the short story project


CM Riddle

Get Creative

“Look, I don’t know how much money we will have left. The health insurance is due, and so is the house payment.” His eyes narrowed, “Monday.”  

“I’m not looking to be frivolous here,” she tossed back, “I’m talking about grocery money.” 

He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Get creative.”

She held her breath before she lashed words which couldn’t be taken back. The door closed.

Her husband went to work without another word. She stood there with her arms dangling.


“Damn it,” she hissed and stomped to the kitchen to throw open the pantry door. Her eyes inventoried the contents: Seven cans of tuna, one forty pound bag of sweet potatoes, and a gallon of vegetable oil. Flour dust covered canned mushrooms and kidney beans.

She checked the freezer but only found a stick of butter. There was no bread to make tuna sandwiches. No pasta for tuna casserole, either. No fresh veggies, only one jar of minced garlic, and half a container of dried blueberries in the fridge.

Thankfully there was coffee. She brewed a cup and sat at the kitchen table. “Forty pounds of sweet potatoes!” she said. “Damn Cash ‘N’ Carry gets the best of him every time.” She swiveled in her chair and looked back at the pantry. An idea formed.

“Well,” she said, “when life gives you lemons –”

She rummaged through her utensils and found her mandoline slicer. “Bingo!” Next, she took her largest pot from the cupboard and filled it halfway with the vegetable oil. The oil began to boil with the burner set to high. She filled the sink with cold water and dumped in as many sweet potatoes as would fit. After patting the sweet potatoes dry, she set the mandoline up over a cookie sheet and sliced them.

A slice of sweet potato sizzled when she put it into the oil. “Perfect.” She carefully added a couple of handfuls to the pot. She took a double lined paper bag from the cupboard and scattered sea salt inside of it. After a few minutes, the sweet potatoes began to curl and turn a golden brown. She used her grandmother’s old strainer to scoop the sweet potatoes out of the hot oil.

She dumped the first batch into the bag with salt and shook the bag until the tender crisps were sprinkled with salt. Transferring the chips to another cookie sheet, she set them in the oven to rest. She continued with her task until all forty pounds of sweet potatoes and one gallon of oil were gone. “Now what?”

Her back ached from cooking, and her stomach hurt from sampling the chips. Ginger tea always helped relieve tension, so she made a cup. She took her drink and her cell phone to the patio to relax for a while. Gleaning posts on Facebook she got the idea to share her day’s work. She took pictures of the mounds of sweet potato chips she’d made and posted them on her page.

Within a few minutes her phone chimed, and then it sounded again. Her sweet potato chip post had a few “likes” and over a dozen “hearts.” For fun, she edited her post to say: $5.00 per bag. The next chimes from her phone were requests for orders and directions to her house.

When the last bag sold, she’d earned $75. She got her purse and headed to the grocery store. When she got home, she laid out a feast for her husband.

“What’s all this?” he asked, referring to the kitchen table. It presented roast chicken, green beans, and rolls.

She stood before him holding an apple pie and said, “I got creative.”

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