Trifecta: Confidence

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She carefully spooned the sauce over the pasta before carefully balancing an artful sprig of basil on top then studied the result, her perfectionist streak and pride gratified yet still wondering whether she was going to ridiculous lengths to please.  She carried the dish over to the table and placed it meticulously centre on the placemat, she stepped back, waiting, anxious.

Her guest was seated on several cushions  and had earlier been enveloped in a pristine white tea towel in preparation for the tomato sauce.  The glass of chocolate milk had brought some praise but the absence of a straw had been critically noted.

He lifted his fork, heavy fine cutlery sitting awkwardly in his small hand, and speared the first pieces, hungry enthusiasm tempered by caution.  Unconsciously, she held her breath.

“Mum always mixes the sauce in.”

A criticism, she felt it keenly.  She would remember his preferences for next time.  He’d been amazed to see her make the sauce from scratch; although she had told him that overworked mums didn’t have the time, she had been surprised by the low standards to which her sister had sunk.

He ate.

Mouth barely empty, he looked up at her:

“Mmm, it’s good.”

She relaxed, letting her breath go softly.  A vote of confidence.  It was just what she needed right now after all these tough weeks and in that moment she realised how all the stresses of work with three projects in a row being turned down as well as a soured relationship had been slowly eating away from her, votes of no confidence.  Now she turned lightly back to the pans to dish up her own meal, those stresses smoothed away by that one compliment, one voice finally who had confidence in her.

~

This is for Trifecta‘s prompt for the third definition given of confidence.  I’ve used the stated word in my post as required and it comes in just under 300 words.  I enjoy the challenge of these prompts as it hones my skills, especially when it comes to discipline.  Please feel free to give friendly critique in your comments.

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30 thoughts on “Trifecta: Confidence

  1. Thanks for linking up to Trifecta this week. I enjoyed this story, particularly the speaker’s adult interpretation of the details in a story about a child eating a meal. Nicely captured. Hope to see you back again soon.

  2. Cute story! I think I’d be more apprehensive cooking for someone else’s child than my own. At home, our rule is, “you don’t have to like it, you just have to eat it.”

  3. Dana

    So beautifully written, I can picture the entire scene and almost smell her awesome sauce! If she doesn’t win the title of “BEST Aunt, ever!” I will be shocked… ;-)

  4. It’s still morning here in Brisbane, but you’ve made me incredibly hungry for pasta. I interpret this as a sign that you had just the right balance of description and action.

  5. This is gorgeous, IE,and so true. Kids balance us: they put our lives in proportion somehow, so that the grown-up worries pale beside their concerns. What a great interpretation of the theme.

  6. Jennifer Worrell

    I was just so glad the kid liked the food at the end. That made me so happy–that’s how involved I got in your scene…:)

    • Thank you for commenting. I’m not entirely sure about the sister, as I said to a previous comment I try to focus on a single moment for these short prompts otherwise I just get myself distracted! And I’d never, ever keep to the word count! ;)

  7. I’m curious as to whether the sister is taking over for an absent or dead parent with this child. Is the emotion behind such a change for him creating her desire to be perfect… to replace her carefully? The tension is obvious, magnified even, and felt through all of your words.

    It’s a good write, but if the child continued to be the center of attention to such detail for long, I would become irritated by him no doubt.

    • Yes, too much attention isn’t good for anyone. To be honest though, I’m not entirely sure; I bog myself down in backstory and bios so easily that I try to avoid thinking of such stuff for these shorter prompts, just concentrate on capturing a particular moment in time. I think it’s more of a ‘first date’ scene though. :)

  8. I loved this too – thinking she was making elaborate preparations for a suitor BUT being a ‘mum’ I recalled the need to please the critical child. And I adored the image of the nephew being wrapped in a mess-absorbing towel.

  9. I loved how the story reveals that it’s a kid! “The glass of chocolate milk had brought some praise but the absence of a straw had been critically noted” – it keeps completely with the tone of formality here, suggesting that the sister is completely unsure of her nephew. She is out of touch (but aware enough to give the nephew an accurate reason even as she criticizes it for her sister not making the sauce from scratch) and views every childish criqitue like she would that of a restaurant crtitic. EXCELLENT

    • I missed out on the whole ‘reveal’ idea because I knew from the start who the guest was so I’m quite enjoying the effect it’s having on everyone else! I think formality and out of touch are definitely the key themes but she’s trying, he got chocolate milk! Thank you very much. :)

  10. I love the way you trick the reader in those first two graphs (at least I was fooled). At paragraph three, I realized this was a child, not some pompous jerk making strange demands on this woman (chocolate milk? cushions on the floor? white towel?). This was a great, great read.

  11. I can definitely feel the stress in her demeanor and thought-process! How wonderful that she can finally feel relaxed by an innocent child who speaks nothing but the truth. What a quietly beautiful moment shared by two people who really needed each other!

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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