I wrote the original version of this story (which was painfully bad) for my college senior project, a collection of short stories. Of the five stories, this one had the most potential, so last year, with help from my critique group, I revised it. Last month, I reread it for the first time in nearly a year and was pleased with it. Since I won’t be finding a magazine home for it anytime soon, I thought I’d share it with you. Enjoy!




Rain beat erratically against the windows of the study, and wind whistled in the chimney, but Sara did not hear it.


She jerked her head up from her book. Vicki stood in the doorway, her hands on her hips. “I’ve asked you twice already to set the table! I’m not going to ask you again.”

Sara rolled her eyes. She hated it when Vicki tried to act like Mama.

“Get up and go set the table!”

“Just a few more minutes, Vicki, please. I just have to find out if Nancy and Bess and George are going to be okay. They’ve been in a car crash!”

“That’s what you said last time!” Vicki marched over to their father who was sitting at his desk in the back of the room. “Dad, tell Sara to set the table.” She glared back at Sara. “Now.

Dad took his earphones off and looked up from the papers he was grading. “Sara.” He turned in his chair. “Please go set the table.”

Sighing tragically, Sara put down her book and followed a huffing Vicki to the kitchen. She sighed again.

“Knock it off!” Vicki said. “You think I don’t have a book I’d like to be reading? You’re not the only one who hates this arrangement.”

Sara glanced at the clock above the stove as she grabbed utensils out of the drawer. Mama was late. No wonder Vicki was so crabby. Rain always made her grumpy, cooking always made her grumpy, and Mama’s new job really made her grumpy—probably, Sara thought, because it meant she had to make dinner on the days Mama worked.

Sara dropped her handful of silverware onto the table with a loud clatter.

“Knock it off, Sara!”

“I didn’t do it on purpose!”

Vicki glared at her.

Sara glared back, picked up a spoon, and dropped it onto the table. It clanked several times before lying still.

“You little brat!” Vicki threw down the wooden spoon she was stirring the spaghetti sauce with and rushed toward Sara.

The telephone rang.

Read the rest.