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Featured Story, Week of February 12, 2022: The Extra Pastry

Updated: Jan 18

For our February 12th Creative Writing Workshop, our prompt was to write a story about, rebelling or breaking a rule. This wonderful piece by Ryan Carbery is our featured story from this workshop.

The Extra Pastry

By Ryan Carbery

The stakes could not have been higher. The cruel hand of fate, or perhaps some demonic entity that hated the peace of mind of parents, had delivered a package that contained a prime number of pastry treats. The mathmatically interesting notion of a prime number could not distract Taylor or Wilson from their laser focus on the odd treat out and who would be the luckiest recipient.

In an act she would later regard as hubris, mom had left it to the two siblings to decide the ultimate distribution of the off brand prepackaged balls of flour, sugar, and more sugar believing that the negotiations would teach them about nebulous concepts like compromise, fairness, and how to negotiate. She was not prepared for the whirlwind of seemingly reasonable solutions that were quickly dismissed. The items were jam filled and any attempt to split them would surely result in jam getting on the apolstery and that would make dad mad.

She made a not to look into why that was there conclusion when it was her car they were in and dad’s car was an unqualified mess.

Sharing the odd piece out with their mother was quickly dismissed as well, as all children know that grown ups like gross things like broccoli and brussel sprouts and their coffee has long since rendered them incapable of enjoying sweet things. Sweet things were reserved for children whose souls had not yet been crushed by the evening news and that gross show they watch where people kiss and talk about feelings. Horse trading negotiations took a bit longer but were unsuccessful as neither child could settle on future gains that would out weigh the immediate satisfaction of one extra treat.

Eventually it was settled that the only fair and equitable solution was to have a contest of some kind where the extra puff was the prize.

Naturally this set off another round of negotiations. Taylor, as the oldest, favored feats of strength. While still young, Wilson was not born yesterday and roundly rejected all of those suggestions. The pair had to admit that they didn’t fully understand license plate poker and did not trust mom to successfully explain who won and who did not, so that became a non-starter. Likewise slug bug was ruled out for a handful of reasons. First, the titular Bug was not as common on the roadways anymore and there was no telling how long it would take to see one. More importantly however was the fact that Wilson could barely see over the door while Taylor had a full head view of the passing cars. Wilson rightly considered this a ploy on Taylor’s part to whale on him sans consequence and was having none of it.

If only he could opt out as easily of the two for flinching rule.

Wilson countered with a best of seven match of rock paper scissors. Despite the slight age advantage, Wilson had Taylor’s number when it came to rock paper scissors and it would take only a match or two to determine where Taylor was on the rock or paper continuum. Wilson felt this advantage was down to his cleverness, which wasn’t all wrong, but it was also down to Taylor’s inability to form ‘scissors’ quickly.

Mom had decided not to go back on her mistake and make the decision for the kids but she also knew that these negotiations could potentially last until the were both married and raising kids of their own at which time they would commence new negotiations on whose child gets the aged pastry.

A time limit was generated. If a settlement was not reached by the time they got home the decision would be taken out of their hands.

The clock was ticking. Who knew if they were ever going to get this weird combination of pink and white and red before? This was a new store out of the way of the usual store where negotiations usually revolved around the purchase of yet another balsa wood glider or a Hot Wheel or a bag of spiders. Previous marble purchases disappointed because no rules for marbles came with them leaving the kids to wonder if it was a real game after all.

The kids were able to agree that mom’s suggestion of a math quiz was right out.

The stalemate begin to grow to the point where the children had lost track of where they were in the journey, finding themselves in a driveway seemingly without warning.

Mom smiled to herself as she downed the extra pastry with a smile. What she knew that the kids did not was there was another way home that the kids did not recognize.

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