Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)
TITLE: Little Mess
By Karen Wilber
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Little Mess looked around. He watched people mingle about the fellowship hall. No one took notice of him, which bothered Little Mess a great deal. He didn't want to be ignored. He didn't want to be little. He longed to be a big mess, a significant mess, a spectacular mess, but he didn't know how one little mess could achieve such greatness.
A gathering of giggles interrupted his thoughts as a group of girls stood over him and sniffed.
“Eeewww! Look what's on the floor.”
“Yuk. You clean it up!”
“I'm not going to touch that.”
Little Mess observed the girls devouring their own ice cream sandwiches and decided that they would neither understand nor appreciate the irony. The girls ran off and Little Mess continued his rumination. Surely a little mess could become a big mess with only a little time and planning.
Little Mess noticed a figure in the distance, entering the hall from the kitchen. The figure carried a tray piled with cups and saucers. Atop the cups perched a plate of cookies. Balanced among the cups and cookies were two pots of freshly brewed tea. Mrs. Beatrice Fitzgibbons was on her way to the ladies' Bible study with refreshments in hand. She wore her new patent pumps, purchased precisely to impress the ladies as she served their tea.
Little Mess had a big idea. He felt the floor around him and found it to be . . . freshly waxed.
Suddenly, a woman blocked his view. Attached to the hands of the woman were the struggling arms of two excited boys. The Boxley twins tugged at their tired mother as she directed them toward children's choir practice.
“What's that?” they cried in unison and pointed down at Little Mess.
“It's ice cream! We want ice cream!” they wailed, renewing their struggles.
Someone should wipe that up before someone slips thought Mother Boxley as she tightened her grip and her resolve and steered them around Little Mess.
Little Mess looked back toward the kitchen. Mrs. Fitzgibbons came closer, her tower of pots and plates pitched precariously as she careened through the crowd. The patents, perfectly polished, had not yet acquired enough scuff on their soles to maintain purchase on a newly polished floor. Little Mess spread himself out preparing for the inevitable fall. A few more steps, a slip, and a skid and Little Mess would become a substantial mess, a considerable mess, covering the floor in crumbled cookies and crunched crockery.
“Oh dear,” said a quiet voice above him, “There's a little mess on the floor.”
A kindly face regarded him with a smile as fingers searched through the cuff of a sweater. “This will only take a second.”
Miss Jennie extracted a tissue from her sleeve and knelt to pick up the wax wrapper. “We wouldn't want anyone to slip on that, now would we?” she said to herself as she fished through her pocketbook for a spare napkin to clean up the melted ice cream.
Little Mess was rubbed and dabbed and absorbed until he felt himself being entirely lifted from his place on the polished floor. Oh well, he sighed sadly as he disappeared in a wad into the trash bin.
Beatrice Fitzgibbons, her tray of tea untoppled, swayed past on her way to the ladies' Bible study not knowing how close she came to calamity.
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