Friday, January 15, 2010

Blue Ribbon


Before he left for good that morning, Norman made a large pot of soup for the family while they slept. Grannie Sperr's award winning Country Baked Potato Chowder was a crowd pleaser, and he always added it to the dinner menu as comfort food during many bleak winter nights.

He rushed through final preparations. He normally took the local train to work, but today he wanted to meet the 6:10 Express, and he needed time to walk to the station. Usually he drove whenever he went out, but he was sure his wife would need the car today. He arrived with 15 minutes to spare and, despite the cold, sat alone on the bench outside to wait.

Moving to a gated community in a picturesque town a mere 45 minutes from the city was the best decision he made all those early years ago. He read the paper and drank coffee on the train to his job and his six-figured salary; his wife stayed home with the children. They were comfortable and did not worry about the price of anything. House needs a new roof? Done. Car needs work? Write a check.

Investing most of their money with a respected Wall Street guru was the worst decision he made all those years later. He called it financial planning. The legal authorities called it a greedy scam of such magnitude, no one could hope to recuperate losses.

The train's approaching whistle startled him away from his thoughts. He stood and walked to the edge of the platform. The train would not stop, of course, but he did not need that. He inhaled deeply.

“Hey!”

The shout from the stranger made him turn.

“Be careful! What are you doing? This train doesn't stop here, it's express all the way!”

Norman blinked and moved back a few steps. The stranger grabbed his arm and pulled him further away.

“Jeesh, Don't understand you people. You like to stand so close to the end. Could get hurt or worse.”


* * *

“You're home early, hon. Slow day at the office?” Ada said as her husband came in through the back kitchen door.

Norman placed the grocery bag on the table, took out a package, and leaned over to kiss her smile.

“Yep...I figured I could get a head start on crisping the bacon. Forgot to do it before.”

Ada stood and walked over to the pots and pans hanging on the wall next to the stove. “Oh, is it soup night, then?” She handed him the cast iron skillet.

“I thought it was. For you.”

She laughed. “You mean for us, or aren't you having some?”

Norman nodded and turned to the stove. “Who could turn down Grannie's Sperr's chowder on such a night.”

As he crumbled the bacon, he thought about tomorrow.  He hoped he would find another good reason to come home then too.

34 comments:

  1. oh gee, he's in a bad spot.
    did I miss something? Why 'Blue Ribbon' as title?
    well written

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  2. There's always a good reason to come home... Poor guy! I really felt for him!

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  3. How sad. I hope he realizes that the money gone isn't everything in life. You've hit on what many people are going through these days.

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  4. Yikes! I'm glad he got rescued.

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  5. Sad. I'm cheering for the guy and give thanks to the nice stranger.

    Well written, indeed.

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  6. Very sad, and reminiscent of many stories people have out there now, unfortunately. Good food at home means that all is not bad. Well written!

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  7. Sad indeed, but I am hopeful he will keep finding a reason to come home!

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  8. Wow - well written. It shows the power of money for those who have it and lose it. . . but of course, us poor writers know the value of life without money, right?! :)

    Nice story.

    Jim

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  9. I'm a total jerk 'cause I read the last sentence and laughed. The guy needs to suck it up and just deal with it. At least he has a family that loves him.

    And I don't mean that as a slight to the piece or author. If anything this story does a great job of showing that depressed personality type. I've met people like Norman.

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  10. Poignant. I felt a deep affinity with Norman - I like how he is living on the edge of life, not sure how things will go on.

    I also like how his wife is acting as if things are normal, there's clearly love there.

    I'm hopeful for Norman.

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  11. I liked the sadness of the piece and I liked the last line. But this line was my favorite:
    "and leaned over to kiss her smile."

    That says so much in so few words.

    :0)

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  12. The last line hit me in the gut, made me hope he finds a reason every night to come home.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  13. Wow! That was powerful! There are so many people who were devastated by those financial hucksters! Large numbers of people have lost their life savings, many in retirement.

    This story captures their deep despair in the midst of trying to live their previously "perfect" and orderly lives.

    I hope Norman can take a closer look around him and see how lucky he is to still have his family.

    Well done, I am invested in their lives, as you can see.

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  14. Powerful stuff. You've painted a dark picture with subtle strokes of the brush. I'm impressed :)

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  15. Oh wow, what a great depiction of a man literally and figuratively on the edge. And it hits such a note in these financial times. I love the touch of the soup--so comforting and homey--home as what there is to return to and yet isn't there in the same way it used to be (and he can't do anything about that, financially speaking). The love contained in the gesture of making it...and the fuller love when shared. Blue Ribbon, indeed.

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  16. You really captured his emotions well Marisa. So sad - it's always harder to have and lose than to have never had at all. I'm glad I'm one of the latter, makes me appreciate all the love I have around me. :)
    Great job!

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  17. Wow, very nice story, I really felt his despair.
    But I also believe money isn't everything, so hope he'll realize that too :)

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  18. So much emotion in so few words. Good job. I hope he keeps learning what's really important.

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  19. I like that you ended on a hopeful note. I think you captured his frustration very well.

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  20. I've worked with people who suffered from depression. Sometimes each day is a battle and it's the little things that keep them hanging on. The kindness of a stranger at the trains station. Grandma's blue ribbon soup. That's how I interpreted this piece. Life-savers in a sea of despair. Very nicely written.

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  21. A sad piece, though quite well written with a nice bit of hope at the end.

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  22. Excellent story. Hopefully he'll find reason to come home early for many days to come.

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  23. Touching stuff. I like the gentle touch with his wife who seems unaware of the dark thoughts her husband is harbouring. Fitting piece for these credit crunch days.

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  24. Such a sadness to this piece, but not overdone. I hope he keeps coming home for Blue Ribbon soup and smile kissing.

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  25. This made me hungry--for BACON. Mmm. Good story. I enjoyed reading it.

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  26. I like the way food was used as a reason for continuing. I've always found food to be an apt motivator -- I'm still working on my Kind Stranger approach! Nicely written! Kudos on your award! You deserve it!

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  27. The end line got me in the gut. Sometimes it's the smallest things that keep us going, like bacon crumbled on chowder... Brava! Peace, Linda

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  28. Preparing soup is a great reason to stick around, especially when you have smiling lips to kiss. Lack of money is the lousiest excuse for checking out.

    btw you deserve that sunshine award.

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  29. Now I want some soup.
    I agree with some of the commenters, he just needs to man up.
    Good job!

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  30. "Kissing her smile" three words that say soooo much! I'm afraid this is all too common today. Nice one!

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  31. Depression makes it impossible to suck it up and get on with your life. Not just very difficult, but physically beyond your ability to accomplish. You either get help or wait for it to go away.

    The final lines - about needing to find a reason to come home each day - are spot on.

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  32. So many desperate people these days and hard times. Made my heart ache to read this.

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  33. Such a sad piece, but I think there is hope in that last line. You did a great job with a wide range of emotions here.

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  34. Poor Norman, if soup is all that is keeping him alive, then perhaps he should kill himself. How lame to live for soup not his wife.

    Well written, you can tell by the fact that people are reacting to Norman in all sorts of interesting ways.

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