbs up.
Joshua Janoski05/08/08
I have known several families with alcoholic mothers, and it is sad for both the children and the mom. Everyone ends up suffering.

I really liked your integration of the essay into the story. I wish it could have had a happy ending, but life doesn't hand those out to everyone. I can just imagine that these children and the mother eventually found Christ and he changed their lives for the better. :)