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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2209976
Mother rescues a bad day for her son and husband with a bowl of her special chicken soup.
Chicken Noodle Soup

         Nessie Campbell bolted as the kitchen door slammed shut. She turned to see her son standing in the middle of the room. Tall and handsome, with his red hair, blue eyes, and sinewy body, Torey Campbell was an imposing figure that turned the head of every girl in town. But not today — today he looked more like a drowned rat.
         Uh, oh. Another bad day. Nessie tried to smile a greeting.
         Torey was soaking wet, shivering with wet snow melting on his head and shoulders. His soccer cleats were covered with mud.
         “Must have been really bad if you didn’t even change your shoes,” she said.
         “Mom, it was the worst day of my life. I never played so bad, even when I was just starting out.” Torey was holding back tears. What he really wanted to do was scream and cry.
         Today, Saturday, just one day after New Year’s, was the day of a special after season high school soccer tournament, scheduled to take advantage of the Christmas holiday school break, and just two days before school resumed. Torey had been looking forward to this tournament ever since the regular season ended a month before.
         Soccer, football to the rest of the world, is a low scoring game. Typically, total points scored would be less than six, and the margin of victory is usually one point. ‘One to Nothing’ is a very common score.
         “How bad was it?” Nessie asked.
         “Five to zip,” Torey replied. “They wiped up the field with us — and my play was disastrous. It was like I didn’t own my feet. I couldn’t control them.”
         The day put an exclamation point on a bad week. Unsuccessful attempts to catch up on overdue schoolwork, a couple run-ins with his father, then a really bad New Year’s Eve fight with his girlfriend made this holiday school break a nightmare to remember.
         The cold, wet Saturday, with post-holiday blues, was a terrible day to play soccer. But it was a good day to stay in a warm kitchen making chicken noodle soup. Nessie looked forward to this, her own private ritual where she took the left-over bones from holiday chickens or turkeys, added ingredients from her special secret recipe to create her ‘Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup’.
         The Christmas turkey carcass had been simmering in the large stockpot for over an hour after boiling for fifteen minutes. On the counter, lay a pile of turkey scraps — a mixture of white and dark meat.
         Nessie had chopped and minced the other ingredients for her special soup — one large onion, one garlic clove, four celery ribs, four carrots, some fresh parsley, and fresh thyme.
         She removed the skeleton from the pot and added three cups of uncooked egg noodles. She let the mixture stand for about a half-hour, then turned up the heat, and added the chopped ingredients, small amounts at a time, stirring slowly as she did.
         Over the next hour, Nessie read magazines and listened to her favorite ‘soaps’ coming from the counter-top radio, her constant kitchen companion, occasionally tending her brew by adding a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and checking the progress with sips from the pot.
         The project finished, she was confident that the soup was good, and that she had enough for several meals. The full pot sat on the stove and she was cleaning up the kitchen when Torey burst through the door.
         It’s early for dinner, but this is an emergency. “How about a bowl of soup?” she asked.
         Neither of them knew, nor would they care, that January was National Soup Month. But what better time to celebrate the healing properties of soup than the dreary days of January. And this day in the Campbell kitchen was a perfect example.
         “Sure, sounds good,” replied Torey.
         Nessie ladled out a bowl of her freshly created soup, which Torey practically inhaled.
         “More?” he said.
         “Save some for supper.”
         “Okay.” Torey was rejuvenated. Still wet and dirty, his fighting spirit was back. “I’ll go get cleaned up.”
         Well, maybe one day less than I planned, but that was an emergency.
         “You won’t believe what happened to me at the shop today,” bellowed Brodey Campbell, storming into the kitchen, having entered the house through the front door.
         Well, maybe just enough for supper tonight, but this is an emergency.
         Nessie ladled out another bowl of her ‘Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup’.

Word Count: 736

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