Here is something I wrote recently for Helium and have gotten good ratings on. I'd love to see your feedback.
Why did Mary have a little lamb?
Mary was staying with her great-grandparents while her parents were at work this week. Normally, she would’ve been at school for lunch. Because of a horrible miscommunication, however, she had been suspended for three days. She didn’t want to think about that ugly incident presently, though. To pay her penance, she had reluctantly agreed to spend the three days helping her elderly relatives on their small farm outside of Boston for a few days.
Ten-year-old Mary was trying to use proper table manners as her mother had taught her. Her parents had been using Emily Post's guides to steer her through the intricacies of socializing, and she knew that it would be rude to refuse food while a guest in somebody's home. She realized that if she tasted some food she didn't like, she should leave it on her plate without comment and continue politely eating the remainder of the meal. So, without questioning the source of the tender-looking meat placed on her plate, she tried a nibble. It was delicious! She proceeded to have a little more.
This special meal was prepared to share with her parents on the day they came to retrieve her and take her home. She recognized the taste of raspberries and assumed that they were from the bucket she and Pappaw had picked in the fields yesterday. She also recognized the rosemary that she had gathered for Nanny that morning from her sweet little potted herb garden in the kitchen window. It was only the rich, delicious, tender meat that she didn’t recall ever tasting before.
She awaited a lull in the conversation, she took the opportunity to ask her great-grandmother what the main dish was called.
“Why Mary”, Sarah Hale told her great-granddaughter, “I thought you knew! This was the freshly butchered meat your parents sent with you on the train.”
Mary nearly froze in her place, fork in mid-air. She glanced at her parents, who both averted their eyes, and continued to busily push their garlic-roasted red potatoes around their plates.
“But . ... wha - what’s it called Nanny?” she inquired nervously “It’s truly scrumptious!”
“The recipe is called ‘Leg of Lamb with Raspberry Sauce’ my dear. I’m sorry.”
Her peripheral vision grew dark, and then darker. The last thing she heard consciously was her fork hitting her plate. The room spun round and round and she felt her chair wobble and vanish from beneath her. The wood plank floor came up to meet the side of her face with a quick smack. Then, she was lost in a world of dream-like remembrance.
First, she remembered the long train ride and having to carry not only her own luggage, but also an insulated nylon cooler filled with packed meat. Her dad had stopped at the butcher on the way to the train station, and the packages were already prepared for him. The charge was very little, and the package was decorated with a big “Service Only” sticker. Mary had meant to ask father the meaning of the label on their walk to the station, but had forgotten once they stepped out into the warm sunlit fresh air. After that, she only remembered it as an extra burden that she was required to tote.
Memories swirled and revolved, and then swiveled some more. She found herself back at school on that fateful day. She hadn't realized that she had left the pature gate open. Snowy could be very sneaky when he wanted to be, and had the reputation for being quiet for a baby. When she arrived at the yard of the small country school, however, the children began to laugh and play about her. This is when she realized she had been followed. Extremely embarrassed, she didn't know what to do at first. This was not the first time he tagged along and she had been warned. It seemed that anywhere she went these days, he was sure to go!
Of course, she knew that pets weren't allowed at school, and feared she would be in a great deal of trouble once her instructor discovered the scrape she was in. Oh, she had made a fine mess of things now! She began immediately lecturing her pet.
"You must behave!" she exclaimed "or you will have to go!"
"I'll be goo-oo-ood" he replied, in the way only a talking lamb could "Because I love you so!"
The gasp of the shocked students around her seemed to suck all available oxygen from the air. She, too, had been amazed by this hidden talent for oration. Mary could neither speak nor breathe. She turned on her heel and saw the school's headmaster gaping in astonishment. Mary immediately fainted dead away. The next thing she remembered she was regaining consciousness in the nurse's office and her parents were present. Soon, they explained her suspension from school and that she would have to go stay on the farm for a few days since they could not miss work to supervise her at home. She had also been informed that her beloved pet, Snowy, would not be waiting for her when she returned home.