Week 21 Flash Fiction Challenge: Second Chances


Ella poked through the items on the sale table at the Assembly of God charity drive. Her fingers came to rest finally on an old yellow cookbook. Smiling at the title, ‘Recipes from Yesteryear,’ she nudged her sister.

“Look, Evelyn… remember?”

Evelyn did. “It’s Mama’s old recipe book!”

“No, not hers, but one just like it.” Ella flipped through the pages. “Here’s the recipe for Mama’s mayonnaise cake. Maybe I’ll buy this book and make us one of them cakes again.”

The elderly sisters continued talking, not noticing the young black man standing across the room. He, however, noticed them.

Glancing periodically at the cookbook laying on the counter, Ella measured out the ingredients for Mama’s cake. When she heard the knock on the door, she hastily rubbed her flour-stained hands on her apron.

The young black man smiled uncertainly, and twisted the baseball cap in his hands. Ella could see he was nervous, but there was something warm and caring in his eyes. Unafraid, she opened the door.

“Can I help you?”

“Well, ma’am, maybe you can… I served time with your grandson…”

Ella took a step backward, and raised a white-dusted hand to her throat. “Moody? You know my Moody?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She stifled a sob. “You know where he is? I’ve been worried to death about that boy! Police came by here after he went running, thought I was hiding him, but I ain’t seen him.”

“He’s fine, ma’am.”

“Please, come in,” she said, quickly pulling him inside. “You look like you could use a cold drink. What’s your name, son?”

The young man hesitated, and then came to a decision. “Call me Gabe… It’s a good name. Belonged to a man who taught me about miracles and folks getting second chances.”

Eyes bright, Gabe looked eagerly around Ella’s kitchen, and caught her watching him. “I sure like your kitchen. It’s a lovin’ place.”

Ella nodded. “It where I spend most of my time.”

“Yes, ma’am… Moody told me about those apple pies you used to make, the sweet tea… the way this kitchen always smelled of cinnamon and spice. He missed this old kitchen.” He smiled at Ella, his eyes shining. “Most of all, he missed you, ma’am.”

“My poor Moody,” said Ella, her voice muffled. “He wasn’t bad, not down deep. His Daddy – that was the problem. Tore his son down every chance he got. But Moody – well, that boy made some bad mistakes, but he wasn’t bad.” Tearfully, Ella turned away. “Sorry, Gabe, I need a minute.”

With Ella gone, Gabe took a crinkled paper from his pocket and slipped it between the pages of the cookbook.

When she returned, the young man was gone.

Later she saw the paper sticking out from the cookbook’s pages…

Granny Ella, don’t worry about me.
I got a second chance. I aim to make the most of it.
I ain’t bad, Granny. You’ll see.

Ella sat down on a kitchen chair and cried.

Author’s Note: This story is a sequel to the Week 17 Flash Fiction Challenge, “Miracle Night.” If you’d like to know more about Moody, the link to that story is here.

This week’s story is written in response to a challenge to write no more than 500 words about a woman who purchases a cookbook at a charity book sale and discovers a note tucked in the pages. You can check out these weekly flash fiction challenges at Thain in Vain.

About Kate Loveton

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time... ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?
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17 Responses to Week 21 Flash Fiction Challenge: Second Chances

  1. Pingback: A Schuyler Falls Story: The Pearl | Odyssey of a Novice Writer

  2. C. E. Coburn says:

    Beautiful job, great flow, emotive. I truly enjoyed it.

  3. W. K. Tucker says:

    Wonderful story…had to follow the link to “Miracle Night” to read the before. Loved it too. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Flash Fiction Challenge – Week Twenty-One Submissions | Thain in Vain

  5. Kate Loveton says:

    Hi Staci, thanks for the kind words about the story. I think you might like the first story about Moody – it’s about a chance for redemption. 🙂

  6. stacilys says:

    This is a touching story Kate, and very well written. I will have to go back and read the first about Moody.

  7. I too I’m glad to see Moody and Gabe back! There’s so much mystery. Is Moody Gabe? What’s Moody doing now? Did he use the money in his pocket to make this particular trip back? Will Ella and Moody be reunited?

    This is a touching story, Kate! Great take on the prompt! Looking foward to more from Gabe and Moody! TiV

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi TiV – your prompt gave me the impetus to bring Moody back. I was waiting for just the right opportunity for him to show up in a story – so thank you! 🙂

  8. I’m so glad to see you pick up Moody’s story once more. I have a sneaking suspicion that it was Moody himself (in the guise of Gabe) who visited his grandmother in her kitchen that day.

    What a bittersweet moment that must have been for Moody, to be reunited with his beloved grandma yet unable to tell her that it was really him.

    Great use of the prompt, and your previous short story. Bravo, dear! ❤

  9. Lucy says:

    Sweet story. I remember “Miracle Night”. Very well done, Kate. Are we going to hear more about Moody? Lucy

  10. Wonderful story, Kate. I read the previous short as well. Lovely and well done!

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