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Spring, 2002
24-Hour Short Story Contest
3rd Place Winner!

TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
The cryptic message had enough personal information about her that she knew she had to take it seriously. The last part said, "Be at the corner of Third and Main at 10:30 with the recipe and the child or you will be sorry."

She looked at her watch. It was already 10:00!



Gold, Frankincense and. . . Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Jennifer Doloski, Seneca, IL

It hadn't been her idea to take the child. But she loved Phillip enough to go along with most of his lame brained schemes.

Phillip left Amy standing on the street corner, keeping lookout.

"I don't think this is a good idea!" She hissed the complaint over her shoulder.

"Would you shut up before someone hears you?" Phillip inched his way across the lawn, seized the child, and sprinted for his car. "C'mon!"

Amy jumped into the car, and Phillip hefted the child onto her lap.

"I don't want to hold him! I didn't want him in the first place!"

"Just shut up and hold him until I get out of here!"

He drove back to Amy's house, her cradling the child awkwardly and him laughing like a little boy taking his first ride on a merry-go-round. She had never even held a baby before.

"You're not bringing him in!" Amy looked alarmed as Phillip took the child from her arms and got out of the car.

"I can't leave him here. What if someone sees him?"

"You are such a jerk." Amy turned and sprinted up the porch steps, leaving a grinning Phillip and his bundle to follow.

It was the winter of 1952, and Amy and Phillip were in love.

****

Their deed was in the next morning's paper.

"Kidnapped! It says we are kidnappers, Phillip!" As soon as she read the headlines, Amy called him.

"Amy, relax, it's no big deal."

"No big deal? Phillip! The police are investigating! Why did you have to leave him here!"

"Your folks came home. What was I supposed to do, walk downstairs with him tucked under my arm?"

"But he keeps staring at me. It's creepy."

"Staring? C'mon, Aim. Throw him in the closet or something."

"The closet? I can't do that! It just doesn't seem right. Maybe we should bring him back."

"Look, after the story dies down we can take him back. No one will ever know, and they'll be so happy to have him back that they won't even care. Okay? Calm down. I gotta tell you something."

"Tell me what?"

"I'm leaving next week."

"Leaving? What do you mean 'leaving'?"

"I got my notice in the mail today."

"Notice?"

"Drafted, Aim, I've been drafted." She didn't hear any giggling.

"Know what I'm gonna miss most?"

Amy choked, swallowed hard, and managed a strangled, "No, what?"

"Your mom's chocolate chip cookies. You gotta get that recipe, Aim."

"Phillip, you are such a jerk."

****

Phillip left the week after Christmas, and Amy kept the child. Though she knew it was wrong, keeping him helped her not miss Phillip quite so much.

She tried to bake those cookies, too, and sent Phillip a box every week.

Philip acknowledged her gifts with a short note, "I won't marry you until you can make them as good as your mom does."

Her reply was even shorter, "You are such a jerk."

****

She graduated in May, and was thrilled when, in July, she heard the news that the Korean War had ended.

When days went by without word from Phillip, though, she worried. Had something happened? Had he been hurt? Had he forgotten her?

Maybe it was time the child went back where he belonged. Instead of comforting her, he seemed to be staring right through her again.

****

She slept in one morning and woke to a note on the kitchen table. Figuring it was only a list of chores from her mother, Amy took her time fixing a bowl of cereal and perusing the morning paper. Finishing the comics, she finally glanced at the note.

The cryptic message had enough personal information about her that she knew she had to take it seriously. The last part said, "Be at the corner of Third and Main at 10:30 with the recipe and the child or you will be sorry."

Gasping, she looked at her watch; it was already 10:00!

She dashed up the stairs to her bedroom, swapping her nightgown for a sundress and sandals. A few swipes with a hairbrush and a wide headband left her hair presentable. She brushed her teeth and was halfway down the stairs when she remembered the child. How could she forget him?

But she couldn't just walk downtown with him under her arm. A shopping bag would have to do. As she rummaged through the kitchen cabinets looking for one she thought of the recipe. Why on earth she needed that, she wasn't sure, but the note had said to bring it. She plucked it from the front of her mother's file box and tossed it in the bag with the child.

****

The First Congregational Church stood on the corner of Third and Main Streets, easily the most imposing building in the downtown area.

When Amy saw him standing on the corner, she almost dropped the child. Remembering the contents of the bag, though, she set it on the church lawn before throwing herself into Phillip's arms. He held her tight and then, there, on the corner of Third and Main Streets, at 10:30 in the morning, he asked her to be his wife.

They went to tell their parents, the bag and its contents forgotten.

****

"'A caretaker at the First Congregational Church found the statue of the Christ child in a brown paper bag on the church lawn,'" Amy read the story to Phillip from the paper the next morning. "'While the kidnappers are still unknown, Pastor Elliot says he is simply happy that the child was returned in time to be a part of this year's nativity scene.' Oh, no!"

"What's up, Aim?"

"It says here that the only other item in the bag with the statue was a recipe for chocolate chip cookies!"

"Don't worry, Aim, if they taste yours they won't ever believe that was your recipe."

"Phillip, you are such a jerk!"

It was the summer of 1953, and Amy and Phillip were in love.


What Jennifer won:

$200 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

ENTER THE NEXT 24-HOUR SHORT STORY CONTEST HERE!
Contest guidelines are HERE.


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