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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: War and Peace (not about the book) (07/07/11)

TITLE: Uncovered
By Sara Harricharan


It was freezing and I needed coffee.

My sleepy brain fought against the softened lights of morning peeking through barely opened curtains. It was a losing battle; the call of coffee was stronger than the urge to return to my comfortable bed.

That was why I didn’t notice it until he stepped into the kitchen. In fact, I didn’t really look at it until we’d been standing in the kitchen for more than a mere five minutes. I filled water from the sink into my favorite mug—declaring me to be the #1 Mom In The World—and then thought to spare a glance elsewhere.

Popping the mug in the microwave, I punched a few numbers on the keypad. He shuffled to the top cupboards and fished out a bowl, setting it on the marbled countertop.

My befuddled brain took in the sight of skinny, lanky arms and legs in bleach-streaked designer jeans and a well-worn T-shirt with a faded hem that barely skimmed the top of plaid boxers.

Elastic waistband. Plaid boxers.

I retrieved the cup of steaming water from the microwave and choked down a burning sip of plain water.

Plain. Plaid. Stripes. Many stripes. Red, black, white and yellow.

I took another sip.

The water burned pleasantly down my throat, settling in my stomach as I turned to rummage through the top pantry shelf for instant coffee and instant creamer.

Fake coffee was a staple of my morning.

Real coffee came from coffeemakers.

My stomach growled in protest and something else that I refused to put my finger on. As a mother, I opted for the best option—a distraction.

“Morning kiddo.”

The bleary-eyed young man snorted, half-amused. “Morning, Mom.”

“Sleep well?” I scooped out an extra spoonful of creamer and watched it dissolve in the caramel colored liquid.

“Yeah.” He rummaged through the pantry, drawing out a shaggy box of cereal. “Are we out of Capt’n Crunch?”

“Top shelf, behind the cans.” I dropped the spoon in the sink and took a cautious sip. It was hot, but bearable.

“We’re hiding it?”

“I’m hiding it.” I corrected, cradling the cup to my chest and turning to watch him reach for the familiar red box. The hem of the faded T-shirt inched up once more and I saw red, black, white and yellow.

It was going to bother me.

No, it was bothering me.

I clamped my jaws on the ceramic lip of the mug and drank the familiar-tasting liquid, unconscious of the temperature. I was seeing plaid, even as the t-shirt fell back into place and my oblivious teenage son shuffled towards the counter and his cereal bowl.

Let it go, let it go, let it go. Let. It. Go!

I was drinking for a minute longer before I realized my cup was empty. The young man in question had moved from the counter to the utensil drawer, a movement that kept that strip of plaid from my eyes.

That was good.

Maybe it wasn’t worth the fuss.

Then he opened the ‘fridge and hunched over the door, looking for the usual carton of milk, his slowly-wakening face illuminated by the golden glow of the doorlight.

I was only seeing the two inches of red, black, white and yellow. Two solid inches of boxer shorts that ought to have been perfectly hidden by his stylish jeans, with the hem of his t-shirt as extra protection.

If my hands weren’t wrapped so tightly around the empty mug, I knew they would’ve found some way to wander over to the ‘fridge and fix the issue myself.

Watching him move through the kitchen was torture. I’d taught my kids to dress better than that.

How dare he parade around the kitchen as if-!

The inner battle waged and raged. It was all out war to keep my mothering instincts from kicking over to smothering. I turned and deliberately set the mug in the sink, running the tap over it as dishwasher prep.

It was a lost cause when I turned around again, because I saw plaid.

“Shane?” I moved to the doorway as he reached across the counter for a piece of paper towel.

He turned, expectant, eyebrows perked.


He paused in mid-reach and smirked.

Then my darling son hooked one thumb in a beltloop and hiked the jeans over the hem of that bothersome strip of red.

Peace. Wonderful, blessed peace.

I smiled, my inner mother-smother satisfied.

I need real coffee.

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Member Date
Laury Hubrich 07/14/11
That is a never-ending battle in this age. I work in a high school and it gets very, very old. Cute story. I thought it was going in a different direction - maybe a bad memory from her past. I liked this direction much better:)

Pick your battles, Mama:)
Catrina Bradley 07/16/11
I wish more moms WOULD fight this battle. I loved this story - the little details made the scene come to life and I could tell it was real. (If not for the author personally, for mothers and others across the country.)
Francy Judge 07/19/11
I enjoyed this--a minor battle in our house too. Perfect voice and tone for the story.
Noel Mitaxa 07/20/11
At first I thought your MC had been invaded by an intruder, but she was just caught "underwears!" I love the inner struggle that she goes through - even while feeling her efforts at upbringing were being "waisted," but I loved the last line! Great work.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/20/11
Wow! Sara, you presented the view of the mother of a teen-ager perfectly. Excellent characterization here.
Yvonne Blake 07/21/11
Are you sure you're not older than you look? You certainly know the battle in a mom's mind.
Lillian Rhoades 07/21/11
Well done as only a "pro" could do. Your title was simple, yet "covered" it all.
Congratulations on your First Place win!!
Sarah Elisabeth 07/21/11
Wow Sara! Super congrats on your win! Awesome take on the topic. Nice.
Beth LaBuff 07/21/11
You made me smile! (actually I smiled quite a few times!) :) I love the way you wove this. Super congrats, Sawa!
Eliza Evans 07/28/11
This is FANTASTIC, Sara!

I can see this in a women's magazine. You should sent it out.

"mother-smother" Ooops! Ouch!

Creative and fun...and a little prickly, too. :)

Super congrats on a super piece!