Flash Fiction Fridays: Meet Clara


By Karen Wojcik Berner

When Clara Elbert peeled potatoes, she did so with a vengeance, tearing off every little piece of skin, wishing someone would invent a machine for it, like that apple-peeler-corer thingamajig she had seen it in a catalog once. Now that would be useful. Too bad it was just for apples. How many pies could you make anyhow? ’Cept for Peter, who would eat a bushel a day if he could, no one much liked apples in this family.

She dug at an abnormally large eye, a mixture of water and starch dripping through her fingers. Wonder if Hank could rig something up? He was good that way, gadgety, always makin’ things run smoother.

The amount of food consumed on this farm in one day could feed one of them African villages for a week. Three huge meals, plus some snack like cookies or brownies just to get them through the day. Seven days a week. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year. More on holidays.

But that’s my job, she thought, so she got to it, sprinkling salt, pepper and a dash of garlic powder over the red chunk of beef in the black, speckled oval pan. Roast beef, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, not from a jar, or worse, from a packet, corn, defrosted from last year’s harvest, and biscuits. Maybe tear up some lettuce, grab a tomato or two, and put together some salad with ranch dressing.

Right from the get-go, Catherine was different. At first, Clara thought it was because it was a girl baby, and she was used to raising boys. But, no, it was just Catherine. She’d gurgle out her little “feed me” cry, Clara would run to tend to her, then Catherine would spit up all over her.

Russell and Peter, well, they would let Clara cuddle them, rock them, tussle with them. Their sister? Gave her a pacifier, and she threw it across the room, screamin' her fool heart out. The way that child yelled!

In the fall, a change of address card with a picture of some lighthouse on it came in the mail, like they were nothing more than names in her address book. No call to say she arrived safely. Who knows what she’s livin’ in? Clara supposed that was what praying was for. Every Sunday, she asked God to watch over her fool daughter and keep her safe.

Clara reached in the cabinet for the dinner plates and began setting the table. The men would be in soon.

Clara Elbert is a character from my upcoming novel, Until My Soul Gets It Right, which will be released on May 30th. For more information about The Bibliophiles series, please visit my website


Kelly Hashway said…
Very nice, Karen!
E. P. Beaumont said…
About a novel's worth of suggestions here, and it all begins (and ends) with potatoes.
Anonymous said…
I"m so feeling Clara. I've been peeling potatoes this week like it's nobody's business, and if I never see one again, it'll be too soon!
Richard Bon said…
This made me eager to get to know Catherine!

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