I'm trying to catch up on some of the challenge words I missed, so here are a couple of older ones. Thanks to all who read and reviewed my new story, "A Cup o' Kindness."

Happy Birthday, smalld1171!

words: grapple, slip

word count: 200

secondary challenge: Do not reveal which brother it is. See if readers can figure it out based on the characterization/clues. (I really hope you can all figure this one out—be sure to let me know if you get it!)

Crunch Time

The wall clock ticked the minutes off, loud as a steam engine clacking down a railroad.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

A trickle of sweat slipped beneath his collar.

This was it: crunch time. D-day. No one to help him make the decision he was grappling with.

"Sir? You're going to have to make a choice. We're running out of time."

Indecision paralyzed him. Either way, he would lose something he desperately wanted.

The hand on the clock slid forward, the ominous click of a coffin closing.


Time to stand up and be counted.

"Apple, all right? I'll take the apple!" He watched sorrowfully as the lemon pie slid out of sight.

"Finally!" A bag was shoved into his hand and he was pushed out the door. The closed sign flipped over, the door locked, and he stood on the sidewalk alone, clutching the brown paper bag.

He dug inside eagerly. "Hey! You forgot the fork!"

The shop lights went out. No one answered his frantic pounding.

"Don't worry, baby, nothin' can keep us apart." He scooped up the piece of pie and started eating it like a slice of pizza. "Not bad!"

Guess he'd made the right decision after all.